Knowledge Is More Than Power, It’s a Lifeline

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More than 9,000 people called CICOA’s Aging & Disability Resource Center in May. It’s a new record for incoming calls. We’ve been setting records at our call center every month since July 2022. The “silver tsunami” is real. Our community is aging.

Older adults want to stay in their homes, but they need help. The home they may have lived in for decades is not accessible. Transportation and affordable housing are lacking. Fresh foods are expensive, and grocery stores are not located equitably across our region.

So, when those 9,000-plus people call us, they are desperate. It’s often the worst day of their lives. We get calls from people who are suicidal or on the verge of homelessness. Adult kids call when mom has been diagnosed with cancer or dad has Alzheimer’s. We get calls from 20-somethings and 30-somethings whose lives have been turned upside down by a tragic accident, and they can no longer care for themselves.

They don’t know what to do or where to turn for help.

Amid these crises, some people call because they need to yell at someone. Others call in tears. I could go on for days about the challenges people in our community are facing and the stories our 51 options counselors hear daily.

Sharing knowledge and resources

People rely on us for unbiased, accurate information and resources to help them get through the serious challenges they are facing. When people call, we must be prepared to listen, to offer hope, and to provide unbiased direction to resources.

Some of these resources are within our own organization, such as helping coordinate in-home care or arranging for meals or transportation. Sometimes it’s helping them understand what services they may qualify for through Medicare or Medicaid. Often it involves connecting them with other community resources.

That’s why we rely so heavily on our partnerships with other social service agencies, community organizations and health systems. Knowledge is not just power. Knowledge is a lifeline for the more than 100,000 people we’ll talk to this year.

The growing need to provide the best resources to a growing population

Knowledge is not cheap. Councils on aging across the country (like CICOA) have been providing information and referral resources since the early 1970s. That’s nothing new for us. What is new is the amount of information we must access and curate to ensure we are providing the best possible resources in real time.

We have software that links to other systems, such as Indiana 211, an information and referral service operated by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. We also rely on partner organizations to provide us with updates or changes to the services and resources they offer. Our staff curate this information.

This all requires funding.

I was encouraged that Indiana lawmakers passed several bills during the 2023 legislative session that will provide more funds for public health and mental health services. What we also need is more funding – such as grant opportunities – for robust, real-time cataloging of resources.

We need your help

We’re going to continue setting records for the number of calls we get each month for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, my first request is that if you work for a social services organization or health system, please let us know when you make changes to the services you offer, so we can update our system.

Second, if you know of a grant opportunity or funders who may be willing to help us create a more robust system, I’d love to talk. Send me a message.

The Indianapolis metro area is filled with caring, helpful Hoosiers who want to make a difference for others. CICOA is proud to be part of that rich history for almost 50 years, and we want to find solutions to do even more. Together, let’s keep the lifeline strong to help our most vulnerable citizens live their best lives to the end.

CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.


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