Options Counseling provides answers on aging and disability

Dana Beguerie is Director of the Aging Information Center at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services

Providing information and guidance for those facing challenges from aging or disability is a big part of our mission at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES). Our Aging Information Center is a free resource, and our experts there can usually identify helpful resources and connect people with them over the course of a single phone call.

But sometimes people are facing more complex challenges, which requires an ongoing approach to ensure their needs are met. In those cases, our Aging Information Center typically recommends Options Counseling, a free program that’s open to anyone over age 17 with a disability and people over 60.

For example, we recently heard from a caller who was homeless and losing his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SNAP nutrition assistance. We referred the caller to an Options Counselor, who provided information on housing, emergency shelter, and homelessness resources. The counselor also assisted in completing the applications for those programs.

The consumer was also linked to the SNAP benefit liaison at the Greater Boston Food Bank to assist with his food stamp issues. And the counselor helped him prepare for the SSDI denial hearing, by going over the documentation the consumer would need to bring, so he could keep his benefits.
This case was a really good example of how Options Counseling can make a difference, by taking a holistic approach to helping the consumer and providing a mix of direct assistance and access to community resources.

Options Counselors frequently provide assistance with the following:
• Housing
• SHINE Medicare Counseling
• Medical Transportation
• Options for people over-income for Home Care
• Medical Transportation or Assistance Programs
Those are some examples, but the main idea is that we can provide answers when people have questions about aging or disability. And we can also connect people with help and community resources.

In practice, Options Counseling starts with a consultation, with follow-up as long as needed. Here’s an example of how that can work:

Not too long ago we were contacted by a local woman who wanted to relocate to a nursing home or Assisted Living Facility. But over the course of the consultation, our Options Counselor discerned that the woman did not really want to move—instead she felt that the current services she was receiving at home did not meet her needs. Knowing that, the Options Counselor reviewed her eligibility for various in-home programs, and was able to provide her the services she needed to remain in the community.

Those are just two examples of how Options Counseling can help. If you have questions about disability or aging, we’re more than happy to discuss your options as well.

Dana Beguerie is Director of the Aging Information Center at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, a non-profit dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities maintain independence and well-being. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601.
Options Counseling is funded in part by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.