Elderly need assistance

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 11:24 p.m.

I was saddened to read recently about the elderly female resident of Gainesville who died and laid undiscovered in her home for approximately five weeks. As the population ages and medical science prolongs life, more and more elderly will find themselves living alone.

According to the Boston University New England Centenarian study, there are currently over 50,000 citizens of 100 years of age or more in the United States.

As the 70 million baby boomers age, it is projected that more than 3 million of them will attain the century mark before dying.

The majority of the centenarians will be women. As these aging individuals struggle to maintain their independence, many of them will at some point become isolated, and occurrences such as this recent sad event are likely to continue.

At the federal and state levels, the Bush family and others in government are asking us to make a difference in our communities. In these tough budget times there will be less government funding and thus a need for more community involvement.

In 2003, you personally can make a difference with the Alachua County elderly population with just a small time commitment. Many of these individuals will not ask for assistance.

But if you are aware of a senior or seniors living alone, you can help by offering to do small household or lawn chores, pick up some items from the store, invite them over for dinner, or just arrange to call them on a daily or weekly basis.

If you are not acquainted with any seniors that fit these criteria, there is a not-for-profit organization in Alachua County, known as ElderCare of Alachua County, that could use your assistance.

ElderCare is primarily funded through state and federal grants, private donations - including the United Way - and volunteer labor.

You can get more information by visiting its Web site at www.eldercareac.org, or by calling 265-9040.

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