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.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.

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Affordable Housing and HUD

Terrebonne Council on Aging - Monday, March 30, 2015

It was our great pleasure to welcome the HUD Innovation Design Team to Terrebonne Parish.  The Terrebonne Council on Aging was part of a group of community leaders who are in involved with affordable housing in Terrebonne.  The group included graduate-level students from around the country in architecture, planning and public policy, and business who toured Terrebonne courtesy of our transportation buses.

Housing is a critical issue for everyone but especially for our elderly and we were pleased to be able to provide perspective of our area's housing needs.

Terrebonne Council on Aging Executive Director, Dianna Edmonson, meets with HUD Director of Utilization Division, Rachelle Levitt.

Name one person or one family not impacted by elder issues. Bet you can’t!

Terrebonne Council on Aging - Friday, January 30, 2015

Here's a challenge. Name one family or one person who is not closely impacted by elder issues? We bet you can't.

Think about it. Are you caring for or in any way involved in the lives of a parent or family member over 60? Are you someone over 60 who financially, physically, emotionally assists another – an adult child, a grandchild or great-grandchild? Are you a business person whose employees are on occasion taken away from work to bring an elder family member to a doctor appointment or to tend to other life tasks? Are you part of an organization whose primary volunteers and contributors are near or over 60?

You get the point. We all are impacted, each and every one. And with our elders making up some 30% of our state population and with that percentage expected to approach 40% over the next decade, how we leverage resources is rapidly rising in importance.

Happily we can say that Terrebonne Parish is one of the leading parishes in terms of its support of the elderly. This something we should all be proud of and it's something we can build on.

For one thing of which we can be certain, everyone is either elderly, or one day will be. In any case, elder issues impact us all.

A Typical Day at the Terrebonne Council on Aging​

Terrebonne Council on Aging - Friday, January 23, 2015

It's 3 am. Already the kettles are simmering with the days meals that will be served to the some 800+ Terrebonne's elderly that day, served either congregate style at one of  five lunch sites or delivered directly to Terrebonne's home bound citizens.

By 4:30 am, the first buses and vans leave the Operation Center on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma to pickup elderly in the farther reaches of the parish in time to get them to dialysis or other medically essential appointments. By 6:30 the nutrition vans go the Courthouse Annex to begin picking -up the  meals from the kitchen and to begin their routes.    By 8:30  the parking lot at the Operation Center  is nearly clear of all of the other vans and buses as they begin their routes to either deliver meals or transport elderly clients to numerous appointments and locations.

As the transportation tasks get fully underway, the council's five senior centers open their doors to a waiting group of friends who gather each weekday for camaraderie, hot coffee and some good conversation. Of course the home style, freshly prepared meals that will be ready to be served at the four lunch sites, located in senior centers, around 11 am are also rumored to be part of the draw. (The fifth lunch site is independent and is housed at the East Park Recreation Center).

With lights on and doors open, friends break out the cards for hotly contested games of pedro and others, grab a paint brush to touch up a ceramic masterpiece, sit in pleasant conversation while creating heirloom quality quilts or strap on their sneakers to join in exercise classes that we bet some of the younger crowd might have a hard time to keeping up with.

Many a day at a center is also a call for celebration with full-blown birthday parties complete with cake, party favors, prizes, live music and dancing.

Exciting as they are, the centers are just a small part of the day.  Shady Lane Apartments  offers 49 new and modern apartments with one of the most beautiful and serene parks and walking tracks just steps outside the door.

Still there is so much more to the day as the council's program kick in to broker assistance with prescriptions, calling those who are shut in, providing personal care and housekeeping or giving a breather to family members and caregivers through in home respite - just to name a few.

Advocacy for the elderly, cooperative engagement with local emergency operations, sheriff and DA and work at the regional, state and national level are all part of the day as well.

As evening falls, the day finally slows down, but only long enough to gear up for another day.

Busy though it may be, a day in service to our elderly is a great day indeed.

"When the great people of the Good Earth Parish get together, great things happen".