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Agency exploring ways to improve senior services

Four-year plan will map out needs of seniors in Columbia County

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEANNE MURRAY - Citizens at the St. Helens Senior Center review surveys administered Monday by the county's Area Agency on Aging. The agency is asking for resident feedback via surveys and town hall meetings to establish a four-year plan for serving seniors.Columbia County’s Area Agency on Aging hopes to improve services and resources for seniors.

Community Action Team, which also serves as the county’s designated agency to represent seniors, is asking for community input as the agency develops a countywide four-year-plan.

“The overarching goal is we want to make sure that this four-year plan addresses the real needs in our county, the needs of our seniors, those who are 60 or better, and those who care for the seniors,” Leanne Murray, program operations coordinator for CAT, explained. “We don’t want to guess what the needs should be, we want to know for sure what the needs are for our residents.”

The agency is distributing a comprehensive survey about seniors in the county. The survey, which is available online here, seeks feedback about health and community support services, mental health, substance abuse, recreation, transportation, housing and preventative health education. The survey will also be available at senior centers in Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier, along with libraries and food banks throughout the county.

CAT will also sponsor a series of town hall meetings at various locations across the county in April and May to gather feedback and open a conversation about opportunities and challenges to accessing services for seniors. The county’s Veterans Services officer will be at the town hall meetings.

The information collected will help guide spending priorities for the agency.

“We invite them to be as candid and honest as they want to be,” Murray said. “Most of the information that we’re gathering is going to directly influence the way that CAT as the AAA spends the money we get from state and federal funding.”

Survey results are anonymous and the surveys can be taken by anyone.

Residents who are at least 60 years old, and those who provide care for someone 60 or older, are encouraged to attend the open meetings at the following times and locations:

Rainier: Friday, April 15, 1 p.m. at the senior center

Vernonia: Tuesday, April 26, 11 a.m. at the library

Clatskanie: Thursday, May 5, noon at the American Legion

Scappoose: Monday,

May 9, 11 a.m. at the senior center

St. Helens: Wednesday, May 11, 11 a.m. at the senior center