2010-11-03 / Agency

Samost JFCS & NJ federations at Older Americans Act Forum

Gathered at the recent Older Americans Act Forum were (front, from left), Renie Carniol, manager of funder services, director of the Grotta Fund for Senior Care, Jewish Community Foundation of Metro West NJ; and Grace Egan, executive director, NJ Foundation for Aging; with (rear, from left), Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations; Rebecca Rosenau, JFCS director of Senior Services Advocacy & Outreach; Emily Greenfield, assistant professor and coordinator of Programs on Aging, Rutgers School of Social Work; Melissa Chalker, program manager, NJ Foundation for Aging; Gail Belfer, director of Senior Services for JFCS; and Sydelle Norris, program development specialist on aging, Division of Aging and Community Services Office of AAA Administration. Gathered at the recent Older Americans Act Forum were (front, from left), Renie Carniol, manager of funder services, director of the Grotta Fund for Senior Care, Jewish Community Foundation of Metro West NJ; and Grace Egan, executive director, NJ Foundation for Aging; with (rear, from left), Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations; Rebecca Rosenau, JFCS director of Senior Services Advocacy & Outreach; Emily Greenfield, assistant professor and coordinator of Programs on Aging, Rutgers School of Social Work; Melissa Chalker, program manager, NJ Foundation for Aging; Gail Belfer, director of Senior Services for JFCS; and Sydelle Norris, program development specialist on aging, Division of Aging and Community Services Office of AAA Administration. Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS), an agency of the Jewish Federation, was a planner and participant at an Oct.14 Southern New Jersey Forum on the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA). The event enabled professionals and individuals involved in planning for care of the elderly to review the Older Americans Act and to make recommendations in preparation for its reauthorization in 2011. Health care professionals, including consumers, caregivers and providers, met in four breakout sessions to discuss how to meet the current and future needs of the elderly population in New Jersey. A similar event was held in Northern New Jersey the day before.

JFCS social worker Rebecca Rosenau co-facilitated a session on “Aging in Place,” along with Grace Egan of the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. Topics included care management and case assistance, health promotion, help with transitions, emergency preparedness, and new opportunities. The other three sessions addressed “Access,” including awareness, transportation, language barriers, and outreach; “Service Coordination,” including interagency coordination and intergovernmental collaboration, research and technology; and “Economic Security,” including work programs, benefit counseling, intergenerational services, using the Elder Index, and senior employment.

“With Congress scheduled to take up the reauthorization of the Act in 2011, it is important to provide the Obama Administration, the U.S. Administration on Aging and our Washington representatives our views on those programs and resources that will impact our senior service delivery system,” stated Ruth Cole, president of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, a conference co-convener.

New Jersey is one of nine states with a senior population of more than one million. The estimate is that, as of 2030, the senior population will grow to 2.5 million in New Jersey. Of the current number of seniors, 250,000 are age 85 or older.

“The reason that we are voicing our views on the OAA is because seniors are our number one priority. The Jewish community is also aging rapidly with more than 20% of American Jews already over the age of 65, and those over the age of 85 being the fastest growing demographic within our community,” stressed Cole.

State Association Executive Director Jacob Toporek noted that the viability of the federations’ aging in place initiatives could be secured through the Act. “Reauthorization of the Act is one vehicle for making home and community-based services more broadly available. Older Americans in greater numbers will be able to stay in their homes and communities longer and do so with dignity and independence with an increase in resources through the OAA.”

The OAA provided approximately $50-million to the State of New Jersey in fiscal year 2010, and continues to evolve and expand each time it is reauthorized. Other forum presenters included representatives from: Monmouth County Office on Aging, Community Services of Ocean County, Camden County Division of Senior and Disabled Services, Stockton Center on Successful Aging, Senior Community Service Employment Program, AARP NJ, NJ Division of Aging and Community Services, and the Office of AAA Administration. .

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