Mercer Island senior services staff work hand-in-hand with police and fire departments

  • Friday, October 6, 2017 12:30pm
  • News

Betsy Zuber with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, right, consults with Mercer Island Fire Department Battalion Chief Shawn Matheson. Photo courtesy of the city of Mercer Island

Betsy Zuber hears this phrase a lot: “I wish I’d known about this sooner…” As a licensed mental health counselor with the city’s department of Youth and Family Services, Zuber serves Mercer Island’s senior community and adult caregivers.

Many Island residents actively seek her out, calling for assistance with care planning, locating senior housing, or to learn about her caregiver support group. But frequently, Zuber is the one seeking out the seniors.

“We reach out a lot,” Zuber said. “It’s rare for a small city to have this level of service for seniors, so we work extra hard to make sure people know about it.”

Lending a big hand with outreach are the city’s Police and Fire departments, which frequently refer Islanders to Zuber when they’ve responded to a call and find problems in the home beyond their purview.

“They hate to leave a situation where more help is clearly needed. And fortunately, since Mercer Island is a lot like a family, they know to call me,” Zuber said.

An important part of Zuber’s job is helping seniors to engage their family in their care. Adult children and other family caregivers really appreciate being looped in.

“Every single time, the family is so appreciative because they just didn’t know this help was available, or maybe the situation just got worse without their noticing. Seniors and caregivers tell me all the time they wish they’d known about these services sooner.”

In 2016, 469 seniors and family members received services from Zuber for the first time.

For more, see www.mercergov.org.

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