Someone On the Line

On Friday, October 8th the federal Administration on Aging unveils its new, improved elder care locator. The major change: anyone who dials the toll-free number, (800) 677-1116, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays should get an actual human on the line, ready to answer questions about government services and refer seniors and caregivers to local agencies that can help.

The locator, intended as the first stop for those seeking services for older people in their counties, began as a phone service in 1991 and a decade later added a popular Web site, www.eldercare.gov

“People didn’t get a live voice,” said Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging at the federal Department of Health and Human Services of the call system. This might explain why only 177,000 people called last year, while 1.9 million used the Web site. Starting Friday, though, five information specialists and two elder care counselors will handle calls in English and Spanish (a separate “language line” will assist those who speak other languages).

The Web site is getting an overhaul, too. That new, improved version goes live later this month, exact date to be determined.

For more go to: newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com

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