“Passages serves as the voice of the aging—one that is not always heard.”
In 2030, one in every five Americans will be 65 or older.
California is aging as well. Seniors age 60 and over will become 21 percent of the state’s population by 2020, up from 18.5% in 2010.
Several counties in the North State—Shasta, Lassen, Colusa, and Sutter—will experience senior growth rates over 100 percent between 1990 and 2020. The percentage increase for seniors aged 85 and older is even greater. Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Plumas, Butte, Yuba, Colusa, and Sutter counties should expect growth rates over 150 percent for this older segment.
An aging population changes the face of American society. Older adults bring with them increased needs for health care, nutrition, transportation, housing, safety, and human services. While a broad range of senior services exist, how does one find them? Enter Passages, one bright star in the constellation of services the University provides to the North State.
Thirty-three years ago, the Older Californian Act created regional Area Agencies on Aging—33 in all—throughout the state. Our Area Agency on Aging (Area 3) is called Passages. It is unique to California and the nation because it is sponsored by a university, California State University, Chico. Its mission statement is simple yet broad: “to support and improve the lives of adults in the communities we serve.”
Because information pathways are so vital, Passages’ communication hub is the Information and Assistance Program. This gives callers “the keys to the kingdom,” says director Joe Cobery, and puts them in touch with the help they need. Other programs range from supporting caregivers to advocating for those who reside in long-term care facilities. The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) provides important information and navigational assistance with Medicare and other health insurance.
Passages also contracts with other agencies to ensure that senior nutrition, transportation, legal assistance, and medical management needs are met. Nutrition services are both home delivered and congregate, meaning that the senior goes to a specific site for meals.
An Advisory Council, composed of 22 community members from five counties, supplies a geographic voice. These knowledgeable members support and advance the mission of all programs under the Passages umbrella.
Doreen Wysocki, Advisory Council member from Tehama County, finds her service rewarding and is honored to represent her county on the council. “Passages serves as the voice of the aging—one that is not always heard,” she says.
Retired from public health nursing, Wysocki knows firsthand the importance of senior nutrition. She believes this is one area in Tehama County where Passages shines. For those participating in the congregate meal program, they not only eat a balanced meal, but also reap the social and emotional rewards of getting dressed and out of the house to interact with others.
Passages delivers services to 10 North State counties. The services vary by county, and information can be accessed in a county-specific manner on the North State Initiative website.