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Senior services important

About 2,000 older Belmont County residents are helped by the county Senior Services agency, reported its director, Gary Armitage, last week.

Armitage’s report, made to Belmont County commissioners, was a reminder of the importance of local government services to senior citizens. Armitage delivered it as something of a wrap-up regarding his five years of work in the position, from which he is stepping down.

Work done by the agency is accomplished on a budget of slightly more than $6 million a year, with much of the money coming from local property tax levies. With those funds, Senior Services provides a wide range of assistance, including everything from home-delivered meals to personal care, light housekeeping help and transportation for medical needs.

In addition, the agency supports a network of senior centers across the county. These are safe places where older residents can go to enjoy a meal or to socialize with some of their peers. The centers also offer shelter in times of extreme heat or cold.

Those facilities have directors who strive to ensure their constituents mark holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. They host a variety of gatherings and activities, including special meals, crafting events, dances and more.

All of this helps to combat the loneliness and isolation that many seniors experience. And the other services help seniors maintain independent lives in their own homes for longer than they might otherwise be able to achieve.

In order to receive services, a person must be a resident of Belmont County who is 60 or older and has a qualifying need, such as difficulty driving. Services are provided without regard to income, and the recipients are never billed for the assistance they get,

For many seniors, the agency provides essential services. That is worth remembering the next time a senior services levy is on the ballot.

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