Are you having trouble loading this page? Click here to view a text-only version.

When balancing our checkbooks and sorting out our bills, remembering all the details can become a bit of a struggle. Luckily, for folks over age 60 and people with disabilities who have trouble paying their bills on time or managing a budget, there is a program out there that can help.

Sept 2018 Money Management PP photoMoney Management Program Director Ceil Moran (left) looks over a document with Volunteer Money Manager Audrey Stockwell. Contact LifePath if you're interested in becoming a volunteer.Money Management is a program that matches someone in the community – an elder who meets the requirements of our program – with a volunteer who’s been trained to go in and help elders remain, a lot of times, in their homes,” says Ceil Moran, Money Management Program director at LifePath. “Someone could be losing their sight; someone could be just having some memory problems or confusion or just needs help organizing bills, sorting through mail that comes in, and writing checks. And so we assign trained volunteers.”

Money Management offers two different types of services: Bill Payer Services and Representative Payee Services.

Bill Payer Services provide valuable one-on-one money management services to low-income and asset elders who need assistance with their financial affairs. These services include organizing clients’ bills, writing checks for payment, balancing checkbooks, reviewing bank statements, and developing a budget.

For those who need more assistance, Representative Payee Services are offered on a limited basis to elders who are unable to handle their own funds.

Eligibility guidelines apply, and capacity is limited; in addition to income-eligible free services, private-pay clients are also accepted. Please call for more details. Even if you think you may not meet the qualifications, give us a call; our Information & Caregiver Resource Center can always recommend other options.

You may call to request services for yourself or on behalf of another by calling 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259, or emailing us.

Volunteers and donations are always needed! Contact us for more information, or mail donations made out to “LifePath” with “Money Management” on the memo line to: LifePath, Inc., 101 Munson Street, Suite 201, Greenfield, MA 01301.

You may also donate online.

Meet Money Manager Ted Penick

It all started nearly 20 years ago with the radio. Ted Penick was listening to WHAI and heard an interview about the Money Management Program at LifePath. “Somebody was on and mentioned this program which I’d never heard of. It sounded interesting – they even gave a phone number to call. That’s how I got connected.”

Sept 2018 A Volunteers Story Money Management Ted Penick photo 1Ted Penick has been a volunteer money manager with LifePath for almost 20 years.Ted was in the process of preparing for his retirement. “I was in the insurance business for 45 years,” says Ted.

Born in New York, raised in New Jersey, Ted went off to college, and his parents moved to Andover, Mass. After graduation, he moved to Massachusetts and started working in Boston.

At first his work took him all around the country, but soon he wanted to settle down. “My wife and I decided we’d like to be able to put down some roots while the kids were growing up.” Ted found a job in Greenfield, and the family moved into a new home in Northfield in 1972. “I don’t know if we’re still newcomers to Northfield,” Ted laughs, “but we’ve been there 46 years I think it is.”

Ted eventually bought the business he’d been working for. When it came time to retire in 2000, he sold the business and began to prepare for this life transition.

“My wife was getting a little nervous about having me under foot all the time,” says Ted. He spent time thinking about what he might to do get out of the house after leaving the workforce. “When I heard about this, there were other things I was considering, too, but this sounded probably more interesting.”

Ted’s experience, “having worked with numbers for many many years,” he says, meant he did not need a lot of training. “The job is to help the client get his bills paid and use his money wisely, and it’s almost always the case that they’re low-income people.”

Sometimes he’s helped clients learn to keep to a budget. “You cannot spend more than there is money available, and some of the clients are used to spending more than they’ve got,” says Ted. “Part of the job is to help them see the light.”

Ted has also helped people to get out of debt and change the habits that keep them there. “One especially I tell myself he’s a success story,” says Ted. “When Frank (all client names have been changed) came to the program, he already had over $600 in bank charges on his account for overdrafts. That was just his habit, and he knew it was a bad habit, but he just couldn’t resist spending money. At the time he signed up with us, he was behind in his rent to the landlord; it was a monthly check, room and board, and he couldn’t pay it until his social security came in the third week of the month. So he was just way behind. The bank would let him have overdrafts, and he could use his debit card when he didn’t have any money in the bank and he could still get $100 out.”

At Ted’s first visit with Frank, he was accompanied by Lorraine York-Edberg, the former director of the Money Management Program. Together, they spoke with Frank, who decided to give up his debit card. “That was a big step in the right direction,” says Ted. “Then we went down to his bank and told them what was going on, and of course they could look at his account and see how bad it was. Again I give Lorraine credit for talking the bank into writing off about half of the bank charges.”

Frank, who has difficulty writing checks, also decided to allow Ted to manage his checkbook. “He’s been on an even keel for a long time,” says Ted. “It’s worked out great for eight years.” With his finances in order, Frank does not have to worry about housing insecurity from being behind in rent or be concerned about affording his groceries or keeping the lights on.

When he’s needed some extra support, Ted has been able to turn to Lorraine and now Ceil Moran, the current Money Management Program director, for assistance. For example, when Ted found out that his client Karen owns a home but doesn’t have a will, Ted reached out for help. “I’ve been recommending that she have a will and she keeps putting it off,” says Ted. “I asked Ceil if she knew of a lawyer who might help out a person who doesn’t have much money but needs a will. She came up with a couple of names.”

Eighteen years on, Ted is happy with his retired life and volunteer service. “I have other things I do, too: I’m treasurer of two small nonprofits, both genealogy-related, they’re family associations that have organized and that’s a lot of fun. I like the numbers.”

The best thing about it, says Ted, is “just knowing that you’re helping somebody and nobody has to pay me. I’m, politically, kind of a small government guy, and some of the expenses that government pays I’m not real happy with, but in this work I feel like it helps somebody, and nobody has to pay me.”

“At a cost of less than one full-time staff person who coordinates, trains, and supports volunteers and works to make sure all involved are safe by auditing reports and bank statements,” says Lynne Feldman, director of Community Services at LifePath, “we help over 45 people each year stay financially secure.”

If you want to learn more about becoming a volunteer money manager, contact Money Management Program Director Ceil Moran This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259. Learn more about the program and find additional volunteer stories and opportunities.

Meet Melanie, CHHA, serving elders and people with disabilities for nearly 40 years

MelanieMelanie has been a certified home health aide (CHHA) for nearly four decades.

“I have been in the home care field for 37 years,” she says. “I was trained in high school as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and home health aide (HHA).”

For the past 19 years, Melanie has worked for Collective Home Care, which is based out of Hatfield, Mass., and has been in operation since November 1, 1999. “I have been with this agency since it opened,” says Melanie.

In addition to working with elders and people with disabilities in their homes, Melanie has been doing the scheduling for Collective Home Care’s aides and clients for the past one and a half years. “I love working with the elderly,” says Melanie. “They have so much knowledge on so many things.”

After all these years, Melanie has worked with many different clients. “I have met some wonderful people over the years. I was with one client for 12 years and I still miss him.”

She is most proud of “helping to keep people in their homes for as long as possible.”

If you’re thinking about joining the growing home care field, there are many openings across our region. “If you are a people person, this is a great job,” says Melanie. “You get to hear lots of interesting things.”

Although LifePath does not employ home healthcare workers, the home care agencies with which the nonprofit service agency contracts are frequently looking to add to their team of professionals. Find links to these agencies here.

Here’s where to look

Do you need modifications to your home to help you age in place? Maybe a ramp or a first floor bathroom would help you stay in your home as your needs change. Or perhaps you are in need of a repair? After all the rain we had in August, maybe you have a leaky roof. It could be that your septic system has suddenly and unexpectedly failed.

For homeowners in need of some help affording these types of home repairs and modifications, the Benefits Counseling Program at LifePath can help you find resources to help repair, modify, and improve your home.

Our volunteer benefits counselors can provide hands-on assistance with the application process for any of the home repair and modification agencies mentioned below. Our goal is your goal: to successfully navigate the application process, thus enabling residents to live safely and independently in their own homes and communities.

What resources help with home repairs and modifications?

504 Home Repair Program

The USDA has a single family housing repair program, the 504 Home Repair program, which provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair or modernize their homes and provides grants to very-low-income elder homeowners to remove health and safety hazards. To qualify, the homeowner must occupy the house and have an income below 50 percent of the area median income. For grants, the homeowner must be age 62 or older and unable to repay a repair loan. The maximum loan is $20,000 and the maximum grant is $7,500. The total lifetime assistance available through the Section 504 program is $27,500, which could consist of a combination loan and grant. To get started in our area, homeowners are asked to call the USDA office in Hadley at (413) 585-1000 ext.4.

Home Modification Loan Program

The Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) is state-funded and loans up to $30,000 to finance modifications to the primary residence of a frail elder or any household member with disabilities. The disabilities need not be physical. Income limits are based on the Boston area, which means that most Western Massachusetts homeowners borrow at 0% interest and are not obligated to repay the loan until the property is sold or the title is transferred. Borrowers must submit a statement from a professional who will describe the kinds of limitations the person is subject to. Examples of projects funded through HMLP include ramps and lifts, hardwired alarm systems, fencing, sensory spaces, and accessible bathrooms and kitchens. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is the “provider agency” for HMLP in Franklin County. More information and an application can be obtained by calling Shirley Stephens at (413) 781-6045. If you live in a North Quabbin town, contact Lovette Chislom at (978) 630-6725.

Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority

Currently, Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is administering housing rehab programs on behalf of 25 towns in Franklin County. The program provides homeowners with interest-free loans in the form of a 0% Deferred Payment Loan (DPL) up to $35,000. Mortgages will be enforced through a recorded mortgage lien on the property and are due and payable at sale or transfer of the property. Work that may be addressed through this program includes: electrical, plumbing, structural repairs, accessibility modifications, septic repair or replacement, heating repair or replacement, roofing, foundation, doors, wells, windows, and more. Income level limits apply. To learn more, contact Jen Morrow at (413) 863-9781 ext. 137. Residents of Greenfield can access similar services through the Greenfield Planning Department by calling (413) 772-1548.

Contact the Benefits Counseling Program at LifePath for assistance. In addition to the above, volunteer benefits counselors help elders with applications for fuel assistance and food stamps (SNAP) and can provide information on utility discounts, tax rebates, and energy efficiency upgrades.

The National Council on Aging annually recognizes the first day of fall, this year September 22, as Fall Prevention Awareness Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one third of people 65 and older fall each year. Notably, less than half of the Medicare beneficiaries who fell in the previous year talked to their healthcare provider about it.

Sept 2018 Falls Prevention photoHealthy Living workshops from LifePath, such as the one shown here, may help you reduce your risk of falls. The Matter of Balance workshop emphasizes practical coping strategies to manage our fall concerns. The next workshop starts in October. Learn more by contacting the Healthy Living Program at LifePath.While conducting home visits, LifePath case managers and nurses routinely question consumers and their caregivers about recent falls. Sometimes the consumer is reluctant to characterize an event as a fall, describing a “near miss” or, “I tripped but landed in the chair, so it wasn’t a fall.” The individual’s self-definition of what constitutes a fall may impact his or her likelihood of reporting events to medical providers and willingness to consider fall prevention measures.

The Fall Prevention Center of Excellence of the University of Southern California advises: “First a person needs to understand what may put them at risk for falling. Some risks can be reduced. Medical providers can help to identify risks and develop a plan. Specific physical activity can reduce fall risk by increasing balance and mobility skills. Also changes to the home and community environment can reduce hazards and help support a person in completing daily activities. While this is not a comprehensive list of fall prevention strategies, it’s a good place to start.”

Common fall risk factors include: fear of falling or having fallen before, gait and balance problems, use of psychoactive medications, poor vision, muscle weakness, postural dizziness, improper use of mobility devices, home hazards, and chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and incontinence.

The National Council on Aging suggests “6 Steps to Prevent a Fall”:

  1. Find a good balance and exercise program. LifePath offers free Healthy Living workshops, including “A Matter of Balance” fall prevention classes. Call us for more information at 413-773-5555 or toll-free 1-800-732-4636 or click here.
  2. Talk to your healthcare provider. Request a fall risk assessment. Share your history of recent falls, slips, trips, or near misses.
  3. Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Take medications only as prescribed and discuss any troublesome side effects.
  4. Get your vision and hearing checked annually.
  5. Keep your home safe. Improving lighting, removing tripping hazards, and installing grab bars and handrails are important safety measures. The AARP website provides a handy “Caregiving Checklist” for fall prevention measures in and around the home.
  6. Talk to your family members. Enlist the help of family in taking the steps mentioned above.