Older Americans Opt to Stay Independent with Familylinks Options Plan

“Home, Sweet Home,” is not just an age old aphorism. Many aging adults keep their independence and stay in their homes thanks to Familylinks.

Familylinks has a program that it wants to share wth seniors who want to remain in their homes.

Options Care Management is a non-direct service that assists older adults (ages 60 and older) and their families through advocacy and referral to necessary support systems in the community.

Marc Harrison, a social worker with the Familylinks Options Care Management program, checks in on many neighborhood seniors. Harrison services a wide geographical area and has a resident in the Forest Hills community using the program.

Harrison said, “The program allows the seniors to remain in their community and remain independent.”

With health and safety as their priorities, care managers assess needs and assist clients in finding the individualized support that will allow them to maintain their independence. The care managers also assist families and caregivers in finding support and resources as they care for a loved one who is aging.

“The amount of personal care is decided on an individual basis. Some people need more, some need less,” Harrison said.

Participants are monitored monthly via telephone to ensure their needs are being met. Care managers—or CMs—are required to assess, coordinate and monitor services for each individual. Harrison goes to visit the participants.

Harrison said, “I have face-to-face meetings with my participants and I love building those relationships. Some require health care or housekeeping help, but most are pretty independent.”

One participant, who was not named, said, “Receiving services from the (Allegheny County Area on Aging) is like a breath of fresh air. The worker coming to my home to do housecleaning is like a friend. The services help keep me from getting overwhelmed and takes pressure off of me. The services help keep me up to date with maintaining my home. My care manager keeps in touch with me to make sure I’m doing alright at home.”

Familylinks was started in 2001. It was a designed to forge a link between two of western Pennsylvania’s human service organizations—The Whale’s Tale and Parent & Child Guidance Center. 

Familylinks was the result of the two merged agencies. The Options Care Mangement program is one of the newer services of the organization.

Options Senior Program Manager Lisa Evans said, “The Options Care Management program has provided Familylinks with the opportunity to reach out and provide services through our talented team of care managers to seniors with various needs. Every day, our care managers are out making it possible for people to remain in their homes for as long as possible by evaluating their needs and making the connections in the community to fulfill those needs.”

Harrison added, “My favorite part of the job is getting out and checking in on my participants.”

He then said, “It's great program. Friends and family like knowing that their grandparent or friend gets to stay in the house where they have so many fond memories.”

For more information contact the Allegheny County AAA Seniorline at 412-350-5460. The office hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Editor's Note: Other useful sources include:

Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging


National Council on Aging

Tara Reis November 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Two hundred seniors in this program will be receiving holiday gifts as a result of a partnership between FamilyLinks and the Woodland Hills School District. Since late September, "Giving Trees" have been in the lobbies of our Junior High and High School and they are adorned with cards that have first names and wish lists. Our students, parents and faculty have made those trees bare! The folks at FamilyLinks are truly amazing and real life angels.


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