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Aubrey Tamietti of Chaffee County Public Health, explains the Ark Valley Helping Hands program for seniors Jan. 25 at the Salida Regional Library. Dan Smith photo.

With more than 26 percent of Chaffee County’s population over age 65 and growing, according to latest estimates, there is an ever-increasing demand for services for seniors here.

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH), which impressively supervises more than 40 local health offerings, has made great strides in providing such services.

A lunch and learn public presentation Jan. 25 at the Salida Regional Library was part of an extensive outreach effort under the Aging Well Program to raise awareness of just what is available for seniors.

Embracing Aging Chaffee is a ‘year-round living resource for Chaffee County residents and includes multi-platform community offerings for older adults including health navigation services, walking groups, yoga classes, monthly educational opportunities, adult game days, a movie club, sewing club, an Alzheimer’s support group, an annual health expo and a variety of other resources. The Embracing Aging programs are headed by Molly Bischoff of CCPH.

At the library presentation, Aubrey Tamietti of CCPH outlined the Ark Valley Helping Hands program, which connects older adults in the community to willing volunteers who can provide assistance with home visits, help with typical yard work, snow removal, household chores like vacuuming, tech help, rides to appointments, and even a relatively new electric trishaw ride experience for senior’s enjoyment.

Service days by volunteers occur about there times a year with a large group of volunteers, she said, but volunteer members also help out individually with different ways to get involved with those services, such as snow shoveling.

“So you can sign up as a regular person, assigned to a house, and anytime it snows over an inch, you go and help the person out; it’s a really great way to make a new friend that lives kind of close to you; the other option is ‘Oh, it snowed today, I really feel like getting outside and doing some shoveling.’

You can just call me and I’ll give you a house or two to go shovel for,” said Tamietti.

Monica Ranes also explained the working of the Age Strong program directed by Bischoff which focuses on issues like planning for senior housing and many future resource developments.

One of those is the Chaffee County Home Share program, which seeks to match older residents (55-plus) who have extra space on their property with seniors looking for discounted housing in exchange for performing household tasks.

Ranes said providers are given assistance with home services in exchange for reduced rent for the housing seekers.

“No two home-sharing agreements are alike,” she said, “each match is tailored to the unique needs and abilities of all of the people involved.”

A comprehensive screening and matching process has been developed for the best possible matches, she added, with a two-week trial period after applicants are vetted and interviewed, followed by a home share agreement after a successful trial.

The Aging Mastery program, a 10-week free course originated by Colorado Mountain College that includes multi-faceted instruction in things such as social connectedness, healthy eating, financial fitness, advance planning, mindfulness, and much more of interest to seniors will be available in the spring.

These are just a sampling of the educational programs and courses offered under the Aging Well umbrella and wellness activities. Volunteers who want to start new programs are also encouraged to come forth with ideas.