Countywide assessment in Collier to help seniors get needed services

— Seniors in Collier County will soon get a lot more attention.

An assessment of the demographic profiles of the community’s older residents and identification of social services they are lacking is about to get underway.

A $12,500 grant for the project has been awarded to the Community Foundation of Collier County by the Agua Fund Inc., a family foundation based in Washington, D.C. and longtime supporter of the Collier organization.

The assessment will be conducted by Tina Gelpi, a professor with the Department of Occupational Therapy and Community Health at Florida Gulf Coast University. Five students from FGCU’s College of Health Profession are part of the team.

Gelpi could not be reached for comment but in a report to the foundation, she said FGCU students have been reviewing research materials and preparing a one-page survey with a format that includes checklists to ask seniors for information and open ended questions.

“The preferred outcome would be that older adults living in Collier County are aware of available services and access them, as needed, to allow themselves to remain as healthy and functionally independent as possible while continuing to live in their homes, or seek other housing and healthcare environments, if preferred or needed,” she said.

The Area Agency on Aging in Fort Myers, which provides resources to connect seniors to services, is a funding partner in the project.

“We hope to have this completed by the time FGCU breaks for the summer season, so like the end of May,” said Jane Billings, vice president of development and director of the Women’s Initiative with the Collier community foundation.

The assessment of seniors’ needs will be countywide, she said.

“And we want to capture what the faith-based groups are doing,” Billings said

The goal is to have surveys distributed and returned in May with the data analyzed by July.

A second $12,500 grant awarded by the Agua Fund to the community foundation is directed to provide seniors in Immokalee with some goods and services that they desperately need.

A budget outline shows the money will be used for the emergency alert system for seniors to call for help, home cleaning, bedding, gas and food cards.

For more information, contact the Community Foundation of Collier County at 649-5000.

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