By Sharon Svoboda
For Pittsburgh Senior News
Many Pittsburgh area seniors reside in government subsidized apartment buildings with service coordinators on site, but residents may not know the breadth of help they can provide. Service coordinators are integrated into senior housing to help residents connect with community resources and also serve as resident advocates who empower seniors to live more independent and fulfilling lives. If you live in a apartment community and don’t already have a relationship with your service coordinator, here are a few reasons why you should:
Save Money:Your service coordinator will know eligibility criteria for cost-saving programs like Medical Assistance, Medicare Part B Savings and Medicare Advantage Plans. There may also be prescription programs that you qualify for like PACE or PACEnet. Insurance savings applications may seem daunting but your service coordinator can help you navigate the process based on your age, income and resources. You may even be eligible for food benefits like SNAP and discounted transportation.
Call your local County Assistance Office or apply online at compass.state.pa.us. If you have Medicare questions, APPRISE is the Area Agency on Aging’s free insurance counseling service; call (412) 661-1438.
Eat Healthier:Choosing healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive. Many community outreach programs offer food pantries that are stocked with fresh produce and other healthy items. The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank provides the Green Grocer Program, Produce to People and the CSFP Senior Box that helps seniors access fresh and healthy food items. Visit pittsburghfoodbank.org for details.
Your service coordinator may also bring educational programs to your building where you can learn about nutrition, managing chronic illness through food choices and even creative ways to exercise.
Connect to the Community: Local churches, community support programs and charitable organizations offer everything from furniture, grocery delivery, transportation, home-delivered meals and companion services. Many have an abundance of resources but participants need to be connected to them. By knowing your emotional and social needs, the service coordinator can act as the bridge to connect you to needed goods or services that may be provided in your area by local organizations.
Live Independently: Your service coordinator will conduct routine assessments, and following your care management plan, will talk to you about options if your health begins to decline. This individual can act as an advocate on your behalf to your doctor and help you research your options to get the care you want. You may choose to receive in-home services such as light housekeeping, personal care, meal preparation, medication reminders and more, and you may qualify for these programs at no cost to you. You may also benefit from adult day programs like the LIFE and Community LIFE programs. For more information, call SeniorLine at (412) 350-5460.
For more information on all of the above, check out the 2019 Allegheny County Senior Resource Guide published by Pittsburgh Senior News by visiting pittsburghseniornews.com.
Sharon Svoboda is a service coordinator for SeniorCare Network and United Methodist Church Union. For details about their affordable housing programs, visit srcare.org or umchurchunionpgh.org.