“Aging in Place in the Litchfield Hills”
As Americans live longer and healthier lives and want to continue living in their own homes as long as possible, the Litchfield Hills Chore Service is more important than ever. This unique program, supported in part through a grant from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, provides housekeeping, light chores, and transportation to grocery shopping and medical appointments when needed, to seniors 60 and over, Chore Workers are there to allow the residents to Age in Place. With this extra support, seniors in our 6 towns of Litchfield, Goshen, Morris, Roxbury, Warren and Washington, are able to remain in their homes and in the community that they know and love much longer than normally would be possible.
“Our program is designed to aid seniors who have a limited income and would not be able to pay for these services at market rates,” says Sally Irwin, the Coordinator for the Litchfield Hills Core Service (LHCS). “They are only asked to pay what they can afford based on their income. It is considered a donation.” Those with more resources are asked to pay for their services as appropriate. The First Selectmen from these towns comprise our Board of Directors along with other interested residents. They are instrumental not only in providing town monetary support based on the number of clients served from their towns, but also in assisting with their expertise and experience that increase our ability to serve our clients in innovative and supportive ways. Each senior is provided with the services they want that will help them maintain their homes and have someone to call when there is a crisis. Not everyone has family that lives nearby or is home during the day to run that errand or take them to an appointment. Family, even when nearby, often is at work and not able to do everything the senior needs. The Chore Services fills that gap.
Our Chore Workers are either from the client’s town or nearby, and are carefully screened with background checks. By responding as quickly as possible to a resident’s needs, a Chore Worker is able to visit, do a quick check of the situation, and recommend what services need to be considered. The seniors are so grateful for the extra help; whether assisting with getting the home organized for easier living by arranging furniture and shelves to be more accessible and safe, or cleaning the refrigerator and bathrooms and mopping the floor, or being available to take the senior to a doctor’s appointment or medical procedure, clients know they can count on their Chore Worker. The senior feel more secure and is no longer stressed about how they will manage! Whether it is assisting with a resident who has just returned from the hospital, running errands for groceries, preparing meals as needed, or a little gardening, the Chore Workers are there to make sure that their client is more comfortable, safe and happy. There is no qualifying paperwork; all that is necessary for a senior to receive service is a call to the Chore Service’s at 860-567-6121. A senior has to be age 60 or older. Name, address and phone number, date of birth, and estimated monthly income is the only information requested.
Sally further explains, “With limited staff and limited resources, LHCS keeps the bureaucracy to a minimum, we make our money go a long way. We are most grateful for the support of the Connecticut Community Foundation, the Marion Isabell Coe Fund, the Diebold Foundation and other grants that we apply for. Without this support we could not survive. Sally concludes, “We also rely on the generosity of our friends and neighbors through our Annual Fund Drive in December and the “Give Local” Campaign in the spring, along with donations from our clients for their services. To donate to the Litchfield Hills Chore Service send your contribution to P.O. Box 294, Litchfield, CT 06759. Your donation is tax deductible as we are a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.
The towns in the Northwest corner are aging and recent demographics show that 50 is the average age in most of these small communities. Because the towns are rural, programs that work well in a city are not always practical in the country. Transportation has become a serious issue and towns often use a bus or van service to transport seniors to shopping and medical appointments. However, buses are not always easy for a fragile senior to manage and the Litchfield Hills Chore Service saw this as a pressing need and added transportation to their list of services. This is particularly useful for seniors that have serious medical issues and need to see an out to town specialist or go to one of the Veterans health centers. Even though the Chore Service provides transportation, it is not a taxi service and anyone requesting this help must be a Chore Service client.
The Litchfield Hills Chore Service helps well over 100 seniors in the 6 town region every year. They do this by keeping costs and overhead to a minimum, and watching every penny. Our largest expense is paying our Chore Workers so they are available to serve our seniors. For more information check the Litchfield Chore Service web site at www.choreservicelh.org or call 860-567-6121. We are always seeking Chore Workers and new Board Members, so if you are interested the Chore Service would love to hear from you.