TOWN OF ULSTER >> Reauthorizing the federal Older Americans Act would provide $2 billion a year for five years to support important services for senior citizens, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson said on Thursday.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, held a press conference at the Birches at Chambers senior housing community to discuss bipartisan efforts to reauthorize the federal act. Joined by several Ulster County officials and seniors, he said the act dates to 1965 and would provide support for senior nutrition services, family caregivers, community service employment and services to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors. Gibson said legislation to reauthorize the act has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.
“This bill is really designed to provide supportive services down to the county level,” Gibson said. He said he hopes the bill will approved by Congress and signed by the president this year.
The last reauthorization of the Older Americans Act occurred in 2006. Appropriations under the act expired at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, but Congress continued to appropriate funding for Older Americans Act activities.
Steve Aaron, managing partner of Birchez Associates, said the average senior living at the company’s Birches at Chambers complex is well into their 70s. He said a number of them already are benefiting from programs such as Meals on Wheels, which is supported by the Older Americans Act. Aaron said the residents rely on those services.
AARP volunteer Fran Hamblin said the senior advocacy group “commends the legislation’s straightforward goal of protecting the vital array of the OAA’s (Older Americans Act) programs and services that assist, protect, nourish and sustain the nation’s seniors.”
Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack said the 2010 Census showed 29 percent of Ulster County’s residents were 55 or older. That means 52,000 individuals in the county would be affected by this legislation, she said.
“So this bill will ensure that critical services for those 52,000 people living here in Ulster County will be protected,” Postupack said at Thursday’s event.
Gibson said the drive to reauthorize the federal bill came from constituents in his 19th Congressional District, which includes Ulster County. He said several Office for the Aging directors from across the district met with him to urge action on the bill.
Following the press conference, Gibson met with Birches at Chambers resident Marie Kennedy, 95, the oldest surviving Gold Star Mother in Ulster County. Her only son, Pfc. John G. Senor, died in the Vietnam War after serving less than a year in the U.S. Army.
Gibson, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, presented Kennedy with a congressional gold coin and admired a shadow box displaying Senor’s medals.
Source: Daily Freeman