CASSOPOLIS- As Cass County enters the new year, county officials are looking at ways to care for one of the largest segments of its population.
The Cass County Board of Commissioners recently voted to establish an elder care steering group with the Cass County Medical Care Facility, a county-run nursing home. The committee, which will be composed of county officials and community members, will work to identify the eldercare needs of the county and work to find solutions to meet those needs.
“This will help identify a direction of how the county should care for its aging population,” said Deputy County Administrator Kerry Collins. “What we are going to be looking at is an overall approach of how we can provide fulfilling golden years of life for our residents.”
To Collins’ knowledge, the eldercare steering committee will be the first of its kind in Cass County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21 percent of Cass County’s population is over the age of 65, and the number is only set to grow as residents age. Because of the high need for elder care services in the county, Cass County Medical Care Facility Administrator Christian Lutes presented to the board of commissioners, asking for a committee to be created specifically to address elder care and to assess the needs of the county’s senior citizens.
“With the upcoming explosion of the elderly population, the county has determined that we need to take a hard look at how we take care of our community,” Lutes said. “The goal of the steering committee will be to research and poll the community to find out the role the county will have in providing services to the elderly and people who can’t manage on their own.”
Within the work that the steering committee will be doing, members will be looking for potential resources to aid seniors, such as housing for independent and semi-independent seniors, and other services, Lutes said.
While the scope of the steering committee will be to look at potential resources county-wide, both Lutes and Collins said the committee would look at ways the Cass County Medical Care Facility can provide incoming eldercare needs. As the facility is a government-run nursing home, it is one of the county’s most substantial resources for senior care, Collins said.
“(The Cass County Medical Care Facility) is a great facility and is one of the few government-run nursing homes to have a five-star rating,” Collins said.” But there are challenges as the population ages….There will need to be a continuing focus on how we take care of our aging population. We want to ensure that it remains a five-star facility that is staffed and maintained to provide the level of care that is needed.”
Collins said the county plans to have the committee operating within the next 30 days. Until then, the county will be working to put together a committee of county commissioners and residents that will be able to bring a diverse set of perspectives to the table.
Both Collins and Lutes said they hope the steering committee will prove to be a valuable resource to the county as it continues efforts to care for the aging population.
“I see the county’s place in the future as providing options where folks can age in place rather than being uprooted from various spots in their lives,” Lutes said.
“This is a combined effort for all community partners to join for the good of the order and hope to determine how we, as a community, provide care for those in need.”