Harold and Sharon McNeal, alongside her brother Doug, embrace aging to the fullest and encourage others to do the same. With never-ending smiles, they discuss the benefits of growing older. The McNeals came across an ad in their local paper for brand new apartments in Crestline called Faith Community Housing 13 years ago. They’ve been living there ever since.
Susan Montgomery, who provides service coordination through the Area Agency on Aging, has been a big help to the McNeals and other residents at Faith Community Housing.
“She brings in information [every Tuesday] about the senior citizen day at the fair over in Richland County or over here in Crawford County, and other different programs. She informs us and keeps us up to date on the HEAP program,” Harold said.
“She’s helped some of the people that live alone and have problems with that to fill out the paperwork if necessary, you know, that kind of stuff to help them get on it,” Sharon added.
“I assist in getting information out about different programs that help seniors stay in their homes safely for as long as possible. These programs could be local programs, or they could be at the state level,” Montgomery said.
“It’s about providing the information so they’re not thinking ‘If I asked for help, I’m not going to be able to stay in my house.’ But actually, the thinking should be if ‘I ask for help then programs and services can help me STAY in my home safely.’”
It is not simple all the time. The three emphasize asking about benefits, discounts and assistance because information is not readily available.
“One thing I learned really quick is everyone gives a senior discount, you just have to ask for it. They don’t tell you they got it,” Doug said.
“You just kind of learn these things. What places do what,” Sharon said.
The McNeals have accepted retirement, enjoying it and sharing their stories of the exciting moments they’ve had throughout the years. They are clearly thankful for each day, speaking fondly of their day to day lives and routines, like solitaire, diamond painting, woodworking, and water aerobics at the YMCA.
“It’s like 20 senior kids in the water!” said Doug, a retired veteran.
Their attitude shows their gratitude for their life; past, present and future. Aging doesn’t phase them, and they encourage others to welcome it with open arms.
“You can either whine and cry about it and make yourself miserable, or you can do the best you can and enjoy it,” Sharon said.
“It’s accepting the fact that you can’t do what you used to do, but you don’t have to,” Doug said.
The mission of the Area Agency on Aging is to “provide leadership, collaboration, coordination and services to older adults, people with disabilities, their caregivers & resource networks that support individual choice, independence and dignity.” The McNeals and many other citizens can attest to this statement.
To get more information about the Area Agency on Aging and the services they provide, visit the website.
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