When it comes to the dignity of our senior citizens, we should never compromise. But, some of the aging population in our county have accepted a less than desirable standard of living. Why is this happening? After spending some time talking with Marcine Johnson, board member and chair of the Volunteer Aging Council in Cherokee County, I learned part of the challenge.
“Our seniors won’t ask for help when they need it. A lifetime of self-sufficiency makes it very hard to reach out when things get tough,” Johnson said. Prescriptions costs, medical bills, rent increases and car repairs are just a few things that can cripple an already tight budget.
Founded in 2000, the Volunteer Aging Council (VAC) works closely with Cherokee County Senior Services and Homeless Veterans. Their vision is to ensure the safety, security, shelter and sustenance for the seniors of Cherokee County. They address our county’s seniors’ and veterans’ unmet needs by obtaining resources from the community through fundraising and volunteerism.
The primary program supported by VAC is Meals on Wheels® − providing nutritional supplement drinks such as Ensure, Boost and Glucerna (for diabetics). The generosity of donors has enabled VAC to expand and add other programs.
• Last Stop (Provides funds for emergency needs when seniors and veterans have exhausted all other means of assistance.)
• Fan and Heater Drives (Includes A/C window units as needed.)
• Building Project and Lifestyle Maintenance (Provides repair and/or improvement of household features that enhance the quality of life for the homebound, frail and struggling.)
• Transportation (When CATS is unavailable.)
• Senior hygiene
Johnson shared the story of one elderly gentleman who was discharged from the hospital with a prescription for drugs that totaled more than $800, which he did not have. Johnson worked with the pharmacy to lower the bill and used the funds from their Last Stop program to cover the prescription.
They also pay bills directly for rent, utilities, temporary housing due to homelessness, and for safety equipment like extension grabbers, shower chairs, and installing ramps and bathroom grab bars. There are so many areas where we can help honor and support our seniors.
– Susan Browning Schulz, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mom of three grown children.