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On Aging with Dr. Roger Branch Sr.: Recent actions to help seniors
Branch WEB
Dr. Roger Branch Sr.

In my last column, I pointed to the problem that disabled seniors have with delivering and returning garbage containers for street-side pickup and asked if the city of Statesboro could help with this chore. It turns out that the city does help.

To qualify, a disabled person must have his or her physician write a letter affirming that the individual is disabled and in need of this service. The letter may be faxed, mailed or delivered in person to the city's Public Works Division. Obviously, the resident must be clearly identified by name and address.

The Coastal Regional Commission, of which Bulloch County is a member, is an innovative resource for planning and development in many dimensions. Its Area Agency on Aging guides the administration of funds for aging services from federal, state, foundation and other sources. But it does much more. Its advisory council is composed of experienced professionals, smart seniors and service providers.

Many of them are passionate advocates for the elderly, never shy about speaking to bureaucrats or politicians. Members of the AAA staff do what they can with the funds available and then look for new ways to solve problems.

A recent innovation is the Coastal Assistive Technology Lab located at the CRC headquarters near Darien. The AAA partnered with Georgia Tech's Tools for Life Lab in developing a facility with cutting-edge technologies for people with mobility issues, vision and hearing loss and communication problems. The goal is to help disabled people live more independently.

Making such technology available at the individual or local level poses problems, especially financial ones, but independent living makes for human happiness and costs less than other options. It sometimes takes a long time for the "lower cost" reality to sink in with politicians and bureaucrats, but eventually it does.

Those interested in learning more about this initiative may contact the program manager, Peggy Luukkonen, at the CRC, 1181 Coastal Dr. SW, Darien, GA 31305.

There is something relatively new and promising in connection with Georgia Southern. The GSU Retiree Association Council is working its way through definitions of identity and mission.

It is not that GSU retirees are not doing positive things. They are leaders in community service organizations and churches. They give back to the university, including $3 million to the foundation and $700,000 to athletics in the past five years. However, this council is seeking ways to bring its years of professional wisdom to university administration in matters that affect quality of education and issues important to the welfare of retirees.

Council members have expressed concerns about the growing number of online courses, especially the impact on the mentoring experience for students, about campus safety and about channels of communication between retirees and administration.

I personally urge them to pursue the question of why no academic or government body is asking about the integrity of the degrees being passed out by certain so-called colleges and universities from outside this region. Until recently, I have not ever heard of them and wonder if they are like the "correspondence colleges" of the past, also known as "diploma mills."

In passing, this council might become a network for mutual aid and personal security among retirees.

Roger G. Branch Sr. is professor emeritus of sociology at Georgia Southern University and is a retired pastor.

 

 

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