Councils On Aging
Understanding How These Professional Resources Can Help
Our local, nonprofit Councils on Aging are tremendous resources for both direct services and advice on where to find help in the community with elder issues.
Depending on where you live in Western North Carolina, the Council on Aging serving the county you live in may offer different services from those in other parts of the region but they all share the common mission of acting as advocates for elders and providing connections for the assistance you need.
Council on Aging for Henderson County
The Council on Aging for Henderson County (COAHC) serves adults age 60 and older, their families and their caregivers with the goal of removing barriers from maintaining independence.
COAHC serves as an information clearinghouse for older adults and their loved ones who may be seeking contacts for any number of elder care-related services in Henderson County. Inquiries COAHC fields range from those related to housing, fall prevention, advance directives and more.
Through their Meals on Wheels (MOW) program, the COAHC offers a daily nutrition delivery service from Monday through Friday to residents of the county. Participants can sign up for long-term as well as short-term meal delivery, such as during recovery from a surgery. To receive meals at no cost, you must be at least 60 years old and be unable to drive and fix your own meals. Otherwise, you can sign up for Meals on Wheels for a nominal fee. Every winter, MOW disburses emergency, shelf-stable meals in preparation for inclement weather. Meals on Wheels clients also can receive dog and cat food and flea treatment for their pets.
Through their Partnership for Independent Living program, caseworkers help older adults live independently through such services as medication management, healthcare checks by a registered nurse, assistance with navigating finances and more.
At the Sammy Williams Center, COAHC offers “Lunch at the Sammy,” a congregate nutrition program for anyone 60 years old and older living in Henderson County. This daily, weekday program includes lunch for a suggested contribution and activities such as balance work and exercise programs, art classes and performances by a drama troupe
Council on Aging of Buncombe County
The Council on Aging of Buncombe County (COABC) is an advocate for older adults, providing personal support, assistance and resource coordination to people 60 years old and older to help them stay independent and healthy.
To help older adults receive the services they need, COABC answers questions by phone, makes home visits and helps people complete applications for community-wide services.
COABC offers informational assistance about Medicare and health insurance. Medicare counseling and education is held in both Buncombe and Henderson counties through community classes and one-on-one counseling. COABC also assists older adults with the Affordable Care Act.
Through its Seniors Safe at Home program, COABC helps with minor home repair, volunteer transportation, dining and socialization and some homebound food delivery. Minor home repair offered focuses on reducing fall risk in the home as well as access often through the installation of ramps, grab bars and hand railings and threshold fixes and yard work. For people who can’t drive or use public transportation, COABC has volunteers who take people to doctor’s appointments or food shopping and occasional social trips. At four locations in Buncombe County, COABC offers congregate senior dining for people who are age 60 and older or married to someone 60 or older. In addition to providing meals and socialization, COABC partners with other community organizations to provide activities at their congregate dining sites such as exercise and yoga classes. Monthly food boxes are delivered by volunteers with COABC to at-risk, homebound elders. A separate organization – Meals On Wheels of Asheville and Buncombe County – delivers Meals on Wheels in Buncombe County. Learn more by visiting www.mowabc.org.
Land of Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging
The Land of Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging covers Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties and is part of a national network of aging agencies established by the federal Older Americans Act. While local Councils on Aging provide direct services, Area Agencies on Aging support older adults living independently through planning, resource development and partnering with Councils on Aging and other organizations.
In addition to being a resource for older adults and their caregivers to contact when seeking information about age-related issues, offerings from the Land of Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging include family caregiver support services, a foster grandparent program, health promotion and disease prevention, a long-term care ombudsman, regional and county aging planning, a senior community services employment program, a senior companion program, information about North Carolina legislation and Project CARE – or Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty – which helps people caring for people with dementia.
GERIATRIC CARE MANAGERS
Possessing backgrounds typically in nursing, social work, gerontology or psychology, geriatric care managers are qualified healthcare professionals who can be hired to offer personalized, holistic assistance and planning for older adults and people with disabilities. These professionals act as advocates and focus on helping you or your loved one stay independent, healthy and safe.
Geriatric care managers can be especially helpful for family members who don’t live near their loved ones. Working with families and caregivers, they use their expertise to assess, problem-solve, plan and monitor older adults’ living and healthcare situations. Examples of the help they can provide include:
• Assessing a loved one’s social, emotional and medical status including problems with memory loss and related dementia
• Interacting with and facilitating communication with a medical healthcare team
• Evaluating, recommending and helping coordinate moves to appropriate long term care housing
• Supporting and helping loved ones and families cope with care options and concerns and helping them reach a consensus about long-term care planning
• Connecting with community resources available for older adults
• Intervening when a crisis occurs such as an emergency room visit and overseeing a hospitalization or rehabilitation stay
• Reviewing and overseeing bill paying, assisting with insurance companies and working with financial advisors and attorneys.
The Aging Life Care Association (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) offers more information about geriatric care management as well an online searchable database for finding a professional in your area at www.aginglifecare.org.