Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – With 173,000 senior citizens calling Ocean County home, the Board of Chosen Freeholders is making certain programs and services tailored to their ever-changing needs are available and easily accessible.
"All of the programs we fund from community support to nutrition support and including home support are designed to improve the quality of life for older adults," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. "Our programs cover all stages of aging from the newly arrived senior who benefits from Medicare counseling, educational programs, and health screenings to the older more frail individual who receives a home delivered meal or a visit from a home health aide."
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, at its Jan. 16 public meeting is scheduled to approve 37 competitive contracts to a host of local aging network service providers totaling more than $2.6 million. The Board reviewed the measures at its Jan. 9 workshop.
"This Board of Freeholders annually pledges that our seniors are provided with programs and services that will help them live independently in their homes and age with dignity," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines. "Retirees continue to move into Ocean County in large numbers because we have so many amenities that make life here enjoyable."
Ocean County works with 22 governmental and non-profit agencies to provide services to seniors.
One of the largest support programs is the county's senior nutrition program, which in 2019 is expected to provide about 300,000 meals to seniors.
"Close to 1,100 meals are currently prepared daily and distributed to homebound seniors as well as the seven congregate meal sites located throughout our County," said Vicari. "We operate one of the largest senior nutrition programs in the state. With the support of the Board of Freeholders, in December, we awarded seven contracts to continue the senior nutrition program into 2019.
"There is no wait list in Ocean County for this program. No senior in Ocean County goes hungry," Vicari said.
The Board of Freeholders awarded contracts to Community Services Inc., the major meal provider in Ocean County.
"These programs provide great benefits for our seniors, especially those who are frail and in need," Vicari said. "It is less expensive to provide food for one-year for a senior then it is to cover the cost of a day in an emergency room."
Other support areas to be funded include transportation, legal services, caregiver services, social and recreational activities, benefits options counseling, mental health support and other community based initiatives.
"We expect to serve close to 33,000 older residents and their families in 2019," Vicari said.
Vicari noted that the Office of Senior Services is a key part to a large network of agencies and organizations that assist seniors living in Ocean County.
"Access to all of this information and assistance through direct client contact and outreach events continue as the major focus for the Office of Senior Services in 2019," he said. "For instance, last year 100 presentations were given to educate and raise awareness about how we can help. Senior services staff responded to 6,500 callers and walk-ins while more than 47,000 visits were made to the office's website found at www.co.ocean.nj.us.
"If people don't know what we offer than they are missing out on the assistance that can help them," Vicari said. "It's so important to get the word out especially to our most frail and vulnerable citizens that assistance is available in a host of areas."