50 Years: Looking Back & Looking Forward

SeniorCare celebrated its 50th anniversary last night, and is proud to mark this historic and major milestone of achievement. Now is a time for reflection and celebration. A time to examine what makes the agency unique, successful, and worthy of continued support. A time to look back at the incredible challenges and persistence that has made SeniorCare a recognized and respected name as a leading Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) serving the Senior Community on the North Shore of Massachusetts since 1972.

Recognizing the need to protect and support seniors, the Older American Act of 1965 was established as the first federal level initiative aimed at providing comprehensive services for older adults. It initially created the National Aging Network comprising the Administration on Aging on the federal level and State Units on Aging at the state level. In 1972, Area Agencies on Aging at the local level were established.

This network provides funding – based primarily on the percentage of an area’s population sixty and older – for nutrition and supportive home and community-based services, disease prevention/health promotion services, elder rights programs, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and the Native American Caregiver Support Program.

As a result of the Older Americans Act, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Aging Services Access Point (ASAPs) developed locally, supported by state and federal funds, as well as private donations. Federal funding channels through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and then to regional AAAs. State funds are distributed via the EOEA to ASAPs. Both funding sources have the goal of ensuring that seniors have access to all essential services. There are currently 26 ASAPs across the Commonwealth, each serving a designated geographical area. Many of these agencies share a dual designation of AAA and ASAP. SeniorCare is one of these AAA/ASAPs and serves the North Shore communities of Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham. In addition to SeniorCare’s nine communities, RSVP Volunteers of the North Shore, an AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteer Program, serves Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Marblehead.

Today, SeniorCare provides information and referrals for senior services, including home care services, housing options, public benefits, legal assistance, hospice care, ombudsman program, health insurance counseling, senior companions, and adult day care. We also provide elder care advisers, case management services, caregiver support and nutrition services. Care managers intake and assess the situation, develop, and implement a plan of services need for the senior. Additionally, they monitor and reassess the needs of the senior. Protective Services care managers investigate allegations of abuse and neglect of seniors. Evidence-based workshops are offered to elders and their caregivers, and innovative technologies such as computer tablets and virtual reality programs specially designed for older users are also a part of the offerings.

Longevity is often quite correctly associated with integrity. SeniorCare’s proven history of providing services to our senior community since 1972, demonstrates that we have gained the trust and resources of our constituencies and that we have delivered proven, achievable results.

As SeniorCare moves into our fifty-first year, memories fade and timelines of innovative programs, leadership and other milestone events can become lost with turnover of staff, retirements, and location moves. Now is the time to reinvigorate our staff, board members, volunteers, and donors and to inspire a new generation here at SeniorCare. Fifty years of challenging work, dedication, and optimism of past generations of SeniorCare staff, board, volunteers, and donors, can give us the perspective, motivation, and momentum we need to move us forward into the future.

SeniorCare is here to stay. We have taken root here on the North Shore to help our senior community weather the joys and challenges of aging and we will continue to help them live their lives with independence, choice, and dignity.