Sometimes aging adults need someone to step up and advocate for them because of communication barriers and other disabilities. But it’s also true that our aging community needs proactive advocates because our own culture and social constructions tend to undermine the independence and dignity they deserve and underestimate the resources they should have access to.
Senior advocacy services in San Francisco are diverse and plentiful, setting an example for other communities. But our aging loved ones and neighbors need to be connected to these opportunities to benefit. We can all help by becoming aware of these great resources and then spreading the word.
What Senior Advocacy Services Are Available in San Francisco?
San Francisco’s senior advocacy services come in the form of legal assistance, Medicare and insurance education, intervention against isolation, independent living support, and elder abuse prevention, among other forms. Take a look at this list of services and resources to see if any might help to improve your quality of life.
Institute on Aging runs a program to match aging adults up with a wide variety of services based on an individualized assessment of their lifestyles and needs. Individuals may receive comprehensive care management, live-in or visiting caregiving, home safety inspections and advice, meal assistance, transportation and errand assistance, money management and financial assistance, legal support, and overall support for independent living.
The SF Connected Program offers training in using technology for everyday tasks. Older adults can reverse isolation, discover new resources, exercise their minds and memories, and access many tools to help manage life better on their own. These programs help participants to master basic tasks on the computer and through the Internet in ways that relate to their lives and needs.
While aging LGBT adults in the San Francisco community may anticipate additional boundaries to assistance and care, helpful programs and resources are within reach. In particular, programs aim to combat isolation, a very common barrier to access even when individuals greatly need support. Beyond that, services are here to address the varied practical, caregiving, emotional, and behavioral health support that LGBT seniors in our community need.
Navigating medical and insurance management can be intimidating and overwhelming, but there are knowledgeable advocates ready to help aging adults on their path to worry-free coverage and care. HICAP is a counseling and education program offered to seniors at no cost. These services can help you to understand what insurance and Medicare benefits actually mean to you, how billing and claims work in practice, how to shop around and choose the right plan for your needs, and they can advocate for you among the medical and insurance community.
Elder mistreatment—in the form of financial, emotional, physical abuse and neglect—is a real injustice playing out in our own community. But there are active and compassionate alliances working to address existing abuse and to prevent future abuse of our aging loved ones. Programs offer training and education, assistance for reporting cases of abuse, practical and legal advice, and awareness campaigns to ensure wider community support. Programs include protection for veterans at risk of elder financial abuse.
If you or an aging loved one is in need of legal advice or assistance, the city of San Francisco offers broad support services through a collection of expert partners. Individuals can find help understanding their legal rights in general or regarding a specific situation, representation for a court appearance or other legal and administrative tasks, mediation, document preparation, or assistance finding additional legal services.
Residents of long-term care facilities have the right to equal treatment and appropriate, compassionate care. The Ombudsman Program exists to advocate for aging adults in this situation, to hold care programs accountable, and to combat elder abuse. If you suspect any mistreatment of aging adults, contact the San Francisco Ombudsman (415-751-9788) directly or Adult Protective Services.
For those in need of assistance and advocacy when transitioning from assisted living to independent living, this program offers comprehensive support, especially when finances are limited. Community Living Services is tapped into the many local resources that can help aging San Franciscans to find appropriate housing, health care, and caregiver support for their particular needs while living independently. These services even extend beyond San Francisco county into San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
There is a local office dedicated to assisting veterans with diverse case management, advocacy, and independent living needs. Here, veterans can learn about benefits and how to apply, and you can find assistance when filing and keeping track of claims.
Toll-free at 800-971-0016, the Friendship Line is a link to companionship and advocacy for aging adults experiencing isolation and personal crisis. Especially when individuals may be at risk of suicide, IOA’s Friendship Line offers trained and compassionate voices and a space for older adults to express themselves without meeting barriers or judgment. Friendship Line volunteers even follow up with callers through well-being checks and connect them to further resources and support to suit their needs.
Accessing the Local Advocacy Services That Are Right for You
Too often in our communities, we believe we are alone to fend for ourselves against all odds and obstacles. But communities, by their very nature, are intended to be a foundation of support and collaboration. Caring alliances throughout San Francisco exist for the empowerment and well-being of our aging neighbors and loved ones. If you can identify a need, there is a service that could help to improve your quality of life, and you need only reach out for assistance. Even if you can’t narrow down your needs, it can help to reach out anyway because advocates are standing by to help you assess your situation and help provide the resources that might meet you where you are.
Institute on Aging is a great place to start when seeking services and resources for living independently with grace and dignity. We offer programs for aging adults, their families, and other caregivers. Reach out today to find out how to enrich your own life or that of an aging loved one.