Your AARP ; Minnesota News
Volunteers needed for varied tasks
LinkAge Line Expands
When her husband died 16 years ago, Virginia “Scotty” Scattarelli said the funeral home was the
only place she could find that provided
Finding that kind of help is easier these
days, Scattarelli said, thanks to the Senior
LinkAge Line, Minnesota’s “one stop shop”
operated by the state’s Board on Aging.
Created in 1998, the LinkAge Line originally provided a toll-free phone number to
help older Minnesotans with Medicare and
long-term care options. In September the
mission was expanded to provide contacts
at most state agencies, and the LinkAge
Line logs more than 500 calls a day.
The goal, said Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL, “is that everybody will be met with
a real live voice and that someone will stay
with them until their problem is solved.” An
operator remains on the line and connects
callers to an expert when necessary.
AARP Minnesota is not directly involved in
running the LinkAge Line, but “we encourage all of our members who are interested
to sign up as LinkAge Line volunteers,” said
Michelle Kimball, AARP Minnesota state
director. “It is a great way to give back.”
140,000 calls this year
In recent years, the LinkAge Line has received about 120,000 calls annually. It’s on
track to get about 140,000 calls by the end of
2011, said Krista Boston, director of consumer assistance programs for the Board
on Aging. She attributed the increase to
expanded services, an influx of boomers and
questions about the federal health care law.
Scattarelli, 86, is a Richfield retiree who
coordinates 50 other volunteers at AARP
Minnesota’s information center at the Mall
of America. She said the expanded LinkAge
Line has become the leading information
resource for the AARP volunteers who handle questions at the information center.
Older people in Minnesota now have two
options when they want information on an
array of topics from long-term care to transportation: the toll-free LinkAge Line or the
Senior Link page on the 10-year-old online
information service, MinnesotaHelp.info.
The website has answers to many questions
Minnesota’s older residents might ask but
without the personal touch of the operators
at the LinkAge Line.
For example, those seeking grief counseling—something Scattarelli couldn’t find 16
years ago—can now either call the LinkAge
Line or visit MinnesotaHelp.info. Searching
the Senior Link page on the website yields a
list of dozens of organizations that specialize in grief counseling.
More state agencies involved
During the months leading up to the September launch of the expanded LinkAge Line,
major state agencies, such as the Department
of Labor and Industry, were asked to designate representatives to handle referrals.
“We even got involvement by the Depart-
ment of Corrections, which was initially
surprising,” said Jean Wood, executive di-
rector of the Board on Aging. But “it made
a lot of sense, since the families of older
people transitioning out of prison may
need help with things like the selection of a
Medicare Part D plan.”
Calls to the LinkAge Line are routed to
the closest of seven regional call centers,
which operate from 8 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m.
weekdays. Most calls are received by one
of 25 full-time staff members, though
about a dozen volunteer operators also
work at the busiest centers.
About 300 other volunteers provide one-on-one counseling, speak to community organizations and perform office clerical work.
All volunteers receive 18 hours of training.
Boston said assignments are tailored to
the volunteer’s experience, interests and
schedules. Some volunteers even work out
of their homes, she said.
To volunteer, visit the Senior Link page at
MinnesotaHelp.info or call the Senior LinkAge Line, 1-800-333-2433.
—By David Hawley
For other state news, go to
The estimated dollar value of a volunteer hour for
each state, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
Islands for 2009.
Value of Volunteers
* VALUE IS BASED
ON THE AVERAGE
WAGE OF NON-MANAGEMEN T,
SUCH AS DOCTORS
OR LAW YERS.