Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hotline For Seniors Helps Find Assistance For 63,000

The Southwest Florida Elder Helpline received more than 63,000 calls in 2017, an increase of 3.4% from 2016. The Helpline is an information and referral service provided by the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL). The Agency’s Helpline assists older adults, caregivers, and people with disabilities in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties.

Locally, the Helpline can be accessed by calling (866) 413-5337 (41-ELDER) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.weekdays, excluding holidays. Assistance is available in more than 200 languages.

n Glades and Hendry Counties, the top five needs were utility payment assistance, long-term care, meals and nutrition services, health insurance and Medicaid assistance, and homemaking. Hendry County seniors requested utility payment assistance (79.5% of calls) more than any other service, and more frequently than Southwest Florida seniors in other counties. Food and nutrition services like home-delivered meals were requested by 27.5% of Glades county callers, a rate significantly higher than the regional average.

“The Helpline is designed to assist seniors and people with disabilities as they try to find government-funded and private-pay services,” explains Autumn Rosa, AAASWFL’s director of client services. “It also gives us and the aging network a snapshot of what services are needed in each county and service area.”

Across AAASWFL’s seven-county region, the most frequently requested service was long-term care, with 72% of callers expressing interest. Also frequently requested were assistance with utility payments (24%), health insurance issues (23%), meals and nutrition (15%) and housing (11%). The average Helpline caller expressed needs for 2.8 different services.

In addition to utilizing the helpline, older adults, adults with disabilities, and caregivers can also look up services through the Area Agency on Aging’s online resource directory (www.aaaswfl.org/i-need-help). In 2017, 4,457 people searched for local elder and disability services on the site, including visitors from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

“We often have callers and website visitors from outside the area who are trying to find help for a family member,” explains Rosa. “People also call because they are considering retirement in Southwest Florida and want to know what kind of services are available once they come down here.”

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