Editor’s Note: Nearly 40% of the communities LifeSTEPS serves provide housing for older adults. As such, we have a strong commitment in helping older adults “age in place”. Most live on a fixed income. Some, because they may receive a small pension or have a modest retirement account, make too much to qualify for certain benefits, but don’t make enough to afford out-of-pocket expenses. They are “trapped in the gap” and, because of this, their independence is threatened. LifeSTEPS is focused on helping these individuals – along with all other older adults we serve – to remain in their homes and their communities.
In today’s challenging economy many people of modest means need help paying bills, particularly medical bills. This is especially true for older adults.
Often older adults have to choose between going to the doctor or putting food on the table. If an older adult makes a little too much each month to qualify for certain Medi-Cal benefits, but not enough to afford out of pocket expenses, they are “trapped in the gap”. Because they cannot afford certain expenses – like in home health services or other medical expenses – they often will move into a skilled nursing facility prematurely. When this happens, they leave their community (and independence) behind.
Rebecca is an active resident in her affordable community and enjoys volunteering at various community events. She attends LifeSTEPS educational classes, with a particular interest in anything healthcare related. When she was faced with knee surgery, it was suggested that she purchase some adaptive medical equipment that would help her during her recovery.
Rebecca knew the equipment would be immensely helpful but she could not afford it – and it wasn’t fully covered through Med-iCal. About the same time she also started having dental pain and learned that she had an infection in her mouth. She was faced with yet another expense beyond her means.
The community manager referred Rebecca to LifeSTEPS for financial help. Through the LifeSTEPS Client Assistance Program (Craig’s Fund), which is also supported by the JB Brown Fund (USA Properties), Rebecca received the help she needed to purchase the medical equipment and have her dental treatment. The provision of this equipment made Rebecca’s recovery much more comfortable and the dental treatment eradicated the painful infection.
Rebecca did not have to dip into her rent or grocery money to cover these expenses. She was able to get her needs met without jeopardizing her economic stability. She had a LifeSTEPS social worker there to help her throughout, providing technical expertise and emotional support.
This is a great example of how residents are experiencing better physical and financial health through LifeSTEPS and the JB Brown Fund.