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State Unit On Aging Hosts ‘Community Conversation’



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The Newtown Senior Center, at 8 Simpson Street, was selected as the location for the State Unit on Aging’s “Community Conversation” event on the morning of Tuesday, January 7.

The roughly hour-and-a-half-long discussion was led by Erin Soli, Department of Aging and Disability Services Field Representative and Statewide Coordinator for the Senior Medicare Patrol, with fellow Field Representative Saundra Leubner.

The event was supported by the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, and the department’s executive director Michael Hebert was present.

More than 50 people came out to the event to listen and converse about hot button topics that are personally affecting their lives and/or the lives of elderly residents in their towns.

Older adults, caregivers, and aging network professionals from Barkhamsted, Beacon Falls, Bethel, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Canaan, Cheshire, Colebrook, Cornwall, Danbury, Goshen, Harwinton, Kent, Litchfield, Middlebury, Morris, Naugatuck, New Fairfield, New Hartford, New Milford, Newtown, Norfolk, North Canaan, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Sherman, Southbury, Thomaston, Torrington, Warren, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown, Winchester, Wolcott, and Woodbury were invited to participate in the gathering.

The talk in Newtown was part of a series of community-based conversations the State Unit on Aging is hosting at several locations to gauge what is important to older residents throughout Connecticut.

The information gathered will go on to help the State Unit on Aging write a new three-year strategic plan that focuses on services for older adults as well as programs funded by the Older Americans Act.

During the discussion on Tuesday, the audience brought up a number of issues and concerns pertaining to inadequate transportation; the inability to access information due to more resources being online; property/home management; and not knowing if companies are trustworthy or just taking advantage of older people. The dialogue also included topics such as mental health and hoarding; affordable housing; volunteer retention.

In addition to naming programs that may be of assistance for certain situations, Ms Soli and her department supplied pamphlets with further information.

“We have to work together,” Ms Soli said, adding that no one municipality can do it all.

Members in the audience also gave advice to other people in the crowd, making for a very collaborative exchange of views.

Closing the presentation, Ms Soli said to all those gathered, “I really appreciate everyone coming here today.”

She and her colleagues stayed after the meeting to continue discussing concerns one-on-one with people and distribute informational resources.

Following the event, Ms Soli told The Newtown Bee that the department was pleased to receive a variety of feedback and see that attendees were enthusiastic in offering creative solutions and partnerships to address seniors’ needs.

She added, “We appreciated the input from several senior center directors who fervently voiced the importance of protecting their members by conducting stringent screening of outside entities who want to come into their centers to talk with their members because, unfortunately, older adults are often the target of fraud and abuse. Kudos to these directors and their staff for thinking proactively when it comes to defending the rights, security and well-being of this population in Connecticut.”

To access the State Unit on Aging’s current State Plan, visit portal.ct.gov/aginganddisability/content-pages/main/state-plans.

To contact the State Unit on Aging, call 1-866-218-6631 or e-mail aging.sda@ct.gov. To send comments and inquiries by mail, send letters to State Unit on Aging, Department of Aging and Disability Services, 55 Farmington Avenue, 12th Floor, Hartford CT 06105.

Erin Soli, Field Representative for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, leads the “Community Conversation” event at the Newtown Senior Center on the morning of Tuesday, January 7. —Bee Photos, Silber
More than 50 seniors, caregivers, and aging network professionals gather at the Newtown Senior Center to listen and participate in the State Unit on Aging’s presentation on January 7.
Michael Hebert, executive director of the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, speaks at the “Community Conversation” event on January 7.
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