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Budget Year / Version:

MISSION STATEMENT

The Senior Initiative is a multi-year, cross-departmental project to (1) improve coordination, community outreach, and promotion of programs designed to serve seniors, and (2) identify and plan for the short and long term needs of seniors.

LINKAGE TO COUNTY RESULTS AREAS

  • Vital Living for All of our Residents
  • Healthy and Sustainable Communities
  • Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods

PROGRAM CONTACTS

Contact Uma S. Ahluwalia of the Department of Health and Human Services at 240.777.1266 or Erika Lopez-Finn of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2771 for more information regarding this Initiative's operating budget.

OVERVIEW

The number of residents age 65+ in the County is projected to more than double between 2010 and 2040, from 120,000 to 244,000. Since taking office, the County Executive increased services that support the County's senior community. The County Executive's primary focus has been on the following issues that directly affect Seniors:

  • Age and Dementia Friendly Community,
  • Housing,
  • Food Security,
  • Transportation,
  • Safety,
  • Engagement, and
  • Communication.

To address the needs of this burgeoning population, the County Executive is strategically enhancing a variety of critical senior services. At the same time, through the creation of a Senior Subcabinet, the County Executive has charged his departments with ensuring that senior services are delivered in a coordinated and effective manner.

The leadership of this effort is provided by the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Department of Recreation who serve as Co-Chairs of the County Executive's Senior Subcabinet on Vital Living. The Senior Subcabinet has representatives from the following departments: Health and Human Services, Recreation, Fire and Rescue Service, Transit Services, Public Libraries, Housing and Community Affairs, Police, Office of Consumer Protection, Commission for Women, Office of Public Information, Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, CountyStat, and the Office of Community Partnerships (Community Engagement Cluster), as well as the Commission on Aging.

Creation of the Senior Subcabinet on Senior Vital Living: In response to the increasing number of seniors who expressed their desires to remain active in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the County Executive hosted a Senior Summit in 2008. This summit was attended by nearly 400 participants including business leaders, faith community representatives, nonprofit organizations, advocates and consumers, elected officials, and other key stakeholders who collaborated to identify key areas to promote seniors. One of the major accomplishments of this Summit was the creation of the Subcabinet on Senior Vital Living whose mission is to increase senior connectedness, community engagement, and knowledge of and access to available resources.

AARP/WHO Age Friendly Community and Certified Dementia Friendly Initiative: In December 2015, the County Executive hosted the second Senior Summit that showcased the County's enrollment in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)/World Health Organization (WHO) Age-Friendly Communities Network and designation as an "Age Friendly Community." The initiative provides a framework for developing a comprehensive approach toward ensuring that the needs of older adults and all County residents are recognized and acknowledged. Also, in partnership with BrightFocus Foundation, the County enrolled in the Dementia Friendly America Initiative. This national initiative fosters the creation of communities that better recognize and help those affected by dementia, their families, and care partners. With a continued commitment to the County's senior population, the County Executive has expanded public safety support to strengthen and empower individuals living with dementia and their families.

Age Friendly Montgomery County: A Three Year Action Plan: In 2017, the County Executive completed a three-year strategic plan to maintain the County's WHO/AARP Age Friendly Initiative status. The plan includes activities and programs to be completed over three years to enhance services for older adults in our community in ten domain areas. The Three Year Plan establishes working groups for civic and social involvement, communication and outreach, elder abuse prevention, employment, health and wellness, home and community based services, housing, outdoor spaces, senior public safety, and transportation and mobility. Each working group detailed its priorities, goals, and accomplishments for the next three years and what metrics it will collect to track progress. The plan can be found at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/senior/Resources/Files/3-years-action-plan.pdf.

Mobile Integrated Health Program: To address the disproportionate increase in the number of repeat low acuity 911 calls by seniors, the County Executive directed the implementation of the Mobile Integrated Healthcare pilot program. This collaborative initiative of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) holistically incorporates the skills of fire/rescue personnel, clinical social workers, and community health nurses to better meet the needs of patients who utilize EMS services frequently. In its first year, the pilot program reduced non-emergency calls by 55% for the population served by the program. The FY19 budget includes a Community Nurse II and Social Worker III to expand the program's outreach. This funds a full implementation of the program at $416,802. MCFRS estimates that the program expansion will enable an enrollment increase of about 150 patients, for a total patient caseload of 200. Linking these users to more appropriate care options is anticipated to reduce EMS utilization among this population segment by 40 percent, or approximately 1,200 fewer EMS incidents per year, and improve outcomes for participants.

Housing: In response to one of the primary issues facing seniors, affordable housing, the County Executive has dedicated and leveraged funds for a number of senior housing projects throughout the County. Since FY08, the County has developed 17 senior housing projects, of which 8 are complete, 2 are underway, and 7 are committed. In all, these projects will produce or preserve over 2,100 total senior rental units, including approximately 1,700 units affordable to seniors. The County has dedicated $71 million dollars in funding for senior housing while leveraging $363M in other financing. This equates to $5.09 in outside financing for every $1 of County financing invested. The County Executive recommends allocating $4.06 million for senior affordable housing in FY19 to further support senior communities in the County. This funding will be applied to future affordable senior housing initiatives. Currently, seven additional projects are being considered and are being studied for feasibility.

Food Security: The Senior Nutrition Program has served as a focal point for the County Executive's commitment to increase food security and nutrition options for seniors. This program provides meals for older adults to improve food security and provide access to other supportive services, such as health and wellness promotions and education. A key aspect of the program is the community support seniors receive from those who deliver meals to adults who are frail, homebound due to illness or disability, or otherwise isolated. It is administered in cooperation with a vast network of public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

The Senior Nutrition Program has served over four million meals since FY08. The County Executive has supported enhancements to the program including meal choices that reflect the diversity of residents served and the creation of the Cold Meal Box Program, which delivers lunch meals three times per week during the peak winter months.

Senior Transportation: In FY13, the County Executive established a new Escorted Transportation Program for low-income adults with disabilities who require an escort for the duration of their trips. Through January 2018, the program served 337 residents for a total of 3,064 trips. The County Executive expanded the "Seniors Ride Free" on mentrobus and RideOn during non-peak hours, and began providing, in partnership with the Jewish Council for the Aging, free curb-to-curb transportation service to residents living within a three to five-mile radius of the County's Senior Centers.

Adult Protective and Public Guardian Services: Adult Protective Services (APS) and Public Guardianship Services, provide multi-disciplinary assessments, care planning, and case management services to frail seniors and adults with disabilities. The purpose of the program is to prevent abuse, neglect, self-neglect, exploitation, and inappropriate institutionalization. In 2017, APS served 867 clients by preventing and investigating abuse and developing remedial actions for vulnerable adults to prevent self-neglect. In FY18, the County Executive expanded the Adult Protective Services program by adding two investigative staff positions to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Engagement: To keep pace with the County's growing active senior population, the County Executive has supported increased senior participation at two Senior Centers in White Oak and North Potomac and expanded programming at the remaining community recreation centers. These centers facilitate senior engagement by conducting a wide breadth of senior events. Through the Senior Planet Montgomery program, seniors can learn how to use the internet, social media, and participate in the digital economy at senior centers.

Senior Mini-trip Program: In FY15, the County Executive established the Senior Mini-trip Program which conducts local trips for seniors that they might not otherwise be able to afford or attend. Trips include downtown museums in Washington D.C., theaters, the Montgomery County Fair, Mt. Vernon, the Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles Airport, and shopping venues.

Senior Fellows Program: The Senior Fellows Program, created in FY11, taps the experience and skills of retired seniors. These senior fellows add valuable capacity and increase the focus across a range of issues from affordable housing to transportation options, with special attention to senior engagement. In FY18, the County Executive expanded the program by adding two senior fellows to the Community Engagement Cluster.

Communication: In FY17 and FY18, the County Executive increased funding for County events and services published in the Beacon. This newsletter, published in multiple languages, provides a vital link for seniors to be informed of multiple events, volunteer opportunities, and information on government services to increase senior engagement and quality of life.

FY19 RECOMMENDED ENHANCEMENTS

The FY19 County Executive Recommended Budget includes approximately $38.5 million in tax supported resources identified for seniors, including funds for community organizations that augment County services for seniors and respond to the needs identified in the County Executive's 2015 Summit on Aging. In addition, the recommended budget includes $15.1million in non-tax supported resources for seniors.


Department of Health and Human Services
  • Enhance funding for the Mobile Integrated Health Program with an additional full-time Social Worker III and full-time Community Health Nurse II.
  • Enhance funding for the Adult Foster Care reimbursement rate to reduce the gap between the County and State subsidy for senior assisted living group homes.
  • Enhance funds for Adult Medical Daycare minimum wage subsidies for direct service staff.
Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS)
  • Expand funding for the Mobile Integrated Health program which will reduce the frequency of high volume 911 callers and track relevant program data. Additional staff will maintain and create partnerships with other public and private agencies to connect program participants to additional services and will maintain, analyze, and present program data to measure program efficacy and report to relevant agencies.
  • Continue support for enhanced Senior Safety Outreach to provide home safety evaluations, education, and outreach programs to address the specific needs associated with the projected growth in the County's senior population.
Non-Departmental Account Community Grants
  • Provide grants to our community partners of $884,298 for 35 proposals benefiting seniors. These grant resources respond to the needs identified in the County Executive's 2015 Summit on Aging supporting diverse senior communities, with particular focus on support for Villages, housing, friendly visitor programs, and in-home services for frail elders. These community organizations are critical to an effective network of services and are often able to provide these services in a more cost-effective, culturally appropriate, and flexible way than County Government. They are also able to leverage community resources that may be unavailable to County Government.

DEPARTMENTAL PROGRAMS

Services benefiting seniors are incorporated in the general department program offerings, as well as targeted services. These services respond to critical needs facing the County and the desired outcome of promoting "vital living for all residents." Below are some of the major County government programs currently supporting County seniors:

Department of Recreation
  • Operate six full-service Senior Centers that offer social opportunities, health and wellness programs, life-long learning and educational programs, exercise classes, dance classes, lectures, cultural programs, and facility bookings.
  • Operate a Senior Transportation Service providing limited range access to each of the five Senior Centers.
  • Operate 13 55+ Active Adult Centers where seniors gather for educational programs, friendship, entertainment, sports, and other activities.
  • Operate a Senior Nutrition Program at eight facilities in cooperation with HHS.
  • Operate the Senior Sneaker Exercise Program that provides for adults over 55 years of age access to quality exercise and fitness rooms at Recreation Department Community Centers with a reduced annual membership fee.
  • Offer Senior Outdoor Adventures in Recreation day trip programs for active adults over 55 years of age.
  • Coordinates, advertises, registers and operates the annual Maryland Senior Olympics.
  • Continue the popular senior mini-trip program. Each senior center and Active Adult Program now receives three trips per year to take seniors to local destinations of interest.
  • Works with other agencies, departments, hospitals, and non-profits to provide a variety of programs, classes, and services identified as community needs to the residents age 55+ of Montgomery County. This includes such programs as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Tech Fairs, Health and Wellness Expos, Bone Builders, and Senior Fit classes and a huge variety of ongoing classes and programs.
Department of Health and Human Services
  • Prevent or reverse nursing home placement for Medicaid eligible persons of all ages by providing supports planning, nurse monitoring and community based services.
  • Transport seniors using Transit Services Ride On buses during off-peak hours to provide transportation to County community recreation centers once or more per week and to grocery stores for a limited number of senior housing complexes one time each week.
  • Provide supportive contractual services to seniors including "friendly visitor" services, escorted grocery shopping, legal assistance, and Alzheimer's support services.
  • Continue the Escorted Transportation Project with the Jewish Council for the Aging to expand and coordinate new and existing escorted transportation services.
  • Promote and expand transportation options available to seniors and people with disabilities through the County Mobility and Transportation Manager who works with advocates and public and private service providers.
  • Offer one-stop, hands-on assistance and outreach to County residents regarding services for seniors, persons with disabilities, and their families and caregivers to clarify their needs and identify and access resources.
  • Help protect more than 7,700 County residents in 190 assisted living facilities and 34 nursing homes by maintaining a regular presence, investigating complaints, and advocating for seniors rights.
  • Guarantee that seniors over the age of 60 have access to meals, nutrition education, and the opportunity for socialization at community and senior centers and senior apartment buildings.
  • Provide home delivered meals to chronically ill clients, age 60 and above, to address the nutritional needs of the County's most frail and vulnerable seniors who are home-bound due to illness or disability and cannot get out or prepare healthful meals on their own. Special consideration is given to low-income individuals, minority individuals, those in rural communities, those with limited English proficiency, and those at risk of institutional care.
  • Investigate complaints of maltreatment for abuse and neglect against seniors, secure resources, and provide surrogate decision-making for adults adjudicated through the courts.
  • Provide in-home support services to help vulnerable seniors remain safe and cared for in the community and to prevent premature and/or inappropriate institutionalization.
  • Offer the Home Care Chore Services Program, which is targeted to low income frail elderly and people with disabilities who need help with light cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, and/or meal preparation in order to remain in their own homes and in the community.
  • Maintain funding for respite care services for older adults and persons with disabilities.
  • Continue support in the Adult Protective Services/Social Services to Adults Program to address an increase in investigations of financial exploitation resulting from new mandatory reporting requirements for banks.
  • Provide Heavy Chore Services to serve seniors with hoarding behaviors to prevent evictions, condemnation, or to correct health and safety conditions. Services include heavy commercial cleaning and pest fumigation.
  • Offer short-term respite services to caregivers who provide ongoing care to frail elders.
  • Provide Senior Mental Health Services for home-bound seniors and coordinate medication with medical providers.
  • Help meet older adult challenges of remaining independent in their homes as they age in their communities through the "Village" model, a grassroots, consumer driven, and volunteer first model. The Village Coordinator assists 14 current and nine emerging "Villages" and promotes the creation of new ones.
Department of Transportation - Transit Services
  • Subsidize taxi service for low income seniors, age 65 and older, to allow for greater mobility and quality of life.
  • Provide information and linkage to transportation resources to senior citizens, maintain a database of resources, help callers fill out forms for transportation programs, and link callers with transportation providers.
  • Provide free public transit travel training classes for seniors, increasing their travel options and comfort level with public transportation.
  • Continue ongoing advertising campaigns and distribution of senior transportation services.
  • Conduct on-site outreach events and presentations about senior transportation options and resources at locations where seniors frequent or reside.
  • Provide fixed route service (Ride On) to many senior centers and make Senior SmarTrip cards availabile through multiple channels.
  • Transport seniors to five senior centers and for grocery shopping trips from 12 residential facilities during Ride On's off-peak period.
  • Provide free bus service on Ride On and Metrobus during off-peak periods (Monday-Friday 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM and Saturday 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM) and half price fares at all other times.
  • Improve over 4,000 bus stops as part of Ride On's safety, ADA compliance, and accessibility program.
  • Improve pedestrian crossings by re-timing all traffic signals to extend pedestrian crossing times to accommodate slower walking speeds, upgrade some traffic signals to include accessible/countdown pedestrian signals.
  • Improve visibility by increasing street name signs by 25 percent, add advanced street name signs, use higher grade retro-reflective signs and upgrade stop signs to 30-inch size (from 24-inches) for increased legibility.
  • Continue to improve pedestrian access by using high visibility ladder bar style at crosswalks, focus on pedestrian access safety in work zones and continue converting street lights to LED.
Department of Public Libraries (MCPL)
  • Provide programs specifically designed to engage seniors in creative, learning rich events which provide opportunities for social interaction at programs, and after them. These activities are essential to vital living, and provided via grant funding, staff work, and partnerships with Montgomery College's Lifelong Learning Institute.
  • Provide library materials and programs relevant to senior issues. Topics include book discussions, finances, retirement, taxes, health, employment, technology, consumer issues, English language learning, and others. Recent programs include:
    • Partnership with the Alzheimer's Association of Montgomery County on a program series about coping with the disease for patients and caregivers;
    • Keeping Seniors Safe - partnership with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) and Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) on safety issues;
    • Stepping On - partnership with Maryland State Department of Health, programs on preventing falls; and
    • Holistic health and mediation program series.
  • Provide lifelong learning services and materials, including our seniors-focused web page, and training on how to use e-books and computers.
  • Offer large print library materials and other accessibility equipment and services for seniors.
  • Provide Metro Senior SmarTrip cards for purchase at all library branches.
  • Provide substantial volunteer opportunities that are frequently utilized by seniors at every branch, such as the MCPL "Grandreaders" program and Service Corps for Retired Executives business counseling.

Department of Technology Services (DTS)

  • Senior Planet Montgomery provides technology training for older adults. Ten-week and five-week training courses and single day technology exploration lectures are offered throughout the County. This effort enables seniors to feel more connected to their families, friends, and communities, feel more optimistic about their future, and have better access to health information and employment opportunities.
Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS)
  • In partnership with HHS, implement the Mobile Integrated Health program to better serve the needs of patients who frequently call 911 with low acuity needs.
  • Identify strategies to reduce fire risk among the elderly.
  • Identify homebound seniors and those with disabilities to provide information on fire safety and risk reduction assistance including the installation of approved smoke alarms appropriate for their needs.
  • Continue to identify and expand collaborative partnerships between MCFRS, County agencies and departments, and professional organizations providing services to seniors.
  • Continue public education and awareness campaign to educate and inform residents regarding the installation and upgrade of smoke alarms required by Maryland's new Smoke Alarm Law.
  • Continue appointment-based and door-to-door safety campaigns offering department services to seniors including the evaluation of existing residential smoke alarm equipment, replacement of smoke alarms, and general injury prevention information.
  • Offer free residential safety evaluations and smoke alarm checks for seniors.
  • Assist and partner with communities and neighborhood organizations regarding fire safety, the development of home fire evacuation and escape plans and general injury prevention and emergency preparedness information.
  • Provide education and training to first responders to increase awareness of the needs, health issues and risks faced by senior citizens.

Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • Continue partnering with "Rebuilding Together" by funding some administrative costs for a highly leveraged program that provides home repairs for low-income homeowners, most of whom are seniors and unable to undertake home repairs on their own.
  • Continue partnering with the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County to provide rental assistance to low-income seniors.
  • Provide home care aid to very low-income seniors and adults with disabilities which is estimated to benefit 55 seniors.
Office of the State's Attorney
  • Aggressively prosecute crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults through the Crimes Against Seniors and Vulnerable Adults Unit of the Office of the State's Attorney.
  • Continue to collaborate closely with Adult Protective Services and the Police Department to address crimes against seniors in an efficient and timely manner that holds offenders accountable for their criminal activity.
  • Continue to chair the Montgomery County Elder/Vulnerable Adult Abuse Task Force, which brings together representatives from County Agencies to discuss cases of concern and hosts an annual event on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to promote education/prevention of senior abuse.
  • Collect data on metrics to include the number of investigations opened, inter-agency collaborations, and prosecutions.
Community Engagement Cluster
  • Partner with community organizations to provide free tax preparation assistance to low-to-moderate income Montgomery County residents with special attention to seniors age 60+.
  • Support opportunities for adults age 60+ to increase access to community activities, technology, socialization, and lifelong learning.
  • Recognize senior volunteer contributions annually by honoring two seniors with the Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award.
  • Continue the Senior Fellows program which taps the experience and skills of retired seniors across a range of issues from affordable housing to transportation options.
Office of Consumer Protection
  • Continue to recruit seniors and retired professionals to work at Office of Consumer Protection as volunteers providing administrative and investigative assistance.
  • Provide Office of Consumer Protection outreach initiatives to provide consumer education regarding consumer scams that target seniors and vulnerable adults.
  • Collaborate with legislators and consumer organizations to enact and enhance laws designed to protect seniors from deceptive trade practices.
Office Human Resources
  • Offer the Senior Fellows program to augment the County's workforce by tapping into the skill sets of highly talented, experienced, and seasoned professionals which includes seniors.
Department of Environmental Protection
  • Apply for an exemption for curbside refuse and recycling services available to any individual who because of physical limitations (disability or age) is unable to bring containers to the curb.
Office of Public Information
  • Produce "Seniors Today," a monthly cable television show highlighting services and programs of interest to seniors.
  • Provide leadership for the Senior Subcabinet on Vital Living Committee's communications and outreach.
  • Create and distribute the Senior Brochure Series including Transportation Options for Seniors (translated into eight languages), Caregiving Resources, Lifelong Learning, and Driving for Seniors.
  • Manage seniors website, a central portal offering timely information to seniors and caregivers about County services and programs: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/senior/.
Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD)
  • Maintain"Keeping Seniors Safe" crime prevention outreach program, which addresses financial and other frauds and scams; identify theft; shopping safety; and emergency preparedness through presentations from Community Outreach Officers and command staff, and brochures distributed widely.
  • Conduct home security surveys in seniors' homes.
  • Manage Project Lifesaver to help locate seniors with dementia/Alzheimer's Disease.

Other Services
  • Beginning in levy year 2015, doubled the rate of Senior Tax Credit and expand eligibility to include homeowners who are 65 and older.
  • Allow eligible seniors to defer, interest free, the annual increase in their County real property tax bill. The amount of the deferral can accumulate to up to half of the full cash value of the property and is not due until the property is sold or it is no longer used as the owner's principal residence.

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