News : Elder Helpline Receives Record Number of Calls
Fort Myers, FL, USA, Jan 9, 2019 -- More Southwest Florida seniors are in need of assistance than ever, based on the number of calls received last year by the Elder Helpline operated by the Area Agency on Aging. The helpline received 73,843 calls in 2018, an increase of 16.2 percent over 2017 and the most the agency has ever received in a single year.
"An increase of more than 10,000 calls in just one year shows us that there’s still a lot of need in our area, especially among seniors," says AAASWFL CEO Marianne Lorini. "Helpline data can show us how those needs are evolving. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be digging into the numbers to see what our most requested services were and if they changed significantly over the previous year."
The helpline assists older adults, caregivers and people with disabilities in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Sarasota counties. It is part of the national Eldercare Locator network and is funded through the federal Older Americans Act.
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Helpline specialists assist people trying to find services for themselves or their loved ones, says Carmen Torres-Ortiz, AAASWFL director of client services.
"There are many resources available for older people and adults with disabilities," Ms. Torres-Ortiz says. "The Elder Helpline is the first step in finding them the help they need, either through a government program, a local nonprofit or even private pay services.
While the Helpline may be the bestknown of AAASWFL’s services, the agency is also responsible for screening older adults for eligibility for government-funded home- and community-based services and for monitoring local service providers. It also provides direct services to adults 60 and over and adults with disabilities. These programs include SHINE Medicare counseling, health and wellness workshops and elder abuse prevention education.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is committed to connecting older adults and people with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. AAASWFL is the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida.
The Elder Hotline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (excluding state holidays). Assistance is available in more than 200 languages at 866-413-5337 (41-ELDER).
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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