The Montrose area has much to offer senior citizens, thanks to state government services such as Region 10 and federal laws like the Older Americans Act. However, much of our gratitude must go to the local folks who make those services and laws work.
Take Eva Veitch, for example. She has worked to help the elderly for more than 25 years, and has been Region 10’s Director of Community Living Services for the past five. Veitch administers the Older Americans Act, a federal law that is designed to keep seniors healthy, happy, and living in their homes, instead of nursing homes, as long as possible. “The Older Americans Act was created in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson to meet the diverse needs of the growing aging population,” she said.
“Our goal at Region 10 Community Living Services is to provide the right services at the right time, that help people living in their community, and prevents or delays long-term placement,” Veitch explained at a recent meeting of The Forum at Heidi’s Deli, in Montrose. “I have the perfect job; I get to help people stay in their homes in the community, and I get to spend somebody else’s money to do it!” she said with a grin.
Region 10 serves people in Montrose, Delta, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison, and Hinsdale Counties. That’s an area of about 10,000 square miles. Veitch says 26,000 people over 60 years old live in the region. “A third of those are 75 to 99 years of age. And, 17,000 of those folks are living at or below the poverty line. So you can see, we’re not going to run out of work any time soon.”
While they have plenty of work, they don’t always have plenty of federal funding because of budget cuts, according to Veitch.“The Older Americans Act is not an entitlement program, and it is up for re-authorization in 2019. It’s important to all of us, and those who are aging behind us, to support this Act.
“We’re funded by the state and federal governments. The state has been very helpful to us these past few years, in back-filling the cuts we’ve had from the federal government.”
Region 10 Community Living Services provides transportation, in-home services, personal care, and visiting homemakers. “If you stop and think about the 85-year-old lady who’s got arthritic knees, we really don’t want her crawling around and cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the floors, and those kinds of things,” Veitch pointed out.
The organization also provides help to people with vision problems. “We’ve got a lot of folks in this region who, for whatever reason, have low vision. Macular degeneration, glaucoma, and those kind of things. So, we fund what we call our ‘lifeline program’, to make sure that those people who have very poor vision at least have a lifeline if something happens.
“We provide information and assistance, legal aid, the ombudsman program and elder abuse prevention, health promotion, material aid, nutrition, and caregiver assistance.”
They also provide those services as quickly as possible. “We only institute ‘wait lists’ when we don’t have the capacity or services that are needed,” Veitch explained.
And don’t worry about the cost to the recipients. Veitch said,“Our programs are based on a donation only, so no one is denied services if they can’t pay the suggested donation. But, these services are a really good deal. Suggested donations are $3.00.”
“We can provide a basic service package for most people for about $5,500 a year,” she explained. In comparison with long-term care and assisted living, “Assisted living is going to run roughly $3,800 to $5,000 a month. Skilled nursing care would be $6,000 to $8,000 a month. So, we can provide enough services to keep people in their homes for $5,500 a year. It really is a good deal.”
The Montrose Monitor will run additional stories with details of these programs in the near future. In the meantime, you can find more information about Region 10 Community Living Services at www.region10.net/community-living/.