We've been through a couple forums and a Senior Fair within the last few weeks, and what have we learned? For details of the South Pacific County Community Health Forum, see the comprehensive article in last week's Observer. A lot was covered and even a few ideas on how to improve access to resources were discussed.

On Nov. 6, O3A sponsored an Elder Law Forum/Senior Fair at the Peninsula Church Center, with speakers in the morning from the Washington State Insurance Commission and Columbia Legal Services. Rising costs of prescriptions and health care, along with approaches to reducing costs, were discussed. Living wills, durable power of attorney, power of attorney and guardianship were among the topics also examined during the Elder Law Forum section in the morning.

The Senior Fair offered a variety of information on a great number of services in our area, lunch/refreshments, (Thanks, Long Beach Retirement and Assisted Care!) and even some singing!

All in all, a lot of information was distributed, discussed and presented. Once again, in a matter of weeks, someone will be lost while trying to get this very same information. Why? I can think of a couple reasons: Maybe an individual missed the flyers, ads, readerboards, columns, etc. that announced our gathering. Or maybe it was the "I-don't-know-anyone-who-needs-this-stuff" dynamic. Then suddenly, the "I-need-information-right-now!" dynamic hits. As often said before, our assistance is the type of information you may think you don't need, or you need it in a crisis, when thinking and planning may not be very clear.

So what do we do? Keep on keepin'on with trying to get the information out to the public in as many ways as we can manage. And, continue trying to streamline access to that same information. What do I mean by "streamlining"? Glad you asked ...

I hope to take the next few columns to talk about this and look at some information/assistance/ referral scenarios with - you guessed it - "Dad." A typical scenario often starts with Dad (or a family member) calling - He's a senior on Social Security and looking for some answers, some information ... or maybe just someplace to start looking! (And it may begin with something as simple as "What the !*## is this paper I got in the mail?")

Dad's asked around, talked with some folks, asked for some info and has experienced both too little and too much information. He's been sent 19-page applications and a letter stating he's eligible for programs like ZQRXVP - or something. Then he's been sent letters stating he's not eligible for anything. Now Dad's always taken care of business, but this ...

Stay tuned.

Senior Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634/1-888-571-6558

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

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