Olympic Area Agency on Aging

Senior Information & Assistance

In our last column, we saw statistics that showed that: "Our county has the highest 60-plus population in our service area (Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties) and is at nearly double that of the state average. We also have the highest percentage of adults (21-64) with disabilities. Add to this over 15 percent of the population at or below the poverty level and you begin to see the need."

Recently I received a follow-up stat entitled "Highest Ranking County in U.S. and each State" based on the percentage of population 65-plus. Surprise! Pacific County has the highest percentage of 65-plus folks in Washington state.

What does this mean - aside from we're getting older? Well, on the one hand, our area has been discovered as a great environment and people have dreams of retiring by the seashore. It also may mean that perhaps (in some areas) that our cost of living might be lower than other communities, or that it's recognized as a nice, quiet get-away from the city stuff. ("Urban issues" if you want to be sophisticated.)

So, all we have to be concerned about are simple things, like: survival in a rural area where access to major medical assistance is severely limited; ever-rising costs of prescriptions during a time when we begin to need more and more of them; insurance companies that stop service because we live out of their newly defined "service area"; transportation, food, assistance in and around the home. Piece of cake.

In many ways, we are a "retirement" community. I use quotes since many times retirement is not all we thought it would be. Let's face it, as we get older, our bodies sometimes refuse to stay attuned to our inner selves - which of course stay 20 years old! There are, however, also positive dynamics in such a community. Volunteer groups and other organizations assisting seniors have a history here, existing in some form prior to "official" agencies being in place.

This network of assistance is what we (O3A/Sr I & A) attempt to coordinate, support and enhance. We are not the all-in-all, but we are a piece of the information and assistance resource, and strive to find solutions rather than add to confusion. Home and community services, senior centers, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), nutrition sites, medical services, assisted living facilities, adult family homes and others are all part of a network of services and helps already in place.

This is a good place to offer a reminder: We have our Pacific County Senior Resource Directory, copies of the senior survey recently sent out with the newspaper, (and available online at www.o3a.org; also see the Benefits Checkup there), various informational pamphlets of prescription assistance, in-home care, etc.

So in spite of the fact that we're an aging population leading the race in Washington, there are resources available. And, by the way, if you're out there helping seniors and not listed in our Resource Directory, let us know! We really are all in this together.

Senior Information & Assistance

Ilwaco: 642-3634 / (888) 571-6558

Raymond 942-2177 / (888) 571-6557

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