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Increasing senior population draws residents to annual housing conference

Published: 02/27/14 9:50AM
By: bradleyc

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Mott Smith, programs director for the Alzheimer's Association-Georgia Chapter, (L) pushes Butch Swinney, GeorgiaCares coordinator, during a disability and age simulation activity at the 10th annual Under One Roof Housing Conference on Feb. 25

A senior population projected to double by year 2050 caused more than 200 housing professionals and elected officials to attend the 10th annual Under One Roof Housing Conference on Feb. 25.

Keishon Thomas, FVSU's housing specialist, selected the conference theme Seniors the New Majority, to bring professionals together to begin preparing for the challenges rural communities may face serving the growing senior population.

Edward Jennings, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), set the tone as opening speaker of the conference held in the C.W. Pettigrew Center on campus.

"Find the gaps and the needs for the next 20 years and work toward getting resources to build or adapt the housing that we have to meet those needs," Jennings said.The HUD administrator also said it is important that elected officials, Extension professionals and others begin educating and preparing rural citizens for changes needed to accommodate seniors.

In addition to Jennings address, conference participants attended breakout sessions about topics such as seniors and consumer protection, assistive technology, Medicare 101 and fall prevention.

"I'm going to teach my seniors how to recognize and be aware of the different telemarketing scams, Medicare scams and lottery scams," said ImoJean Mobley, site manager for the Peach County Senior Center. After attending the session about seniors and consumer protection, Mobley said she can keep her seniors informed about the latest scams which can help to prevent problems.

Following morning breakout sessions, Dr. Joe Leonard, U.S. Department of Agriculture assistant secretary for civil rights, addressed the participants during the luncheon. Leonard stressed the importance of preparing for the increasing senior population in rural communities like Fort Valley.

"Rural areas will be more adversely impacted because of the distance between the store and the home, the hospital and the home and the potential lack of hospitals and doctors in rural areas," Leonard said. The assistant secretary ended his remarks by encouraging participants to network and continuously educate people about issues that will impact themselves and loved ones.

For more information about housing programs offered by Fort Valley State University's Cooperative Extension Program, contact Keishon Thomas at 478-825-6577 or thomask@fvsu.edu.