Chair’s Corner: Food for Thought, Resources for Living, Effective Advocacy
Some of the things that I enjoy most about AgeWise King County is the ability to provide food for thought, resources for healthy aging and living, and information for effective advocacy. This issue is no exception.
You will read about Alzheimer’s, caregiving, and housing. On every page, you will see local resource information. I encourage you to share links to these pages with family, friends, and neighbors. In addition, I invite you to read now in preparation for advocacy when the 2019 state legislative session convenes. In general, Age Wave organizations and others are advocating for adequate state funding and other support to allow strategies to flourish.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias
At the Washington State Association of Area Agencies on Aging/Washington State Council on Aging annual meeting last month, two presentations really stood out:
- UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center Dr. Kris Rhoads’ presentationon Dementia Risk Factors
- Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter executive director Bob LeRoy’s presentation on the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.
See both links for information on the problem and tons of resource information you can access now. If you don’t know anyone now who has Alzheimer’s or another dementia, you will. The data on prevalence of dementia is compelling.
Even in the best of circumstances, caregiving is stressful. Two things you need to know right now:
- Any adult who serves as the primary unpaid caregiver for another adult who needs extra support in order to live independently qualifies for some level of support services, regardless of financial resources, thanks to the federal- and state-funded Family Caregiver Support program that Aging and Disability Services administers as the King County Caregiver Support Network.
- Any low- to moderate-income older person (i.e., age 60 or older with less than $50,000 in annual income) who has a primary unpaid caregiver is likely to qualify for more services and supports, thanks to a Medicaid Transformation Project in Washington state.
In terms of advocacy, please read the Long-Term Care Trust Act fact sheet. This proposed legislation to make this law is sure to be considered during the 2019 legislative session.
Housing and related issues like rent, property taxes, home repair, and accessibility are some of our region’s thorniest challenges right now. Everyone acknowledges that the cost of living is very high in our region. Those who have the good fortune to own their own home still face mounting pressures from taxes, home maintenance, and a multitude of other costs. And when our needs change, sometimes the homes we love turn out to be unlivable.
I highly recommend that you take advantage of savings programs that are already in effect. When you add up the savings, you may find what you need to live comfortably in your current home.
- See if you qualify for the Senior Property Tax Exemption program. If you apply, send documentation for up to three years. The exemption can be applied retroactively. Program participants often save more than $1,200 per year. And please note that the exemption program does not place any lien on your property or other assets.
- Take advantage of utility assistance programs. You paid into these programs for years, and resources are there for you if you now if you qualify. Typical household savings exceed another $1,200 per year. You can get information about all forms of utility assistance by following these links: Byrd Barr Place | City of Seattle | South King County Multi-Service Center
- Home maintenance and repair can be addressed in several ways. Washington’s Long-Term Services and Supports programs, including caregiver support programs, sometimes provide housecleaning and errand service. Sound Generations’ Minor Home Repair program may be able to help out. Seattle, King County, and many suburban cities offer housing repair programs for lower-income residents as well as weatherization services that save you money by saving energy.
Not sure who qualifies for what? Not sure about options? With one call you can get the professional help you need to figure it out at no cost. Call Community Living Connections toll-free at 1-844-348-5464.
Contributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of AgeWise King County.