Albany County has contracted a Delmar research firm to record the work of senior resource caseworkers who assist area seniors in enrolling in federal medical plans.
Golden Lane Associates in turn has made available $1,250 to senior resources departments in Colonie and Bethlehem to assure the records of seniors seeking help are made available.
Colonie and Bethlehem have both extended the free counseling to seniors in their towns for years. By keeping records of the work, Golden Lane and the county Department for the Aging are hoping the records can be used to secure future state and federal funding.
By funding municipal counseling services, like those provided by Colonie's Senior Resource Department, the county and state can better grasp what is going on with its senior population, said Christine Cary, department case worker.
In order to get the picture of what's happening in the county, you have to have the numbers. This year we have counseled 200 individuals on Medicare and drug programs, said Cary.
For years, Colonie has been walking seniors and caregivers through the complicated process of getting proper and adequate health care and drug coverage under Medicare and its new prescription drug plan. Despite counseling hundreds every year and sponsoring informational sessions at area nursing homes and senior centers, many still have a tough time cutting through the confusion and red tape.
"There is still a lot of it out there. People still don't understand the often-complicated layers of prescription plans. Even caregivers who are experienced in helping their parents find it difficult to manage (prescription) plans," said Cary.
Although it's not a large sum, the grant money will help to continue getting the word out through counseling.
Golden Lane Associates chose Colonie and Bethlehem's senior resource departments because they have extended such services to senior for years, said Rose Golden, association president.