The 17th annual Orange County Senior Forum kicked off on the SUNY Orange Campus in Middletown on Aug. 14. Director of the Orange County Office for the Aging Annmarie Maglione put together an activity-filled two-part event attended by an estimated 260 seniors from all over the county.
The state-mandated Public Hearing, announced the programs and services the office will provide in 2016. The Office for the Aging wants a response for past programs and what people want in the future. “We decided to incorporate the public hearing with the senior forum because it is so important to hear opinions from seniors as to what we are doing. Essentially it’s our report card,” Maglione said.
County Executive Steven Neuhaus led the public hearing session by noting the Baby Boom generation is the fastest-growing population in the county. Maglione said that seniors are returning from retirement communities in Arizona and Florida and the county is prepared for them.
The Senior Forum offered a wide array of courses that seniors look forward to each year. Flower Arranging was a popular session led by Lily Norton and Lori Lotito. Former county legislator, town supervisor, and WTBQ talk show host Frank Fornario led a line dance session for beginners. Sheriff Carl DuBois and District Attorney David Hoovler was joined by Executive Assistant DA Robert Conflitti and Chief Investigator Will Garcia in how to avoid fraud, theft, and scams targeting seniors.
Office for the Aging offers services either directly or through sub-contracts, designed to maintain the quality of life of those aged 60 and over, Maglione said during the public hearing. The county’s 60 to 74 population group in 2015 numbered about 2,785,000 and is expected to grow.
Maglione presented a rundown of programs her department already has in place and some future plans. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Orange County has 522 members and is part of a nationwide volunteers program for older adults.
Two educational programs, Really Smart Patient and Falls Prevention, informs seniors how to discuss medical issues with their doctor and how to prevent falls. Healthy Orange addresses healthier eating, promoting exercise and reducing the effects of tobacco.
OFA does health screening and health and nutrition education at the places where seniors congregate such as popular eateries, senior centers, and senior clubs. A new program, in partnership with Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, matches an older adult with an older pet without a home. Pets Alive covers veterinary care, litter box, and food; food is provided by the Pet Chow pantry in Middletown.
OFA’s goals include expanding the senior dining program at the Arden Hill/BOCES campus. The department completed a workshop for managing chronic diseases at a senior housing complex and plans three more by year’s end.
As part of outreach, OFA offers a workshop to caregivers—Fearless Caregivers—discuss their issues, receive service information, support and meet with other caregivers. Veterans get special attention. The Orange County Veteran’s Food Pantry was established in 2009 and groceries can be delivered to homes.
Awards were given to Norbury Chambers of Montgomery as Senior Citizen of the Year and Frank Pileggi of Chester for outstanding contribution as a senior. ShopRite was honored as a senior friendly business.
The state Office for the Aging partners with a network of public and private organizations throughout the state.
Maglione stressed how important it is for seniors to give to their community. “Nobody wants to be sedentary. You want to be productive citizens in society. The more active you are, the more social you are, the happier you are.
Neuhaus said the event may be held more often than annually.
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