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Elderly guidance organization relocates to Sequim

Senior Information and Assistance is like the Olympic Peninsula version of Dex for older persons.

Need the Web site address for Social Security, an application for Medicaid or help figuring out Medicare Part D? Senior Information and Assistance knows how to help and if they don’t, they’ll figure out a way to find out.

Sequim residents 60 and older can pick up the telephone and dial 452-3221 for answers, advice and more. Better yet, seniors, caregivers and family members can stop by the Senior Information and Assistance office now located in Sequim.

Managed by the Olympic Area Agency on Aging and funded through the Older Americans Act, Senior Information and Assistance is free to all persons over 60 regardless of income, sex, disability, race or religion. The office is located at 411 W. Washington St., where the Sequim Physicians Clinic used to be. The organization was forced to relocate from its Eighth Street location in Port Angeles upon the sale of its building.

After much consideration, staff members decided Sequim would be the best place to move. A grand opening celebration, open to the pubic, is scheduled for 1:30-4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22.

Senior Information and Assistance operates in Clallam, Jefferson, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties. Nearby offices are located in Forks and Port Townsend.

“We started thinking about the demographics and if you look at the county west to east, the increase in age is steady,” explained Mark Harvey, regional director. “The building, with all its exam rooms, has lots of office space and infrastructure-wise it required very little reconstruction.”

Staff members starting packing and moving boxes June 25. By June 30, they “cracked the door” in Sequim, Harvey said. Now, he is eager to get the word out about Senior Information and Assistance.

“I and A, that’s what I call it,” Harvey said, “has a job that is to know everything there is to know about every agency, organization and service that applies to people 60 and older, their caregivers and family members. A lot of times it’s just sitting down with people and listening to their story,” he said. “If people knew what they wanted, they would do it for themselves. But they don’t. So we listen to their story and say, ‘Here are some things that might help.’”

Senior Information and Assistance doesn’t make decisions for people or sell anything. “We are translators,” Harvey clarified, “who help families and individuals figure out what the issue is and what can be done about it.”

Professional agencies — doctor’s offices, pharmacies and nursing homes — sometimes speak a foreign language, Harvey joked. “Home care, home health, Medicare, Medicaid … it’s all a bunch of jargon that we help decipher.”

Income is not a factor where Senior Information and Assistance is concerned. “Just because somebody isn’t poverty stricken doesn’t mean they don’t need help and just because they have a little bit of money doesn’t mean they know how to or where to spend it,” Harvey said firmly.

The same goes for age. “If somebody who is 56 calls with a question, we aren’t going to hang up on them because they aren’t 60,” Harvey said. “We don’t even routinely ask people their age. If we know the answer to a question, we are going to tell you.”

All services are free, including legal assistance. Thirty-minute appointments with an attorney are available on-site by appointment for seniors or on behalf of a person 60 or older.

Senior Information and Assistance is a much-needed service, according to Harvey, who’s been working with the organization for 21 years. “One out of three people living on the peninsula are 60 or older and that number is growing quickly,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s a problem. It’s an incredible resource. There are all these people who have worked all their lives and are retired now, living here, and I think we need to give them the assistance they need while exploiting their talent and experience.”

“Aging,” Harvey continued, “is not about death and illness — it’s about life. CEOs, engineers, doctors, scientists, writers, artists … These are people who are retired from their jobs, not from society,” he said. “Folks are living longer, so if we can give them the information and resources to help them do better on the front and avoid crisis, we all benefit.”

Harvey encourages people to call or stop by the office with questions. “There’s no such thing as a ‘wrong’ question,” he assured. “It’s very rare there are no rabbits in the hat, so to speak. There’s almost always something (we can do) that will help.”

Senior Information and Assistance is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. A Senior Resource Directory for Clallam and Jefferson counties is available in the lobby.



What can Senior Information and Assistance do for you?

• Direct you to the right service and help you ask appropriate questions.

• Assist you in planning and making decisions.

• Help you properly complete paperwork.

• Arrange care for a family member.

• Advocate on your or a family member’s behalf.

• Help you remain independent.

• Help you stay in your own home.

For more information, go online to www.o3a.org.

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