On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Orangeburg, Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell sat and listened while a dozen senior citizens and their caregivers listed the things they are worried about: transportation, meal delivery, the cost of supplemental insurance, how to stay out of a nursing home, or how to get onto a waiting list for help that is already in the thousands.
Seventy-six people participated in one of McConnell’s Faces of Aging forums, in which McConnell and the SC Office on Aging are seeing issues firsthand–visiting nursing homes and hearing from citizens who need or use his office’s services.
AUDIO: One of those was Margaret Johnson of Orangeburg (:21)
AUDIO: Lisa Firmenter of the Barnwell Council on Aging says her father is on the waiting list (:15)
The Office on Aging helps people pay for simple services like this with small grants, but McConnell said they are also trying to figure out how to make those go further.
He said the meetings and tours of local facilities which serve the aging are informative and necessary for him to do this job, which he assumed when former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned and pleaded guilty to campaign ethics charges.
INTERVIEW: McConnell said what the Office of Aging is doing to help seniors at home can save millions in Medicaid dollars.
McConnell said that his office’s programs are not entitlements.
“These people have paid their dues. They have worked all of their lives, they put together the best they could. But aging, the cost of health care will break them, destroy their assets,” said McConnell. “They are not looking for a hand-out, they are looking for a helping hand.”
Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter (D-Orangeburg) is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee that will get Lt. Gov. McConnell’s upcoming request to improve the Office on Aging budget by $5 million. She is a social worker in the Orangeburg area and attended Tuesday’s forum.
AUDIO: Cobb-Hunter praised the effort of the Lt. Governor (:28)
McConnell will be holding such meetings and facility tours throughout the state into December. See schedule.