Monday, March 16, 2009

2-1-1, Information about critical services for the elderly

In a recent survey, I was asked by readers to write about 2-1-1. I had never used this service but the request intrigued me. How widespread is 2-1-1 and what benefits does it provide?

Here's a brief summary of what I found. (If you've used 2-1-1, please leave a comment sharing your experience.)

As of March, 2009, 46 states (including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) have established 2-1-1 lines to simplify access to information and expand availability of human services to individuals and families. Instead of dialing 911 (for an emergency), individuals dial 211 (for information). Trained operators link callers to social services and local programs. The information to specifically support the elderly includes: home health care, adult day care, congregate meals, Meals on Wheels, respite care, transportation and homemaker services.

In 2008, 2-1-1 services took 14 million calls. "While services that are offered through 2-1-1 vary from community to community, 2-1-1 provides callers with information about and referrals to human services for every day needs and in times of crisis."

This service is even available to children of aging parents who live somewhere else in the country. They can access the 2-1-1 website and enter their parents' zip code. The resulting web page displays complete information about the "supporting agency" in that area. The daughter or son can then quickly make a long distance phone call and get linked to social services and programs local to their parents.

This service is spearheaded by the United Way and the Alliance for Information and Referral System (AIRS). Legislation currently under consideration would provide federal money to states starting or enhancing a 2-1-1 system.

Click here for the 2-1-1 website

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

National Council on Aging campaigns to increase funding for seniors

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is campaigning to increase funding under the Older Americans Act (OAA) - by 12%. This act, dating back to 1965, provides food, jobs and care for America's seniors. One of its most well-known program is Meals on Wheels, a key program in enabling seniors to remain independent in their homes. Unfortunately, 85% of states report a wait list for Meals on Wheels.

Funding under the OAA has remained level for the past 8 years. You can read about all the important programs being targeted for increased funding (at the NCOA link, end of my post).

I'll focus briefly on just one of the programs which would personally and positively impact me and other caregivers to aging parents. The National Family Caregiver Support program (NFCSP), under Title IIIE of the OAA, provides "services to help ease the burdens of caregivers, including respite care, counseling and supplemental services".

Some of the interesting facts about family caregivers include:

* Family caregivers provide 80% of non-institutional long-term care.
* The typical caregiver is a 46 year old woman, providing 18 hours of care for her mother
* The value of family caregiving services is estimated at $257 billion per year

Those of us who are (or have been) caregivers to our elderly parents:
* help keep our parents in an independent living situation, and thus reduce nursing home and Medicaid costs (good)
* cost our employers in lost productivity (not good)
* and most importantly, often sacrifice our physical and mental health in meeting all the demands of caregiving (really not good!!!)

This program would provide much needed support services to the caregivers out there.

To read detail about this funding campaign by the NCOA:

National Council of Aging (NCOA) Overview of Appropriations

To advocate for this and/or contact your congressional representatives:

National Council of Aging (NCOA) Advocacy Center

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Use Twickie to post Twitter conversation to your blog

I just found out about Twickie. A way to capture a Twitter thread and post it to your Blog.

I like it for several reasons:
* if a Twitter thread is composed of many replies
* to share a Twitter conversation with your blog audience (some of whom may not be on Twitter)
* I love the idea of the cross-over between Twitter and my blog

Try it. If you like using it, post a comment and tell me why.

Here's my example:
JaneHBDesignSF: I&#39ve heard about these, have a friend moving into one - Rossmore, in Nor Cal, East Bay.
about 3 days ago
daccarte: New post: Aging in place initiative, Nontraditional Retirement Communities (known as NORCs)
about 3 days ago