Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Assistance

Taking care of Elders and trying to keep them safe in their own homes can be overwhelming especially if siblings and spouse/significant other aren't always around to lend a hand. There is help. Lots of it, but there is a caveat.

Assistance for light housekeeping tasks, personal care, errands, shopping, fuel assistance are available. Contact the Senior Center in your community. The Social worker at the Center has a wealth of resources. The services are not entirely free, but are based on income. You pay what you can. The caveat is to get your Elder to accept the help and to pay the fee. You also, need to talk to them before their brains become addled with the bees of dementia.

With Ma whizzing through their savings, Dad was finding it hard to make ends meet on his social security check. The Brother and I slipped Dad a few bucks here and there, but with our own bills to pay there wasn't much else we could do.

The Social Worker at the Senior Center talked to Dad about the fuel assistance program. She was also in contact with me to see if I could convince Dad to get the help. We went to a meeting and the Social Worker helped Dad fill out the forms. The snag came when Ma's signature was needed on the form granting the Fuel Assistance Program permission to check their social security income. Ma was convinced we were trying to force her to take out a loan, and she wasn't going to have any part of that.  No amount of convincing her this was not a loan, would budge her trolley from the track because her ability to reason was gone.

Dad saw a commercial for Joe-4-Oil, The Citizens for Energy program. He called and,  got a $300 fuel oil delivery. It wasn't much, but it helped him to limp through the winter. We tried again the following year, but there was no oil. The year after that, the phone lines were jammed from morning til night and the website did not accept applications.

A big shout out has to go Tropic Heat, the oil company the folks had for over 60 years. It's a family run business, and they were very sympathetic to the financial situation. They kept a tab, didn't charge interest, and let Dad pay what and how much he could.

There is help. You have to look for it, you have to ask, and you have to be willing to accept the help.  Which brings me to next week's topic: The Privacy Act


  1. Thank you for sharing your hard earned wisdom here with us. This really is a situation that has no training until you get there. It's difficult to discuss these things before they are completely needed. But, as you share about your Mom, it's even worse if it goes too long. My Dad (fortunately) is as prepared as he can be and he likes to share more than I am comfortable with some days. Then I think about your situation and have to be grateful that he is as prepared as he is and open to talk about things. I know there will still be surprises ahead, one cannot prepare for everything. I am sorry it has been such a long and difficult road for you, but I do appreciate you sharing your insights.

  2. Thanks, Linda. Dealing with Elders is hard to explain to people unless they have gone through it themselves. And no two war stories are alike. I'm the poster child for what not to do. The Ancient Mariner who must collar everyone and warn them Take the time to talk to your Elders before dementia, illness, and injury makes things more difficult. And put your own ducks in order for your children.

  3. Well said CJ! (I'm sorry for everyone who has to go through seeing their parents in decline AND have to deal with the bureaucracy.)