RI Division of Elderly Affairs Hosting Senior Focus Groups

focus group

Members of the Westerly Senior Citizens Center discuss services provided by RIDEA and other agencies and how those programs impact their lives. Photo Credit: RIDEA

Look for consumer opinions to shape goals and objectives for 2019-2023 State Plan on Aging.  Just one day ago, the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs (RIDEA) hosted the first of seven consumer focus groups dedicated to discussing the needs of older adults living in the community at the Westerly Senior Center.  RIDEA is convening these groups as part of its preparation for crafting the updated State Plan on Aging.

As mandated under the Older Americans Act, every four years RIDEA is required to submit a State Plan on Aging to the Administration for Community Living.  The plan documents the achievements, challenges, and planned activities related to the state-s long term supports and services planning efforts, while providing a framework for activities related to programs, activities, and services to older adults.

Sharing War Stories on Growing Older

Over 20 people gathered on September 4th for the first focus group in Westerly, discussing their experiences with aging, the challenges they face while living in their own homes or apartments, and other issues encountered in their daily lives.  Many spoke about the friendships and benefits gained, as well as the value of the programs offered at the senior center.

“Consumer participation in the development of the State Plan on Aging is essential to ensuring we continue to deliver appropriate and timely services to Rhode Island’s older adults,” said Michelle Szylin, RIDEA Acting Director.  “Rhode Island’s population is aging, and we must be ready to respond to that demographic shift on both the federal and state level.  These focus groups allow us to gather valuable information from seniors, family members and caregivers,” says Szylin.

Adds, Westerly Senior Citizens Center Director Donald Reynolds, “According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 20.2 percent of Westerly’s population is 65 or older and is rapidly growing with the aging baby boomer generation.  As part of southern Rhode Island, Westerly seniors present their own special needs which need to be shared in the focus group.”

Make Your Voice Heard

“It is important that our older citizens’ voices be heard in order to be addressed in the State Plan on Aging, so I am pleased that Westerly kicked-off RIDEA’s focus groups,” said Reynolds.

Plan to attend and provide your input at one of the five remaining focus groups scheduled (or an additional location to be determined).  Here’s the schedule:

  • September 21 at 9:00 a.m., Senior Services, Inc. Woonsocket
  • September 27 at 2:00 p.m., Glocester Senior Center, Chepachet
  • October 11 at 9:30 a.m., Leon Mathieu Senior Center, Pawtucket
  • October 26 at 10:30 a.m., Pilgrim Senior Center, Warwick
  • October 26 at 12:30 p.m., Center for Southeast Asians, Providence

For additional details on the focus groups and the Rhode Island State Plans on Aging, contact RIDEA at (401) 462-3000.

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