Housing among needs of elderlyDeborah Ford of Dickinson has been looking for a place for her partner to live and finding a place that’s affordable and wheelchair accessible has been a struggle, she said.
Deborah Ford of Dickinson has been looking for a place for her partner to live and finding a place that’s affordable and wheelchair accessible has been a struggle, she said.
Ford is among a few people in a room of about 45 to share their views with the North Dakota Department of Human Services during a public hearing at Dickinson City Hall Monday.
Ford’s partner has a spinal cord injury and is ready to leave a nursing home but no options are available, she said, adding if she can’t find a suitable living arrangement they may have to leave the area. Or he would have to stay at the nursing home but that “is a very costly proposition.”
A goal of the Department of Human Services is to help older individuals and adults with physical disabilities remain living independently in their homes and communities. Ford’s situation is an example of a gap in services that the department is interested in hearing about.
Dickinson was the second of 13 stops that Human Services officials are taking throughout the state to get input on these issues as they prepare their State Plan on Aging, which is updated every four years, said Linda Wright, Aging Services director with the Department of Human Services, Bismarck.
The department wants to know about gaps in services so changes can be made, Wright said. The plan also allows the department to receive federal Older Americans Act funds.
“It’s also very important because the older population in our state is the fastest growing population,” said Sheryl Pfliger, state assistant director of Aging Services.
Projections show 27 percent of North Dakota residents will be age 60 or older in 2020. More elderly people live in McIntosh County than anywhere else in the U.S. with 41 percent of the population age 60 and older in 2000, she added.
Rep. Nancy Johnson of Dickinson attended the hearing to gather information so she can “make better decisions” when it comes to services available. She was surprised by the elderly population numbers projected for 2020. After the meeting Johnson said there may be fewer people
available to provide services for this population and it creates a “number of challenges, not only for North Dakota but for the entire country.”
Besides taking comments, meeting organizers shared services offered through Aging Services at the state and county levels. These range from transportation and meals to help with chores and providing telecommunications equipment.
Monday’s meeting was a chance to speak about the issues and a survey is available to those who did not attend the meeting or speak during it.
Individuals unable to attend the hearing can submit written comments by May 7 to the North Dakota Department of Human Services Aging Services Division at 1237 W. Divide Ave., Suite 6, Bismarck, ND 58501 or call 800-451-8693 for information.