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Franklin County reaches out to elderly

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DUANE –– The director of a Franklin County agency that coordinates care for the elderly told the Duane Town Board that the area’s rapidly growing aging population needs to be better informed about what services are available to them, and how to go about getting them.

Rebecca Preve, director of Franklin County C.A.R.E.S. (Coordination and Referral of Extended Services) based in Malone, reinforced a recent study that found the Adirondack Park has a shrinking, but increasingly older population in proportion to areas outside of the park.

Many are not aware of what to do or who to call when they need assistance, and don’t receive help until the situation is an emergency.

“We have a very significant aging population, and we have a lot of adult children who have moved out of the area, so people are essentially left in the Adirondacks with very limited resources,” Ms. Preve said, noting that this problem also extends to rural towns in the area.

She said her office’s main goal is to try to educate the community.

“A lot of people make the assumption ‘I’m not eligible for programming. I make too much money. I don’t fit that category. I don’t want to be on welfare,’” she explained.

The office acts as a safety net provider, and works with many other agencies to coordinate services for the elderly. Ms. Preve said they handle the initial intake, and from there, pass on information to the appropriate agencies who can provide adult protective service interventions, home-delivered meals, home health aides through the county Office for the Aging, and help with admittance to long- term care facilities.

“A lot of times, what we see in the rural areas, of which Duane is obviously included, is we’re not made aware of a problem until it’s at a crisis stage,” she said. “where someone is truly unsafe and we have to take immediate action, either with police or [emergency medical services]. Our office looks to try to start before we’re at that point.”

For instance, if someone needs nursing home placement, Ms. Preve said, they can’t just show up at a facility and expect to be admitted. It sometimes takes months for a bed to open, she said. Her office can assist with that process, if given adequate notification.

Services are also available to those whose income may be slightly above Medicaid eligibility.

“A lot of people are under the assumption, ‘If I’m not Medicaid eligible, I can’t receive any services.’ That’s very untrue,” Ms. Preve said.

Ms. Preve’s office provides follow-up to check on the status of referrals to other agencies to make sure needs are being addressed. They will also facilitate case conferences with family and service agencies to coordinate care efforts in complex cases.

Ms. Preve said she was presenting at municipal meetings in the county because often, council members are contacted by constituents with these kinds of issues and are unsure where to direct them.

“We’re considered the one-stop shop. We’ll get you where you need to be,” she said.

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