ALBANY, Ga. -- If one thing came across at a meeting of older people in Albany Tuesday afternoon, it was the need for contact.
"Those who live alone and are disabled are more likely to be thrown into a nursing home," said Bianca Stacey, an Albany resident. "I am glad for Meals on Wheels and the education and socialization of a senior center so we can protect ourselves in the community."
Stacey was one of the more than 100 residents from the 14-county area covered by the SOWEGA Council on Aging who met with a representative from the state Division of Aging Services at the 309 Pine Ave. senior center.
Sharise Thurman from the state Division of Aging Services met to seek comments from the audience on what they liked about services for the elderly and what they would like to see in the future as the agency plans its future.
That plan will indicate how Georgia intends to meet the requirements of the federal Older Americans Act as well as its goals for service delivery and projects such as increasing the number of older adults with access to home and community service.
Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging probably had everyone's agreement when she said, "A nursing home is a good place if you have to be there, but it is better not to be there."
Instead of going into nursing homes the elderly prefer staying in their homes. They just need a little help to do it.
Comments from the crowd to Thurman included praise for programs such as "Meals on Wheels," the "Homemaker" program that gives seniors trained staff to assist with light housekeeping and "Georgia Cares," which provides counseling and information about Medicare and other health insurance.
On what they would like to see increased or improved, speakers from the audience said that increased transportation to medical and non-medical destinations could be used. They would also like more information on the programs in place disseminated, perhaps through churches or other organizations.
While probably all in the audience welcomed the chance to lunch and socialize at the senior center on Pine Avenue, a little consideration from the community would also be appreciated.
"I hear you saying that there should be a more caring community," Thurman said. "We'll see what we can do."
Anyone unable to attend Tuesday's meeting can e-mail comments until 5 p.m. Nov. 30 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SOWEGA Council on Aging plans to hold public meetings in the coming months to prepare its four year plan. For information call: (404) 657-5281 or locally (229) 432-1124.