And now for something completely different ... well, sort of. We look a lot at Dad at home, getting by with a little help from his friends. Whether he's on Medicaid or using other community services, he's making it through each day. Seems, however, that we talk a lot about his crises. Tends to give us a slanted perspective on things, yes?

At a recent meeting, it was pointed out that 4 percent of the senior population in our service area (Pacific, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Clallam counties) receives some type of Medicaid assistance. Well, that only leaves about 96 percent of our folks who are doing something else.

Even if Dad's health is failing, he often is able to get the help he needs/wants without (in his view) "state" assistance - Medicaid is not the all-in-all of every situation. Nor is Medicaid the ultimate goal everyone should strive toward. While very helpful, it is for a critical few who find themselves in a very tight spot, with overwhelming medical costs.

One area we haven't emphasized in this column is that information and assistance is not just for folks in "I-need-help-yesterday" situations. What about the calls regarding activities and volunteer opportunities? Or folks looking for somewhere to just hang out? (Now that's really going to be an issue for us baby-boomers. We like to hang out!)

Let's look at - what is for us - a little different scenario: Dad on the move.

Dad's getting older - in his words "Getting better ... and still a kid, at least in my mind." He retired some time ago and though the aches and pains last a little longer, and it takes more than an hour to recover from exercise, he's up and running. If he had someplace to run to. He's had a vacation home in our area for some time, but since moving into it full-time, he realizes that vacationing somewhere and living there isn't quite the same thing.

"I'm far from ready to just sit in my rocker on the porch and throw rocks at kids in my yard," not that he would. He's not ready to just sit anywhere. And as to becoming a volunteer, maybe that's down the road because right now, he's "freshly retired."

Not ready to actually go to a "Senior Services Place" yet, Dad begins to look around, and notices a flyer, something about a congregate nutrition site. Now Dad knows all the words, but just can't imagine what they mean in the context of something to actually do. First, he looks it up in directories, newspapers and so on. Nutrition seems to be the key word. He, obliquely of course, asks around and finds that some of the guys at the coffee shop go there a couple times a week. Hmmm...

The first thing Dad notices when he arrives at the place is that it's "just meals," but there seems to be something going on, also - lots of gab. ("Maybe I'll fit right in," he thinks). Stopped and greeted by several people before he even gets to the table, he thinks he may have just stumbled onto something. And by the end of the meal, he's still gabbing along with the rest of the guys at the table. And Dad's thinking "This is great! Somebody should let people know about it."

We just did.

And we're going to keep an eye on you...

Senior Information & Assistance

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

Raymond: 942-2177/888-571-6557

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