Ocean County continuing services to seniors

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders has awarded 36 competitive contracts to a host of service providers who will assist senior citizens living in the county. The contracts, totaling almost $2.3 million, were awarded during the board’s regular meeting in Toms River on Jan.18.

“Ocean County has the largest percentage of seniors in the state,” said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari. “We want to make certain our programs can help all segments of our senior population. The Office of Senior Services will oversee 52 contracts with 22 governmental and nonprofit agencies in 2012 totaling more than $5.3 million.” Vicari noted that with these providers, more than 35,000 people will be able to access services.

“We anticipate that 547,979 units of service will be provided in 2012,” Vicari said. “Services range from our nutrition programs to helping our seniors remain safe in their homes.”

Vicari noted that nutrition program contracts were awarded to Community Services Inc. late last year for 2012 and that the kosher home delivered meals were being approved during the Jan. 18 meeting.

“The projection for both programs is approximately 285,000 meals in 2012,” Vicari said. “Our nutrition programs could be considered the centerpiece for our senior services. These daily hot meals are often a lifeline for the frail and disabled, bringing not only nutritional value, but also social contact. Home-delivered meals help keep our most vulnerable seniors healthy and provide them with the security that someone is watching out for them.”

Other support areas include transportation, legal services, caregiver services, care management, benefits screening, chore services and a host of others, according to a press release.

“Access to information and assistance is a major focus for the Office of Senior Services,” Vicari said. “There were 151 community presentations made to county residents in 2011. … Additionally, there were 12,000 visitors to the Senior Services website.”

Outreach sites plan to provide 18,830 older adults and caregivers with 54,541 units of information and assistance/assessments in 2012.

“We will continue to meet the challenge of 10,000 baby boomers a day turning 65 with essential Medicare information and education,” Vicari said “As the population gets older, we will be there to help.”