The aging process can be fraught with uncertainty – even more so when a person is removed from a support system of friends and relatives.
To make sure that Dallasites in that position don’t fall through the cracks, neighborhood-based Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas has instituted a money management program offering free assistance to low-income and disabled elderly who have difficulty handling their financial obligations.
The program works by pairing a volunteer with an elderly client. The volunteer assists his or her partner at one of two levels: as a Bill Payer (who would help create a budget, balance the checkbook, and make sure that bills were paid on time) or a Representative Payee (who would be in control of benefits and sign checks in addition to the Bill Payer’s duties).
In this way, older folks can get some much-needed help without having to resort to legal guardianship.
“All we do is help them get their bills in order and paid on a timely basis,” says program coordinator Rodger Mitchell.
“We’re not lawyers, and we don’t give investment advice. If someone wants those services, we can get them, but that’s not part of our plan.”
The program, which began last fall, relies on referrals from area social service agencies.
“A social worker at a hospital might call and say that they had someone there who needs us,” Mitchell says. “Then we’d look for a volunteer to match them with.”
Although the money management program is still being set up, the group already has made a number of matches and is continuing to train volunteers.
For information, contact the Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas, 214-823-5700.