By Merry MacKinnon
After she fell last December, fracturing and dislocating her right shoulder, 86-year-old Beverley DeSaulnier had questions about her personal care.
“I’m right-handed and I needed help with everything,” said DeSaulnier, of Polk County. “I wanted to know how I would go about contacting people if I needed to have in-home care or needed to move into a facility.”
She called the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) of Oregon and talked to counselor Amy Crevola about in-home and long-term care. DeSaulnier now lives at a nearby residential care facility, where she and her family have met several times with Crevola.
“The crux of my role is deep listening with each client,” said Crevola, who also visits clients at their homes in South Salem and Polk County.
“Someone might call and say, ‘Mom has fallen,’ and they want to know how to keep her home and safe,” Crevola said. “It may involve getting grab bars installed, Meals on Wheels delivered and how to hire in-home care. It might also mean conducting a family meeting, providing dementia education or crisis intervention.”
While finding services for older people and those with disabilities may seem complicated, the ADRC is a shortcut. Its website ( adrcoforegon.org) and toll-free phone line, 855-ORE-ADRC (855-673-2372), link to 6,000 public and private programs across the state.
“It’s like a one-stop shopping resource for people with questions about aging and disability,” said Joyce DeMonnin, AARP Oregon communications director.
A Portland State University survey of ADRC clients described two main categories of inquiries by callers. One group wanted information about medical benefits, food stamps and subsidized housing, while the other cited concerns with personal care.
An aging population
More than 16 percent of Oregon’s population is 65 or older—almost two percentage points higher that the nation’s. But in eastern Oregon’s Harney County (population about 7,300), nearly 23 percent of the residents are 65-plus.
Yet even in Harney County, the ADRC links callers to local social service providers who can answer their questions. “People are always so grateful to get unbiased information about their long-term care,” said Kristi Murphy, an ADRC program analyst.
Younger residents are departing for college and work, leaving behind those who have retired, many of whom become frail as they age, said Angie Lamborn, executive director of Harney County Senior & Community Services Center in Burns.
“Our facility and services are being used regularly by many, and we see new faces,” she said.
Like many of the state’s senior centers, the Harney County center delivers and serves prepared meals (almost 17,000 last year) and promotes Dial-A-Ride, free medical transportation for veterans and other assistance. It also lends out free donated shower chairs, canes and walkers; holds tai chi, walking and quilting groups; and mails a bimonthly newsletter to 578 addresses.
“We’re trying to figure out how best to serve everyone on limited dollars,” Lamborn said.
DeMonnin said there is a great need for information about services that could help residents on limited incomes. Many also qualify for government aid such as food stamps, Medicare drug payments and utility bill assistance.
The ADRC can direct people to the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program for individual questions about Medicare in nearly every county in the state.
Merry MacKinnon is a writer living in Portland.