Representatives from two local advocacy groups for elderly people brought Lawrence and Douglas County commissioners up to speed on their goals and progress at a study session Monday.
The two groups the Advocacy Council on Aging and the Interagency Network for Aging were created by the two commissions to carry out the Douglas County Aging plan.
The goal of the plan is to keep elderly residents independent and out of institutions for as long as possible, said Sandy Strand, co-chair of the Interagency Network for Aging.
Representatives outlined the goals and progress of six committees covering issues for the aging: health care, housing, medical insurance, transportation, alternatives to guardianship and legislation related to the elderly.
The presentation quickly turned into an information exchange, as commissioners alerted the groups to agencies or programs that could help them achieve their goals.
"I think I learned we still need to do a better job of coordinating the services in the community, because there are a lot of them," Lawrence City Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said.
One of the main recommendations presented by the groups was to create an ombudsman to help elderly people deal with consumer problems, especially disputes with landlords.
"Most people aren't willing to go to court to fix a broken toilet, or whatever the landlord isn't willing to do," Strand said.
Martin-Smith suggested elderly people check with the Better Business Bureau and the United Way, which now handle or coordinate consumer affairs.
Strand also asked that the commissioners set aside 10 minutes out of several regular meetings over the next six months to hear presentations from the committee members themselves.
Commissioners said they would rather take all the input in one dose, perhaps in another study session.
"If we got six talks from six people at different times, I think things would get lost," Mayor Bob Walters said.