By: Erin Walker-Tolles, Executive Director – Catholic Community Service
Catholic Community Service’s mission is Strengthening families and individuals in Southeast Alaska, with dignity, care, and compassion. We are an independent 501(c)3 that acts to live the corporal works of mercy for the Catholic Church, Diocese of Juneau. Our desire to serve others is at the heart of our mission and is rooted in Catholic Social Teachings.
You may be aware that Catholic Community Service’s Southeast Senior Services includes making congregate meals, Meals-on-Wheels and socialization available at its 11 Senior Centers. In addition to a hot nutritious lunch and transportation for seniors, we also provide Case Management to seniors through our centers, as well as long distance through our Senior Caregiver Resource Center.
Case Management isn’t a service that is well known or understood by those who don’t provide or receive the service. However, it can make all the difference to an elder, and their caregiver, in helping them plan for and access those services they need to continue to live safely at home.
Below is a story of how Catholic Community Service helped an Alaska Native elder and his daughter in Hoonah last month.
A local family caregiver contacted one of CCS’s Case Managers recently about her relative, an Alaska Native elder (almost 80 years old) who lives independently in Hoonah. She was worried about him living alone due to his frail health and financial struggles now that his wife is receiving long-term care in an assisted living facility.
CCS’s Hoonah Senior Center already delivered Meals-On-Wheels to the elder, but the elder needed additional help. His arthritis makes it difficult to write, and a severe hearing deficit makes it very challenging to complete paperwork and navigate support systems. Due to this, he lost other assistance program benefits as he couldn’t respond to requests for paperwork necessary to keep those benefits going.
Case Manager Melissa assisted this elder (and his caregiver) to obtain the required documentation and apply for benefits available from the Division of Public Assistance. Soon he was receiving SNAP benefits (“food stamps”), then he got Medicaid including Medicare Part B which increased his monthly Social Security benefit by over $100 a month. Together, they applied for Tlingit & Haida Regional Housing Authority heating assistance benefits, and the elder’s overdue electric bill was paid. He also received help to pay for heating oil. This is especially important since he is no longer physically able to cut wood for heating his home.
However, it was not just the elder who was in need. His dedicated caregiver has been more and more challenged to provide care. So, Melissa helped the caregiver apply for a Title VI Family Caregiver Grant, giving them access to more support services. Melissa, who travels throughout Southeast to visit elders and caregivers, will be visiting with them on her next trip to Hoonah. Also, she will stay in touch to be sure the elder (and his caregiver) have what they need to be as independent as possible and continue being a vital part of the community of Hoonah!
If you or someone you know might benefit from CCS’s Southeast Senior Services Case Management, please contact the Senior Caregiver Resource Center at 463-6177 or Toll-free (866)746-6177. Or contact your local senior center in Angoon, Craig/Klawock, Haines/Klukwan, Hoonah, Juneau/Douglas, Kake Saxman-Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell, & Yakutat.
Visit www.CCSJuneau.org to learn more, find help, or support our efforts!