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From the Desk of Susan Reeder Jessee - Candidate for County Council at Large

Drug Abuse in our Community

(8/1) The senior population in Frederick County is one of the counties most treasured gifts and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Senior citizens are one of the fastest growing populations in the US and as the elderly population continues to grow in Frederick County it is our obligation to make sure that we provide the programs and services necessary for their daily lives.

Some seniors have worked and been in Frederick County all their lives and others move or return here for many reasons. Older adults want to age in place, in their own home and in their own community. They want to be near friends and family, in a community that they know, and one in which they can remain engaged. As the needs for nursing homes change, and the cost of private care facilities are often cost prohibitive the importance of housing, mobility options, access to community-based health care, nutrition, and many other support services increases significantly.

I am running for County Council At-Large because these issues hit very close to home for me. I have had the privilege of taking care of my parents recently and have seen first-hand the struggles they as seniors face and on a daily basis. I see how seniors can become silent victims of emotional abuse and theft by caregivers. I see how seniors sometimes donít have enough to eat and the only option they have is the Meals on Wheels program. I have seen how difficult it is for some seniors to get to their doctors appointment or get to the pharmacy to get the medications that they need. I see how seniors struggle with having or understanding their health care options. I see how seniors struggle with just writing check to pay their bills. I have seen how seniors become shut out and donít feel like a member of their community anymore which is why I am committed to make sure seniors do know how valuable they are to Frederick County. The services provided to seniors need to be evaluated based on the needs of where they live in the county. Two critical fundamental necessitates that seniors absolutely need are access to affordable housing and food.

In 2005 my father, County Commissioner Bruce Reeder proposed a tax credit for senior home owners which failed to pass and property tax deferral program was enacted instead at the time. I was happy to see in 2012 that this idea of my fathers was enacted and modified in 2014 to include more senior home owners. This really helps those seniors that own homes and live on a limited income but what about the seniors that are renting? Do they need assistance in paying their monthly rent and if so how can they be helped as well? This is just one step in the process of providing adequate senior housing options and more work needs to be done to further develop ways in which all seniors can live comfortably anywhere in Frederick County.

Since 2010 the Meal on Wheels program has been cut over 20% from the county budget. Although there is a plan to create strategic alliances between public and private partnerships this takes time and in the meantime it scares me to think that seniors may be going without a meal especially since the senior population continues to increase. Providing meals to seniors in all areas of the county, with such a large land mass is a challenge but is a priority so that not one senior goes hungry.

There are initiatives in place to address these issues and others but more needs to be done and it is the responsibly of our county government to be the leader in this effort. Older residents are a natural resource whose talents and contributions to the life of the County are fundamental to its health and vitality. Letís not forget that!

To learn more about Susan Reeder Jessee visit www.susanreederjessee.com

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