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Programs keep seniors in their homes longer

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - BRINGING EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE - Claudia Coke, Senior GAP program director, travels around Washington County to visit seniors and get them signed up for Impact NW programs.Helping seniors stay in their homes is the mission of the Impact NW Senior Guardianship Assistance Program, which offers a variety of services depending on the needs of each individual person.

"We offer soup to nuts as far as services," said Claudia Coke, Senior GAP program director. "We have three staff and eight volunteers."

The program offers money management, where Senior GAP professionals help clients manage such tasks as paying household bills, balancing checkbooks, organizing payment schedules and managing general financial accounts.

In its guardian and conservatorship programs, trained Senior GAP guardians and conservators help clients make decisions about health care, food, shelter, finances and other needs of daily living.

Senior GAP is designed for people who are residents of Washington or Multnomah counties; are age 60 or older; have no family or qualified person willing and able to serve as guardian/conservator; are incapacitated as documented by professional medical assessments; are at risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation or loss of life or health; or need an agent to act with power of attorney or as a personal representative.

A senior may call to apply for Senior GAP, or concerned family members, friends or professionals may make referrals; fees vary by services rendered and ability to pay.

"My focus is on seniors," Coke said. "We have seen an increase in people designating someone as their power of attorney and getting advanced directives, which are important when it comes to end-of-life care. Attorneys who specialize in seniors can provide a checklist, but we all dovetail together."

While the Washington County Impact Northwest/Senior GAP program is based in Forest Grove, "we come to the clients," Coke said. "We go where they are.

"Another issue we are dealing with is that there is no shortage of scams - there is a huge need for people to be educated. If anyone has any doubt about a senior being scammed, they should call adult protective services."

Another Impact NW program is SilverBridge, which provides a fully managed plan of care with ongoing comprehensive assessments to relieve family members and friends of caretaking and household management functions, freeing them up to just be companions.

Under care coordination, SilverBridge offers overall care planning, supervision of home maintenance and arranging appointments; and under companionship, it can accompany seniors or provide transportation for trips and outings, offer conversation and listening, and participate in routine activities.

Through its nutrition program, SilverBridge can plan, cook and serve meals; monitor diet, eating habits and food quality; and prepare grocery lists.

"It also includes walking the dog, doing laundry and light housekeeping and picking up prescriptions," Coke said.

"If people get help with those issues, they can stay in their homes and remain independent. We let them do as much as they are capable of.

"We have a client with Parkinson's who wants to participate in her bill paying but can't write checks."

For more information visit ImpactNW.org or contact Coke at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-357-7520.