Access and Advocacy are Keys to Success

ADS Advisory Council members Katty Chow and Claire Brannan promoted access to nutrition at the Good Food, Good Health, Good Life on a Budget forum last spring.

When the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Washington (or "Elder Index") came out in 2010, it provided numbers to support what we had long suspected: King County residents who live on Social Security benefits alone cannot meet their basic needs and age in place with dignity.

The average Social Security benefit provides a King County elder living alone only half to three-quarters of the amount needed to cover basic expenses. The cost of health care is another critical financial issue. Even in good health, King County elders face health care costs that exceed what they spend on food.

Many King County elders live in dire straits. Fortunately, some help is available … and you need to know how to find it. In addition, once you know where to turn, it's important to help others learn about programs and services, and to advocate for their continued support.

This issue of AgeWise King County looks at several services that help older adults connect with assistance for basic needs, as well as several opportunities for education and advocacy.

24/7 Information & Assistance

For 24/7 access to online information, click on the graphics below:

The first two articles—SHIBA Helps You Find Answers to Medicare and Health Care Coverage Questions and Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens Expands Access to Services—provide valuable information and links to experts on senior programs and services, including health insurance benefits and legal services.

The third article—"Fresh Bucks" Increases Access to Fresh Food—tells you how Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cardholders can stretch food dollars at local farmers markets. More importantly, it encourages seniors who qualify for but do not take advantage of Basic Food benefits—two-thirds of those eligible!—to sign up. Follow the links to find out whether you can save on food costs with this program.

If You have Psoriasis, You May Feel All Alone is not just for people with psoriasis. See the publicly-funded health centers and other sources of low-cost health care in King County at the end of the article. These community resources are important to know.

A major ADS Advisory Council tenet is advocacy for local, state and national programs that promote quality of life for older people and adults with disabilities in our community. Currently, we're involved in educating the public about key issues and advocating for programs and services that receive federal, state and/or local funding. Here are several ways you can get involved:

On a personal level, please share this information with your friends. Your personal advocacy could include forwarding a link to this AgeWise King County article to someone you know who could benefit from the programs and services mentioned here.

Everybody ages, so we're all in this together. Thank you for your time and interest in helping yourself and others to age in place with dignity.

—Tony Provine, Chair
Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging and Disability Services