Methow At Home, Lookout Coalition combine forces
The support system that helps people in the Methow live independently as they age or face health issues has expanded with a new partnership between Methow At Home (MAH) and the Lookout Coalition.
Both organizations have helped people in the valley for years, specializing in different needs. MAH focuses on day-to-day, practical matters – help with splitting wood or shoveling snow, groceries, computers, and social programs and activities – to help people age in place, MAH Executive Director Tracy Sprauer said.
The Lookout Coalition focuses on planning and decision-making for physical and mental health issues. The coalition has half a dozen volunteers – health care providers, an occupational therapist, and a chaplain – who assist people with long-term planning as they age, with a chronic condition, or with end-of-life planning, coalition volunteer Betsy Weiss said.
Lookout Coalition volunteers also help someone interpret information from health care providers, connect people with organizations that specialize in aging or dementia, or provide medical equipment.
The partnership grew out of the strategic planning the organizations did last year to prepare for the aging population and more-complex health situations in the valley, Sprauer said. People 65 and over are the fastest-growing group in the Methow, she said.
The groups recognize and respect that many people are protective of their autonomy. “We’re constantly working to shift the needle in the overarching culture, and help people recognize that it’s OK to ask for help,” Sprauer said. “Vulnerability is not a weakness – it’s courageous.”
Focused on services
The two organizations have already partnered for several years to provide volunteers who accompany someone to a doctor’s visit to help ask questions and take notes.
Now that the Lookout Coalition is a program of MAH, it will be easier for the groups to provide the most-necessary services, Sprauer said.
Some people may benefit from help from both organizations. For example, if someone has knee-replacement surgery, the Lookout Coalition may help recommend modifications to make a home safer, while MAH might help with awareness of needs and limitations or recruit a volunteer who could make simple modifications to the home, Sprauer said.
MAH sets up opportunities for people to connect and some become long-term friendships, Sprauer said. They’ve initiated connections between elders and high school students. Other MAH programs include shovel buddies, who show up to clear a walkway, and holiday-cheer angels, who pay visits and drop off cookies.
MAH also recently took on coordination of the Guardian Angels, a group started years ago by The Cove to provide transportation and build long-term relationships with people who are isolated because of illness or other challenges, Sprauer said.
During the COVID pandemic, MAH significantly cut back on its in-person activities, but they’ve hosted a broad range of online educational and social activities, including book clubs, concerts and presentations by naturalists.
MAH has 295 members, some who need services and some who want to support the organization and prepare for potential future needs. The organization has 230 volunteers, some members themselves. They have a grant program to ensure that their programs are accessible for everyone who needs them.
The Lookout Coalition will continue to serve people throughout the community, not only MAH members, Weiss said.
“It’s really rewarding how open and welcoming people are to the reaching out that we’ve done. It feels like it makes a difference,” Sprauer said.