"Seven million older Americans and their families are currently being served by a large network of federal, state, tribal, local partnerships and thousands of volunteers. The services provided by these groups make it easier for older Americans to remain in their homes, communities, and the workplace, which helps preserve their dignity and independence.

"I commend our senior citizens for their many contributions to our society..."

These excerpts are from a press release in which President Bush officially declared May 2003 as Older American Month. Many of us are very aware of the contributions of our seniors and how they continue to inspire even when everything seems to be falling apart around them. Many times I've heard the expression (or some variation) "Well, we only get one day at a time. And most days that's plenty!"

Heroism is not only in the headlines. The quiet grandma or grandpa who struggles each day to just get through some routine; who tries to juggle living costs with even more expensive medicine; who doesn't want any charity, but is the first one to give to others when they can - these are truly heroic. But, they don't expect to see any comic books or blockbuster movies about them. They're content to just get through the day.

This part of our community is growing. One in six Americans (44 million people) is 60 or older. By the year 2030, it's estimated that the number of 85-plus folks will be triple what they are today. And I've worked with a lot of people over the last several years and have observed something: None of us are getting younger each year. And as we grow older, medical emergencies - and their results - become more than an irritating interruption of our routines. One catastrophic accident or illness can result in the balance between savings and need tipping toward all need and no savings in very short order.

Previous columns have noted that the Older American Act in 1965 resulted in triple As (Area Agencies on Aging) being established. Currently, there are nearly 900 triple As and Native American aging programs across the country. And also as noted previously, the Triple As (through Senior Information & Assistance among other names) provide services ranging from information and referral, to client assessments, case management and coordination of community resources.

The list of services out there is too long for this column, so a call to your local Sr I & A office is the best way to see what's available.

Along these lines are the Community Forums, where the Triple A tries to gain community information on what the needs are. An area plan is developed as a tool to access as many resources as possible and coordinate them into direct service for seniors in our communities. Information, questions/answers, public community input are made available, and ours is scheduled for Monday, June 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the Peninsula. We're still doing the logistics, but set the date aside so you can help us evaluate community needs and become a part of the whole deal. Details to come - see you there!

Senior Information & Assistance

Ilwaco: 642-3634/888-571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/888-571-6557

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