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Seniors hear plans

Initiative includes emphasis on prevention, support and health

Posted: April 13, 2009 1:52 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Zandra Cousins, of Santa Clarita, makes a comment during a two-hour county-hosted meeting at the SCV Senior Center to discuss the growing population of seniors Friday afternoon.

About 80 senior citizens crowded into the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Friday afternoon to hear county officials talk about ongoing efforts to streamline services for the region's aged population.

The meeting was the 15th in a series hosted by Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services, focusing on what county officials call "seamless senior services," or S3.

On hand were the heads of several county workgroups, informing seniors of the recommendations they'll be bringing before the county Board of Supervisors in June, and fielding questions.

"We know that the (senior) population is going to be growing," said Cynthia Banks, director of community and senior services. She said the country's largest concentration of senior citizens is in Los Angeles County.

By 2020, the county senior population is projected to balloon from 1.4 million to 3 million, according to information provided by Banks' office.

The S3 initiative, launched by county CEO William Fujioka, comprises four work groups:

n Prevention and intervention, focusing on law enforcement, investigation, prosecution, fraud detection and prevention.

n Supportive services, focusing on issues related to housing, transportation, case management, caregiver services and legal assistance.

n Income support and volunteerism, focusing on government benefits, employment, volunteer activities and civic engagement.

n Health and well-being, focusing on health-care services, nutrition, mental health, recreational activities and in-home/day-care support.

Doug DeCesare, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said he wants to see increased first-responder training in elder-abuse issues, as well as more outreach to seniors.

Regarding support services, Minh-Ha Nguyen, assistant director of community and senior services, said the goal is to streamline both the aid process and communication between departments.

"I want to know where all the funding is. Every few years it's the same old thing," said Brad Berens, executive director of the senior center and the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging, referring to the S3 initiative. "What I can hope for is that they get people who truly care (about seniors).

"We empower our seniors to speak for themselves and that's more powerful than anything."


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