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Center helps many stay independent

By Staff | Dec 25, 2009

For the elderly or disabled, it can be hard to start, or re-start, an independent life. Fortunately, agencies like the West Virginia Aging and Disability Resource Center can help the elderly or disabled locate and apply for government aid programs designed to help those in need live independently.

Take Charles Town resident Danny Mills, 62.

This past June he was nearing the end of an almost four year stint in a nursing home recovering from a nearly fatal bout of a drug resistant staph infection called MRSA. He contracted the disease in 2005. According to Mills, the disease almost claimed his life.

“I was close to death a couple of times.” Said Mills. “The Lord wasn’t ready for me, I guess, or I’d have been gone.”

Mills had lived independently since 1972, but after nearly four years rehabilitating in a nursing home, the prospect of moving out was daunting. He had no money, so and getting enough together for an apartment security deposit, monthly rent, utilities and food was going to be a challenge on his own.

Mills was put in contact with the West Virginia Aging and Disability Resource center where he met ARDC resident counselor and registered nurse Linda Anderson. According to Anderson, a big stumbling block many of the elderly or disabled run into is a simple lack of knowledge of the aid programs available to them in their regions. That’s where Linda comes in.

“It’s our job to help them find and utilize the resources in their geographic area.” Said Anderson in a phone interview.

Anderson worked with Mills, helping him apply for an Olmstead grant, which provides a security deposit and the first months rent. She also found a handicap accessible apartment for Mills to live in and helped him apply for energy assistance programs to keep his heating bills affordable.

Mill’s lives on his own now, and he thanks the ARDC for their assistance. “It’s been great.” Said Mills. “Everytime I’ve had a problem they’ve straightened it out for me.”

According to the ARDC, much of the resource information they provide can benefit not only seniors and persons with disabilities, but anyone in need. The ARDC can help find emergency assistance for food, utilities and prescription drugs, arrangement of medical transportation, help find suitable rental housing and more.

– The West Virginia ARDC operates an office in Martinsburg which can be reached at (304) 263-3942 or 1 (800) 296-5341.