The Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) was passed in 1998 as a way to help older adults live in their own homes. Now in its 19th year, the millage has grown to offer more than 51 unique services, with three new services starting in January 2017; Handy Helen, Community Food Club, and Dental Services.
The KCSM services are available to Kent County residents age 60 and over and may require individuals to pay part of the cost (based on their income). The three new services below will help meet the diverse needs of a growing senior population.
Community Food Club: Some older adults with low incomes have difficulty affording groceries; especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Others without the means to afford food simply skip meals and go without. The Community Food Club (CFC) is designed to help meet nutritional needs, reduce the use of emergency food resources and make sure people are not going hungry. Individuals pay a small membership fee to participate in the CFC and are then given a set number of points for the month. Members can shop at the CFC and spend their points for whatever grocery items they choose such as milk, eggs, fresh produce, meats and more. The CFC is set up like a regular grocery store and includes a check out where items are added up and the points spent are deducted from their monthly total. Members can come as many times as they would like in a month until their points are gone. For more information including how to become a CFC member, contact Community Food Club of Greater Grand Rapids at 616-288-5550.
Dental Care: Regular dental care can be expensive, causing older adults without coverage to delay or ignore recommended dental hygiene. When not dealt with, dental issues often affect the whole body and can cause additional complications and health issues. Exalta Health (formerly Health Intervention Services) will be providing dental care to eligible older adults. Services offered will include general dentistry such as teeth cleaning, examination, x-rays, fillings and tooth removals, root canal treatment to diminish pain or eliminate infection of the tooth or jawbone and dentures and partials for those needing to replace missing teeth. For more information, including eligibility requirements and appointment scheduling, contact Exalta Health at 616-988-4301.
Handy Helen: Due to traditional gender roles some older women may have relied on their husband to be the handyman around the house; fixing the leaky faucets and keeping up with the home maintenance. But, what happens when their husbands are not able to do these chores due to health or memory issues and the role of wife now also includes caregiver? For some women, the added task of home repairs becomes an additional stress and expense. Handy Helen is a class designed to empower female caregivers (age 60 and over) with the skills they need to tackle minor home maintenance projects. Each interactive series will include instruction in minor plumbing, electrical and seasonal home maintenance. Participants will also learn how to use the more common tools in the toolbox and who to call when you can’t fix it yourself. Classes are offered by Home Repair Services. For more information, including class schedules and registration information, call Home Repair Service at 616-241-2601.
Each year the KCSM holds an open proposal process and proposals are reviewed by the Millage Review Committee, a group consisting of Kent County Commissioners and older adults that live in Kent County. Agencies whose proposals are approved then make a presentation to the committee in the fall. Funding recommendations for KCSM services is determined by the Millage Review Committee and approved by the Kent County Board of Commissioners. This year the committee and the Commissioners approved adding the three new services above to an already robust list of services ranging from in-home care to healthy aging programs. Funding for the services come from taxes paid by Kent County homeowners and is anticipated to be over $10.2 million for 2017.
Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan administers the KCSM, including a full list of KCSM services, visit www.aaawm.org/senior_millage.