Formerly known as Marion County Department for Elderly, Marion County Department on Aging provides helpful services to thousands of senior citizens daily.
One of the most important things the department provides to older residents is meals. Approximately 225 meals are served daily at four nutrition centers — Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody, and Goessel — five days a week. Volunteers also deliver meals to those unable to travel to the senior center.
Smaller centers throughout the county have potluck meals.
Marion County has 3,000 residents who are 65 or older.
“There are 21.6 percent who are over 60 years old in the county,” Marion County Department on Aging Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff said, higher than the national average of 13 percent.
Department personnel stay busy. Employees are just now finishing homestead and food sales tax refund applications.
“We get calls from people with questions about Medicare, Social Security, prescription drug plans, and scams,” Ratzlaff said.
The department recently published a resource book with information about programs and agencies available to Marion County senior citizens.
Assistance is available for individuals wanting to apply for Medicaid and prescription drug plans. Ratzlaff is available to present programs to groups about aging and retirement issues.
Free publications are available about Alzheimer’s, prescription drug coverage, Medicare supplemental insurance, and long-term insurance.
Volunteer Virginia Downing and Ratzlaff also can assist with applications for weatherization grants, USDA grants and loans, Low Income Energy Assistance Program, housing vouchers, homestead and food sales tax refund, and Medicare savings program.
Downing also has assisted seniors with Kansas and federal income tax returns.
The department coordinates with and makes referrals to North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, and other social agencies of Marion County to provide services to individuals at home.
Transportation coordinator Lanell Hett is available to assist 60 people in arranging transportation to doctor’s appointments and shopping. The department vans are available for groups of 60 or more passengers for recreational outings, in and out of county.
The vans are available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Twenty-four hours notice is requested to arrange for a volunteer driver.
“We’re here and want to help any senior citizen who needs assistance,” Ratzlaff said.