3 Community Resources Every Elder Law Lawyer and Their Clients Should Know About

A senior couple and their attorney

In April, I was invited to speak to Washington State Bar Association members on the community resources offered by Area Agencies on Aging. (If you missed it, you can watch the Elder Law Spring CLE here.) When working with clients who have social and economic issues, it’s important to know that you don’t have to navigate solutions alone. In Washington, you or your clients can reach out to any of the following programs for assistance navigating community resources and programs, and I recommend that you do.

The following resources will help you and your clients find the assistance you may need.

1. Area Agencies on Aging

This nationwide network of agencies is charged by the Older Americans Act (OAA) to plan, coordinate, and advocate for a comprehensive service delivery system for older adults, family caregivers, and people with disabilities. Anyone facing an aging or disability related issue—including professionals—can turn to their local AAA to find help and be connected to services that meet their individual needs and circumstances.

AAAs make a range of options available, enabling individuals to choose the services and living arrangements that build on their strengths and preferences. Services include home-delivered meals, congregate meals, adult day services, caregiver support, case management, elder-abuse prevention, health promotion, and transportation. There is a wealth of information available through the Washington state network for AAAs, Community Living Connections. Visit www.waclc.org/connect or call 855-567-0252 to find your local Community Living Connections program. The national Eldercare Locator toll-free hotline also helps professionals and community members connect to these local resources: call 800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov.

2. Family Caregiver Support Program

A lot of people don’t think of themselves as caregivers until there is a crisis and then often don’t know where to turn. If your client routinely supports a family member, neighbor, or friend, then they’re a caregiver!

Any adult who serves as the primary unpaid caregiver for another adult qualifies for some level of support services, regardless of financial resources, thanks to the federal- and state-funded Family Caregiver Support Program. Program advocates interview caregivers to better understand their situation and then provide information, training, and referrals to appropriate services and support. Services offered through this program include support groups, counseling, and in-home or out-of-home respite care if the caregiver needs a break.

By helping to reduce caregiver stress, the program enables care receivers to remain in their homes. There is no income eligibility requirement for caregiver support services; however, low-income care receivers may be eligible for additional services. Visit www.waclc.org/connect or call 855-567-0252 to find your local program and more information.

3. Alzheimer’s Association

Persons with dementia and their caregivers in Washington can also access information and supportive services through private organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Association’s Washington chapter serves the entire state as well as Northern Idaho. This organization is dedicated to increasing awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and providing support and services to people who are touched by it. Services include a 24/7 telephone helpline, web-based resources and information, local support groups, trainings, and care consultation to help with decision-making. Visit www.alzwa.org or call 800-272-3900. (Community Living Connections can also make these connections for you.)

How You Can Contribute

Area Agencies on Aging are proud to partner with legal professionals who participate on our advisory councils, consult with our advocates and case managers, and offer critical information and guides for service providers and community members. For all those who are a part of our network, we thank you!

If you would like to learn how you can contribute, visit the Resources page of the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration to find contact information for your local Area Agency on Aging office. Make the call!