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State outlines plan to serve older adults

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The state intends to provide at least $1.38 million in services required by the federal Older Americans Act during the next four years in the planning and service area that includes Chaves County and 10 other counties.

The New Mexico Aging and Long-term Services Department is sharing its October 2021 to September 2025 plan so that it can receive public comments. People have until May 19 to make comments during a Friday webinar or by email, mail, an online form or phone call.

The plan covers state services not only for people 60 or older, but also for disabled adults.

Chaves County is part of planning and service area 3 (PSA), with the state having four PSAs covering all counties, as well as two additional tribal PSAs for the Navajo Nation and the Mescalero Apache Nation.

Statewide, the ALTSD expects to provide services worth $7.06 million over four years for its programs and services under the Older Americans Act requirements.

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According to the draft plan, the PSA3 area has 12.3% of the state’s population who are 60 or older, or about 63,220 people. The area also has the largest percentage of older residents living in rural areas by far, with 45.43% of the state total, or 58,231 of the 128,176 rural senior residents in New Mexico.

The Older Americans Act has four main goals that the state department must work to achieve to receive federal funding. Those include helping older residents remain in their homes or communities of choice; expanding and innovating uses of grant funds to improve community living; establishing and expanding ways to increase consumer control and choice; and preventing the abuse, neglect or exploitation of older residents. The draft plan outlines numerous strategies and objectives the state department expects to undertake during the coming years.

As part of its efforts to develop the plan, the state department conducted a statewide needs assessment conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of New Mexico and in cooperation with the National Resource Center on Native American Aging. That research found that the greatest needs among older residents or disabled adults in the state are nutrition, with 68% of respondents identifying this as a top need; transportation (59%) and social interaction (43%).

The draft report and information on how to provide comments are available on the ALTSD website, www.nmaging.state.nm.us. People also can call the general information line at 800-432-2080.

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