Area Agency on Aging celebrating 50 years
Experience, Inc., has been serving area seniors for 50 years.
Established on April 1, 1968, Experience Inc., now Warren’s Area Agency on Aging, began as a nonprofit agency before becoming the AAA for our region, said Executive Director Danell Sowers. The mission though, she said, has always been the same.
“We were originally started locally by members of the community who recognized a need for a specialized focus on a unique and important group of people – the older adults,” said Sowers. Initially, that work was done utilizing local resources. Sometime in the 1970’s, Experience became the Area Agency on Aging and, through the years, program availability has expanded through state and federal funds that come through contacts or grants with the Departments of Aging and Human Services.
Advocating for senior citizens and finding ways to improve quality of life for aging Warren County residents has always been Experience, Inc.’s mission. In the agency’s Articles of Incorporation, the goal was to “develop facilities for the elderly citizens of the county that could serve as gathering places for them, as well as offering recreation and educational opportunities,” said Sowers. The founders also “wanted to develop an understanding of problems experienced by the elderly and provide solutions to them.”
Over the course of five decades, said Sowers, Experience Inc. has managed to sustain that vision. Today, the agency functions as a hub of information for anyone over 60, including friends, relatives, and neighbors over 60, on the “aging network” and the services offered to older Warren County residents.
When anyone over 60 “has questions or problems,” said Sowers, “their first call should be to Experience Inc. In most cases, said Sowers, Experience themselves have programs or services they can offer to cover the needs of Warren County’s aging. With 50 years’ worth of establishment in the county, the agency has developed a network of contacts that can be activated to find answers to any question county seniors have. They also, said Sowers, “have a vast knowledge of other community resources that may be available or more appropriate” on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the services that Experience provides include care at home, meal deliveries, Medicare counseling, older adult protective services, emergency response systems, caregiver support, adult day center services, and advocacy for local seniors in long-term care facilities. Even if local seniors and their families are aware that they need something, but aren’t sure what that might be or where to access it, said Sowers, Experience staff can help them figure it out.
In addition to those services, said Sowers, Experience also operates senior centers throughout the county, which offer “a place for seniors to socialize, do a wide array of activities, be educated about health and wellness, and receive a nutritious lunch.”
So who are the county residents who stand to gain from Experience’s wealth of information and service?
“The baby boomers have now started to turn 65 and will continue to do so through 2030,” said Sowers, “which will cause a strain on resources. It is projected that by 2030 people 65 and older will make up 20% of the population nationwide.” As of 2015, however, Sowers said that census data showed that “Warren and Forest Counties were already around 21%.”
Local seniors are aging much more quickly than the national averages, Sowers said, “As we have more people eligible and in need of aging services, our funding remains stagnant and, in some areas, reduced,” she said. Nonetheless, Sowers indicated that Experience will continue to be “the resource seniors throughout our community need us to be, and we will always be their staunchest advocates. “I am hopeful that other sectors of our community will also continue to value this incredible group of people and help support us in our mission to serve them by contributing to our fundraising activities or other means of donation,” Sowers said.
Learn more about Experience, Inc. by visiting the website at www.experienceinc.org, or visiting them on Facebook by searching Experience, Inc – Warren/Forest Area Agency on Aging.