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More Money Possible for Senior Services

Lobbying effort pays off for home- and community-based care

AARP Bulletin State News CO: HCBS and Home Energy Assistance

Dorothea Yancy, 74, of Lakewood, receives state assistance with her energy bills but worries that other older people may not receive help to allow them to remain in their homes as they age. — Photo by Matt Slaby/LUCEO

"If you need one of these things, you need it now," she said. "We haven't been able to immediately meet [the] need for several years," and the delays are growing longer with each month. "We've got 1,100 people on the waiting list for hearing aids, glasses and dental [care] in the Denver metro area."

Services in demand

Similar situations exist throughout the state, said Fritts. "Everyone has become very, very creative in Band-Aiding things together" when older people request information about how to access and receive meal delivery and in-home services such as housekeeping and personal care. But many cannot keep up with demand.

Dorothea Yancy, 74, of Lakewood, promptly received assistance with getting services a few years ago from a Denver-area senior resource center that receives state funds, and it worries her that so many seniors in need now do not.

Yancy retired from the retail industry confident she had put away enough for a decent retirement, but the curdled economy crushed her cautious planning, and she has needed help several times to pay her heating bill. The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program covered her shortfall at a time when her ability to stay in her rental house and continue to take care of herself was threatened.

"The last thing people who have worked their whole life want to do is ask for help," she said. But if a little assistance can keep an older person at home and self-reliant, "that's a goal worth achieving."

Sharon L. Peters is a freelance writer in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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