The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is considered to be a “source for seniors.”

One of the ways they help individuals in their unique situations is by providing “Community Options" counseling.

Stephanie Hecksel, LMSW – Outreach Specialist for AAAWM joined the WZZM 13 News at Noon to explain.

Community Options counseling offers an in-person visit to individuals who are in a nursing home setting and would like to explore different options and resources that could help them in a different setting.

This visit is conducted by a social worker who is able to help someone navigate through different resources. Sometimes individuals are planning on returning to their home but feel like they would need some assistance or service that could help them.

Other times, individuals might be interested in finding new housing, such as an apartment or assisted living, and want to talk to an expert about what options are available. When someone is in a nursing home, it can be difficult for them to come up with and finalize a plan, and they find it to be helpful to communicate with someone directly about their individual wishes and goals.

Anyone in a nursing home who is interested in receiving a Community Options counseling visit is able to participate. We encourage individuals to contact AAAWM as soon as they know they would like to explore their options.

We do receive a lot of referrals from nursing home social workers as well, so if someone is in a nursing home, it can be helpful to connect with the social worker to help with this process.

Individuals can also call AAAWM for themselves as can their family members or legal representatives (such as a power of attorney or guardian). Options counseling is offered by AAAWM at no cost and there are no insurance requirements for someone to be eligible to participate, so it is truly available to anyone who may be interested.

Since Community Options counseling offers an in-person visit from an AAAWM social worker, an individual would have an opportunity to review their current situation and address any questions and concerns they might have about leaving the nursing facility. They can expect to come up with a plan to secure resources that will help them in another setting.

You can learn more about the AAAWM and their services by visiting their website, or calling 616-456-5664.