We are so fortunate in Reno and Washoe County that we can visualize a needed service for seniors and then partner with others to make it happen.
For the past several years, the Reno Senior Citizen Advisory Committee has been funded by the Reno City Council to create, support and promote needed services for seniors. Last year, we partnered with two Reno nonprofits---the Center for Healthy Aging and the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation---to support two Americorps-VISTA volunteers to create a program to provide health resource information to seniors and caregivers. This year, we also got new funding from Washoe County Commissioners Marsha Berkbigler and Bob Lucey and the Reno City Council to support the same two nonprofit partners, and add a third VISTA volunteer to create a new healthy walking program for folks 50-plus. This unique partnership and joint funding will support three full-time college-educated workers for the next 12 months who will focus on two programs to keep our local senior population healthy.
In 2016, the two VISTA volunteers started the Senior Health Advocate Volunteer (SHAV) program by creating a simple, one-page resource brochure listing free or low-cost resources of elder services in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. Caregiving, food and nutrition, health care, social services, housing and senior care homes, legal services, recreation and transportation services are listed. Washoe County printed several thousand brochures for us, and when they ran out, Reno Councilman Paul McKenzie got the help of the local Building & Construction Trades union to print another 50,000. These brochures are available at all senior centers and local government offices, senior living spots, and local businesses that support seniors and who have many senior customers. You can also download one at www.addinglifetoyears.com or call 775- 237-8375 to obtain one.
The SHAV program is free to seniors and caregivers. It is currently recruiting more volunteers who receive training to help elders complete an assessment of overall health, needs, and available resources. Working with the advocates, elders can narrow down and choose the services they need such as:
- Assistance in applying for or understanding Medicare and Medicaid;
- Assistance with choosing a living environment such as a nursing home or assisted living;
- Assistance with monitoring services received at home;