Letter: Letter: Peter Jessen

To the editor:

Communities and societies are often measured by the way they treat the most vulnerable within them. One of the most vulnerable groups in our county are senior citizens who are no longer able to make their own health and financial decisions. Thankfully, most of them have loving family or friends who oversee their care and try their best to afford them dignity, respect and love. But there are those among us who do not have family or friends who will look after their best interests.

It is shameful but true that some family members take advantage of their elders by stealing their assets or unscrupulously persuading them to give up what they need to live in order to enrich themselves, or who are unwilling or unable themselves to oversee their care and affairs. To whom can such people turn?

Johnson County is great place to live — for most people. Thanks to a newer program, the 15th of its kind in Indiana, seniors needing help to oversee their financial, living and heath affairs can now receive respectful support, making Johnson County a great place to live for a few more. That support seeks to honor their personal wishes as far as they can be honored. Johnson County VASIA (Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults), in just over one year, has been assigned over 20 seniors by the county superior court to receive this care.

At least 20 vetted, trained and court-sworn volunteers give of their time and skills to make this happen, along with an amazing advisory board of directors and an executive director. I am grateful that our county commissioners have also recognized this need and has supported this effort.

With a state grant and a state goal of 10 assisted seniors by the end of 2017, we have more than doubled the number of persons assisted and have done so under budget. We are grateful for the privilege of improving the quality of life in our county, and ensure that these seniors’ private assets and Medicaid and Medicare payments are used wisely.

With deep gratitude, I want to thank our county commissioners, volunteers, board members, Superior Court I Judge Kevin Barton and Executive Director Joe Erickson for all of your competent, caring work on behalf of our senior citizens.

Peter Jessen

Johnson County VASIA advisory board chair