The Council on Aging / Senior Center gives direct help with many tasks faced by seniors that range from governmental and legal paper work, information and referral. Most do not require an appointment for an individual consultation, and are available on a walk-in basis. Got a question? Call for an answer 508-979-4029. If we do not have an answer, we will find one.
OUTREACH COORDINATOR and OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
The Fairhaven COA Senior Center reaches out to the frail and housebound elderly in Fairhaven offering them supportive services, which will provide comfort, and help them remain safely in their own homes. The Outreach Worker meets with seniors either in their homes or in the office to assess an elder's situation, explain community programs and benefits, assist with applications to programs, aid elders in their search for services, and act as an advocate and support for elders in need. Women who meet the eligibility requirements are given special consideration for assistance. The Outreach Worker also assists elders in crisis, and is a mandated reporter for suspected elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
The Outreach Worker is happy to include family members in meetings if the elder agrees. The Outreach Worker and all Council on Aging staff are bound by strict confidentiality laws and are not allowed to release any information about an elder without the elder's permission.
Supportive services include, but is not limited to, information, referral, crisis situations, food, fuel assistance, insurance information, housing, legal issues and help for caregivers both young and elderly. This assistance can be done in the office, on the phone, or by appointment. This program assists seniors to maintain their health and independence. Follow-up visits and phone calls are made to ensure adequacy of assistance. At the COA Director's discretion, the Outreach Coordinator also serves as a link with COA volunteers to support the needs of the elderly. FairhavenCouncilonAging@comcast.net
The Friendly Visitors are a volunteer group working to provide weekly home visits to seniors who are confined to their homes and who would benefit from and desire such visits.
Referrals for visit are made by the Outreach Coordinator, the COA Director, relatives, churches, and seniors themselves. The Friendly Visitors meet monthly with a Volunteer Coordinator to review client needs and provide mutual support. They report to the COA Director through their Coordinator.
Procedures for Friendly Visitors:
1. An orientation to the program is given to the homebound senior at the time of the first visit, including discussion of the policy of rotation of visitors.
2. All visitors must show their ID at their first visit.
3. The senior is phoned the day before each visit.
4. Visits are to be made weekly for at least one hour. An occasional call, either in person or by phone, may be helpful.
5. If a visitor is unable to make the weekly visit, the Visitor should call the designated coordinator so that a substitute may be found.
6 . If a visitor encounters any difficulty during a visit, she/he should contact the coordinator. In case of an emergency, call the Council on Aging at
508-979-4029, the Fairhaven Police or the Fairhaven Fire Department at 911.
7. Visitors must not accept money or gifts from the person being visited or their family.
8. Monthly meetings of the Friendly Visitors are held at the COA Senior Center.
Volunteers will do necessary errands (primarily food shopping) for seniors who are ill or too frail to shop. This service may be arranged through the Outreach Coordinator or the COA Director.
This program is designed to accommodate seniors living alone, who are at risk medically or physically, or are in need of socialization by offering a free Telephone Reassurance Program for elders who want to have a daily telephone check-in with a responsible person ensuring that all is well. They can also call us at the Senior Center if they prefer. This program is provided Monday through Friday. On Saturday, Sunday and holidays they will be called by the Atria-Assisted Living facility. A senior or a family member may request this daily contact through the Fairhaven Senior Center. At that time, the senior is asked to name a person to be contacted in case of need.
The staff usually makes the phone calls in the late morning if the senior participant has not called in for the day. By 11:00AM, if the caller receives no answer after a few tries, the senior's emergency contact person will be notified and asked to check on the senior. Seniors who do not expect to be home at the designated time are requested to inform the COA office beforehand, or call in early to the answering machine and leave your name, time, and day calling. This program is available to all Fairhaven residents FREE OF CHARGE.
ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION AND REPORTING PROGRAMS
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The specificity of laws varies from, but broadly defined, abuse may be:
o Physical Abuse - Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need
o Emotional Abuse - Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts
o Sexual Abuse - Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind
o Exploitation - Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder
o Neglect - Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder
o Abandonment - The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person
Elder abuse can affect people of all ethnic backgrounds and social status and can affect both men and women.
What agency should I report suspicion of elder abuse or neglect?
In an emergency always dial 911 for an immediate response. If this is NOT an emergency please call the State's Elder Abuse HOTLINE at 1-800-922-2275 to file a report with their Protective Services. All inquiries and reports are kept confidential.
Reporting Elder Abuse
Elder abuse reports may be made to the statewide Elder Abuse Hotline (1-800-922-2275), which operates on a seven-day a week, 24-hours a day basis. Anyone can make an elder abuse report. However, the law requires certain professionals to report suspected incidents of abuse. Mandated reporters who fail to make elder abuse reports when appropriate are subject to a fine up to $1,000. In addition, the law provides mandated reporters with immunity from any civil or criminal liability that otherwise could result from making a report, provided the reporter did not commit the abuse. Persons who are not mandated reporters have the same immunity, as long as they make a report in good faith.
Is there a place where I can call for general advice and referral for elder issues?
Yes, Massachusetts elders and their families can access the Commonwealth's one-stop connection to state and local programs and services even on nights and weekends. Thanks to federal action, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs' toll free telephone line, 1-800-AGE INFO (1-800-243-4636) is available. Sometimes a question is just too important to wait for an answer. 1-800-AGE-INFO offers up-to-date information on prescription drug assistance, health insurance, caregiving, transportation and other consumer issues. The telephone line joins a companion web site, http://www.800ageinfo.com in providing round the clock information and assistance on elder care issues.
VISITING ELDER LAW ATTORNEY
Legal Assistance - Free Legal Services and representatives are available to low income and elderly clients in the areas of housing, government benefits, family law, and elder law. Please call to check eligibility and to schedule an appointment or check our Monthly Calendar for educational seminars. The Senior Center is fortunate to host a Lawyer who visits once a month and gives a 15-minute consultation on legal matters. This service is at no cost. Please call in advance for an appointment.
FUEL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Fuel assistance is available for those who have low income, fixed income or financial hardship. Eligibility is determined by a combination of size of household and income. If you think you may be eligible please inquire. Applications to determine eligibility are taken by appointment at the COA office. Call 508-979-4029 for details. Fuel assistance is for income-eligible residents and is supported by Federal, State, and private funds. All information is kept strictly confidential.
SENIOR "CIRCUIT BREAKER" TAX CREDIT
Massachusetts residents who are 65 in the current tax year, and who own or rent Massachusetts property in which they live, may qualify to claim a tax credit on their MA Income tax for real estate taxes or rent paid in that year. Bring real estate tax bills, water/sewer bills and rent receipts that have been paid on this property to the tax preparer or Outreach worker.
TAX PREPARATION SERVICES
From February 1 to April 15, the Fairhaven COA Senior Center, in conjunction with AARP, provides IRS-trained volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) to help seniors with submission of their annual Federal and State short forms or form 1040A. Seniors are requested to schedule appointments through the COA office and to bring the following papers with them: last year's State and Federal tax returns, this year's State and Federal tax forms; all documents relating to this year's taxes, such as figures on Social Security income, interest from banks and other sources, pensions, dividends, information on tax-deductible items, and the amount of estimated taxes already paid. These volunteers are not intended to replace accounting services. Tax Assistance is a service requiring appointments and is available on a first come, first serve basis.
SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders)
The SHINE program is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs and provides certified counselors who can offer free, confidential counseling on a wide range of health insurance issues for Medicare beneficiaries and senior citizens.
Mission of SHINE: The SHINE Program ensures that healthcare consumers have a competent, committed, and compassionate consumer-focused network of staff and volunteers who provide accurate and objective information through innovative community programs at the state and local levels.
What do SHINE Counselors do? SHINE counselors are dedicated community volunteers who are trained and certified by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to explain many areas of health insurance including Medicare, Medigap, Medicare HMO's, prescription drug programs, MassHealth (Medicaid), and other health care assistance programs.
SHINE counselors help seniors and all Medicare beneficiaries understand their rights and benefits under Medicare and their other health insurance coverage. Counselors also review present coverage, provide written benefits comparisons, prevent consumers from buying unnecessary or duplicate coverage, and help prepare health benefit claim forms, appeals, and applications. The Fairhaven COA office schedules appointments at 508-979-4029.
Prescription Advantage is a prescription drug insurance plan administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prescription Advantage is available to all Massachusetts residents age 65 or older, as well as younger individuals with disabilities who meet income and employment guidelines. Prescription Advantage members pay premiums, deductibles, and co-payments based on their gross annual household income.
All information received is kept strictly confidential.
Seniors of limited resources who are having a temporary problem in paying essential bills affecting their health or safety are encouraged to talk to the Fairhaven COA Director or the Outreach Coordinator to arrange for emergency financial help. If financial problems appear to be ongoing, the COA Director will coordinate with the senior to work with volunteer experts or local agencies. All requests are kept confidential.
The Food Stamp Program should not be considered as "Welfare." It is a program supported by the US Dept. of Agriculture, Mass. Dept. of Public Health and also the Department of Transitional Assistance. It is designed to assist those eligible through difficult times. You can meet the requirements and;
o Own a home
o Are working
o Have saved some money
o Have a car
o Receive unemployment insurance
o Are a single person
o Have no children
o Have life insurance
You can get an application by calling the Food Stamp Information Line at 1-800-645-8333 or by visiting your nearest Public Transitional Assistance office. If you are unable to go to the office, you may be allowed to have another adult apply for you or if you are 65 or older or disabled, a home visit or telephone interview can be arranged.
In cooperation with area Nursing Agencies and other providers, health screenings are regularly held to detect diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.
USED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT & MORE!
Loan Closet - We offer the free loan of durable medical equipment. The Fairhaven Senior Center recycles used durable medical equipment (equipment that is gently used and in good working order). If you would like to donate equipment or are in need of an item, please call.
For inquiries contact the Fairhaven Senior Center at 229 Huttleston Avenue, call 508-979-4029, or email