Northampton seniors can double their pleasure

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008

JACKSON – Northampton County senior citizens can double their opportunities to enjoy life in their golden years.

The Northampton County Office on Aging has been in existence for about 20 years and is the lead agency for senior service in the county, according to the director, Debra Warren.

The office recently moved to the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center. Warren said the new building gives the agency the space and ability to have food distribution and meetings on site.

The Northampton County Office on Aging is in Region L, which services five counties: Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson.

The goal of the agency is to help seniors 60 years and older who need assistance and help them find resources and to keep them independent, according to Warren.

In Northampton County, the Office on Aging and the Faison Senior Center are separate services, but the office works closely with the center in order to maintain senior programs.

The Office on Aging offers many services for senior citizens, which are made possible through the Home and Community Care Block Grant. These services include transportation services, made possible with a grant through the department of transportation and the rural operating transportation assistance program.

This program helps with medical transportation, group field trip transportation and transportation to community events, classes and educational venues. A portion of the funds are designated to help with transportation to and from work.

Home- delivered meals, senior organizations, outreach programs and advocacy programs are also available.

Other programs available are health promotional programs, family caregiver resources, insurance information, Med-Link Program (help with prescription drugs).

The USDA commodity food program is a countywide, income based food distribution program and is not just for seniors. Warren said the agency has food distribution every quarter.

The Commodity Supplement Food Program is geared for people 60 years of age or older. The staff at the agency will help seniors sign up for the program and they can then go the Enfield Commodity warehouse to pick up their food. This program is also income based.

According to Warren, the agency also assists seniors with Medicare part D, provides legal aid referral and has a family caregiver support group that meets monthly.

A Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program is available through the office.

The agency also holds a Council of Aging meeting the second Friday of every month, which offers speakers and provides information and education about resources available for senior citizens.

Warren added that wellness education is in the works and a step class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m. has already started.

“This office is for them (the seniors),” said Warren. “Some people don’t even know we are here; we need to get the word out that we are here to serve the older population.”

She added that the office has an information library, on-line resources and pamphlets available for people.

“We are here for them,” she said. “We are going to try to help them.”

Warren also said that volunteers are always needed to help with food distribution and home delivered meals.

Those interested in helping can call 534-1668 for more information.

The J.W. Faison Senior Center also offers various activities for seniors.

The center, which operates from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Mondays- Fridays and some Saturdays, services seniors who are 60 years of age and older.

Some of the classes and programs available through the center are congregate nutrition, computer instruction, aerobics and exercise equipment, ceramics, Bible study, crocheting and BINGO.

Other activities include Scrabble, scrapbooking, card games, craft classes, diabetes education, dancing, ping pong and support groups.

Additional programs are field trips, AARP Tax Aid, health screening and SHIIP counseling.

Bea Jefferson, the nutrition manager and office assistant at the J.W. Faison Center, said the Thread Group has crocheted bags for people in nursing homes and hats for cancer patients.

“The center is important because a lot of seniors have families that are busy because they work, so the seniors sit in the house 24/7 by themselves,” said Jefferson. “We try to keep them independent and get them out while letting them keep their dignity.”

She added that they try to keep the seniors’ minds alert and to get them around people.

“We try to keep their minds occupied,” she said. “I am glad to be a part of this; it is good for them.”

She added that all of the classes are free for senior citizens and encouraged them to come and see how they like the center.

“Just try it one time; if you don’t like it, then you don’t have to come back,” she said. “We don’t push, but just encourage because it is lonesome sitting in the house by yourself.”

The center partners with Halifax and Roanoke Chowan Community College in order to offer the classes.

Deborah Wray teaches a class at the center through Roanoke Chowan Community College.

“Technology advances so fast,” she said. “It is important to teach them the fundamentals and to show them they can do much more with a computer than just play games.”

Wray said she teaches the Internet, instant messaging, introduction to computers, basic components and hand placement on keyboard.

She encourages students to come to her class and encourages people to donate computers to the center that they may not use anymore.