Board Walk ~ Susan Gorin

Susan Gorin


Age is more than a number

Posted on August 4, 2017 by Susan Gorin

While some people are fortunate to age in place with little more than physical changes to endure, still others require far more help. Family systems are affected too. Many of us find ourselves part of the “sandwich” generation: both our parents and our children need extra assistance. It can be a difficult period, but one that may be alleviated by accessing local and county services specifically designed to help seniors live with dignity and support.

Over the past several years, my office has received many calls for assistance for elderly services. Today, I want to highlight the need in the valley as well as services available. However, even with these services, I realize there is more to do as our population is aging and the need increasing. We are fortunate to have the Vintage House Senior Center, FISH, and Meals on Wheels as local providers. County wide, we have a terrific Adult & Aging Department. They are responsive, compassionate, and respectful.

In April of 2017, the Sonoma Valley Fund and Sonoma County Economic Development Board released their joint study “Hidden In Plain Sight.” The study “aims to respond to this moment with original research about both sides of this equation: the growing needs, and the growing philanthropic response to them.” (

The report highlighted several areas of concern for the Sonoma Valley, noting we are “growing, greying and diversifying.” The average age of SV residents is significantly older than most communities in this country. Nearly 25percent of our residents are aged 65 or older — an increase of more than 20 percent since 2010 and the number is expected to grow.

The most common question we get is “What services are available?” I highly recommend obtaining a copy of the Sonoma County Senior Resource Guide in English or Spanish. The guide helps seniors, dependent adults and caregivers search for helpful services and programs. It can be picked up at the Vintage House or downloaded at:

Local Services

Vintage House Senior Center


The Vintage House Senior Center is a wealth of positive activities and services. It offers over “60 programs and services a week, many in collaboration with allied senior service providers. The result is a remarkable variety of relevant and timely programs and resources.” One helpful program is LIMO (Local Independent Mobility Options), a program designed to provide seniors 60 years and older who can no longer drive with free door-to-door rides for non-medical purposes.
Rides are available within Sonoma Valley Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (excluding holidays). Typical destinations include grocery shopping, hair dresser, post office, banks, library, Farmers Market and of course Vintage House.

Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)           

707-996-0111 or email at [email protected]

FISH provides emergency help to residents experiencing financial hardships in our community at no charge. FISH offers a caring bridge, keeping families from living in hunger and without shelter. It serves the Sonoma Valley from Glen Ellen to Schellville.

Phone dispatchers receive calls for assistance with food, rent, clothing, utilities, rides and gasoline, which are passed on to the area coordinator who links those in need with the service FISH Provides. FISH also has a Senior Food Supplement program every 3rd Tuesday of each month FISH volunteers provide a supplemental food delivery to homebound seniors.

Meals on Wheels of Sonoma


Meals on Wheels is a vital service that delivers nutritious hot meals to homebound people in the Sonoma Valley. Service Area: Madrone Road in Glen Ellen to Schellville

County of Sonoma Services

For many, the County center is remote, but our services come to the Sonoma Valley frequently. The Area Agency on Aging receives federal funding and contracts it out into the community. The programs specific to Sonoma Valley are:
Transportation provided by the LIMO volunteer driver program; Adult Day programs provided and managed by Council on Aging; Senior Lunches provided and managed by Council on Aging (all at Vintage House); and Case management services and information and referral

Sonoma County Human Services Department Adult and Aging Division


For seniors, dependent adults, those with disabilities, military veterans, and their families and caregivers. 3725 Westwind Boulevard, First Floor, Santa Rosa, 707.565.5900.

Area Agency on Aging


Coordinates planning and funding for programs allowing seniors to maintain maximum independence in the community. Its volunteer advisory council makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on the needs of seniors, adults with disabilities and caregivers. Programs include:

Aging Together Sonoma County, the countywide, collaborative initiative supporting healthy aging across the lifespan, offers education and information of interest to seniors and their loved ones.

My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County offers free public information, presentations and workshops on advance care planning.

A Matter of Balance: Free fall-prevention workshops countywide. 707.565.5936.

The Sonoma County Elder Justice Coalition works on prevention of elder abuse and neglect through education and training in prevention and court advocacy for elder abuse victims.

Adult Protective Services


The 24-hour APS Hotline (800.667.0404) receives more than 4000 calls annually with concerns about emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, self-neglect, isolation, and financial abuse. Social workers investigate reports and help coordinate supportive services. To report concerns about abuse in nursing and residential care facilities for the elderly, call the Long-Term Care Ombudsman 800.231.4024. Staff also offers community members and mandated reporters education about identifying and reporting elder and dependent adult abuse and neglect. All reports are confidential.

In-Home Supportive Services


IHSS helps low-income elderly and people of any age living with a disability remain living safely and independently in their own homes. IHSS clients find, select and supervise their own caregivers. Care managers provide case management services as well as information and assistance services that connect clients with available community resources to assist them to remain safely at home and independent in the community.

Multipurpose Senior Services Program


Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) is a care management service for seniors age 65 and older who are eligible for Medi-Cal and in frail health, or at risk of going to a nursing home. The MSSP care management team is made up of a social worker and a public health nurse who work with clients, family members and others to find and coordinate services in the client’s home.

In closing, there are many programs in place to serve the greying valley residents and their families. For further assistance, comments or questions, please contact me at [email protected] or 565.2241.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *