New Hampshire is home to the second-oldest population in the country, and while there are many resources out for the state’s aging, they aren’t always easy to find.
That’s where ServiceLink comes in.
ServiceLink is a resource center for older residents, providing information on everything from Medicare enrollment to housing to fraud. In the last few years, ServiceLink also has added services to help the estimated 100,000 Granite Staters acting as caregivers to an aging loved one, said Connie Young of the Rockingham County ServiceLink office in Atkinson.
“We all know New Hampshire is aging, and there are a lot more people that need good concrete answers,” Young said. “Our job is to give them the tools.”
ServiceLink came about after state leaders held listening sessions in the mid-1990s with older Granite Staters. They reported much frustration with finding help, Young said.
“They were walking into multiple places, telling their stories multiple times to get maybe one answer,” she said. “They said there’s no one place to go and they often gave up.”
In 2002, ServiceLink was born. It’s a nonprofit contracted by the state to provide referral services and help. There are 13 ServiceLink offices, with one in each county and Rockingham, Hillsborough, and Grafton counties having two offices.
“People are happy to get help and help all in one place,” she said.
She said the Rockingham offices responded to at least 16,000 inquiries last year alone, and those numbers have been growing each year as the state’s median age continues to climb.
“There’s a significant work being done by a pretty lean number of staff people,” Young said. “We knew it was going to happen, but there are just more and more people.”
Young said this time of year is busy with people seeking help with Medicare enrollment. She said ServiceLink will provide information and explain options to residents to help them make an informed decision.
ServiceLink can also help people understand their medical bills and look for errors. It facilitates support groups for caregivers. It fights fraud with information and helping to get it reported to proper authorities.
“I don’t think a lot of people know that there’s been a lot of money that’s been recouped nationally,” she said.
The agency also has a small amount of money to help people in need. Young told the story of a 90-year-old woman who was living independently and doing well, except her laundry was in the basement. Taking the basket up and down the stairs was getting to be too much and Young said she was thinking it was time to move out. ServiceLink was able to help get the washer and dryer moved upstairs so she could stay at home.
“It’s about helping people and about getting their needs addressed, and helping them live independently for as long as they can,” she said.
ServiceLink can be reached by calling 1(866) 634-9412. For a list of local offices with their addresses and phone numbers, visit www.servicelink.nh.gov
. Silver Linings is a continuing Union Leader/Sunday News report focusing on the issues of New Hampshire’s aging population and seeking out solutions. Union Leader reporter Gretchen Grosky would like to hear from readers about issues related to aging. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 206-7739. See more at www.unionleader.com/aging. This series is funded through a grant from the Endowment for Health.