By Sylvia Harkins 

About 50 years ago, the federal government established Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to support adults ages 60 and over to live independently and with dignity in their homes and communities. In Maine, five Agencies on Aging serve different parts of the state. One of their major services is sharing information and resources that help older Mainers live healthier and more active lives. Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Resource Specialists offered three examples of how they were able to help clients. 

Food assistance after job loss 

A client who lost one of her jobs was struggling financially and, due to high grocery prices, could barely afford to buy food. A Resource Specialist completed a benefits checklist and found that the client was eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) as well as other programs. On behalf of the client, the Resource Specialist completed and mailed a benefits application. 

Pay for rent, a move, or car repair? 

A Resource Specialist had been working with a client seeking housing. He and two roommates lived in a building that was sold, and the new landlord did not notify them about a significant rent increase. The client was trying to save money for car repairs and to prepare for a move. The Resource Specialist assisted with housing applications and connected him with Legal Services for the Elderly for legal guidance about his rights as a tenant. The Resource Specialist also connected the client with Bridges of Hope, an organization that assisted with the cost of the client’s car repairs, allowing him to save money for the pending move. 

Immigration status doesn’t always impact benefits eligibility 

A client who received a green card through marriage recently was widowed. Her American husband had adult children from a previous marriage. The client was worried she might lose her green card after her husband’s death and did not know how to protect her assets from his adult children. The Resource Specialist connected her with other organizations like Legal Services for the Elderly and the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, which helped her complete paperwork to extend her green card. She was also able to work with a pro bono attorney when the adult children took legal steps to exclude the client from any decision-making regarding her husband. The client was not aware of her rights and due to cultural differences, she did not dare speak up or ask questions. After working with the attorney, the client was awarded her fair share of her deceased husband’s individual retirement account (IRA). A Resource Specialist assisted her with applications for Social Security as a widow and subsidized housing.  

Life presents different challenges to each one of us. A Resource Specialist from the local Agency on Aging will listen to your story and do their very best to find solutions or answers to your unique circumstances. To be connected to a local Agency on Aging, call (877) 353-3771 and follow the instructions to select your county. An interpreter will be provided at no cost to you.