The Office on Aging is Here to Help
The Office on Aging is Here to Help
You probably have never thought of this. People 55 and older are no different than any other age group in this country.
- They have a fierce desire to be independent.
- They want to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest.
- Spending time and doing things with their friends is enjoyable. Helping those they can provides satisfaction.
- They want to be healthy. They want to be ok physically and mentally.
The Main Role of the Office on Aging – to Serve and Help Those Over 55 in Knoxville and Knox County
That’s where we come in. The CAC Office on Aging where we work is a public nonprofit agency. Our main role is to serve and help all people 55 and older residing in Knoxville and Knox County. We take this very personally. While we help everyone in this age group, our primary focus is on those for whom aging presents the greatest hardship – women, minorities, the poor and those whose health is failing.
This is a big job. We have to assess the needs of those in this age group and align them with resources to meet those needs. There may be public, non-profit or for profit organizations already in place to provide help. Where there are, we act as a referral to these organizations.
In those instances where there is no one meeting a need, we make it known and try to get an organization to take it on. At times, we address the need itself.
The Needs of This Age Group Are Pretty Diverse
Some people are just looking for activities and social programs they can participate in. For them, we have the O’Connor Senior Center. If you want to see what programs are currently available at O’Connor, please check out this webpage, http://www.knoxseniors.org/oconnor.html
For those with more specific needs whether it’s nutrition, transportation, daily living or health related we are here to help. We refer them to outside agencies and support them ourselves when there is no one else to. When working with seniors who have dire needs and no support system, we frequently find ourselves in crisis case management mode.
One of our own programs, to help such individuals, is the Senior Companion Program. Here we match a companion up with a homebound person who needs daily attention and assistance with small tasks such as preparing meals, visiting the doctor, or shopping. Their companion supports and enables the homebound person to maintain their independence with dignity and improve the quality of their later years. Frequently this companion becomes a friend.
Community Partners Rely on the Office on Aging
We work very closely with social workers across the county, including Rita Holt of Amedisys Home Health Care. Rita is very familiar with the Senior Companion Program. She views it as a tremendous asset because there are so many seniors in Knox County who need the help of a senior companion and can’t afford to hire one. Rita recently commented “The Office on Aging of the Knoxville Knox County CAC has the strongest support system for older people I have seen. If I didn’t have resources like this to help out, I would feel sorry for our clients.”
Another partner is Choices in Senior Care. This is an organization which provides assessments and care management for seniors. Their mission is to help these people age well. Recently Elaine Wilson, the Director of Outreach at Choices in Senior Care commented how they work closely with the Office on Aging. She said that if they do an assessment and find the person is not a good fit for their organization, they will refer them to the Office on Aging.
Elaine added “We have always found it easy to work with the Office on Aging. We both have the same objective in mind. When we call the OOA, we always get an immediate response.”
There are about 125 people working at the Office on Aging. If you have had the opportunity to deal with any of us, you probably have seen how passionate we are. Each of us wants to do the best we can to help those who need our services.
If you are 55 or older and want to see what we offer, please check out our website, www.knoxseniors.org. You can also call (865) 524-2786. If you need our help right now, please call us. Likewise — if you have a parent or relative 55 or older who needs help, call us. We’d like to be of service.
We always can use more volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, please call (865) 524-2786. We’re sure we can find the perfect spot for you.