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  • Writer's pictureChrista Collier

Community Matters: Elder Services a vital resource for Northern Berkshire seniors

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

by John Lutz

July 3, 2018... Many do not know the myriad services Elder Services of Berkshire County provides to seniors in our community. As a member agency of Northern Berkshire United Way, we provide a safety net of services in the communities of Williamstown, Clarksburg, North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, Savoy and Florida for our friends and neighbors in Northern Berkshire.

Elder Services of Berkshire County has had the honor of promoting senior independence through a wide range of services with expertise, compassion and quality since 1974. Just as we have supported seniors for over 44 years, Northern Berkshire United Way has worked alongside all its member agencies for 82 years to convene our community around our most vulnerable members.

With support from the agency and donors from across the county, we provide money management, MassHealth and Medicare guidance through our SHINE program, a family caregiver program, elder nutrition, long-term care ombudsman, and long-term care options as well as many other services.

Did you know that we provided over 206,500 hot nutritious meals to Berkshire seniors through our Elder Nutrition program last year? Meals on Wheels can be delivered to your door, or you can visit one of the 15 community meal sites we support throughout the county, including four of the Council on Aging sites in North Berkshire. Through our central kitchen in Lanesborough, we prepare and deliver more than 800 meals per day to all reaches of the county.

Perhaps our biggest impact is through supporting elder independence. Whether you need just a few hours of help around the home, a drive to a doctor's appointment, or more substantial services, we design a care plan to ensure your safety, health, and independence as you age at home in the Berkshires.

It all starts with a simple phone call to 413-499-0524. Our expert information and referral team will guide you to the best entry point for your needs. In many instances, you will have your own case manager to monitor your progress and make sure you are receiving high-quality care in a timely and professional manner. We will regularly reassess your needs and bring in other supports and services, if you so choose, all with the goal of helping you age with dignity and independence.

We also support the mature worker. Employers appreciate the knowledge, compassion and dedication of older workers. Our senior employment services program can provide training and job placement for those 55 and over with limited financial resources to get you back into the workforce.

Elder Services of Berkshire County recognizes that families and care partners are vital to your success. We offer support groups and educational programs including Powerful Tools for Caregivers, the Gallagher Family Alzheimer's Resource Library, and we partner with other health and community based organizations throughout the year to bring timely and valuable information and preventative programming to the Berkshires. We may also be able to provide your care partners with respite opportunities, supplemental in-home support, adult day health programs, adult foster care opportunities, and medication management.

Elder Services of Berkshire County supports other local initiatives by providing grants to projects such as The Berkshire Elder Law Project, Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County, Matter of Balance classes, senior fitness classes at the YMCAs, and many other programs designed to meet specific needs in the Berkshires.

Planning and managing changes at any stage of life can seem overwhelming. Think of Elder Services of Berkshire County as your partner in helping you make the most of your senior years. We are here to help you make informed choices about long-term care options that will best suit your needs in every stage of your future. We have a trained, insured and supervised team of volunteers to help you manage your household finances. Our SHINE program will work with you to make sure you are on best health insurance options for your current needs and will be there to help make changes if your needs change. If the time comes for you to seek out more significant support, we have a team of nurses that specialize in geriatric nursing to determine Medicaid eligibility for nursing home placements.

The staff and volunteers of Elder Services of Berkshire County thank all of those who support the Northern Berkshire United Way's annual campaign and their dedication to enhancing the well-being of its communities as well as all the individuals, organizations and companies that partner with us every day in making the Berkshires a wonderful place to age.

John Lutz is the executive director of Elder Services of Berkshire County.

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