Seniors First ready to serve the community

By: Candace Roeder, Guest Columnist
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At Seniors First, our mission is “Keeping seniors independent by providing services that improve or sustain the independence and well being of older adults.” With the growth of the senior population in Placer County, we have a challenge to provide critical services to the seniors needing our supportive services. According to census figures, in 1990 the number of 60+ seniors in Placer County was 28,000. In 2000 the number grew to 42,000. Census indicators show that in 2010 that number will rise to an estimated 82,000. We have to prepare now to support the continual increase of Placer County seniors and provide those services that maintain their health and independence. Many seniors are referred to us by heath care professionals, concerned family or friends or the senior themselves concerned about their nutrition. Nutrition is an ongoing issue for seniors, as many cannot cook a nutritious, well-balanced meal for themselves. Our meals provide one third of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of nutrients needed for good health. We currently provide a hot noon meal to 225 homebound seniors and 200 seniors eat at one of our eight senior cafes Monday through Friday. All meals are delivered by volunteers. Transportation is the number one problem facing seniors in Placer County, according to the Area 4 Agency on Aging survey published in December 2004. Our Volunteer Rides Program (approximately 90 drivers) drove over 75,919 miles last year, for a total of 7,552 one-way trips for seniors to medical appointments, grocery shopping and other appointments. Our Home Safety Repair program provides bathroom grab bars for bath and toilet, changing light bulbs, replacing fixtures, plumbing, light electrical, stair support, windows and many other needed health and safety home repairs. Our Home and Safety Repair program last year served 600 seniors with 1,900 repairs. With our Friendly Visitor program we recruited and trained 70 volunteers who visit 80 isolated, homebound seniors weekly. In July 2007, Senior Independent Services merged with Seniors First. Seniors First opened its doors in 1997 and quickly became a placement agency, helping seniors to locate appropriate out-of-home living options. In 1999 Seniors First applied for and became a California nonprofit corporation. In 2000 Seniors First submitted a grant application to Area 4 Agency on Aging to administer Placer County’s Senior Information & Assistance program known as SeniorLink. Seniors First/SeniorLink has been Placer County’s Senior Information & Assistance provider ever since. SeniorLink currently assists approximately 14,000 Placer County seniors to locate, understand and access programs and services available to them in order to maintain their independence and maximize their finances. Finally, Seniors First’s Housing Options counsels about 425 families each year as to the different levels of care available to them in a variety of out-of-home living options At the heart of all we do is our volunteers. We are fortunate to have about 450 volunteers, without whom we could not accomplish what we do. Seniors First now has a paid staff of 46 that both serves and advocates for the growing population of Placer County seniors. Candace Roeder is executive director of Seniors First. Call (530) 889-9500 for more information about services.