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Agency on Aging meeting to shape new area plan

January 22, 2019

The Flathead County Agency on Aging will hold a public meeting today to discuss which challenges facing the county’s older population should be prioritized in the agency’s 2019 to 2022 area plan.

The agency, which primarily supports those 60 and older, is encouraging the public to help them “change the conversation, imagine the possibilities, and plan for a future of ‘living well at every age,’” according to an announcement.

The meeting will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Flathead County South Campus Building, 40 11th St. W.

There are 10 Agency on Aging branches in Montana and each one can compile a plan for their area, based on local needs, and then submit that plan to the state. The plans are then evaluated and compiled into one statewide plan on aging.

According to Lisa Sheppard, director of Flathead County Agency on Aging, three questions will set the tone for today’s discussion: what three things most concern you personally about aging; what three things do you enjoy most or value about growing older; and how can the agency support older adults as they continue to age.

Flathead County’s current 2015 to 2019 plan also will be discussed. Sheppard said the agency will review the executive summary of the plan and update the public on where the group stands with goals outlined in the document.

Goals identified in 2015 included an enhanced visibility and status as the trusted “go to” for information and assistance and further promotion of safety and rights for older and vulnerable adults in order to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation.

According to the current plan, as of 2013, 24 percent of Flathead County residents were age 60 or older - a number that is expected to jump to 26 percent by 2020.

“The aging population is exploding nationally, across Montana and in Flathead County,” the executive summary reads.

It then continues, identifying two main concerns found in agency data: the county is already experiencing a significant increase in demand for services across the board, and the county primarily serves a vulnerable population of older adults who have very limited incomes and are at a high risk of costly institutionalization.

While the 2019 to 2022 plan is expected to outline different concerns than those found in the previous plan, some objectives may roll over into the new one, which is expected to be complete sometime in mid-2019.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com

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