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N.C. Senior Citizens Call for Policy Change

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FAYETTEVILLE — The golden years are not so shiny for many senior citizens. Every day, they face tough problems with everything from finances to medical treatment.

Wednesday, they spoke out about their difficulties to make it easier for future generations.

TheAARPand several local agencies on aging are listening to senior citizens. They are learning about the problems facing older adults and are trying to come up with solutions.

Orpah Rogers, 74, needs about $200 worth of medication a month. She fell just short of qualifying forMedicaid, so the burden to pay for her prescriptions falls solely on her.

"Last month I had to make a choice between medication and food, and I made the choice for medication and to eat what I could scrape up," Rogers said.

Rogers is not alone with this struggle. It is one of many issues facing senior citizens today. At a Citizens Speak Out Conference in Fayetteville, older adults expressed their concerns about other problems as well, such as the lack of transportation and a shortage of in-home care personnel.

Their comments will be given to the state division of aging to help them prepare a strategic plan for the year 2000 and beyond.

"That's why we are here today, to find solutions to problems like prescriptions," said Carolyn Tracy, who is with the Mid Carolina Area Agency of Aging.

With thousands of baby boomers reaching retirement age there is no time to lose.

Advocates say new programs need to be created and old ones refined, so older adults like Orpah Rogers do not suffer.

"We are talking about citizens who have led productive lives and their only crime in life is they didn't earn enough to have decent retirement funds," senior citizens advocate Everette Flynn said.

The conference in Fayetteville was the last of five held across the state. The plan that comes out of these meetings will be submitted to the State Legislature in March for approval.

Older adults are North Carolina's fastest growing population. In fact, the senior population will more than double over the next 25 years. There is a large number of seniors living in Wake, Cumberland and Durham counties.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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