The number of senior citizens in Effingham County is expected to increase in the next five to 10 years and with that, so will their needs and concerns, a senior citizen advocate told county commissioners.
Rev. Lloyd Dees, a Rincon resident and Effingham’s representative on the Coastal Georgia Area Agency on Aging, said senior citizens have a number of issues and they are pushing for action from state and local governments.
“Health care is a tremendous burden, and we are deeply concerned about that,” he told commissioners earlier this month. “We are concerned about transportation. There is no countywide transportation that can move people
from place to place, and it’s not just a concern in our county.”
Dees offered his gratitude to the commissioners for supporting the home-delivered meals program and for their support of the Senior Citizens Center, yet a lack of means to get there is a hindrance.
“Thanks for providing a center where they can come together and fellowship,” he said. “Many would like to come, but there is no transportation.”
Dees, who called himself “a bona fide senior citizen,” said senior citizens advocates are asking for the state to create a Department of Aging. Currently, senior services and programs are coordinated under the Department of Human Resources.
He also said that some seniors — many of whom have fixed or limited incomes — are facing unexpected duties as fill-in parents, and he asked that grandparents be compensated at the same level as foster parents. Grandparents also don’t have the legal authority, while raising their grandchildren, that parents have, and Dees said that too is a problem.
“One particular concern we have has to do with grandparents raising grandchildren,” Dees said. “It is a tremendous problem all over the nation and I suspect in our state. Grandparents are shouldering a responsibility they never anticipated. They do not have the financial resources to care for their grandchildren as they should. It is a tremendous burden on a lot of them.”
There is also a growing concern for abuse of the elderly, either in their own home or in nursing homes, Dees said.
“We have discovered many senior citizens being abused and there are no laws to protect them, not like for child abuse,” he said.
Property taxes also are becoming too much for some senior citizens to bear, Dees told commissioners.
“There is a concern we try to keep the elderly in their home as long as we can until we put them in a nursing home, which is very expensive,” he said.
The AAA represents senior citizens in nine counties and operates under the auspices of the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center.
Dees, the chairman of the Coastal AAA Advisory Council, went to the General Assembly in the last week of February to lobby lawmakers on behalf of senior citizens’ concerns.
“The first time we went up there, we took a van of eight people,” he said.
This year, they took two busloads of people.