If you are elderly or have a disability, an extensive network of services may be available to you. Depending on where you live and what you need, you might have access to home–delivered meals, home repair, transportation, financial consulting, legal assistance, and numerous other services.
Whatever you think you might need, it’s worth asking if there might be a service to help you.
There are two places to ask: your local senior citizen center, and the state Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), a bureau of the New Mexico Aging and Long–term Services Department (ALTSD).
I discovered the ADRC at the annual state Conference on Aging. Several agencies were represented, hoping to increase the public’s awareness of what they do. The ADRC is a link to all of them.
Services to the elderly in New Mexico are provided through a bureaucratic tangle of state and federal agencies and local nonprofits. Some programs for seniors are intertwined with programs for people with disabilities. Some involve other government programs, such as Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. Some are only for low-income clients; others have no income restrictions.
If you need something, you should be able to ignore all that bureaucracy and get connected to a service that can help you.
A few programs worth noting:
For active seniors, the department’s website lists more than 200 senior citizen centers. A detailed list can be found at: www.nmaging.state.nm.us/senior-services.aspx.
If you’re a senior who would like to help other seniors, you could volunteer for the senior companion program, providing companionship for a homebound senior; or the ombudsman program to maintain supportive contact with elders in long-term care facilities.
Adult Protective Services is the division that responds to reports of abuse against adults, whether by family members or others. It is for any persons over age 18 who cannot protect themselves, not just elders. The phone number is 1-866-654-3219, with 24-hour access.
The Governor’s Commission on Disability (a separate department) serves individuals with any kind of disability. It can help with assistive technology and has low-interest loans to purchase adaptive devices or make home modifications. Another loan program helps individuals to purchase equipment to expand or create a home-based business. Call the Technology Assistance Program, NMTAP: 505-841-6646 in Albuquerque; www.tap.gcd.state.nm.us.
The Brain Injury Advisory Council, part of the Commission on Disability, provides services for individuals with brain injuries and distributes bicycle helmets to children: 1-877-696-1470.
The Securities Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department has an investor education program for community groups, to help elders avoid being victimized by fraud: 1-800-704-5533 or redflagsnm.com.
Legal Resources for the Elderly is a joint program of ALTSD and the State Bar. Anyone age 55-plus may consult with an attorney on the phone free of charge. Referrals can sometimes be given to other volunteer attorneys who help at no cost with estate planning and other matters: 1-800-876-6657.
The Alzheimer’s Association helps families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reach the 24-hour statewide helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or www.alz.org/newmexico.
Despite all this, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that resources are limited and funding doesn’t always get where it’s needed.
Attached to ALTSD is an eleven-member volunteer Policy Advisory Committee. At the recent conference, the committee held a “listening session,” to hear concerns from elders and service providers. The most common concerns were about elders living alone in rural areas. Some of these elders are virtually abandoned, with no family, no transportation and no assistance.
These problems are tough to solve institutionally. If you know someone in such circumstances, you might help by being a concerned neighbor and making a phone call to one of the services listed above.
Triple Spaced Again, © New Mexico News Services 2016