Seniors First Committee Releases Its Report

It contains 33 recommendations, including replacing the Department of Aging.

Frederick, Md (KM)  Changes could be coming to the way Frederick County Government services are delivered  to senior citizens. That’s one of 33 recommendations contained in a report released on Monday by the Seniors First Committee.

With the number of residents 60 and over expected to increase over the next few years, Committee Chairwoman Melanie Cox said some changes need to be made. “Based on available services and financial data, and review of feedback from our customers, the Seniors First Committee recommended to County Executive that she  retire the current structure and rebuild from the ground up,” she said. “This new approach would elevate what has been the Department of Aging to a division-level entity within the county government. It would move the traditional aging services from its current position in the Citizens Services Division to a division  unto itself.”

Cox said that the senior population is expected to grow over the next few years twice as fast as in the state of Maryland, and the state of Florida. “In 2020, our senior population will surpass our school age children,” she said.

The Committee said this separate division for senior services is needed to serve the growing senior population. “We urge consideration of this new approach that champions the needs and gifts of older adults within a data-driven process that values innovation, a willingness to partner outside of county government, an exceptional government services and data management,” says Cox.

“It’s not going to be a cheap process and it shouldn’t be looked at that way,” says Co-Chair Cindy Powell. “The question is how to do we do it effectively to meet the needs of people so in turn, people have a real ability to participate in the life of the community.”

County Executive Jan Gardner accepted the report, acknowledging that the senior population is growing. “In order for Frederick County to have the capacity to address the ‘silver Tsunami,’ we can’t just add to what we’re doing now, even though we’re certainly going to do some of that. We need to rethink and revision for the future,” she said. “We know we’re going to have evolving changes in federal programs and regulations that we’re going to have to deal with, and that more support and coordination with other agencies that provide services will be needed.”

Gardner said she would push to establish a division of senior citizens services, but it won’t happen overnight.

Other recommendations in the Seniors First report include exploring ways to work with partner agencies to create a “one-stop shop” for senior services, and to work with the County’s Parks and Recreation to take the lead on developing exercise and recreation programs for seniors.

The County Executive has made seniors one of her top four priority areas, along with education, jobs and community needs.


By Kevin McManus