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Forum: Top aging issues are affordable housing, transportation, health care
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Ayesha Rockett talks with people at her table Thursday, April 26, 2018, at Legacy Link in Oakwood during a forum discussing the state of Georgia’s plan on aging. The event included state officials talking with area residents and groups about aging-related issues. - photo by Scott Rogers

Affordable housing, transportation and care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia were ranked as top issues related to aging by an audience attending a public hearing Thursday, April 26, in Oakwood.

And several of the issues blended as people talked about their concerns.

“I think there needs to be more affordable transportation that provides door-to-door service,” said Amber Bickers, an intake counselor with Legacy Link Area Agency on Aging, where the meeting was held.

She mentioned ITNLanier, a Hall County-based transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment, as one resource.

“Transportation, I think, is one of those topics I expect is going to come up everywhere and particularly when we think about rural communities,” said Kristi Fuller, a senior research associate at the Georgia Health Policy Center.

Fuller is working with the Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services to develop a plan that, according to her webpage, “establishes a more robust system for providing information and access to long-term services and supports.”

Thursday’s meeting was the first of 12 being held throughout the state. The initiative is scheduled to wrap up Aug. 22 in Augusta.

Nicole Hodge of the Division of Aging Services has said that data “gathered in this process will be broken down by region for (area aging agencies’) use in future planning and reporting.”

The Division of Aging Services says on its website it wants to hear from residents “as we design a strategic plan to address our communities’ needs.”

The 50 participants at Legacy Link’s hearing were presented a list of 10 “key issue areas” and asked to choose their top five, if possible. After the top issues were identified, participants — seated at tables throughout the room — were asked to discuss the issues in detail among themselves.

And then, after about 10 minutes huddled over each topic, people from several tables spoke to the group at large about their findings.

“A lot of our clients have memory issues,” said Sonya Warren, a Legacy Link case manager. “They’ll be dropped off early in the morning (for an appointment) and forget who brought them to take them home.”

Warren told the group, “Leaving (elderly patients) for extended periods of time is very unsafe for them.”

Transportation “continues to be a real issue,” said Pat Freeman, Legacy Link’s CEO. “And people are just isolated. They can’t get out.”

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