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Published: June 22, 2008
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Volunteers who take local senior citizens to meal sites, pharmacies, doctors' offices and supermarkets are going to be more difficult to recruit and retain because of rising gasoline prices, a local eldercare provider says.

"There could be a 20 percent reduction in our ability to transport people and products,” said Don Hudman, executive director of the Areawide Aging Agency, which serves senior citizens in Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan counties.

Cuts in services the agency provides could begin as early as July 1, Hudman said. Currently, there are 35 meal sites for seniors in the four-county area. Volunteers for the aging network also take meals to homebound seniors.

"Volunteers usually have covered the gas cost,” said Hudman.

State budget cuts also are problematic, he said. Hudman said his agency may not be able to add any new recipients of eldercare services "regardless of need.”

The Areawide Aging Agency, Hudman said, will consider:

•Curtailing the amount of free transportation to medical centers, pharmacies and meal sites.

•Limiting the number of days offering services at meal sites and senior centers in the four-county area.

•Limiting the number of health fairs and health screenings in the four-county service area.

•Making an areawide appeal for financial assistance to any and all potential sources of funding.