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Council on Aging presents annual report

SOWEGA Council on Aging executive Director Kay Hinds presents her organization’s annual report Tuesday, noting it provided $10.3 million in community-based care services during the year. (Nov. 27, 2012)

SOWEGA Council on Aging executive Director Kay Hinds presents her organization’s annual report Tuesday, noting it provided $10.3 million in community-based care services during the year. (Nov. 27, 2012)

ALBANY, Ga. — With much to look forward to in the future, the SOWEGA Council on Aging is continuing to provide services to the region's elderly.

The organization held its annual meeting at First United Methodist Church in downtown Albany on Tuesday afternoon.

At the meeting, Council Executive Director Kay Hind discussed the 2012 annual report, as well as the future of the organization with the construction of the new Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue that officials held a groundbreaking for last month.

The 45,000-square-foot center, scheduled to be completed in December 2013, will serve as the hub for all of the agency's offices, programs and services. The total value of the project, once complete, is expected to be more than $8 million.

The report showed that the agency provided $10.3 million in community-based care services over the year, which are provided to individuals who are eligible for Medicaid as an alternative to nursing home placement. Of that $10.3 million, more than $7.8 million went toward personal support services.

In Fiscal Year 2012, 758 people were served through the organization's Community Care Services Program, the report shows. At the same time, there were a total of 14,464 incoming calls to the Gateway/Aging and Disability Resource Connection, 8,095 hours of in-home respite care provided, 5,626 routine visits to nursing homes conducted through the ombudsmen program and 186,144 meals delivered as part of "Meals on Wheels."

The COA also welcomed at the meeting its 2013 Board of Directors, which included the addition of one member — Ragan Fretwell — while Ladd Jordan, who had been serving as the board's vice president, is stepping down.

In addition, several clients were able to speak about what the more than 20 programs and services delivered through the agency have meant to them.

Among them was Alice Merritt, who spoke of her experience with the caregiver program that she utilized while caring for her husband, who passed away earlier this year.

She recalled being angry and frustrated, since caring for her spouse in that capacity was not the life she would have chosen for herself. The program allowed her to have respite time she would not have had otherwise.

"It gave me a chance to go to the movies, get a pedicure — and it afforded me the time to do nothing," Merritt said. "Most importantly, it gave me a platform to (express) my feelings ... and they listened to me.

"I'm thankful they stuck with me and gave me what I needed."

The council was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services that promotes the well-being and independence of older and disabled residents, helping them to achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives. The organization covers a 14-county area in Southwest Georgia.