Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Caregiver Services

Question: Who is considered a "caregiver"?
A caregiver is a person who provides some assistance to an older relative or friend. If you take someone to the doctor, shopping, assist with bill-paying, provide emotional support, and/or assist with bathing or dressing you are a caregiver. You do not have to be living with the person or providing 24-care to be considered a caregiver.

Question: Where can I get help for myself?
 As a caregiver it is important to take care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, your energy and mental health are conserved and you will be better able to continue in your role. The two most important aspects of healthy and successful caregiving are seeking out respite for your loved one and seeking out education and support for yourself. The Office for Aging offers respite services, which include Adult Day Care and Personal Care/Housekeeper Chore Aides. Also, there are workers available through the Senior Helpers Program that can be hired to help you in a variety of ways. To provide caregivers with much needed support, the Office for Aging holds a Caregiver Chat once a month where caregivers can come and talk with caregivers who are in similar situations.

Also, for more information about workshops and phone consultations call 607.778.2411 or visit the Office for Aging Caregiver Services web page. For more information, see Respite Care Options in the Greater Binghamton Area.

Question: What can I do if my loved one refuses to accept help?
Sometimes people are reluctant to accept help at first, but there are strategies that can help overcome their resistance. It is really important to talk with the person you are caregiving for about his or her concerns and acknowledge that they may feel uncomfortable about admitting they are no longer totally independent. Many seniors fear that if they admit they need help, they will no longer be able to remain in their home. I would be worth while to find out about the many alternatives to nursing home care, discuss the options available and explain the reasons. If needed, involve other family members, the person's doctor, clergy, or close friends who may have influence. For information on how to have difficult conversations, or how to hold a family meeting, visit our Caregiver Services webpage or contact the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411

Question: Should I Have My Parent Move in With Me?
When a parent becomes ill or disabled and can't live alone any longer, you may have an instinctive response to take him or her into your home. It's a generous impulse, but not always the best option. There are many factors to consider before taking the plunge, such as: can you get along with each other full-time? What about the rest of your family? Is your house properly equipped? How much supervision will your parent need? Do your lifestyles meld? Make sure that living together is what your parent wants, too. You may be surprised to find that he or she would really rather pursue other options when given the chance to express his or her wishes. If you think living together may work, you might want to test the waters-- have your parent live with you for a period of weeks or even months, making clear that it's a trial arrangement. “Changing Places: Should Your Parents Move in with You?” is an article you can read as you consider all of your options. Also, you might want to consider obtaining a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) for your parent or parents, which may help make the living situation safer. It's important to anticipate that your loved one's condition may change and that he or she will need more care later on. Find out about the services and programs in your area that you may need to use in the future. For more information visit our Caregiver Services webpage or contact the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411

Question: When an elderly person needs care or supervision, is a nursing home the answer?
 Most seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible. There are many alternatives to nursing home placement. There are in-home services that can help with supervision and personal care; there are shopping serviceshome-delivered mealsPersonal Emergency Response System (PERS)  and special transportation services; and there are Adult Day Care centers which provide a warm atmosphere for individuals who have mental or physical disabilities to socialize and be supervised. There are also Adult Homes other than nursing homes that provide some assistance, but leave more opportunities for privacy and personal choice. Often times there is some variation of progression from different levels of housing such as obtaining help at home, entering a skilled nursing facility, entering an assisted living facility, or entering a nursing home. Also, there are other options such as family care and foster care homes, which offer seniors a chance to live in a small private home.

Question: I have heard services are very expensive. Is this true?
The costs of some services may be too high for some people, but there are lower cost alternatives available. For instance, Adult Day Care is available on a voluntary contribution basis, and suggested contributions are very reasonable. Other in-home services through Office for Aging are available on a cost-share basis for people who are income eligible. The Senior Helpers Program is a job matching service which helps people find workers at reasonable rates. For more information, download the How Much Does Care Cost? resource or contact the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411

Question: Why do I feel guilty?
 Guilt, frustration, anger, and/or grief are all natural and normal emotions that many caregivers experience. These feelings develop because of the losses and changes the aging process can bring. Anger and frustration in particular are two emotions that caregivers may have difficult admitting they feel because it is not considered "acceptable". The best way to handle what is creating your guilt is to verbalize your feelings with someone you can trust and who will understand-- for example: a fellow caregiver, a counselor, or a spiritual advisor/clergyperson. A caregiver support group is an excellent way to meet others who can relate to how you are feeling. The Office for Aging holds a Caregiver Chat once a month where caregivers can come and talk with caregivers who are in similar situations.

Foster Grandparent Program 

Question: Do Foster Grandparents care for the children in their homes?
Answer: No, the Foster Grandparent volunteers at a school, Head Start, or day care program and is always under the supervision of the teacher or another paid staff member.

Question: Is Foster Grandparents part of the Foster Parents program?
Answer: No. Foster Parents is a completely separate program, unrelated to Foster Grandparents.

Question: If I become a Foster Grandparent, could I volunteer near my home?
Answer:  When volunteer assignments are made, several factors are considered, including where you live and transportation options. A school or other agency in a convenient and accessible location is arranged for all volunteers.

Question: If I don't have any way to get to a volunteer assignment, can the Foster Grandparent Program provide transportation?
Answer: No, the Foster Grandparent Program can't provide transportation. The program does reimburse program-related travel costs (mileage for those who drive, or bus fares for those who take public transportation). Bus options include BC Transit (city buses), BC Lift and the OFA Mini Bus. For more information, see OFA Transportation options.

Question: Why do applicants for the Foster Grandparent Program need to meet eligibility requirements to get a stipend?
Answer: The Foster Grandparent Program is a federally-funded program designed to make it possible for low-income seniors to contribute to their community. The program pays a small stipend ($2.65 per hour) and provides other economic benefits (such as travel reimbursement) that are intended to address the economic needs of low-income seniors so they can afford to volunteer. Federal regulations restrict the program to individuals aged 55 and over who are low- income.

The Senior Helpers Program

Question: How much do the workers charge?
Answer: The employer and the worker negotiate the rate of pay, or the charge for the job. The Senior Helpers Program does not establish the rate of pay for any worker or job.

Question: What are my responsibilities as an employer?
Answer: The Office for Aging has prepared a booklet, Hiring the Help You Need, which explains an employer's responsibilities and provides sample contracts and other tools. A copy can be requested by calling the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411. A link to the electronic copy of the booklet can be found on the Senior Helpers Program page.

Question: What do I do if the worker referred by the Senior Helpers Program isn't suitable for the job?
Answer: Contact the Senior Helpers Program at 607.778.6105. The Senior Helpers Program can refer a second worker if the first worker referred isn't acceptable or declines the job.

Question: How quickly can the Senior Helpers Program fill my job order?
Answer: The length of time it takes to fill a job order varies based on a number of factors such as the type of work, the location of the job, the availability of workers in the area, and so on. The Senior Helpers Program is not an emergency service; plan on giving them at least a week to find the right worker for the job.

Question: Are the workers insured?
Answer: Some of the workers are insured, but most do not carry insurance. You can ask the worker during the interview. Workers who carry insurance will be able to provide proof of their coverage.

Question: Do you check the worker's background?
Answer: No, employers should perform any reference and background checks that they require. All workers are prepared to provide references.

Question: Do employers need to meet any age or income requirements?
Answer: No, anyone may place a job order with the Senior Helpers Program. During periods of high-demand, job orders placed by seniors receive priority attention.

Health and Wellness Opportunities

Question: My doctor told me I need to exercise, where can I go that I can afford it?
Answer: There are many places where seniors can go to exercise. There are local health clubs and their rates vary widely. Senior Centers are your best choice for free or very affordable exercise programs. Many senior centers offer exercise equipment and low cost or free classes ranging from aerobics to light weights or tai chi classes. Please call the Office for Aging at 607.778.2411.

Home Care Services

Question: I live away from my elderly mother. While visiting recently, I became aware that she had fallen a few times and had difficulty getting up. I'm not sure what to do. Should I be thinking of placing her in a nursing home?
Answer: You may want to consider a Personal Emergency Response System, (also known as PERS). This is a button worn around the neck or on the wrist that can be pushed when needed to call for help during an emergency. Call our Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for more information.

Question: Since I gave up driving I have been relying on my neighbors to do my grocery shopping. My children all live away. Is there anyone I can depend on to help me with shopping?
Answer: The Shopper Service provides ongoing help with weekly grocery shopping and errands (bank, post office, pharmacy) to eligible seniors in Broome County. Shopper Service helps seniors who are unable to shop maintain independence in their homes. The program is provided through volunteers from the Faith in Action Program. Call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for more information.

Question: My father died suddenly a short time ago. He had been the primary caregiver for my mother. She is having trouble taking care of herself. My sister and I are trying to help but we both work and have families of our own. Is in-home care available for her?
Answer: Yes, the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly program (EISEP) is available and provides assessment, case management, and in-home care to frail elderly persons who need help to remain independent at home. Assistance with personal care such as bathing, dressing, and household chores like laundry and meal preparation are provided by trained homecare aides. Depending on eligibility of the client, the program may pay for the full cost of the service or share the cost with the client. 

Question: I am the primary caregiver for my husband who has Alzheimer's Disease. He cannot be left alone. I so miss the weekly luncheons with my friends. Can you help me in any way?
Answer: A number of programs exist that may be helpful to you. A short term stay can be arranged for the elderly person in a nursing or adult care facility for a three day period. Adult Day Care may be another option to consider. For more information call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411.

ID Card 

Question: What is an Office for Aging Identification Card and how do I obtain one?
 The Office for Aging ID Card will provide you with easy access to Office for Aging programs and services. It may be used as an acceptable means of identification and proof of age. Common uses of the ID Card include, transportation and easy access to services at Senior Centers.

Information and Assistance 

Question: Are there legal services for seniors who can't afford to hire an attorney?
Yes, Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York offers free assistance to Broome County seniors age 60 or older who have an economic or social need for legal services. The agency can assist with simple wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, consumer debt, and income maintenance issues. For more information, view our Legal Services web page or call Legal Aid at 607.231.5900.

Question: I'm worried about my Mom. She seems very anxious and depressed. She's not acting like herself. Where can I get help?
 You can call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 to talk about your situation and determine what steps to take next. If your mom needs an assessment or counseling, Information and Assistance workers can inform you about available options and refer you to appropriate service providers in the community. The Information and Assistance Line operates 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Question: What steps can I take if I suspect an elderly person is being abused or neglected?
 Office for Aging and Adult Protective Services have trained caseworkers who can talk to you about your concerns. The caseworkers can investigate situations of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, determine what can be done to help, and arrange for necessary services. You can call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 or Adult Protective Services at 607.778.2635. Voicing your concerns and sharing your observations are very important things to do. Your call can make a big difference in the life of a senior, especially since most abused and neglected seniors don't make the call themselves. For more information about what the Office for Aging can do, click here.

Question: How can I get information about programs and services for seniors in Broome County?
You can obtain a wealth of information about senior and caregiver-related issues by calling the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778. 2411. Staff members can answer questions, identify needs, explore options, link with needed services and mail informational materials to you. Also, Information and Assistance Representatives can assist with obtaining benefits, help fill out forms and applications, and make home visits to homebound seniors when necessary.

Question: Health insurance and prescription drug insurance choices are confusing. Is there someone who can help me understand my options?
 Staff on the Information and Assistance Line can answer general questions about health insurance and prescription drug insurance. Office for Aging contracts with Action for Older Persons (AOP) to provide the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP). This program helps seniors understand the details of health insurance and prescription drug coverage and compares choices. The service is free of charge.

Question: I'm no longer able to drive. What transportation options are available for seniors?
 Available transportation options include the Regular Bus (fixed routes), Office for Aging Mini-Bus, BC Lift, and BC Country. You can also consider asking family or friends to give you rides or call the Information and Assistance Line to inquire about other transportation programs.

Question: I'm living on a fixed income and can't make ends meet. What financial benefit programs are available to help seniors? How do I know if I qualify?
Office for Aging offers information about a variety of financial benefits that can help seniors save money or increase their income. Some of the different programs include: SNAP/Food StampsMedicaid, and Heating Energy Assistance. For information and screening for eligibility requirements, call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411.

Question: My parents are becoming frail and need help with bathing, cooking, shopping and housekeeping. Can the Office for Aging help?
Yes! Information and Assistance Staff are available to answer questions and inform you about the various Home Care programs that may be of help to you, such as the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly (EISEP), Shopper Service, and Meals on Wheels (MOW). Your parents may need an in-home assessment to determine what kind of services they need and qualify for. Also, you can consider utilizing the Senior Helpers Program to hire a worker who can help with tasks such as personal care, housekeeping, transportation, yard work, house repairs, snow removal, etc.

Question: I'm a caregiver for my elderly aunt and I'm planning to go on vacation. Can someone help her while I'm away?
 Yes and respite can help you. Respite provides the chance for unpaid family caregivers to get a break so they can attend to personal business, have time for themselves, and visit friends or family. Home Care Services are available to caregivers in the form of respite in the home, respite away from home and Adult Day Care.

Call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for information and assistance. Download the Respite Care Options in the Greater Binghamton Area handout for information about what is available in this community.

Question: My friend sits around all day and refuses to leave the house. Are there opportunities that can provide her with socialization?
Yes, there are many different options available for seniors that can provide social interaction. Socialization opportunities include Senior Centersvolunteer opportunitiesHealth Education and Wellness ProgramsRecreation OpportunitiesSenior Events and the Senior Games. Call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for information about any of these programs. You may also want to encourage your friend to read the Office for Aging Senior News each month and the Successful Aging column in the Press and Sun-Bulletin each week to learn about opportunities available in the community.

Question: My sister and I think Mom shouldn't live by herself any longer. She's becoming increasingly confused. What can we do?
You can call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411. There are staff members who can answer your questions and inform you about options available to you and your mom. 

Question: How do I get an Office for Aging Identification Card? What will it do for me?
The Broome County Office for Aging ID Card provides proof of age and identification for Office for Aging programs, including Senior Centers, and the Office for Aging Mini Bus. The ID Card is also accepted by many businesses that offer senior discounts. The ID Card is free and available to seniors age 60 or older and their spouses. The card may be obtained by completing a short application form. You can call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for information. You can have an application mailed to you or can click here for a downloadable version. Proof of age is required.

Question: What housing options are available for seniors in Broome County?
There are different housing choices available for seniors depending on the level of independent functioning of the senior. Types of housing include independent living and various levels of assisted living. There are a number of senior housing facilities located in Broome County. Eligibility requirements apply and vary depending on the facility. Applications vary. Waiting lists often exist; therefore, it's important to plan ahead and apply in advance of need. Download the Senior Apartment Housing Guide for more information. Call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 for help determining appropriate housing options.

Question: What are Food Stamps? How can they help me?
 Food Stamps are a nutrition program that helps individuals living on low income and resources supplement their food purchases. Eligibility requirements apply. For more information on Food Stamps call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 or click OFA Food Stamps page.

Question: What is Medicaid?
 Medicaid is a comprehensive health care benefit that is in addition to Medicare and other private medical insurance. In order to qualify, you must meet certain income and resource guidelines. For more information on Medicaid call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411 or click OFA Medicaid page.

Meals on Wheels

Question: How can I get Meals on Wheels and how does the program work?
 If you think you are eligible, you can call the Office for Aging at 607.778.2411. You will be referred to an Office for Aging nurse or case manager who will call you to set up an appointment to visit you in your home and determine if you are eligible. If you are eligible, a hot lunch and cold supper meal will be delivered to your home Monday through Friday.

Question: How do I volunteer to help deliver meals?
 We welcome and encourage you to call the Meals on Wheels Office at 607.778.6206. Volunteers work in teams of two, one person drives their car while the other person brings the meals into the homes.

Senior Centers

Question: Who can come to a senior center?
 The Senior Centers are open to the public. However, programs and services are geared for people over 60. People of all ages, incomes and backgrounds come to Senior Centers. Activities and events are designed to fit a wide spectrum of needs and interests. Visit our Senior Events web page to find out about upcoming events.

Question: Is there a charge for coming to a senior center?
While there is not a “charge” to come to a Senior Center, people are asked to contribute toward the costs of some programs and services. For example, individuals age 60 or over and their spouse are asked to contribute $3.25 for lunch. Individuals under the age of 60 are charged $4.25 for lunch.

Question: Do you have to “join” a senior center to attend?
No, however some Senior Centers may ask people to join as members to receive special program privileges that are offered to the center “members.”

Question: What volunteer opportunities are available the Senior Centers?
There are all kinds of volunteer jobs available at Senior Centers. We encourage you to use your talents and unique skills to enhance our Senior Centers. Volunteers can lead group exercises, answer telephones, plan parties, teach art classes, share information about traveling, help serve meals, and much more. Let us know how you want to volunteer - any kind of help is welcomed and greatly appreciated!

Senior Games

Question: Do I have to be a Broome County resident to participate in the BC Senior Games?
 No, the Broome County Senior Games are open to everyone 55 years and older. Call the Office for Aging at 607.778.2411 for an application or more information.


Question: How does the Office for Aging help with transportation?
 We first determine the exact nature of the senior's needs. Then we identify all the choices available to the senior and help him/her select the best transportation option. Having done that, we'll help the senior schedule his/her ride.

Question: What days does the OFA Mini-Bus run?
The OFA Mini-Bus offers rides Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. To learn when BC Country is available in your area of the county, call the Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411.

Question: How can I get a ride on the OFA Mini-Bus?
First, you start by getting an OFA ID Card. The ID application can be downloaded here, or sent to you by calling 607.778.2411. Second, you call 763.8747 between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday to make a reservation. Reservations can be made up to one week in advance of your ride. You need to make a reservation to your destination and another to be returned home. You will receive a confirmation of your ride the day before your trip. You must take your OFA ID Card with you to be eligible to ride.  The suggested contribution rate is $1.50 for each one-way ride. 

Question: I don't understand how to schedule a ride. It all seems so confusing. What should I do?
 You should call the Office for Aging Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411. Information and Assistance staff will walk you through the scheduling process. They will help you become comfortable with scheduling rides for yourself. They will also answer any other questions you have.

Question: When I schedule a ride to my doctor on the OFA Mini-Bus, will the bus come back automatically to pick me up after my appointment?
No. If you schedule a ride to somewhere and want the OFA Mini-Bus or BC Country to take you home again, you must schedule a return trip, too. When scheduling your ride, be sure to mention that you want the bus to return you home. You must also leave a time to be picked up from your appointment or shopping trip.

Question: When will I receive confirmation of my OFA mini-bus or BC Country ride?
Seniors using the OFA Mini-Bus or BC Country can reserve rides one week in advance of the trip. However, in most cases, you will not receive confirmation of your ride until the afternoon of the day before your trip.

Question: What if I need someone to travel with to help me get around?
 You can have someone travel with you, but you need to schedule a ride and return trip for them as well. If they are a senior and have an Office for Aging ID Card they can ride for a suggested $1.50 contribution. If they are not 60 years old or older, they will have to pay a $2.50 fee.

Question: How do I hire a Senior Helpers driver?
 You call the Senior Helpers Program at 607.778.6105. The Senior Helpers staff will take your job order and give you the names of one or more people from your area who are willing to be hired out as a driver. You then call a driver, see if they are available for hire, and negotiate the fee for the ride.


Question: Do I have to volunteer at the same time every week or can I have a more flexible schedule?
OFA arranges the volunteer's schedule according to their needs. While some programs like Adult Day Care like to plan to have volunteers on a scheduled basis, other opportunities exist for people who do not want to commit to a set schedule.

Question: Who do I contact if I want to volunteer?
First, OFA welcomes you to check out the volunteer web page to learn about the program(s) that interest you. To volunteer or to learn more about the available opportunities, call our Information and Assistance Line at 607.778.2411.

Question: Can I volunteer for more than one OFA program?
Yes! However, you will need to work closely with each program to arrange your volunteering schedule.