Decker leery of Social Security system

Filed under: One on One |

* Name: Michael J. Decker

* Organization: Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging

* Position: Director

* Hometown: I was born in Greeley, my mother and my grandfather were born in Brush. My father is from Nebraska. Colorado Springs is my real home town

* How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 10 years. I graduated from Air Academy High School in 1975. I lived out of state for many years attending college and raising a family. I came back home in 2001.

* Education: BA Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan.

* A few words about your company: The agency on aging administers programs and services funded through state funding and the Older Americans Act. These programs help residents remain in their own homes by removing barriers to independent living. We serve El Paso, Park and Teller counties. We help fund congregate meal sites, senior transportation services, telephone reassurance, respite care and counseling for caregivers. We administer two dental programs for low-income seniors, and provide advocacy for residents of long-term care facilities. We also publish the seniors’ resource – the Yellow Book.

* Recent accomplishments: My promotion from lead ombudsman (long-term care advocate) to agency director last December – I also hiked to the top of Pikes Peak in six hours and 35 minutes last September.

* Biggest career break: I was hired by Beverly Enterprises in 1994 as a nursing home administrator. I owe them and my old boss – they gave me a chance to get my foot in the door. Since then, I’ve found many fulfilling job opportunities.

* The toughest part of your job: Ensuring the compliance of our contractors with government regulations.

* Someone you admire: My mom and dad

* About your family: I have five daughters, age 26 to 18 months and four grandchildren. My wife is Landra, a music teacher in District 49.

* Something else you’d like to accomplish: I have been a huge proponent of “Culture Change” – a movement in nursing homes. I believe in individualized and homelike care. Changing nursing homes from an institutional medical model to a homelike community is something I’d like to have a hand in.

* How your business will change in the next decade: Social Security is not enough to provide a decent living or pay for health care. The need for services will grow, and the resources to provide these services are in jeopardy. The word “crisis” seems extreme, but in 10 or 20 years the word may not be descriptive enough.

* What book are you currently reading? I’m re-reading Stephen Hawkings’ two books.

* What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I know growth is vital to our economy, but I’d love to see it slow down. I think it’s ludicrous to expect developers to provide schools. And our nonprofit agencies and churches are doing all they can to provide for the needs of at-risk adults in our community with its explosive population growth. The resources to provide for these individuals has to come from somewhere. I’d like to see TABOR go the way of all the earth.