By MATT CRANE
For the Golden Triangle Area Agency on Aging, the work is not about providing a service, it is about fulfilling a need.
As the agencyâ€™s director for 39 years, Bobby Gann said the organization provided free social and nutritional services for people ages 60 and older including meal delivery, homemaking, legal and transportation to name a few.
â€śWe are here to help seniors remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible,â€ť he said. â€śOur goals is provide these services and identify older adults who have needs and to help them remain independent.â€ť
Serving seven counties, field screener Cindy Brown said she loved her job since starting one year ago.
â€śIâ€™ve never worked with the elderly before and it has been an eye opening experience and sometimes heartbreaking,â€ť she said. â€śIt is hard seeing these seniors that have those needs and knowing that we as a society have a tendency to forget about our seniors.â€ť
Funded by federal, state and local dollars, Gann said Oktibbeha County had 13 percent of its residents ages 60 and older.
â€śOur services are not based on income, but they are for anyone who has a need,â€ť he said. â€śPeople get the idea that this is a welfare program, but itâ€™s not.â€ť
With help from both the city and county governments, Gann said he had been encouraged by the continued growth of support the agency received.
â€śCommunity support has been growing for the past decade now and we used to really struggle with that,â€ť he said. â€śIt has taken a lot of hard work to get our message out there and convincing people that there is a need for us to meet in this community.â€ť
That need, Brown said, was not realized until a week into her current position.
â€śI get emotional about it sometimes because some of the places I have visited, I have met seniors who did not have anything,â€ť she said. â€śOf course, I want to get the word out about the fabulous program we have, but also address the awareness aspect of it because people need to know. Itâ€™s hard to know about this until you have been out there.â€ť
Gann said there were times when eligible seniors refused or fought the idea of the services his organization provided because of misconstrued implications.
â€śSometimes they think that if we help them, then the next step is going into a nursing home,â€ť he said. â€śWe are trying to delay or prevent institutionalization. We have seen people who were at the point of going into a nursing home, but we can provide them social and nutritional services to keep them at home.â€ť
With homemaking services providing light house cleaning and physical assistance along with meal deliveries averaging 1,7000 meals a day in seven counties, Brown said the agency offered services for full-time caregivers who need a break from the stress of their every day job.
â€śOur respite services are for those caregivers of adult seniors to allow for intervals of rest from that constant burden of care,â€ť she said. â€śWorkers sometimes feel guilty for feeling like that, but where you are there 24 hours a day, seven day a week, it can be hard.â€ť
Brown said the team she joined had been outstanding.
â€śWe have a really great department over there and our supervisors do a great job,â€ť she said. â€śAs for Bobby, I canâ€™t speak for all the years that he has been there, but in my last year working with him, he has done just a wonderful job.â€ť
Above all, Gann said community awareness was crucial to the success of the seniors in the counties he serviced.
â€śWe are trying to give seniors a better quality of life,â€ť he said. â€śWe are trying and succeeding at making a difference.â€ť
For more information on the Golden Triangle Area Agency on Aging, call 662-324-7860 or 1-888-324-9000.