You have all heard me say "Call OFA first" when looking for resources to help a senior, but often people want to know how to help a friend or loved one who does not live in our county.
Many people do not realize that Offices for Aging (also known as Area Agencies on Aging) are not unique to Chautauqua County or even New York state, but similar agencies exist in every state across our country. Some states, such as New York, have the Aging Agency in county government and some are nonprofit agencies that span several counties but all have similar services that they provide for older adults because of our federal funding through the Older American's Act.
Since these agencies are not uniform in name or structure, the Administration on Aging (AoA) developed a tool to help older adults, caregivers and professionals identify the local agency called the Eldercare Locator.
Mary Ann Spanos
The Eldercare Locator, administered in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers. Whether an older person needs help with services such as meals, home care or transportation, or a caregiver needs training and education or a well-deserved break from care giving responsibilities, the Eldercare Locator is there to point that person in the right direction.
To find out about services to help your loved ones who live out of town, you can contact the Eldercare Locator by calling 1-800-677-1116 or go on-line to www.eldercare.gov.
Once at the website, input the zip code of the person you are trying to help, and it will give you a list of organizations that serve that region. The tool also allows you to select certain topics you want information on to narrow your search.
For computer-savvy individuals, the website has a chat option that allows you to send typed questions and get immediate answers from a specially trained Aging Information Specialist (similar to our local NY Connects Operator) between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The Eldercare locator also contains some resources for older adults and caregivers including information on benefits, long-term care planning, fact sheets, caregiver tips and more. One fact sheet I thought would be of particularly interest is the "10 Warning Signs Your Older Family Member May Need Help." I have included it here.
Changes in physical and mental abilities that may occur with age can be difficult to detect-for older adults and their family members, friends, and caregivers too. To help in determining when an older adult may need assistance in the home, the Eldercare Locator has compiled a list of 10 warning signs. Any one of the following behaviors may indicate the need to take action. It is also important to inform the older adult's physician of these physical or psychological behavior changes.
Has your loved one: 1) Changed eating habits, resulting in losing weight, having no appetite, or missing meals? 2) Neglected personal hygiene, including wearing dirty clothes and having body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, or sores on the skin? 3) Neglected their home, with a noticeable change in cleanliness and sanitation? 4) Exhibited inappropriate behavior, such as being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, or agitated, or making phone calls at all hours? 5) Changed relationship patterns, causing friends and neighbors to express concerns? 6) Had physical problems, such as burns or injury marks, which may result from general weakness, forgetfulness, or misuse of alcohol or prescribed medications? 7) Decreased or stopped participating in activities that were once important to them, such as bridge or a book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services? 8) Exhibited forgetfulness, resulting in unopened mail, piling of newspapers, not filling their prescriptions, or missing appointments? 9) Mishandled finances, such as not paying bills, losing money, paying bills twice or more, or hiding money? 10) Made unusual purchases, such as buying more than one subscription to the same magazine, entering an unusually large number of contests, or increasing purchases from television advertisements?
For additional information on programs and services for older adults and their caregivers locally call NY Connects at 753-4471, 363-4471, or 661-7471 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Aging services anywhere in the U.S., contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov. Remember we are here to help you.