Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Carbon County United States of America
Despite being rural, Carbon County is home to several organizations that are focused on serving older adults. An Adult Protective Services specialist serves Carbon County and works to keep vulnerable seniors safe. There are four clinics, one of which partners with our local paramedicine program—the Community Care Team—to increase medical care access by conducting home visits and providing transportation to medical appointments.
In addition to medical services, there are also assisted living and long-term care facilities which provide housing and care for those who cannot remain in their homes. For those who are able to live in their own homes, there are six senior centers around the county that provide low-cost meals and a place to gather for social activities. Many of the senior centers also benefit from active volunteers that cook and serve meals, deliver meals to those unable to attend, and clean the space used.
The local Active Transportation Board promotes safe and accessible non-motorized travel. They have been responsible for adding benches along Broadway and making wayfinding improvements. These benches encourage seniors to walk by providing rest areas, and wayfinding improvements help travelers easily find popular points of interest. Active Transportation is currently working to install curb extensions which will improve safety for pedestrians. Seniors will particularly appreciate the additional visibility when checking for oncoming vehicles.
Beartooth Recreational Trails Association, another local organization that promotes non-motorized travel, works to link trails in/around Red Lodge and operates the Red Lodge Nordic Center. The varying difficulty of trails make outdoor activities suitable for all ages, and residents and travelers alike, hiking or skiing depending on the season, take advantage of these trails all year round. In addition, the Nordic Center offers steep discounts on season passes for seniors.
The Senior Ark Grant Fund is another valuable community program that assists seniors. The fund provides financial assistance to low-income seniors with episodic, and oftentimes emergency, needs. Since its inception, the fund has provided over $10,000 to older adults in Carbon County to help with projects ranging from bathroom repairs to broken water heater replacements to car repairs. The fund also financed the construction of an accessible deck to allow a resident with a physical disability to safely enter their home.
The community also has Navigators, volunteers trained to assist individuals and families with aid program applications. Navigators also guide clients in finding community resources. This service is completely free.
The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation facilitates the Age-Friendly Steering Committee, a group of volunteers, which formed after a community assessment and subsequent community dialogue showed the community’s desire for a more age-friendly county. The committee’s mission is to build an age-friendly Carbon County through assessment, engagement, and collaboration.
To become more age-friendly, we plan to engage more seniors in community dialogues, address concerns raised by seniors through our Age-Friendly Carbon County survey, and continue to make visits to senior centers around the county. We are currently working to address transportation concerns in the county. Even with amazing services available, if people cannot get to them or receive them, the services do not amount to much. Many seniors have expressed concern about getting to medical appointments or their pharmacy. With the recent Office of Public Assistance closure, transportation is even more critical for people of all ages.
We are partnering with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) in addressing these needs. Our Regional Planner from MDT has agreed to make a visit to Red Lodge to learn more about our needs, and he has offered his assistance with request for proposals and finding vendors to create a transit development plan for the county.