Concerns about the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs, the high cost of prescription drugs and the continuation of in-home services were on the minds of several hundred area senior citizens who turned out for the fifth annual Huntingdon County Senior Expo Wednesday at the Smithfield Fire Hall.
The four-hour event was sponsored by state Rep. Rich Irvin in cooperation with the Huntingdon-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency on Aging (AAA), J.C. Blair Health System Inc., the First National Bank and Penelec/FirstEnergy Corp.
“The Expo provides seniors with the opportunity to ask questions and gather helpful information about a variety of senior services,” observed Irvin. “What is so nice about the occasion is that most of the information seniors are in search of can all be found in one central location.”
Asked about concerns of the elderly the answers focused on the need to preserve the Social Security and Medicare programs as well as a host of other services for seniors. Three of those priorities also include healthcare, senior housing and in-home assistance.
“Many of the senior citizens I talk with want to see in-home services preserved,” explained the state legislator. “Seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible.”
Irvin went on to say that protecting in-home services is an effective and cost-saving approach to helping senior citizens.
Looking to future state funding for a variety of services for the elderly. Irvin said that it is Harrisburg’s goal to prepare for the onslaught of “baby boomer” retirements that is expected to “reach a crisis very soon,” adding that the state’s population of persons age 65 and older is expected to grow to 1.3 million.
“These people will be moving out of the workforce into retirement and the state needs to be sure there’s funding in place to assist these seniors,” observed Irvin.
Other needs of the elderly include a reliable transportation system like the AAA’s Call a Ride Transportation (CART) program which seniors have relied on for decades.
“Seniors are also concerned about the growing cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, as well as preserving in-home services,” remarked Connie Brode, AAA executive director. “The Senior Expo is an excellent place for seniors to gather information and ask questions about their concerns.”
Brode and other staffers from the AAA were on hand to talk with seniors and to assist with this year’s well-attended Senior Expo.
The Daily News quizzed several expo attendees about some of their concerns, with the vast majority expressing satisfaction with the annual exposition.
Clinton and Sharon Hawn of Hartslog Valley are grateful for the expo, saying they both benefited by collecting information that will be helpful to them. Clinton, 80, is a retired farmer, Agway and PennDOT worker who has been delivering the daily newspaper for 15 years. Clinton is also an avid hunter who enjoyed stopping by the state Game Commission display.
Likewise, Elsie McClain, Helen Nease and Dee Stetchock, all of Cassville, said the expo is an excellent learning experience for them because that can talk with people associated with agencies and other businesses about a wide range of senior issues.
So, does Virginia LeCrone of Spruce Creek and Carl Reed of Cresson who had nothing but praise for the expo, saying that the annual event provides an important service for senior citizens of the county and surrounding areas.
Still, other seniors remarked that the Senior Expo provides them with the opportunity to seek information about eligibility for a wide range of services for the elderly. Still others took advantage of the free blood pressure screenings, materials and information about health, financial matters, state programs and volunteer opportunities.
Forty-two different organizations and businesses took part in this year’s expo with 51 table displays prepared.
Irvin also thanked partner organizations J.C. Blair Health System Inc. for its assistance and the AAA which provided lunches for the seniors as well as CART transportation. Also recognized were event sponsors Penelec/FirstEnergy Corp. and the First National Bank for providing lunch for the vendors.
Special thanks was also expressed to the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Co. for providing the space and preparing the vendor lunches.
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