augusta free press news

Focus on area seniors

We’re all getting older, but the senior population in the Greater Augusta area is also getting bigger. Sixteen percent of the area’s population is 65 or older, according to a study commissioned by the Augusta Health Foundation, a third more than the state average.

Policymakers are putting more attention on the growing senior population.

“I’m glad to see this forum taking place. I want to thank everybody here, both presenters and supporters, for being here. Everyone here is crucial to the effort to support the continued efforts to improve the quality of life for our senior citizens. And I want everybody here to know that we on City Council are concerned about your needs,” Waynesboro City Council member Mike Harris told attendees at Monday’s Waynesboro Senior Forum.

The Forum brought together representatives of Augusta Health, the Central Shenandoah Health District, the Waynesboro Senior Center, the Waynesboro Family Y and several other senior-focused organizations and businesses with the goal of connecting the service providers with local seniors.

“The overall goal was to try to connect seniors in the community with the resources that are available within the community,” said Melissa Crocker, the chair of the Waynesboro Senior Advocacy Commission, the organizer of the Senior Forum.

“We’re trying to create a synergy between businesses in the community with organizations, nonprofits and the local government,” Crocker said. “There’s always the criticism that there aren’t enough resources to go around. Having all those different components work together creates a much better outcome. So we’re hoping to get information out to the community, not just seniors, but baby boomers, family members.”

This year’s event drew 125 people to the First Baptist Church in Waynesboro. An informal poll of attendees had about half coming back for the second annual forum from last year’s event, which made Crocker feel good that people sensed a value to what was being offered.

“There actually is a good bit out there in terms of resources. It’s just that people aren’t aware of what’s there, or they don’t really pay attention until they need it. If people come to events like this, they can get in the back of their mind what is available in the community for themselves and for family members and friends,” Crocker said.

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Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at