At Least 60 and Can't Clean Your House? Call the Department on Aging!

Often we oldies are hard put to think of an upside to being in our dotage. The body is falling apart like an old car, just like with MS, only later. Hair thins, cataracts dim our vision, and arthritis blankets our joints in scraping bursts of pain. We forget the names of family members but remember who won the World Series. Bladder and bowel betray us, and sexually speaking, ahem—the spirit is willing but the flesh can be downright unreliable. What then is so great about being a Golden Girl?

The Department on Aging, that’s what!

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. Maybe you have heard of it and forgot, along with your niece’s name and your father’s middle initial. But no worries, it’s a state agency and in the phone book under Government in the yellow pages, not to mention on the web. Search for Department on Aging and your state; you’ll find a link for the phone number and address for your county. Find it? Awesome. You must be at least 60 years old to qualify for these services. Here are some of the many services it can provide.

  1. Free tax preparation
  2. Housecleaning services
  3. Free legal referrals
  4. Free last will and testament, living will, and durable power of attorney preparation
  5. Home health aide
  6. Guidance and information for those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid

I was only vaguely aware of them

I was only vaguely aware of them, having learned that my sister hired them to deal with our father’s housecleaning, laundry, and home health aide needs before he died in 2008. But in 2018, a neighbor mentioned them to me when I complained of difficulty cleaning my shower and tub. Call them, she urged. But I’m not that old, I countered. I called.

I’d turned 60 in 2017 and didn’t even know I had aged into its services. I put my name on the waiting list in 2018 and two months later, got a call that a new girl was being trained and could show up on Valentine’s Day, 2019. I accepted.

We quickly bonded

It went well; she was receptive to what I wanted, what I found difficult to do myself. She, Cassie, a sweet, cute, tattooed twenty-something wearing a buzz cut and flower power earrings, worked quickly and quietly. She worked previously at a rest home for aged Dominican nuns within a nearby Dominican university campus where I attended classes years ago. She shared stories of some who had Alzheimer’s and were somewhat violent towards her, while others were sweet and inert. She had to leave the job when her second pregnancy kept her from putting in the hours they required, and that made her sad, she really loved the job. We shared a common love for the Dominicans and the elderly and quickly bonded.

Donations vs. tipping

A week later, a staffer came by to assess my needs and share information about services provided by the Dept. on Aging. The service is free, but I asked her about making donations. I learned that in the state of Michigan, the agency is well-funded, so the service will always be there for us without charge, whether or not we donate. We are sent a monthly statement with an envelope for a voluntary donation, and if we do send money, it will go directly into the fund. I wanted my donation to go for Cassie’s pay, so I decided to tip her when she’s here and forego making a donation. If the agency is well-funded then they don’t need my money. I know they don’t pay these workers very much, so I feel the money is better spent paying these women who give so much of themselves to help us.

Call for a list of services in your area

Call your local Department on Aging for a list of services in your area. A phone call can get the ball rolling if you want to immediately sign up for housecleaning and home health care. You might be put on a waiting list like I was if they are short-staffed.

And by the way, they don’t do windows.

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