bus-trip-to-salem-to-advocate-for-seniorsOur advocacy program offers a variety of ways for seniors to have their voices heard about programs, activities and services that impact them. Friendly House hosts a monthly advisory team meeting to seek input on programming, plan events and activities, and coordinate other advocacy efforts. We offer opportunities for seniors to travel to Salem to represent their interests during legislative sessions, plan events with local, state and federal representatives, and organize letter writing and petition signing campaigns.

Friendly House is involved in advocacy efforts with the Oregon State Legislature in support of funding for Oregon Project Independence (OPI). OPI helps senior adults live in their own homes (rather than having to move into assisted living or nursing facilities) by providing basic services such as are described below in the stories of three seniors with whom Friendly House is currently working. Also, please click on the following link to view our Senior Advocacy Project You Tube videos.

Seniors like Bob are bracing for cuts to the services that keep them living independently, with dignity. Please take a few moments to view the following videos about how these cuts will impact seniors and their caregivers.

Many thanks to volunteers Tom Chamberlin and Claire Stock for their work on these extraordinary videos.

Story 1

I am a long time social worker, with an extensive background in senior emotional wellness. In addition to working in social service, I’m also an aging woman who is struggling with depression. When I was told that there had been complications as a result of my surgery, and I was going to have to recuperate in a rehab facility, I was at the lowest point ever. I view myself as an independent person with all the supports I need. I refused the rehab care, and went home. It did not take long to realize that I was in over my head, and I enlisted the support of Friendly House. A caseworker greeted me at my home with a food box she had prepared keeping in mind my need for easy meal preparation. Within two days, she had arranged for me to have someone come in and assist me with bathing, and housekeeping tasks that I was not able to do. My Caseworker has explained that the assistance I was receiving was funded from OPI, Oregon Project Independence; I liked the sound of it.

I’m well into my recovery, and good days are getting better, and the bad days are getting fewer. I no longer need the extra supports from Oregon Project Independence. I do know that at this time in my life, my body is winding down. It gives me tremendous comfort to know that OPI is there for me should I need it. I ask you with all that I have to secure the funding, so that I know that when the time comes for me to ask for a little help, it will be there.

Story 2

John and Nancy began receiving OPI benefits in May of 2007. Married for 52 years and having raised 4 children, they were used to living independent, active lives. However, things began to change three years ago when Nancy was 68 and was diagnosed with cancer. John, now 80, became her primary caregiver, managing her medications and many doctor appointments, as well as doing all the household tasks. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the chemotherapy was memory impairment, so now he also has to watch over Nancy carefully to ensure that she remains safe. In addition, she has been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, and he monitors those medications as well.

Both native Oregonians, they have lived in Portland all their lives. John owned a horse racing business with his father for many years and then went on to manage a theater and a service station. He describes Nancy as a “doer” in her younger years with many interests including travel all over the country as part of a dragon boat racing team. Their children also lead busy lives with jobs and families but help out when they can with grocery shopping and preparing meals. The role of caregiver has begun to take its toll on John who suffers from a heart condition. Because he experiences fatigue and weakness, he can no longer go to the basement to do laundry, keep up with household cleaning or manage to carry items such as bags of groceries from the car. John says that without the two hours of housekeeping assistance each week from OPI he could not manage to take care of his wife and stay in their home.

This couple has lived in the same Northwest Portland apartment complex for the past 40 years and value greatly the familiarity of the area and its community of neighbors. With a rent of $675, medical bills and other expenses, their social security income of $1421 must stretch each month to make ends meet. Due to their income status, they do not have a copay for the $117.12/month of OPI services they receive. This small amount of assistance spells the difference for them to be able to remain in familiar surroundings and live independently. While he tires from the tasks of managing all their affairs and Nancy’s care, John says he would rather die than move to a facility and is very grateful for the help to stay in their home.

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