“Live well at home!”
That is the battle cry that the Alexandria Senior Center Activities Director, Bernice Wimmer, keeps telling me is the goal and purpose she and fellow program developers are hoping to enhance with the over 60 crowd.
As I think about those words and their meaning, I realize how many of us are not taking the steps to insure that we can and will “live well at home.” All reports inform everyone that we are living longer and that longevity and inflation have greatly reduced our assets. Over 30 percent are living below the poverty level. Many cannot maintain their homes and definitely cannot afford many of the alternatives such as assisted living and nursing homes.
However, there is a reality in our wonderful state and community. Seniors actually can live well at home if we take advantage of the many wonderful program offerings created just for us! Regrettably, many will not make contacts to get it. Fear of completing forms and income qualifications or the old stigma of “being on welfare” prevents it. If you have a neighbor or a family member you think you could use some help, be aggressive and offer some advice.
What’s available? Anyone can find out by calling the statewide Senior LinkAge Line. That’s a toll free number: 1-800-333-2433. That call will connect you to a local expert who is aware of all the services available in our area and how to contact them. Or you can pull up the Douglas County web site and find a complete listing of local services there.
Need more details? The Senior Center has brochures on most of them. Now if you are willing to actually talk to a local person, there is a lady with the county available to talk to you and help you. It is the Douglas County Senior Services Director, Joyce McIntosh. She is located down by the library or call 320-762-3027. Those are the starting points of contact. You are not committed or enrolled in anything for yourself or others at this point. Tell them your problems and learn how easy it is to get help.
Need help with fuel assistance? West Central Minnesota Community Action Program can help you with that. They also have funds to assist with weatherization so that you can get those doors and windows energy efficient. Need a ramp at the entrance or within the house? How about guardrails? Our local Habitat for Humanity has volunteers able and willing to come out and get those done. Losing your vision and need help running your appliances? Minnesota State Services for the Blind has an expert who will come out to your home and enhance tricks/tips to keep you independent. You don’t have to be blind either. The state program on free telephones for the hearing and visually impaired can help you stay in communication. The Senior Center can help you receive home delivered or congregate meals at a price you can afford. Local businesses deliver groceries! Even simpler, there are Senior Companions who will help you attend to your needs and Elder Network volunteers to stop by and visit. The list goes on and on.
If there are many needs, we have Family Services and Horizon Public Health to help. We can “live well at home” right here in Douglas County! Get a start and one contact at a time will greatly enhance your life or help you enhance the life of someone you know. Just get started!
Kathryn LeBrasseur is a former executive director of the Alexandria Senior Center and has been involved in a variety of community organizations, many focusing on senior issues. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.