Bellingham Seniors: Help Is Available & Here’s Where to LookSep 23, 2021 09:59AM ● By David Dunbar
Bellingham Senior Center
Government programs to help seniors in need sustain a productive and happy lifestyle range from home/rental assistance to access to nutritional food, transportation, medical services/prescriptions, legal advice, and companionship. Listed below are some federal, state, and local programs with suggestions on how to access them. We may have missed some programs, so if you know of them, please let us know too. You can send an email to [email protected], phone the Senior Center at 508- 966-0398, or drop a note at the Welcome Desk at the Center. We’ll report on all of them in the next newsletter.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal government program that provides a monthly cash benefit for the elderly (age 65 and over), blind, or disabled of any age who have extremely low income and very few resources. Countable resources include cash and money in checking, savings, and investment accounts. (http://www.ssa.gov)
Medicare and Medicaid—Medicare is a broad program of health insurance designed to assist the nation’s elderly to meet hospital, medical, and other health costs. Medicare is available to most individuals 65 years of age and older. (http://www.medicare.gov)
What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?The difference is that Medicaid is managed by states and is based on income, and Medicare is managed by the federal government and is mainly based on age. But there are special circumstances, like certain disabilities, that may allow younger people to get Medicare. (http://www.medicaid.gov)
You can make a telephone appointment to speak with SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) representative Jean Roy by calling 508-966-0398.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—The SNAP program, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal government program to help needy persons of any age pay for food. To qualify for benefits, households must meet strict resource and income limits. SNAP is managed by the state. (https://www.mass.gov/snap-benefits-formerly-food-stamps)
Eldercare Directory—Committed to helping senior citizens and their caregivers find the most appropriate services and providers for their special needs, Eldercare Directory helps seniors find answers to their most pressing financial and legal concerns, and take advantage of the full range of government assistance programs and benefits for the elderly. (www.eldercaredirectory.org)
State ProgramsA productive place to start your search is the Mass Executive Office of Elder Affairs (http://www.mass.gov/seniors).
Every state has an Aging Services Division dedicated to providing frail seniors with home and community-based services, so that they can continue living in their own homes instead of having to enter a nursing home.
A wide range of state assistance programs is generally available to eligible seniors, including home health aides and skilled nursing care, home-delivered meals, help with household chores, and transportation to shopping and medical appointments, as well as counseling, advocacy, and legal aid.
In addition to these programs that help senior citizens directly, many states also offer caregiver assistance programs that provide family caregivers with information, counseling, and respite services. (https://www.mass.gov/family-caregiver-support-program)
Tri-Valley Elder Services— “Our mission is helping seniors and people with disabilities to live independently with dignity in their own homes or settings of their choice.” Call 1-800-286-6640 or visit http://www.trivalleyinc.org.
Circuit Breaker Tax Refund—A Property Tax Circuit Breaker is a tax refund given to low-income individuals and families whose property tax liability is a large percentage of their yearly income. The term was coined by John Shannon of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations in the 1960s. (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/senior-circuit-breaker-tax-credit)
SMOC Fuel Assistance—Eligible households in 37 communities (including Bellingham) receive assistance paid directly to their heating vendor through the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc. (SMOC). The program is designed to help low-income people afford the cost of heat in the winter months. Eligibility is based on gross annual income and family size. (http://www.smoc.org)
Prescription Advantage is a state-sponsored prescription drug program for seniors and people with disabilities that provides financial help to lower prescription drug costs. If you have Medicare or other prescription insurance, Prescription Advantage (PA) helps to fill gaps in that coverage. For people not eligible for Medicare, PA provides primary prescription drug coverage. You may contact Prescription Advantage at 800-243-4636.
BellinghamBellingham Housing Authority —The BHA assists low-income families with safe, sanitary, and affordable housing opportunities as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives. You may contach the BHA at (508) 883-4999
Meals on Wheels—A nutritious meal delivered by a friendly driver is much more than sustenance. It goes a long way in helping maintain independence. Meals on Wheels provides meals short-term or long-term to homebound elders aged 60 and older who are unable to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal for themselves. Call 800-286-6640; 508-949-6640 or visit https://www.caregivingmetrowest.org/Resources-in-MetroWest/Resources-By-Town/Bellingham
Outreach is defined by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Senior Affairs as “client-finding efforts and activities by the Council on Aging to identify potential participants and introduce existing services and benefits.” During an outreach contact, information is shared, and an assessment of a senior’s needs is made. The needs of some seniors may require ongoing case management. Terri Graham and Lisa Mottola provide outreach services for the Senior Center. You can contact them by calling the senior center at 508-966-0398, or via email at [email protected] or [email protected].
Tax Work Off is a program to permit older residents (60 and up) as well as qualified veterans under 60 years of age to reduce property taxes up to $1,000 a year by working for the town of Bellingham. For more information, call 508-966-2707.
Dial-A-Ride—The Bellingham Senior Center currently has four vans that can accommodate wheelchairs or riders that use canes or walkers. If you are requesting a ride for the first time, you will be screened for eligibility. While no fare is charged, donations are gratefully accepted and used for transportation-related needs above and beyond the town’s budget. Call the senior center (508-966-0398) with your requests. A staff member will call you back to confirm your information and ride arrangements.
Legal and Financial Advice—Local attorney Dan Doyle offers free consultations at the Senior Center on the third Wednesday of each month, 2-4 PM. On the third Tuesday of the month, free financial advice is offered, 2-4 PM.
At Home Hearing Healthcare provides hearing-care services, hearing-loss treatment and hearing aids to improve your overall hearing health. Free monthly consultations at the senior center or by calling 508-250-9324.
Assisted Living Facilities—Seniors who are ready to explore assisted-living communities might investigate these three options:
- Atria Draper Place offers a relaxing retirement-living community in historic Hopedale. Residents can enjoy taking a stroll down to the pond or quietly reading a book from the public library. An assortment of lectures and entertainment events provides social interaction for residents, friends, and family. (508) 482-5995
- Benchmark Senior Living at Forge Hill is Franklin’s first and finest assisted-living community. For 23+ years, it has provided some of the area’s best award-winning assisted living and memory impairment care for those with mid to advanced-stage memory loss and is conveniently located off I-495. (508) 719-8031
- Cornerstone at Milford offers seniors service-enriched assisted living and a state-of-the-art memory care program designed to treat the symptoms of memory loss in a comfortable and dignified residential setting. Cornerstone at Milford is close to shops, restaurants, banks and pharmacies and a walking trail. (508) 473-0035