Pennsylvanians with aging family members are underutilizing many of the state’s assistance programs, Department of Aging officials said.
Secretary Teresa Osborne said the department could be doing more to inform the public.
“While we’re doing an okay job of it, we need to do better,” she said. “So, what better opportunities are we going to take advantage of in order to ensure that the services and support that are available to older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers are known before somebody is in a crisis mode?”
One of those opportunities included a public forum in Pittsburgh Wednesday to gage the success of some of its programs. Department of Aging officials said it’s responsible for transportation, recreation, health and wellness programs for more than 2.7 million Pennsylvania residents over the age of 60.
Transportation garnered the most attention at the Pittsburgh forum, as many aging individuals can feel a diminishing independence as they give up driving. Though, department officials said individuals 65 or older can ride public transit for free, or a reduced rate.
According to Family Links, many household caregivers are spending up to 35 hours providing for the elderly, on top of their careers and taking care of immediate family.
“Many of them come to us for guidance," Osborne said. "Many of them look to our agencies as that safe harbor where they can go for services and assistance and support, and guidance as they navigate their way through the long-term care system."
Osborne said the continued feedback has been helpful in improving the department’s programs and the public’s awareness. Anyone who would like to leave feedback can contact the Department of Aging.