“Nobody’s been old before.” This simple statement said by Susan Hackney, SHIP Coordinator for United Way Area Agency on Aging (UWAAA), led to a discussion on where to get help for seniors in Jefferson County.
Call one number, get infinite resources
UWAAA acts as the gateway into avenues of resources when assessing the needs of older persons. When you call 1-800-Age-Line (1-800-243-5463), trained staff will answer and direct you to help.
“For example, if somebody calls interested in Meals on Wheels, they’ll get the basic information. Then, (a staff member) will say what else the person might need, because there might be something else that they’re not even aware of that we can assist with.”Susan Hackney, Coordinator, United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County
Monday through Friday from 8AM to 4:30PM, the organization offers counseling and referral services, including:
- Support for caregivers
- Legal assistance to vulnerable older individuals
- Preventative health classes like Tai Chi
- Nutritious meals
- Receiving free or reduced-cost prescription drugs
- Advocating for residents of nursing homes, boarding homes and assisted living facilities
- And more!
Note, this is different from United Way of Central Alabama’s 2-1-1 line, which is a 24/7 free information and referral service directing people toward resources when they’re facing an emergency.
Protecting loved ones from harmful scams
The unfortunate truth is that scammers frequently target seniors through phony calls and misleading information. Listen to this one example:
“There are a lot of grandparents scams out there. Suppose a ‘grandchild’ will call saying:
‘Grandma, I’m in jail, but don’t tell my parents that I need money. Can you give me your credit card information, and they can get me out? We don’t have to tell mom and dad because they’ll be so angry at me.’
The grandparent is thinking, ‘Well, I’m doing a good thing for my grandchild’ and give the scammer their information. They don’t want their grandchild to get into trouble. It tugs at those emotions.”Laysea Chasteen, Director, United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County
It’s easy to see how a loving grandparent would hand over valuable information or money in a situation like this. UWAAA coaches older persons through seminars and other educational resources on how to spot these scams before they happen.
Providing one-on-one assistance
Another way UWAAA can prevent seniors from avoiding trouble is by providing one-on-one counseling for things like Medicare and Social Security. They can call 1-800-Age-Line and ask to speak to somebody in the Senior Medicare Patrol.
From there, a staff member will go over charges with them and explain different insurance plans. They never try to push seniors to choose one plan over another, but they can lay out all the options in an informative and easy-to-understand manner.
Staff members will even call insurance or Medicare offices with the client, so they can be there as support.
“I’ve had seniors with Medicare or with Social Security enrollment issues, and I’ve called the office with the client on the phone and just been there as support for the client. Sometimes it’s not a lot of fun dealing with Social Security or Medicare.”Susan Hackney
Getting help for seniors in Central Alabama
UWAAA doesn’t only assist seniors. Family members, neighbors, church members and concerned friends can all take advantage of UWAAA’s services.
One example of this is through respite care for overwhelmed caregivers.
“There’s the wonderful, wonderful service of respite care that gives the caregivers a break. Somebody from one of the agencies that we contract with will come into the home and do light housekeeping, help bathe, and do any number of things to help that caregiver.”Laysea Chasteen
Call 1-800-AGE-LINE Monday through Friday from 8AM to 4:30PM to be connected to resources. For more information on how you or a loved one can receive help, head to United Way Area Agency on Aging’s website or Facebook.