by Stephen J. Stark, Jefferson City
For the past three years, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has managed a federal grant to reach out to the state’s senior citizens, who have questions about the law and a possible need for the services of a lawyer. The funding exists from the Administration on Aging, which has as its mission “to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective system of home and community-based services that helps elderly individuals maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities.” That agency’s enabling statute, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3001 et sequitur), has many objectives to ensure the dignity of this country’s senior citizens, one of which is access to the service of a lawyer for critical legal issues.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, working with the regional offices of the Area Agency on Aging, has created a toll-free helpline at 1-800-235-5503 and a website of http://www.moaging.com/LegalHelp. The purpose is to provide information on the legal challenges which senior citizens may face. Additionally, the helpline can link the elderly population and families to lawyers, who are enrolled to assist with legal advice, either pro bono or at reduced fees. Lawyers are encouraged to be available to assist by registering at the website at the heading labeled “Attorney Use.”
Additionally, funds for this Helpline will assist lawyers with professional training as two nationally known speakers are being funded by the grant to come to Missouri. The topic of financial exploitation will be presented at The Missouri Bar Elder Law Institute scheduled for June 20 in Blue Springs and June 21 in St. Louis. The topic of elder abuse prosecution is scheduled at the Aging Summit in Jefferson City on August 22. The grant’s funding will end on August 31, 2013. Seeing the value of the Helpline, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has agreed to continue its funding beyond August of 2013.
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