A nonprofit organization tasked with helping the elderly in Union County said the need for medical equipment and in-home services is growing rapidly.
What You Need To Know
- Seniors expected to outnumber young people in Union County by 2038
- Union County’s Council on Aging says its distribution of goods has increased significantly compared with previous years
- In 2021, the group donated more than $33,000 worth of medical equipment
The Council on Aging in Union County estimates the number of adults who are 60 or older will outnumber children by 2038, according to its review of N.C. Office of State Budget and Management data.
That data projects the number of adults older than 60, or about 89,000, will outnumber young people 17 or younger by 7,000 by 2038.
The council’s executive director, Andrew Friend, said that in 2021 the group gave out more than 700 pieces of medical equipment valued at more than $30,000. Compared with a few years ago, the number of items more than tripled.
Friend said his organization is crucial in getting needed assistance to seniors faster, and often at less cost, than insurance or Medicare.
“Oftentimes older adults are faced with having to pay a co-pay for that, depending on what type of secondary Medicare insurance they have. And then if you do get one of those devices through Medicare, you have to get a prescription through a doctor. You also have to get that prescription filled through a durable medical equipment supplier. Here, at Council on Aging, we remove all of those barriers,” Friend said in his office at the nonprofit.
Charlie Petty, who received a donated wheelchair, said it has enabled him to continue living at home.
“My condition, my mobility, has gotten worse and I used the walker, or the rollator, for a long time, but the last little while it’s went out from under me a couple times, and I’ve fallen,” Petty said.
Petty also relies on an in-home aide twice a week who helps him in household tasks like cooking, cleaning and laundry.
Petty got his wheelchair in June, thanks to the Council on Aging, which gave it to him for free.
“They bring me supplies, and Abby is a dear. … I’ve never had to ask her for anything, she sees it and does it,” Petty said in his home during one of the in-home aide’s visits.
In 2016, a major hip surgery led to infection. The infection took a year to fight off and left him using a cane, then a walker, and now a wheelchair.
In the past, Petty said it can be time-consuming and a headache to go through insurance for medical equipment.
“I guess I have had help from the VA. But the waiting times are always long, they’re busy,” Petty said about his veteran benefits.
Without the council’s help, Petty said he knows where he would be.
“In a nursing home … which I do not want to do,” Petty said.
Friend said the council needs donations of shower chairs and incontinence supplies, which his organization provides to seniors for free. In 2021, the council distributed 4,732 packages of incontinence supplies, costing more than $35,000.
For details on how to donate, click here.