Hotline connects 100,000 seniors to volunteer, service opportunities in 2012
ST. PAUL — Help is just one call away for Minnesota seniors resolving to volunteer or get answers in the New Year.
The Senior LinkAge Line®: A One Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors connects callers with health care information, government services and volunteer opportunities. In 2012, more than 100,000 seniors were served by the hotline administered by the Minnesota Board on Aging with support from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. It has seen a 20 percent increase in calls – helping an additional 20,000 seniors in 2012 – due to an expansion of services last year.
“The One Stop Shop gives older Minnesotans a better way to navigate state government, helping them live full and productive lives, and making Minnesota a better place for us all,” said Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, who championed its launch in September 2011. The line previously handled health insurance and long-term care related questions only.
Now, working with 11 state agencies, it provides valuable assistance to seniors with questions about any government program, from Medicare to housing assistance. Live operators utilize a specialized chat system to connect callers with representatives from state agencies and provide instant access to answers. One caller this year received a $699 property tax refund after One Stop Shop and Department of Revenue staff together determined his initial form was filled out incorrectly and helped him file an amendment online.
Its services continue to grow. In May, it introduced SHARE Minnesota, an initiative to link older adults with volunteer opportunities. Callers are screened on their interests and connected to a volunteer network of their choice, such as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the Senior Companion and Foster Grandparents programs. More than 40 volunteers contributed an estimated $185,000 in value to nonprofits through SHARE this year. Late next year, the One Stop Shop will also begin connecting seniors to employment opportunities.
The Senior LinkAge Line®: A One Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors can be reached toll-free at 1-800-333-2433. The service can also be accessed via online chat at MinnesotaHelp.info.