Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Seniors that call Ocean County home are receiving the best services possible according to an assessment performed by the New Jersey Department of Human Services on the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.
"We say it all the time, programs and services provided by the Ocean County Office of Senior Services are second to none in the state," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services. "The state's assessment giving us a score of 96 out of 96 validates the outstanding job done by the Senior Services staff and our providers."
The State Division of Aging Services (DoAS), Office of Area Agency Administration recently completed the annual programmatic and fiscal assessment of the county agency which ensures the office is in compliance with the Older Americans Act, prevailing federal regulations and state and federal policies.
"The DoAS' review for 2016 certifies that the Ocean County Office of Senior Services was in compliance with state and federal regulations," according to a letter from Laura Ottenbourg, state Division Director. "The Ocean County Office of Senior Services is commended for their dedication and service to seniors and their caregivers in Ocean County."
The Ocean County Office of Senior Services (Area Agency on Aging/AAA) administers a comprehensive, accessible system of community-based services to the elderly in Ocean County. Through networking with community partners, collaborative efforts with providers administering 41 community service provider contracts throughout Ocean County, extensive Outreach, Information and Assistance and Advocacy, the Ocean AAA continues to achieve its mission of leading the way in advancing the well-being of Ocean County's older citizens.
Vicari noted that Ocean County is home to one of the largest senior populations in the state with 170,000 seniors calling the county home.
"We take great pride in our senior population," Vicari said. "These men and women are members of the Greatest Generation, they have lived through the Great Depression, they are retired educators and doctors. All of them bring something unique and special to Ocean County.
"So, it's important we do all we can to meet the growing demands of an aging population - from our nutrition sites to home delivered meals to the outreach we do," he said.
According to the assessment, the county's Office of Senior Services fulfills the mission of an Area Agency on Aging by proactively carrying out a wide range of creative programming and services that assist older people and their caregivers in leading independent, meaningful and dignified lives in their homes and communities for as long as possible.
The report also highlighted the Office of Senior Services strengthening its relationship with mental health agencies resulting in more outreach and connections to senior programs and services.
And, the report noted the office's effort to assist seniors by helping to prepare them in case of emergency.
"Collaboration helps to foster strong partnerships resulting in many beneficial programs for our seniors," Vicari said. "Our Office of Senior Services has information on programs for the new retiree reaching 60-years-old and for our seniors that our 85 plus."
The Office on Senior Services assists the highest population of seniors in the state receiving pharmaceutical assistance and Senior Gold prescription assistance. In addition, the office along with the State Health Insurance Programs assists thousands of seniors annually with Medicare eligibility.
Vicari added the county's nutrition program for seniors provided more than 279,000 meals in 2016.
"Our ongoing commitment to this program remains evident," Vicari said. "The Board of Freeholders is committed to making certain seniors that are in need get a meal delivered to their home every day. The continued support of this Board is helping to make sure our seniors are assisted."
About 1,000 meals a day leave the kitchens of Community Services Inc. and head to seniors living in Ocean County.
"That meal is the lifeline for so many of the seniors that call Ocean County home," Vicari said. "With that meal comes a wellness check, someone that will spend some time and listen, a person that may be the only contact this senior will have all day."
In addition to the nutrition program, the Board of Freeholders provides funding for a number of programs for seniors including social support services, chronic disease self-management and caregiver's assistance.
Vicari noted that Ocean County continues to be a great place to retire as evidenced by the growing senior population.
"There are 92 adult communities in Ocean County," he said. "All of our programs and services provide a host of benefits to our older adults. From our caring and professional staff at the Ocean County Office of Senior Services to the assistance provided by our large and compassionate senior services network, the elderly in Ocean County are in good hands."