Providing Hope to Seniors All Year Long
January is almost over. If you have kept your resolution all month—pat yourself on the back! You are on your way to being in the elite group of Americans, usually estimated around 8%, who keep their resolutions. If you are already reaching for that bag of Valentine’s Day chocolate—don’t fret! January first is an arbitrary date we set to satisfy our intrinsic human desire for a clean slate.
We put a lot of stock in the idea of the New Year, but the real magic in the beginning of each year is the idea that we can have a fresh start. You can choose to have your fresh start any day of the year—what matters is how you set your goals.
In the 8% of New Year’s resolutions that work, the most successful are those in which the resolver sets a specific plan of action and enlists help or accountability to achieve it. Gym memberships and personal training hires skyrocket in January because we know we need guidance, accountability, or even just companionship to achieve our goals.
Catholic Social Services taps into this proven method of goalsetting through its Supportive Services Program, which provides case management to seniors who are struggling to manage their needs. Through this program, CSS’s caring licensed social workers meet with seniors in their homes or communities to provide supportive services based on each person’s specific needs, including needs assessment, entitlement program assistance (Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare), money management, locating affordable housing, medical advocacy, and linking individuals to other resources and services.
In Franklin County, 11.3% of the population is age 65 and older. Age alone comes with unique challenges, and for the senior population also living in poverty, with disability, or without a reliable support network, the new year can appear bleak. No one aspires to live in poverty—but it is a stark reality for many seniors, no matter how hard they have worked throughout their lives.
Some seniors live in poverty as a result of systemic generational poverty—a cycle they have tried to break all their lives by “pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.” But it takes twenty years of everything going perfectly to break the cycle of generational poverty—and how often do things go perfectly for one, let alone twenty, years?
Other seniors have worked their entire lives, contributed to retirement funds and planned for their futures, and, for one or more of a variety of unforeseen reasons—death of a spouse, chronic illness, or an accident—find themselves living in poverty. These events can be debilitating in many ways: financial, emotional, mental, and physical. There’s no quick fix—sometimes there isn’t even a long-term solution. This is where Catholic Social Services can help.
CSS IMPACT STORY: Supportive Services Program
A year ago, an 80-year-old woman was hit by a car that fled the scene. This accident left her with lifelong ailments: memory loss, loss of mobility, and chronic pain. This accident made it significantly harder for her to live her life independently. With added disabilities and isolation, she needed help. Catholic Social Services was there to support her. We assisted with her monthly bill pay, arranged her transportation to medical appointments, and advocated for her with CMHA and Medicaid. We were happy to help in any way that we could, including organizing and reading her mail. Through the Supportive Services Program, we were able to provide the services to meet her needs. And because of this program, she has been able to meet her goal: to live safely, independently, and happily in the comfort of her own home.
This woman is just one of many seniors CSS has supported through this service. In 2017, CSS served over 5,000 seniors—including 350 through the Supportive Services Program in particular—with 95% of its clients meeting their goals. This is 87% more than the number of people who will keep their New Year’s resolutions this year.
Though a fresh start may not really be possible for our aging population, this January, Catholic Social Services continues its goal to give seniors fresh hope. For CSS, this is not a New Year’s resolution soon to be thrown away for a bag of chocolate—this is our goal every day. The idea of getting a clean slate each year might be a figment of our imaginations, but at Catholic Social Services, we believe that hope and dignity should be accessible to all people, all year long.