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WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and more than 50 area senior citizens gathered at Grandparents Grove in Mercer County Park on May 6 for a ceremony celebrating May as Older Americans Month.

The theme of the 2011 Older Americans Month is “Older Americans: Connecting the Community”, and Mercer County is a community that is home to more than 60,000 adults 60 years of age and older whose roots are the foundation of our society as they bestow their knowledge to younger generations.

“We are lucky in Mercer County to have such large and active population of older residents who care deeply about this county and the people around them,” said Hughes. “Countless times, all of us seek the advice and tap the experience of someone from a previous generation, and today, we honor and celebrate the fact that this population is a tremendous resource for us.”

The event was hosted by County Executive Hughes, the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Mercer County Office on Aging and the Council on Aging, and was sponsored in conjunction with Acorn Glen Assisted Living, E.J. Constance & Associates Hearing Aid Center and ECHO Seniors. Hughes was joined by County freeholders Pasquale Colavita, Anthony Carabelli, Ann Cannon and Samuel Frisby and County Surrogate Diane Gerofsky in addition to representatives of the Mercer County Office on Aging and the County Council on Aging.

Hughes said Older Americans Month is also an important time to raise issues that affect older adults and to highlight the many programs Mercer County has in place to enhance their lives. He specifically thanked the Council on Aging, a group of appointed volunteers who advise the County about trends and issues impacting seniors.

The Mercer County Office on Aging staff and the Council on Aging maintain involvement in many activities, services and programs for older adults in Mercer County. Some of these include participation in: the Commission on Aging at Mercer County Community College; Mercer County Coalition for Coordinated Transportation; New Jersey Foundation on Aging Senior Executive Committee; Elder Economic Security Index Steering Committee; and New Jersey Area Agency on Aging Association Advisory Council Committee.

Mercer County also offers a variety of services for seniors, including promoting lifelong learning for adults at Mercer County Community College. The college also continues to develop its Gerontology Certificate Program as a vehicle to attract, educate and empower younger students to be well equipped to work with its older adult population. Mercer County operates 12 Nutrition sites that provide weekday healthy nutrition and socialization to 750 Mercer County residents, and the County’s TRADE transportation service provides opportunities for older residents to travel throughout the county at little or no cost as well. Senior centers operated by each municipality are full of social and recreational programming.

“From programs at our parks and libraries to assistance for senior citizens who are in need of greater care, Mercer County offers the resources our older residents need to lead active, healthy lifestyles,” Hughes said. “I urge our diverse senior population to reach out to the Mercer County Office on Aging to discover our array of offerings or ask about ways they can volunteer to help their peers in need.”

The May 6 event also featured performances by senior citizens groups, including the Reading Senior Center Men’s Step Group, the Reading Senior Center Sizzlin’ Divas, Karl Dentino Ragtime Blues, and “Tongue in Cheek”, a Garden Statesmen Barbershop Quartet. Later, a demonstration on physical fitness for seniors was presented by Silver Sneakers Fitness Program.

Funds administered through the Office on Aging provide for essential social health, and support services for Mercer County’s older adults and caregivers. Services funded by the Office on Aging include: Adult Protective Services, Assisted Transportation, Caregiver Assistance and Support Programs, Care Management, Certified Home Health Aide, Certified, Home Health Care, Congregate Nutrition, Emergency Response Systems, Friendly Visiting, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Housekeeping, Information Assistance/Outreach and Care Management, Kosher Nutrition, Legal Services and Prevention Education, Nutrition Counseling and Education. Respite Care, Safe Housing and Transportation, Senior, Mental Health Intervention and Caregiver Support, Socialization and Recreation Services, Summer Cooling, Telephone Reassurance, Transportation, Weekday and Weekend Home Delivered Meals, Information, Assistance, Outreach and Care Management.