Seniors Share their Personal Stories to Advocate for Change
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress continues to debate whether to cut critical programs like Medicaid, leading aging services organizations in 14 states are capturing video stories of vulnerable older adults who are struggling just to make ends meet in today's economy.
The videos are part of One Away, an innovative advocacy campaign supported by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) that uses video to allow disadvantaged seniors to tell their stories of struggle in their own words. There are currently 10 One Away videos available at www.OneAway.org, spotlighting older adults across the country who have had to stop taking their medicine, eat less, and even live in their car due to financial setbacks. Click on the "Watch Videos" tab to see them all.
Darlene, 75, of Hodgkins, IL, is just one example. She spends every day caring for her husband of 59 years, Bill. The couple's savings were depleted when Bill's health began to decline in 1993, so Darlene decided to stop taking her medications so she could afford his. "We ended up having to file bankruptcy. That was the worst time of our lives," said Darlene. "I never want to see anybody have to go through some of the things that we have gone through."
Other videos highlight programs that help vulnerable older adults get back on their feet financially—such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). One video features Michelle, 62, who lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She had received an eviction notice and had her utilities turned off. "No one wants to hire a 64-year-old; they just don't," she said. But Michelle found a job through the local SCSEP office. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, SCSEP trains and places adults aged 55+ in community service jobs. "The biggest thing … it has done for me is make me feel that I'm worthwhile," Michelle said.
More than 13 million older adults live in or on the edge of poverty, on less than $22,000 each year. These seniors have to decide every day whether to pay for food, medicine, or a place to live. They live one bad break, one accident, or one layoff away from economic disaster.
"One Away has already received thousands of stories of struggle from seniors nationwide," said Jim Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. "This campaign is about elevating their voices, so Congress can catch up to the realities of their constituents and develop concrete solutions to make life better for our seniors."
Funding for the One Away campaign was provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies.
One Away Local Advocacy Partners
- California: Family Service Agency of San Francisco, www.fsasf.org
- Colorado: Seniors' Resource Center, Denver, www.srcaging.org
- Illinois: Age Options, Oak Park, www.ageoptions.org
- Iowa: The Heritage Agency, Cedar Rapids, www.involvementonline.org
- Kentucky: Green River Area Development District, http://www.gradd.org/
- Maryland: Maintaining Active Citizens, Salisbury, www.macinc.org
- Minnesota: Minnesota Women's Consortium, St. Paul, www.mnwomen.org
- New York: Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC, www.cscs-ny.org
- North Carolina: Senior Resources of Guilford, www.senior-resources-guilford.org/whoweare.cfm
- Pennsylvania: The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Philadelphia, www.carie.org
- Texas: Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department, Senior Community Services Division, http://www.cctexas.com/?fuseaction=main.view&page=265
- Vermont: Vermont Associates, http://www.vermontassociates.org/
- Washington: Senior Services, Seattle, www.seniorservices.org
- Wisconsin: Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Madison, www.cwag.org
NCOA's Approach to Economic Security
In addition to One Away, NCOA offers several important programs that provide hope and assistance to seniors in need. Some of NCOA's programs include:
- NCOA's Economic Security Service Centers, a pilot program to provide low-income older adults with one-on-one, holistic counseling that has helped more than 700 seniors develop personalized "economic action plans."
- BenefitsCheckUp.org, a free online screening tool that searches over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private programs to help seniors pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care, and other needs.
- Benefits Enrollment Centers provide person-centered assistance to vulnerable seniors and younger adults with disabilities to find and enroll in all the benefits programs for which they are eligible.
- The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which trains low-income workers aged 55+ and places them in community service job in 11 states, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- The Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) program, which provides an opportunity for retired and unemployed older Americans aged 55+ to share their expertise in jobs for the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Home Equity and Reverse Mortgage Counseling, which helps millions of seniors make prudent use of their home equity so they can "use their home to stay at home."
About One Away
One Away is an innovative, national video advocacy campaign that gives voice to vulnerable older adults who are struggling to make ends meet in today's economy. The campaign captures real stories of seniors on video—and calls for legislative and policy changes to make it easier for them to get the services and supports they need to live with independence and dignity. NCOA is working with Local Advocacy Partners around the country to build support for this campaign.
www.OneAway.org | www.facebook.com/OneAwayCampaign
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. NCOA's mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities.
www.NCOA.org |www.facebook.com/NCOAging | www.twitter.com/NCOAging
SOURCE National Council on Aging