Over the next 15 years, someone will turn 65 every eight seconds – a demographic shift that will have astonishing repercussions on our health care and retirement paradigms. Where I live in Brevard County, Florida, nearly a quarter of the population is over age 65, making it the 24th oldest county in the nation. We also have 78,000 residents between ages 55 and 64 who do not qualify for government assistance programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
I am 81 years old and have worked with elders for the past 25 years. I know that growing older without a support network can be a daunting task. Seniors who lack insurance or live on a fixed income may have to choose between buying medications or food. Others who need care simply do not know where to go for help. They may experience difficulty navigating conflicting sources of information or feel left behind by technology.
Seeing a myriad of problems that needed solving and an elder care system in need of fixing, I could not rest easy in retirement. Instead, I did some “thinking out of the box” – what would truly help seniors help themselves? I knew we did not need another government entitlement program or duplicative social service agency lost in the morass of existing care options.
The result was Helping Seniors of Brevard, which I formed in 2011 to “complete”, rather than “compete” with existing care agencies. With a barebones staff (my work is 100% volunteer), we have linked hundreds of seniors with the help they need while impacting thousands more through our educational media outreach, capitalizing on my two decades of experience as a radio host, newspaper columnist and television personality focusing on senior issues. We are currently working to fund a senior endowment through local grassroots action and create Brevard’s first aging plan.
What makes Helping Seniors different is our vision to unite seniors in a collective effort to be part of the solution, not the problem. By working together, we can fulfill our mission to educate seniors, raise awareness of available programs, and connect seniors to existing resources. Most problems can be solved with a little thought, careful listening, and research of available resources. What we hear most often from our senior callers is, “Please call me back”. My encore is to hear their pleas, and respond.
Call Kay Keyser, our Information Specialist, at (321) 473-7770, to find out more about you can help join with us as, together, we are Helping Seniors of Brevard!
Joe Steckler – President