Making a difference between life and death: How volunteers help “invisible elders” get information and services they need

Read and learn the startling statistics that show, as our population ages, how more and more people will need help‚ just to survive from day to day, and how you can help …

Theb Manivanh, Senior Services Manager of Mid County District Center being welcomed to the podium by David Panichello, GABA president and CEO of OptiCon.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
About fifteen percent of people living in Multnomah County are senior citizens. “The, this population will double ‚Äì reaching nearly 30% — within the next decade,” are the startling statistics Theb Manivanh, Senior Services Manager Mid County District Center presented to people at the Gateway Business Association has he began his talk.

“These people will require a marked increase in services to help them survive,” Manivanh continued. He told how this centered, headquarted at Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) on NE Glisan St., serves a growing number of clients.

“Our goal is to assist seniors to live life as independently as possible, while meeting their diverse needs,” he went on. “We work with the frail, abused, neglected or and those who 0need protection.”

Manivanh shared heart-breaking stories of older persons who were regularly forced to choose among buying medications food or paying their subsidized rent.

Hands-on and informational help
The first step, he said, is for the center to provide case management services, assessing the client’s mental and physical health and housing needs. “We also have in-home services, funded through OPI. After the assessment, we contract with organizations that may clean their home or do grocery shopping.”

Another of the valued services is providing accurate information. “We help people understand the changes in Medicare; clearing up their confusion. It is difficult to understand the policies and procedures that will help them get what they need.”

Thousands of participants
Last year alone, the center took 1,200 calls, Manivanh continued, met with 1,000 seniors. They logged 6,398 participants in various activities, such as the East Portland Community Center for senior exercise and nutrition programs. They provide transportation services, and have already scheduled 2,000 rides doctor appointments and other services this year.

Finds budget lacking
“All the demand takes far more resources than we can provide,” Manivanh told the group. “With the budget year, Multnomah County will cut $2 million. It will affect the programs we implement to seniors. For many services, because of the budget crisis, we have to put people on a waiting list. We aren’t able to visit a lot of seniors who need help.”

You can help
Manivanh asked that people take a few hours a week and get involved with seniors. “Come down and help out as a volunteer. We also partner with Loaves and Fishes to help seniors get good food delivered to their homes.”

Contact the Mid County District Center for Senior Services at (503) 988-5480, extension 26278; or at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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