Web Sites Offer Seniors Help Online

Aug. 21, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
By Henry K. Lee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Using technology to help people born before the first computer, Alameda and Sacramento counties have shown off Web sites that link seniors to in-home care and community-based care programs with a click of the computer mouse.

The Alameda site, www.alameda.networkofcare.org, was introduced yesterday at a meeting of a Board of Supervisors committee, where officials hailed it as a new approach to allowing easier access to information for the elderly, people with disabilities and caregivers.

"All of this is combined into one Web site," said Linda Kretz, head of the Alameda County Department of Adult and Aging Services. "That's why the state is so excited, and that's why we're so excited."

Added Zoe Ann Murray, 73, of Livermore, who heads the legislative committee of the California Retired Teachers Association: "It's fabulous."

The Web site was financed with a $2.3 million infusion from the state.

The Sacramento site, www.sacramento.networkofcare.org, had its premiere last week. Together, the sites serve the 338,000 seniors and people with disabilities in the two counties.

Sites tailored to other counties could follow, said Lynda Terry, director of the state Department of Aging. Last week, San Francisco introduced a similar Web site, www.sfgetcare.com.

The sites provide information such as what to look for when hiring a home health-care provider as well as a resource list of agencies and organizations.

The Alameda and Sacramento sites also allow users to determine the status of bills pending in the state Legislature that pertain to the elderly.

Other features include links to information for caregivers and providers, a database of some 800 service providers, daily news articles about seniors and people with disabilities and an online, password-protected file that can be created to store personal medical, legal and financial data.

"This site is a megaphone for the different kinds of services that are provided," said Bruce Bronzan, president of Trilogy Integrated Services of Tiburon, which help develop the site.

Afshin Khosravi, a Trilogy partner and founder of Local Communities Network Inc. of Sausalito, said the online network will help bridge a number of gaps that have traditionally limited seniors' access to information.

"There's not only a technological divide between rich and poor, there's also a gap between the agencies that serve the elderly," Khosravi said.

Officials said Network of Care is part of Gov. Gray Davis' $500 million Aging with Dignity initiative unveiled last year. The program's aim is to expand home- and community-based options for senior citizens.

"This collaboration between Alameda and Sacramento counties is truly an example of e-government at its best," Davis wrote in a letter to Kretz and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty in hailing the Web site.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.

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