Houma Courier Editorial 5-4-2015

Terrebonne Council on Aging - Thursday, May 14, 2015

Agency provides huge benefit

Published: Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

The Terrebonne Parish Council on Aging has a long history of service — and thousands of people each year receive those services.

From rides to the doctor to meals to help with paying for medicine, the Council on Aging is a priceless asset to our community.

In addition, the council is a presence in some people's lives who might have few other options.

Altogether, it is a huge public benefit.

Council on Aging Executive Director Diana Edmonson gave a report to the Terrebonne Parish Council last week in which she detailed the services her agency provided just last year.

In 2014, nearly 4,500 senior citizens received services from the Council on Aging, Edmonson said.

As part of her presentation, Edmonson went through a typical day — March 16. That day alone, the council transported 72 people a total of 2,230 miles.

The transportation services it provides are invaluable.

Edmonson said the Council on Aging expanded its transportation in 2005 at the request of the parish.

"In those 10 years, we have saved the parish $1.5 million. It was costing the parish, to my understanding, $150,000 a year to provide rural transportation," she said.

That is a lot of money if that were all the agency did.

But it's not.

Its food services are every bit as important.

"It's been proven that every $1 invested in Meals on Wheels saves $50 in Medicaid alone," Edmonson said. "We served 185,930 meals in the fiscal year 2014 for a savings to the state and federal government of $9.3 million. I think that's amazing because good food is preventive medicine at its best."

That is an excellent point.

Most of the people served through the meals program live in poverty, and nearly half of them are at "high nutritional risk."

That means that people who might fall through the cracks of other social programs are being nourished regularly by the Council on Aging.

Again, it would be worthwhile if that were all it accomplished.

But there is even more.

The council last year provided $355,079 in prescription medication to qualifying seniors.

That is medicine that people might be forced to go without were it not for this local service.

The Council on Aging provides the seniors of Terrebonne Parish with a multitude of services that are unlikely to come from another source.

Let's keep up the good work.

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