QUESTION:  I am a low income senior and have heard friends talk about assistance they are receiving from various programs.  Do you have a contact I could call to see if I may be eligible for some type of help?

ANSWER:  You have asked a question which may be of interest to many low income seniors.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging has a program that is administered through the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program, known as HICAP, which is called Benefit Enrollment Check-Up.

The Benefit Enrollment Check-UP program has information about various programs that can provide assistance to eligible seniors.  Many of these programs have income maximums and asset liabilities but the trained counselors can help determine which programs a senior may be eligible for.

 A Benefit Enrollment Check-Up counselor will be available, by appointment, at the Goebel Adult Community Center on Tuesday October 6 and again on Monday October 26.  To make an appointment for a benefits check-up screening call 1-800-434-0222.

Don’t miss this opportunity to determine if there are benefits available to you that you are not receiving.

QUESTION:  I am helping my sister-in-law deal with my brother who has dementia but insists that he can still drive.  He is very stubborn and no matter what we say to him he tells us he is a safe driver.  Whenever he can he sneaks out and “takes a ride.”  What can we do?

ANSWER:  Explaining anything to a person with dementia can be difficult at best, however, talking about taking away driving privileges is even more difficult  because this represents a tremendous loss of independence.  Bringing up the issue can trigger anger, denial and grief.

Unfortunately someone suffering from dementia doesn’t recognize that he or she no longer has the ability to make the split-second decisions required to safely operate a vehicle.

You don’t say whether you have talked with your brother’s doctor, but if you haven’t that might be a place to start.  Often a person with dementia is more willing to listen to a third party such as a doctor than to a family member.

Another approach is to team with family and friends, with each person pointing out a different problem that he or she has observed, such as failing to observe traffic signals, driving at inappropriate speeds, getting lost in a familiar location, or becoming angry, frustrated or confused in traffic.  This “tough love” approach often makes an impression.

If talking doesn’t resolve the problem, making the car unavailable or inoperable can prevent your brother from sneaking driving sessions.

Hide the car keys or substitute unusable keys on his key ring, park the car at a friend’s house so he doesn’t have easy access to it or have a mechanic disable it.

When your brother wants to go somewhere offer to take him where he wants to go.  But if you do drive remember to never leave a person with dementia alone in a parked car.

Last but not least, consider selling the car.

Whatever steps you take be persistent and consistent.  The safety of your brother and those who would share the road with him is most important.

Although no one wants to limit independence by taking away driving privileges please don’t wait for an accident to happen.


TUESDAY – September 29 – 5:30 to 7:00 pm – Seminar – Empowered Caregiver Series – “What Matters Most in End of Life Planning” – at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks.  For reservations call (805) 497-0189.

THURSDAY – October 8 – 10:30 to Noon – Seminar – “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.  For reservations call (805) 381-2744.

THURSDAY – October 15 through MONDAY December 7 is Medicare Annual Open Enrollment when you can make changes to your existing health care coverage to be effective on January 1, 2016.  Seminars and One-Stop-Shops will be given throughout the county.  Watch this column for scheduled dates in your community.

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