AGENCY ON AG­ING'S CEP SEEKS DIG­NITY FOR EL­DERS

Jaime Estremera-Fitzger­ald says state needs to help its re­tirees get older in place.

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL BUSINESS - By Carolyn DiPaolo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer cdi­paolo@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @car­olyn­di­paolo

Jaime Estremera-Fitzger­ald wants you to en­joy a long and happy re­tire­ment — in your home.

His mis­sion as CEO of the lo­cal Area Agency on Ag­ing is to fur­ther the op­por­tu­nity for that to hap­pen.

He points out that Florida leads the na­tion in the per­cent­age of res­i­dents who are 60 and older. In fact, a Uni­ver­sity of Florida study calls Florida “per­haps the ‘old­est’ state in the U.S.”

Estremera-Fitzger­ald says Florida needs to live up to its re­tire­ment-haven sta­tus.

“We can truly make Florida a place where peo­ple don’t just come to re­tire,” he said last week. “We want them to age with in­de­pen­dence, dig­nity and hap­pi­ness.”

Estremera-Fitzger­ald was re­cently named pres­i­dent of the Florida As­so­ci­a­tion of Area Agen­cies on Ag­ing. In that vol­un­teer role, he aims to unify

and ex­pand the ag­ing net­work to bet­ter serve and more force­fully ad­vo­cate for Florida’s se­niors, adults with dis­abil­i­ties and those who care for them.

Area Agen­cies on Ag­ing were es­tab­lished by the Older Amer­i­cans Act of 1965 to serve Amer­i­cans 60 and over.

Florida later ex­panded the role of the agen­cies to in­clude peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Now known as Ag­ing and Dis­abil­ity Re­source Cen­ters, Florida’s 11 or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­vide pro­grams de­signed to al­low older adults and dis­abled peo­ple to “age in place.”

As a suc­cess story, he pointed to the Com­mu­nity Care for the El­derly pro­gram cre­ated un­der for­mer Gov. Bob Gra­ham. “We were the in­no­va­tor in the whole na­tion. As peo­ple are on a fixed re­tire­ment in­come and needed a lit­tle help — per­sonal care, home mainte

nance, respite — the ser­vice was there. They could pay a small por­tion. That pro­gram has kept peo­ple home for 10 to 15 years. We need to get back to that.

“With the chang­ing state ad­min­is­tra­tion, we need to unite and work closely with the new gov­er­nor. We want him to have a re­la­tion­ship with the ag­ing net­work and truly be an ad­vo­cate for the el­derly in Florida.

“I don’t care if the gov­er­nor is a Repub­li­can or Demo­crat. What I want to know is, ‘What are you go­ing to do for se­niors?’

“We in­vite se­niors to Florida and to spend their money here, he said. “They de­serve the best ser­vices we can pro­vide.”

Name: Jaime Estremera-Fitzger­ald Ti­tle: Chief ex­ec­u­tive officer of the Area Agency on Ag­ing of Palm Beach/ Trea­sure Coast, Inc.

Age: 72

Town you call home: Jupiter Ed­u­ca­tion: Master’s in psy­chol­ogy from Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity

Fam­ily: Cel­e­brat­ing 26 years of mar­riage to Robin; rais­ing our 13-year-old son Paul, who just started 8th grade;

and a cat named His­sy­fit.

About your or­ga­ni­za­tion: Your Ag­ing & Dis­abil­ity Re­source Cen­ter, the lo­cal Area Agency on Ag­ing of Palm

Beach/Trea­sure Coast, is a dy­namic, pri­vate, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to serv­ing se­niors, adults with dis­abil­i­ties and those who care for them.

Our Helpline (1-866-684-5885) is the gate­way to ser­vices. Most calls are from peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in whether they qual­ify for Med­i­caid, need help with respite or are seek­ing ser­vices de­signed for the el­derly. The big­gest chal­lenge is that there is a wait­ing list for many of these ser­vices.

Our mis­sion is to pro­mote, sup­port and ad­vo­cate for the in­de­pen­dence, dig­nity and well-be­ing of se­niors, adults with dis­abil­i­ties and those who care for them in a man­ner that val­ues di­ver­sity, re­flects the com­mu­ni­ties we serve

and em­braces the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the ag­ing net­work.

First pay­ing job and what you

learned from it: I worked with my fa­ther in con­struc­tion car­ry­ing foun­da­tion blocks. I learned that hard work pays off.

First break in the busi­ness: Be­ing

able Fe, New to be Mex­ico. a broad­cast I got a chance tal­ent in to Santa work with com­mu­nity lead­ers.

How your field has changed: The se­nior pop­u­la­tion is ex­plod­ing world­wide. That means that the needs are mul­ti­ply­ing ex­po­nen­tially.

Best busi­ness book you’ve read re­cently: “Fear­less: Imag­ine Your Life ut Fear,” by Max Lu­cado. It en­cour­ages the reader to have faith.

Best piece of busi­ness ad­vice you have re­ceived: Lis­ten. Al­ways lis­ten.

Many suc­cess­ful peo­ple learn from fail­ure. Do you have a fail­ure you can share and what you learned

from it? My life les­son is that I am here to serve. In a pre­vi­ous life, I had a job that was all about mak­ing money. I ac­tu­ally did make good money, but failed at liv­ing the life I needed to be liv­ing ... a life of ser­vice!

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Growth and op­por

tu­nity.

Power lunch spot: Healthy Habit Café.

What is the most im­por­tant trait you look for when hir­ing? Pas­sion.

Where we’d find you when you’re not at the of­fice? At home with Robin

and Paul.

Any re­cent ac­com­plish­ments?

Hav­ing the priv­i­lege to lead this or­ga­ni­za­tion.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Jaime Estremera-Fitzger­ald, 72, chief ex­ec­u­tive officer of the Area Agency on Ag­ing of Palm Beach/Trea­sure Coast, was re­cently named pres­i­dent of the Florida As­so­ci­a­tion of Area Agen­cies on Ag­ing.

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