SAC trying to piece together a puzzle

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 8:45am

Trying to figure out how best to accommodate the needs of the island’s growing senior population is often like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Each month the Senior Advisory Committee sits to examine the pieces of that puzzle, which has many scenes: how best to find in-home caregivers for people who want to age in place, how to find housing for those caregivers, how to provide transportation to appointments both here and on the mainland for those who no longer can or feel comfortable driving, and how to find in-home care that will be covered by insurance.

Each month, Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich prepares a report that is one piece of that puzzle. Her report was read by SAC Co-Chair Sandra Kelly in Redlich’s absence. A live-in caregiver may be needed for one individual, but that person is “uncertain about whether or not family can pay out of pocket.” Another person is anticipating a higher level of care, “but we have none to offer. Will need a CNA,” Redlich writes. A CNA is a certified nursing assistant.

“Several seniors are seeking assistance with travel/transportation.”

Kelly said that the SAC had been trying to compile a list of people who need assistance with transportation, but it proved difficult. The members of the SAC are also trying to team with an agency that can provide certified health care providers so that families do not have to pay for care out of their own pockets.

“You just can’t have someone come into your home and expect your insurance to pay for it,” said Kelly.

As for transportation, Kelly suggested the island needed a service that allowed individuals to call in advance and book a ride to a specific destination. The members agreed that the service should not be free, but also hoped the charge could be minimal.

Member Ann Henault wondered whether the service would “involve insurance for the drivers?”

The members were unsure of that answer, and there was a brief discussion about whether taxis on the island could provide the service. SAC Clerk Millie McGinnes reminded the group that taxis are a regulated service and have set rates for specific distances traveled.

The members also reminded the public that anyone requiring a medical alert system they can activate from home but cannot afford, can contact any member of the committee or The Mary D. Fund, which has offered to help defray the costs.

Also, the terms of three members will be expiring in December, and while one of those members, Linda Spak, will be returning, two others are not. Chair Kelly said that anyone interested in serving on the board should write a letter to the Town Council expressing their interest.