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Every year, AARP Foundation helps millions of struggling older adults 50 and over win back opportunity. We couldn't do it without the generous support of individuals and institutions.

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Impossible Choices

Bringing Hope and Help to the Elderly Poor

During the conversation, the woman mentioned that her son didn’t really know how to help her as she aged (which is not at all unusual). Marcy told her that another AARP Foundation program, Prepare to Care, could help. Directed at adult children and their aging parents, Prepare to Care helps people to focus on caregiving responsibilities that might arise in the future and to determine how they might be solved. “I sent her the Prepare to Care book and told her it would help both of them put their minds at ease. For the adult children, just knowing they are on top of what they might need to take care of their parents is amazingly beneficial,” Marcy says.

“When I first began working with the low-income elderly, I saw 80-year-olds living in awful poverty, and I just had no concept that you could live in America and be in that situation,” Marcy adds. “But a lot of those people were in that situation because they didn’t know enough to ask. They didn’t have the education and the support system behind them, or they were just too embarrassed or too proud to ask. Lots of times, they didn’t know who to ask, and sometimes they didn’t have the ability to ask for help because of language issues, or medical issues, or cognitive issues.

“Let’s face it,” she continues. “If your ability to manage your life is limited because of any of these issues, you’re not going to wake up one day and say: ‘Gee, today I’m going to spend my time on the phone calling around to see if there are any programs that can help me.’ ”

Marcy has learned that BQL is not only very good for the low-income elderly, but for their families, too. “When an older parent suddenly needs help, lots of times their children will say: ‘I know I’ve got to take care of this, but I’m working full-time and I have to take care of my family, too. What can I do? How can I help my mom or dad?’ One thing they can do is go to BQL. It’s fast, and it gives you a real quick overview of what’s out there,” she says.

And the 87-year-old widow? She was thrilled and relieved that there was help for her. “I don’t think she would have used the word ‘empowered,’ but she felt really satisfied that she had taken the initiative to solve her issues. When she left, she said, ‘I can’t wait to call my son and tell him I got it taken care of!’ It was a great day for both of us,” Marcy says.

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Our Story

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