Who You Gonna Call? When Aging Parent Needs Help, Local Senior Centers Provide Answers

It is the moment that every child of an aging parent dreads.

You receive a phone call – your mom or dad has fallen, or has forgotten to pay the utility bills or has left something on the stove and started a fire.

You realize that the day has come when your parent or parents can no longer live alone.

You need help. Who are you going to call first?

Lexington Family asked that question of Marie Smart, the Family Care Specialist at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

“Your first call should be to your county’s Senior Citizen Center,” Smart said. “Every county in the country has one. They have a mandate to provide information and referrals for every senior citizen.”

Shannon Gordon, a Social Worker with the Lexington Senior Center (Info: 278-6072) located at the corner of Nicholasville Road and Alumni Drive, regularly fields calls from the panicked children of aging seniors.

Her job is to sort out the family’s needs and steer family members to agencies that can provide help.

A senior’s financial situation plays a big role in determining what Gordon recommends.

“It’s the first thing we talk about. If you have money, you have options,” she said.

For seniors who can afford in-home help or long-term care, Gordon recommends agencies and facilities that fit their needs.

For those with fewer financial resources, she can match them with agencies and programs that cover costs beyond Medicare and provide assistance in applying for those programs.

Gordon often receives calls from people living outside the area who have parents who live in Lexington.

The staff can be a valuable resource for families trying to deal long distance with aging parents.

The Senior Center also provides seniors with classes in exercise, aerobics, yoga and tai chi, plus social events such as bingo, line dancing, card playing groups and art and history classes.

The UK  Elder Care Program (Info:  323-4600) can offer UK employees referrals for services, equipment or facilities even if the elderly parent lives out of state.

The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (Info: 323-6040) offers clinical care for families focused on Alzheimer’s and related dementias.