Northern Michigan Living: Senior citizens and their families are often surprised at the extensive resources for seniors available free or at low cost, thanks to tax support. The following Up North agencies offer services to seniors of all income levels and situations.
Area Agency on Aging in Northern Michigan (AAANM)
Although much of its work is behind the scenes, AAANM provides a key public service as an information clearinghouse.
AAANM information specialists are a good place to start for an overview of programs and services available to older adults and their caregivers. Benefits counselors are also available by appointment to answer questions and troubleshoot problems with Medicare, Medicaid or prescription drug policies and claims. This information and counseling is the best deal around—free, unbiased and available to all.
The agency also provides some direct services to specific populations, such as job searches for low-income seniors and care management for the “frail elderly” who need multiple services to stay in their homes. Most direct services, however, are provided through local Councils/Commissions on Aging and private-pay agencies.
This regional organization, with local headquarters in Traverse City, has overseen and distributed government funds to service providers throughout 10 counties in Northwest Lower Michigan since 1974.
AAANM Information Specialists are available in person at 1609 Park Drive, Traverse City, by phone 800.442.1713 or 231.947.8920, or by e-mail under the “Contact Us” feature at aaanm.org.
Council on Aging or Commission on Aging
Each county in Northwest Lower Michigan has either a council or a commission that provides services directly to seniors. Subsidized by local millage funds and/or state and federal dollars, these agencies help eligible seniors with yard work, house cleaning, personal care, transportation, and much more. Some services may have waiting lists or limitations on the number of hours provided. Payment is usually required, typically on a sliding scale. Services and terms vary widely from county to county—important to remember for seniors who plan to relocate.
Many communities have senior centers that provide recreational and social activities, including some that are run by county aging commissions or councils. In Traverse City, the Senior Center is the hot spot for everything from pickle ball to computer classes. The center brings in other services such as foot care and legal assistance, in addition to being a senior nutrition site for the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency.
To connect with your local Commission or Council on Aging, Area Agency on Aging, or the senior services available in your area, contact the AAANM 800.442.1713, aaanm.org, or the nationwide ElderCare Locator service 800.677.1116, eldercare.gov.
The Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association serves Northern Lower Michigan with two regional offices in Traverse City and Alpena. The association offers many programs and services that benefit caregivers as well as people living with Alzheimer’s disease. A support group for caregivers can be found in each Northern Michigan county as well as care consultation, care management services, education and training, and lending libraries with books, videos and DVD’s. A helpline is available 24 hours a day at 800.272.3900 or call the offices in Traverse City office at 231.929.3804 or Alpena at 989.356.4087. alz-org-northern-mi.blogspot.com; andalz.org/gmc/.
TC’s Senior Center Expands Locations
The Traverse City Senior Center is now offering activities and a place to mingle in Kingsley and Interlochen, and soon may reach residents in Fife Lake. Grand Traverse County voters in 2011 approved a millage to bring programming to these areas, and senior center staff has been working with residents there to develop activities and events. In Interlochen, the community room connected to the public library hosts activities five days a week. In Kingsley, the fire hall-turned–youth center known as The Rock is open to seniors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to noon Fridays. Plans call for expanding to Fife Lake and the east side of Traverse City later this year, says Lori Wells, Senior Center Network Director. 231.922.4911 or tcseniorcenter.com.