Coastline Elderly Services, Councils on Aging promote senior care options

By Jennifer Heshion | Apr 14, 2012
Courtesy of: Karyn Wylie Coastline Elderly Services social worker Karyn Wylie, left, says the options counseling program is all about offering clients individualized support.

Learning about care options is never time wasted said Coastline Elderly Services social worker Karyn Wylie, MS, LSW.

“I always say, ‘Why wait for a crisis to turn up?’” Wylie said. “If you don’t need help now, why not plan for the future?”

Wylie, a Marion resident, has a master’s in gerontology and has spent the last ten years with Coastline Elderly Services studying the biological and psychological effects of aging.

Last year, Coastline Elderly Services launched an options counseling program in the hopes of promoting community resources for South Coast seniors aged 60 and older.

During the 30-day program, Wylie and her clients weigh the pros and cons of the long-term and personal care options available to them. This, she said, can be deciding whether personal home, hospital or assisted living care best fits with the client’s needs.

“We talk about what is available and the things they may not have known about,” Wylie said. “For personal care, some clients are eligible for food stamps or MassHealth insurance, and they don’t know that.”

Locally, she said there are a number of underused resources for care options such as the Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester Councils on Aging, which can provide transportation, support groups and home delivered meals.

Ora Mae Torres, outreach worker for the Marion Council on Aging, said that in addition to a lack of knowledge about services, there is also an issue of pride.

“There seems to be a stigma attached,” Torres said. “A lot of people feel as though there is someone out there who is more needy than they are so they don’t ask.”

Jackie Coucci, director of the Mattapoisett Council on Aging, agreed.

“There is a pride issue with all of us,” she said. “None of us like to ask for help. At some point we realize we might need someone to help us. We’re a community, and we’re social beings by nature. It’s OK to reach out.”

With their reassurance program, the Mattapoisett Council on Aging has partnered with the town’s Police Department.

Seniors or their loved ones can sign up for the program, which requires seniors to call in to the police station between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to let the officials know that they are OK. If the police don’t receive a call,  officials follow-up to make sure everyone is safe.

“We’re all here to be another resource for everyone,” Coucci said. “We’re here to serve the people. Our motto is ‘live longer, stronger.’”

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