March 2, 2014

Editorial: Providing services that are necessary

Any community that doesn’t keep up with the needs of its population is going to become overrun by them.

Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, like most of the nation, are growing older. People are living longer these days than ever. They are living so long that some of their abilities desert them before life itself does.

That means that the counties and communities must look toward a whole array of services that were less of an issue a generation or more ago.

For example: In 2000, Clinton County totaled 9,480 residents age 65 or over — 11.87 percent of the population; in 2010, that segment of the population had risen to 10,952, or 13.34 percent.

The trends are mirrored in Franklin and Essex: Franklin County’s senior population grew, between 2000 and 2010, from 6,554 to 6,880, or 12.82 percent to 13.33; and Essex from 6,230 to 7,143, or 16.03 percent to 18.14.

So developments such as the proposed expansion of Meadowbrook Nursing Home and the expansion of home-health-care provider HCR Home Care throughout the North Country make perfect sense.

The idea is to keep senior citizens happy and functioning as long as possible, first at home, then at assisted-living centers and, finally, at nursing homes.

HCR, a Rochester-based company, is already headquartered for this region in Plattsburgh, having established itself here in 2010. Clinton County, encumbered by growing debt in running its own home health care, contracted with HCR and receives $1.5 million for four years from that firm.

Other home-care choices exist throughout the North Country — including county-run operations in Essex and Franklin — but HCR will now operate, through its Plattsburgh office, to provide services for people in Franklin, Essex Hamilton, St. Lawrence and Warren counties.

Enabling seniors to continue to live in their homes is the smartest, most humane and most economical option.

The next step after that is facilities that assist seniors with the functions they can’t perform while allowing them as much independence as they can handle.

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