Frederick County commissioner concerned about senior citizen survey -- Gazette.Net







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Frederick County Commissioner C. Paul Smith has concerns with a survey of county senior citizens, so he has put together his own list of questions.

Smith (R) said the current six-page survey formulated by the Frederick County Department of Aging assessing the needs of the elderly is too lengthy and complicated for them to complete. Smith’s one-page survey asks county organizations to poll the elderly they help to determine their needs instead of asking senior citizens directly.

“The six-page survey is so long that I’m concerned that many will be too old to fill it out,” Smith said in an interview this week. “How will they do it? They will need help. To me, it’s overkill.”

Smith said the Department of Aging survey, now available at senior centers in Brunswick, Emmitsburg, Frederick and Urbana, will not give the county accurate results of what services seniors want and need. Smith said if the various organizations are asking the elderly the questions themselves, it will give a more accurate picture of the needs.

“I want to get right to the heart of the problem,” he said. “It needs to be very specific. Their survey probably has value, but it will not give a representative slice of those that need to be served. When it’s done, we will still need to identify specifically what the needs are.”

Smith said his survey is a draft at this point and is unsure if it will be used.

His survey asks questions such as how many seniors need a meal prepared daily and help with housework and yardwork, bathing, completing forms, handling finances, and money for medicines.

The Department of Aging’s survey asks seniors if they feel safe in their homes and community, if the county offers cultural and educational programs for people of all ages and if the county supports residents who need assistance. It also asks if they use TransIT bus service or Meals on Wheels, if they have trouble getting to the grocery store, and if they work full time or part time.

Carolyn True, the director of the Department of Aging, defended her agency’s survey.

“Ours is directed at older adults, and children of older adults,” she said. “It’s directed more to the citizens and the people.” The $48,000 survey has been paid for by a state community development block grant, True said.

The survey also will go to senior care organizations and various nonprofits in the county. It soon will be available on the department’s website.

“We want to get as broad a representation as possible,” she said.

True said the department hopes to have all of the hard copies back by the end of the month. Results from the website might take longer.

The results of the study will be used to determine how many seniors in the county need help staying in their homes instead of moving to a nursing home, and a review of the senior-only programs the county provides.

True said the study is vital.

Within the next 18 years, there will be 58,000 residents older than 65 and they will account for one in five people in Frederick County, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.

Baby boomers — born from 1946 to 1964 — will account for a large portion of that population. Although the impact of the aging baby boomer population is unclear, preparing still is essential, she said.