Attend health forum Oct. 26In our world, change happens. In the ideal world, changes mean growth, improvements, new opportunities and increased success and joy. In the real world, changes often mean less independence, more medical problems, decreasing money and resources and less success and joy.

The state and feds (who admittedly move slowly when moving at all) are turning their respective ships to the wind and recognizing where the winds of change are blowing. In the midst of this metaphorical maze, let me simplify: Although (or because) "formal" services are meeting budget problems, the need for "informal" services and support is becoming more evident. And our part as an Area Agency on Aging is to be increasingly more visible, increasingly more supportive, increasingly more active in coordination of community services, and more easily accessible to the folks in our community. After all, if we're here to help, but no one knows who or what we are, little is accomplished, right?

I've mentioned in past columns the difference between case management and information and assistance ( I & A), but for quick reference allow me to review.

Case management is the coordination, authorization and management of in-home services for Medicaid folks who are being diverted from the need for facility placement. Currently, this means the Medicaid Personal Care (MPC) or COPES program. And this is what I was hired to do ... primarily.

However, in small satellite offices such as Ilwaco and Raymond, case managers find themselves actively involved in various other activities that relate to information and assistance. I & A is almost everything else - ranging from assisting with access of resources, referrals to other agencies/groups and advocacy, to managing non-medicaid programs such as Respite and the SCSA program. (The lines tend to get a little blurry in smaller offices.)

The point is, we're all in this together, and we are here to do what we can.

So do we stop gathering information? No. Do we have it all figured out? No. Are we doing all we can? Probably not. But we're determined to keep going, because the folks we serve make that decision every day - just to keep going.

An opportunity to participate in some give-and-take discussion is coming in October. The 26th, (yes, a Sunday) to be exact. A South Pacific County forum, from 3-5 p.m., at the Ilwaco Heritage Museum is being sponsored by KMUN Public Radio, Shorebank Enterprise Pacific and the Chinook Observer. Panelists include county commissioners, state representatives, the sheriff, directors of various county agencies and networks, the school superintendent, yours truly, and more. More details to follow as the date approaches.

On another note, our Ilwaco office is in the process of moving to a new site in Long Beach. We will be in building A at 1715 Pacific Highway North, close to Pioneer Road. For the time, our mailing address remains the same, and our phones will not change. We plan to be in the office before this column appears, so...

Did I mention change? It's something we all experience.

Senior Information & Assistance

Ilwaco: 642-3634/1-888-571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/1-888-571-6557

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