Aging and Disability Resource Centers offer various levels of assistance

Are you looking for resources that will allow you to maintain your independence as you age? Look no further than your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Servicing locations all over Alaska, ADRCs are the link between the individual and various services catering to seniors, caregivers and people with disabilities.

"We listen to what individuals are asking for and explain and offer a variety of services such as Medicare, senior benefit programs, personal care services and more within the local community," says Martin Morris, ADRC Program Manager for the state.

If needed, individuals can seek additional assistance known as "options counseling," a specific process that allows resource specialists at the ADRC to go into more depth, Morris says.

"Normally, when people call in they are asking questions like 'I need a care coordinator, who can I contact?' and we give them the contact information for the appropriate service," says Morris. "Options counseling is usually offered to people that have a question like 'My mother has Alzheimer's, what do I do next?' and we go from there to further explore all options and services within the community."

Currently, there are 10 main offices across the state run by five different agencies, with Municipality of Anchorage running the Anchorage office, LINKS Mat-Su ADRC running the Wasilla office, Bristol Bay Native Association running the Dillingham office, Southeast Alaska Independent Living Center running the offices in Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka and Independent Living Center, Inc., running offices in Homer, Seward and Soldotna.

Although they are not run by outside agencies, smaller populated pockets of the state like the North Slope or the Aleutians still have methods of contacting an ADRC.

"When places that don't have other agencies running them call the number to speak to a specialist at an ADRC, they are put through to me, and I assist with finding providers and collaborating with other resources in their community," says Morris.

Although Fairbanks is a larger area, a conflict free agency has yet to apply for a grant to provide an official ADRC for the area.

"Agencies must be conflict free when assisting callers to prevent them from profiting from only recommending their resource instead of allowing the person to determine what's best for them by choosing from the range of resources their community has to offer," explains Morris.

Although all ADRCs offer the same services, each agency determines how they are set up based on regional differences.

"The Bristol Bay Native Association provides more assistance and offers links to resources that cater to subsistence lifestyles and other Native Alaskan issues," says Morris. "The Kenai Peninsula and the Southeast are ADRCs as well as centers for independent living and have succeeded at combining all of their grants, so all services complement each other. Due to a higher volume of callers and more programs offered, the municipality of Anchorage offers its services as a quick resource for callers."

Anchorage ADRC

"Housing is a huge issue, if not the top issue in Anchorage," says Karla Wright, resource specialist at the Anchorage ADRC. "We offer services for every scale of income, for people that rent housing, own their housing outright, people that are planning for long term care facilities or people that have just arrived and haven't found a place to live yet. It's our job to know about every single resource available. However, we do not find housing for people, we just point them in the right direction."

The Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and Housing Urban Development (HUD) grants work to prevent homelessness in Anchorage by providing funding that allows the Anchorage ADRC to offer assistance to Anchorage residents needing emergency assistance.

"These grants are used for someone with a disability, for example, that still has their own income and lives with their brother but might need to move out on their own when their brother asks them to because they can afford to pay monthly rent but can't afford to pay for the initial start up costs," says Wright. "Because they can prove that they are sustainable and are able to continue to pay their rent on their own, these grants will assist them with paying their initial startup costs, allowing them to get back on their feet."

Rather than using all annual ESG and HUD funds immediately after receiving them, the Anchorage ADRC divides the funding up by each month to allow a consistent number of families to receive the aid they need.

"October is actually the only month that we don't provide funding, because of the PFD," says Wright. "People should be able to take care of business then."

If individuals applying to use ESG and HUD funds are found to be unsustainable, the ADRC can still assist by directing the individual to other financial services that might be helpful instead.

"In those cases, they might be out of luck when it comes to the HUD or ESG funds, but it's not a dead end because we know of other ways to help them further," says Wright.

Other programs like the Chugach Electric Program or AWWU's Coins Can Count program offer alternative methods of support for eligible individuals.

"After going through a screening process, the Chugach Electric Program is offered up to $500 and can only be used once a year," says Wright. "Coins Can Count is a program that runs on the generosity of the community where members can round up their bill and donate the extra change to people with a 48 hour shut off notice. This program can only be used once a lifetime."

Since January, all ADRCs statewide have implemented ADRC First Pre-Screen Process, a new program that seeks to improve resource specialist recommended services for individuals seeking assistance from an ADRC.

"By pre-screening individuals before offering services, we are able to ask specific questions to see if they are likely to meet the level of care for the program we would have initially recommended them for," says Morris. "By implementing this extra screening process, we're checking to see what exactly the individual needs before ever filling out the applications, making the process more efficient."

"We think this is a good program for Anchorage, especially seeing how many services we have access to," says Wright, " so we're excited to see how it goes."

Alaska's ADRC website: