by Toni Ameslav, MSW
If you have spent much time at our senior center, you’ve probably noticed an office next to Hatten Hall labeled “Social Worker.” This is the home of our two social workers, Mo and Toni. The senior center is very fortunate to have not one but two social workers! Together we provide social services full-time every week.
Our door is open to anyone who comes to the senior center for activities or classes, and you don’t have to be a member of the senior center to utilize our services. All of our services are confidential and free. If you wish to include family members, friends, or caregivers in your social work visit, we are happy to include them. Besides meeting in the office, we make home visits in West Seattle and the White Center area for those who are unable to come to the senior center. As social workers we stay up-to-date on social programs and services in the Seattle area and make appropriate referrals to community resources.
We frequently receive requests for assistance finding housing from people whose buildings are being renovated or who are facing a rent increase. We also assist with applications for subsidized housing. For those who want to remain in their homes (called “aging in place”) but are starting to need assistance with non-medical personal care, light housework, meal preparation, or shopping, we explain how home care may be beneficial and make referrals to local home care agencies. If the time arrives when a transition from independent living to a higher level of care is needed, we can help initiate a discussion (often with family members present) about how to find a facility that meets current and future needs.
Answering questions about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and assisting with applications is a big part of what we do. We answer basic questions like, “What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?” For people needing help choosing a Medicare plan, we also make referrals to specialists both in our senior center and in Sound Generations. We can help you determine what Medicare cost savings you may qualify for, and we assist with completing applications for these programs.
For those who need food assistance, we can help apply for the federal SNAP program (food stamps), as well refer to the West Seattle food bank.
Transportation options are becoming more and more important to our senior center participants. Our travel ambassadors at the senior center can help you navigate various forms of transportation in the Seattle area and our social workers are willing to assist also.
In addition to assisting with practical issues, we can provide emotional support if isolation, loneliness, or worries about your health are concerns for you. We can also assist you in finding a counselor for ongoing emotional support.
Besides the services we provide in our office and in homes, we also lead a variety of support groups that meet regularly at the senior center, including “Aging Well,” and diabetes, caregiver, and low vision support. If you are interested in joining any of these groups, please speak with Mo or Toni.
Even if you don’t have a need for social work assistance right now, please stop by our office during the week to meet us. We’re happy to get acquainted!