Q: I am no longer working full-time and am looking forward to the free time. I would like to talk to someone about other opportunities to help fill this new found time I have. I don't like the idea of staying home and watching TV all day.
A: Many individuals have looked forward to the free time and the many opportunities that this presents to them, but then find themselves overwhelmed with the change. Many individuals want to continue to feel useful and needed but not go to work all day every day.
I would like to suggest two wonderful programs making a significant and positive impact on both the individual and our community. I have talked about these programs many times, and can't say enough good about their programs and all they do in our community. The new information today is their new location: both the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) and RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) have moved to the Lutheran Social Services Campus at 715 Falconer St. Their new office is located in the Administrative Building (''D'' Building) closest to the corner of Falconer Street and Aldren Avenue. The administrative building is on your left as you turn on to Aldren Avenue.
The first program I would like to suggest is the Foster Grandparent Program. This is a program available to individuals, who are income eligible, and enjoy working with children. These individuals are age 55 and older, and work in the classrooms, daycare centers, Head Start and afterschool programs.
The individual works with two (2) assigned children who need the extra attention that a Foster Grandparent can offer. This Foster Grandparent (senior/adult) must meet the income guidelines to qualify for this program. Those guidelines are income based and are higher than you might think - income of $21,660 for a single person or $29,140 for a couple. Individuals who qualify receive a stipend to help compensate for their time and costs associated with this position. This stipend does not impact your existing entitlement programs. Those individuals who feel they make more than the income guidelines allow, can subtract any medical expenses from their income to meet this eligibility requirement.
The individuals may work from 15 to 40 hours per week. The Foster Grandparent and the staff they work with agree on a schedule that suits their combined needs most effectively. You may work only during the school year, or work year round in the many programs partnering with Foster Grandparent Program.
As individuals retire or age into Medicare, their insurance situation can change dramatically. There are a multitude of options open to those with Medicare. The terms are different, the prices are different, the products offered are dramatically different each year.
The purpose of this column is to give those who are eligible for Medicare, or soon to be eligible for Medicare, some understanding of their insurance options and how it could impact their health and finances.
These questions and answers are meant as a guide to help you understand the complex questions you are now thinking about. Each individual's specific situation may create a different solution. You shouldn't necessarily do what your friends, family and neighbors do.
I have seen the Foster Grandparent Program make a significant difference in many lives. The Foster Grandparents positively influence the lives of the children in our community as well as the individual themselves. The children are given extra attention and positive influence to encourage them to be successful. An individual who is the Foster Grandparent sees the benefits of being needed and appreciated. The teachers welcome the extra set of hands in the classroom.
To contact the Foster Grandparent Program, call 665-5354 for Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. The staff is eager to work with you to find a site where you are needed, and make a difference in a child's life.
The second program is RSVP. This program works to place individuals 55 years of age or older at non-profit, educational or governmental agencies. RSVP matches your skills, expertise and experience with an agency in your community. Volunteering keeps you connected, active and socially engaged. This volunteering opportunity also helps our local agencies stay successful.
You, as the volunteer, will meet new people, be productive, have new experiences and be introduced to a whole world of opportunities you didn't know existed. It will keep you active, help to fill those new unstructured hours/days, and give you the feeling of worth that your job used to fill. To contact the RSVP office near you, call 665-3038 in southern Chautauqua County or 366-8070 in northern Chautauqua County. If you live in Cattaraugus County, call David Rodkey at 373-8032.
Keeping active and engaged helps us to stay healthy and feeling young. We also know that sitting around and not feeling needed is hard on our emotional state. As human beings we thrive when we have contact with others.
Enjoy your time and thanks for asking how you can help.
Janell Sluga is a geriatric care manager certified and works for Senior Life Matters, a program of Lutheran Senior Housing, and has worked in Chautauqua County with seniors for more than 18 years. She is HIICAP (Health Insurance Information, Counseling & Assistance Program) counselor-trained by Office for the Aging. She does not sell insurance or represent any insurance company. She is an unbiased source of insurance and education to help seniors choose the best option for them.
You may submit questions to be answered in later columns to Janell Sluga at Senior Life Matters, 737 Falconer St., Jamestown, NY 14701, or call 716-720-9797, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that not all questions can be answered in this format, but as many as can be, will be.