Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center focuses on health and nutrition initiatives
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center officials will continue to focus on improving the fitness and nutrition of older adults in the county.
Alice Snyder, the director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging, delivered the agency’s 2016- 2017 annual report to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners at its regular monthly meeting held on Jan. 25.
A total of 45,552 meals were served to 1,137 older adults over the year at a cost of $5.51 per meal. A total of 1,600 people attended congregate meals, which bucks a national trend of lower participation at such meals since Baby Boomers prefer to dine in restaurants.
The Commission on Aging provided home delivered meals to 700 additional people over the previous year.
Dale Van Vliet, a former executive chef at St. John’s Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, was hired as the agency’s first ever nutrition manager.
“He has a lot of experience and he is settling in well,” Snyder said.
The Commission on Aging is trying to change the ways meals are served to a restaurant-style format to attract Baby Boomers. Fresh and inviting meal choices are being added to the menu.
“We’re hoping to bring along all the people that continue to come that are there now, but try to get some new people in there as well,” Snyder said.
The Commission on Aging is considering offering catering to bring in revenue to support the Meals on Wheels program.
The Commission on Aging is also exploring the option of providing vouchers through restaurants in the county in order to provide nutritious, low-cost meals to older adults.
“The nice thing is when we’re not open, they can use these restaurant vouchers,” Snyder said.
Older adults who live in Lovells, Frederic, and near Roscommon could utilize the vouchers when public transportation is not available on the weekends.
“It would be a way to touch some of those people on our outer edges,” Snyder said.
The Commission on Aging added a NuStep, a cross training piece of equipment which allows older adults to work out their entire body, to its exercise and activity options. The goal of the equipment is to keep senior citizens out of the hospital after they are injured.
“A lot of folks, unfortunately, graduate from rehab and they go home and they stop doing stuff and they end up back in the hospital again,” Snyder said.
Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis, continues to be a popular activity. Matches are held at the Frederic Community Center and the Community Recreation, Activities and Fitness Center in Roscommon. Participants established their own on-line schedule.
“They are a very active, independent group which didn’t need a lot of help from us,” Snyder said.
Aerobic drumming, which involves hitting a large exercise ball with drumsticks while moving around, is played at the Grayling Eagles Club.
“It’s a very active type of exercise,” Snyder said.
A total of 6,870 in-home service hours were provided to 160 individuals at a cost of $27.36 per hour. The most time was spent assisting older adults with homemaking tasks. Twenty-three percent of those hours were provided through respite care, which was a reduction since a three-year state grant for the program was phased out. Fourteen percent of the hours were spent providing personal care to clients. One part-time program assistant and one part-time homemaker were added to staff to handle the workload.
The average monthly attendance for Senior Center activities was 1,077 citizens. Just over a handful of those participants live in the senior housing apartments located next to the Senior Center, which are provided through the Grayling Housing Commission.
“We serve everyone – not just lower-income older adults,” Snyder said.
The Commission on Aging generated $896,894 in revenues over the past year. A total of $59,000 in its fund balance was added to the agency’s contingency fund to have three months of operating expenses on hand. Another $134,000 was added to the Commission on Aging’s building fund.
Sixty-three percent of the revenues come from a Crawford County millage levied to support the agency. Those funds increased due to a hike in taxable values in the county. The Commission on Aging can only ask for a maximum millage rate of one mill to support its services, so officials hope tax values continue to climb as they see a greater demand for services.
“We’re hoping that trend continues,” Snyder said. “Any increase in millage that we have is totally based on a taxable value increase. We cannot go back to the voters and ask for additional millage.”