The Ukiah Senior Center serves as a liaison between Adult Protective Services and seniors in the community. This service is provided through a contract with Mendocino County Department of Human Services.
Representative Payee Services
The Ukiah Senior Center serves as the legal financial representative for seniors who are referred to us by Adult Protective Services. Those referred are individuals not capable of managing their finances due to previous financial abuse, declining health or the loss of a loved one who handled their financial matters. In this situation, the Ukiah Senior Center opens a checking account in the Center’s and the senior’s name, and the Center provides a representative payee service. The checking account requires two staff signatures for any disbursements. All income received from the senior is deposited directly into the representative payee account. All bills for the senior are sent to the Center’s address and paid by the outreach worker. A budget is set up to ensure bills are paid in a timely manner, and that the senior has an adequate allowance for food and an established reserve for unanticipated expenses.
Money Management Services
We offer assistance in managing the finances of seniors who have checking accounts, but need support balancing their statements or managing a budget. This service has been valuable for seniors who have lost a spouse who used to manage their finances. Seniors who suddenly find themselves alone and without local family support ask us for help to better understand how to manage household expenses. Our outreach staff will setup ongoing appointments to meet every few weeks to ensure that finances are kept current.
We offer guidance on a variety of insurance-related areas, including qualifications for public health insurance coverage, signing up for Social Security benefits, selecting a Medicare supplemental plan, reviewing the choices for Part D coverage for prescriptions, and enrolling in Covered California for those under 65 without medical coverage.
When it comes to making decisions regarding insurance, the task can seem daunting, especially when making a major change such as entering the retirement years. People lose their company-covered health plans and are expected to enroll for Social Security and Medicare benefits with no knowledge of how to do so. We are here to help with these major changes and if we don’t have the answers, we will refer you to a local agency to help enroll you in a plan that meets your needs.
Medicare Prescription Part D plan coverage can change every year, and it affects which prescriptions are generic or allowed. Each year from October 15 thru December 7, there is an open enrollment period during which seniors may change their plans for the next calendar year. Our staff will review your medications and help you determine which plan is most beneficial. In choosing a Part B supplemental plan, did you know that certain plans have a “silver sneakers” option which covers your monthly gym fee? So many things to consider, give us a call with your questions.
We are a resource for helping seniors get on the waiting list for senior subsidized housing. There are several senior housing units in Ukiah and for low-income seniors, this subsidized benefit is the only way they can afford safe and centrally located housing. The waiting list can take months, but sometimes openings happen quickly and having your name on multiple lists is helpful to finding a home sooner rather than later. Once in a new home, the Ukiah Senior Center Thrift Store is an inexpensive way to get re-established; it offers deals on everything from curtains and bedding to housewares and furniture.
Seniors are often too proud or reluctant for other reasons to ask for assistance in meeting this most basic need. Did you know that if you earn less than $1,200 per month (for one person) you may be eligible for CalFresh funding? Qualified medical expenses are deducted from your gross total to allow the limit to be even lower. This is money specifically for food that is placed on a debit card. The CalFresh support accumulates on the card and does not have to be used in the month received. So even if the monthly allotment is low, the cumulated total after several months can be significant, allowing seniors to stock up on food for the freezer and pantry. And, an exciting benefit for the Ukiah area is the DOUBLING in value of the funds from the CalFresh card at Ukiah Farmers' Markets. If $30 is spent on the CalFresh card, the senior will receive $60 worth of product from the Farmers' Market vendor.
We will steer seniors in the direction of other food sources available in the community such as commodities from the Federal Government through Commodity Supplement Food Program (CSFP), Food Bank distribution dates and times, Meals on Wheels deliveries for home-bound seniors through Plowshares, and the lunch program served here at the Ukiah Senior Center weekdays at 11:30 a.m.
This is another area which seniors tend to accept high bills as inevitable. On a fixed income, seniors often make tough decisions to stay in bed under thick covers all day to stay warm because they know that they cannot afford the high utility bill. We can help setup a visit by a weatherization expert who can suggest home repairs (which may be FREE) that can significantly reduce utility costs. If the home is too expensive to heat safely, seniors can consider moving to an energy-efficient senior housing unit. If the utility costs are still too high, low-income seniors can receive assistance from the City, PG&E and telephone companies.
For low-income seniors who need assistance in their homes to meet daily living requirements, the Mendocino County Human Services In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) offers assistance.
For families who do not qualify for assistance, the task of finding competent, trustworthy and reliable help can be daunting. Putting an ad in the paper and reviewing unknown candidates may be risky. The best avenue is to ask friends, acquaintances from church or social groups, or professional colleagues if they know anyone they would refer. If direct referrals aren't available, the Ukiah Senior Center can share a list of caregivers that we keep current. Anyone on our list has supplied references that we have verified. If you use someone on the Senior Center referral list, we suggest you interview a few candidates to determine who best fits your need. The caregivers are paid privately through the person needing the service and the Ukiah Senior Center is not responsible in any way for their service.
Medical Appointment Transportation
Getting to and from medical appointments in a rural community is difficult for seniors who live alone and do not have a network of friends or family to depend upon. Seniors who are unable to track their medical appointments rely on us to pick them up and go with them to their appointments, and to serve as their advocate. Seniors also call us because they do not drive and their medical appointments are out of town. If necessary, we will transport seniors as far away as San Francisco for a needed doctor’s visit. This service is usually provided by volunteers and a donation is requested to cover travel expenses.
Friendly Check Ins
A concerned citizen, neighbor or out-of-town family member occassionally calls us to express concern for an elderly person who lives alone and appears to be struggling. They might see a frail person pushing a heavy shopping basket on a cold day back to his or her apartment who can barely make it up the steps. Or an out-of-town granddaughter calls, concerned about her grandmother recently widowed and doesn’t drive. Once we get the name, address and phone number of a senior, we call and ask to schedule an in-home visit. There, we can address issues of risk, safety, or neglect. We will determine if any Ukiah Senior Center services might benefit them, such as Transportation, Lunch Bunch, Dining Room meals or any of the social activities. For those who do not want to leave their homes, we put them on our list to check-in weekly. These visits ensure that there is someone looking after them and offering support when needed.