The Eastern Oklahoma Development District Area Agency on Aging works to assist all people age 60 and older and their caregivers in its seven-county service area.

The Advisory Council on Aging is a group of advocates and representatives for the seniors in EODD AAA's service area, explained Stacy Turner, director of the EODD Area Agency on Aging. That service area includes Adair, Cherokee, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties in eastern Oklahoma.

All that is required of Advisory Council on Aging senior members is a willingness to help identify the needs of seniors in the community and to help come up with ways to meet those needs, Turner said.

"We are looking for some seniors who want to be active," said Robert Richardson, the advisory council's current chairperson. "We try to help people stay in their homes as long as possible" through the services AAA provides directly and through subcontractors.

Advisory council members sign off on various EODD AAA projects funded through the annual Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma grant, for example, Richardson said. Some also volunteer providing meals through one of the 20 CENA nutrition sites operating in the EODD service area.

"They don't make policy," Turner said of the advisory council members. "We tell them as (EODD AAA) staff what we have going on. They give us (their) input on how to make those things happen; they bring us information on the needs of seniors in the community."

From that partnership and other sources of information, the scope of services to be provided is determined for a four-year area plan, she added.

Prospective senior advisory council members must be 60 years of age or older and live within EODD's seven-county service area. Candidates must attend three consecutive council meetings before becoming a full member. The council meets every other month on the third Thursday in January, March, May, July, September and November.

Ideally, the council includes senior representatives from each of the seven counties EODD serves. The council has had as many as 20 senior members at one time, Richardson said, but some have moved away, passed away or stepped down because they are no longer able to travel.

"It's really not a large commitment, maybe four to five hours a month," Richardson said. "We just need to get the word out: This is not a big long-term commitment."

The existence of the Advisory Council on Aging is required by the federal Older Americans Act of 1965. The necessity of an advisory group also is addressed in state policies.

For more information about serving on the EODD AAA Advisory Council on Aging, contact Turner at 918-682-7891.

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