Years ago there was a wonderful thing called Information 411. We could dial it to talk to an actual person and get assistance finding a phone number. But this was long ago, before the internet, the break up of Ma Bell, and a lot of other things which promised to make our lives easier and less expensive.
Here in Vermont, we are very fortunate to have a wonderful new service courtesy of the United Way of Vermont called 211. 211 is free and available throughout the Green Mountain State (8-8 Mon-Thurs, 8:30-4:30 Fri). It’s designed to improve public access to non-profit and government service providers. Just like Information of old, you can dial 211 and get the number you want even if you aren’t completely sure of the organization you are looking for. If you prefer to go on line, they have a website, www.vermont211.org.
There’s another number that should be posted next to the phone: 1-800-642-5119. That’s the Senior Helpline and your call will be answered by a person from your local Area Agency on Aging. This is like a one stop shop for any questions specific to elders. Meals on Wheels, who do I call for what, Medicare Part D — the people at your AAA either have the answers or know who does.
The Vermont Assistive Technology Project’s number is 1-800-750-6355. They have wonderful devices to help us adapt to the challenges of change. From issues of sight to accommodations for opening containers, they’ve got the stuff. There is even a lending program so we can try things out. Again, there is also a web site, www.dail.state.vt.us/atp.
As you can see, we can’t avoid the internet. Everything from AARP (www.aarp.org) to Social Security (www.ssa.gov) is on the web. The National Aging in Place Council at www.naip.org is a great resource. One of our favorites is www.seniorresouce.com. It has a great jokes page and links which can take you far and wide.
Successful Aging in Place is like being the conductor of a great orchestra, utilizing the many and varied parts to produce the best possible experience. Access to information is a critical component. You need to know where to find it or who can help you get it.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.