Your involvement is essential to our success! Help HESSCO make a difference for consumers in South Norfolk County. We are a vital link for area elders, individuals living  with a disability and their caregivers in support of safe and independent living at home.



HESSCO provides support for elders and those who care for them. Services include but are not limited to: home care services, caregiver support, nutrition and nutrition counseling, information and referral, money management and more.



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Eldercare Q&A – November, 2017 – Protection Against Utility, Phone Shut-Offs

By |October 3rd, 2017|

Q: Do the elderly or ill have protections against utility shut-offs?

A: Yes. Households in Massachusetts in which all adult members are age 65 or older—whether there is a financial hardship or not—are protected against utility and phone shut-offs. “Utility” means your gas or electric service to your home, or your landline telephone. Cell phones are not protected from shut off, and heating oil is not covered by utility law. Most oil companies require you pay at delivery. Be sure to ask all these fuel companies if they offer a “senior citizen discount”

Every year from November 15 to March 15, gas and electric companies cannot shut off your service because you are unable to pay. This moratorium does not apply if service was shut off for non-payment before November 15.

          When all adult members of the household are age 65 or older, your  utility company cannot terminate service without first applying for written authorization from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and giving written notice to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and to everyone in your household. Make sure that everyone 65 or older in your household has given your utility companies written information about their age. The law also protects grandparent-headed households: as long as the only people under age-65 living in the household are minors (under age-18).

The DPU is unlikely to approve a shut-off, especially if you are trying to make a good faith repayment effort.  But if you own your home, a utility might try to put a “lien” or “attachment” on your home,  to collect what is owed when you home is sold. Interest on the bills will be charged.

If all the members of your household are not 65 or older, you have another option: to submit that someone in the household has been diagnosed as having a “serious” or “chronic” condition. Your illness or condition has to be verified by the diagnosis of a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. The words “serious” and “chronic” are not defined in state law, so utility companies will usually go along with a doctor’s diagnosis. Attention Deficit Disorder, PTSD, asthma, anxiety or depression are examples of a serious illness or condition. All your doctor has to say is “you have a serious illness or chronic condition.” Your serious or chronic illness does not have to require uninterrupted utility service. If a shut-off  threat is on very short notice, your utility company has to accept a phone call from a doctor—but a follow up written letter will be needed within 7 days of the call. The utility has to keep service on for 3 months once learn that a customer is “seriously ill.” If your illness is “chronic,” you can get six months protection. Ask your doctor’s office to fax their letter directly to the utility company, and to give you a receipt, because you may need proof to show your utility months later.

For phone land lines, the same “over 65” protections apply, as well as the “serious” illness protections. For  phone  service, only a doctor or clinician in a doctor’s office  can certify illnesses. The same phone call from a doctor rule  applies if a shut-off is imminent, with a follow up written illness letter within 7 days. A doctor’s letter can be renewed two times, totaling 90-days protection.

The phone company won’t shut-off service if the customer asks for “personal emergency protection,” demonstrates that he or she cannot pay the bill,  and  that phone service is necessary to protect the health or safety of a member of the household. An elder with an emergency alert button around his or her neck, for example, could ask for personal emergency protection. If the phone company denies the protection, the customer can appeal to the Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE). Ask your gas, electric or phone company to send you an elderly household protection form, or a serious illness/chronic condition, or personal emergency protection form.

Even with these shut-off protections, you are still responsible for paying off your bill, and you will be charged interest for late payments.

If you are facing a utility shut-off, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400. To read more on your shut off rights, go to:



Eldercare Q&A October, 2017 Learning About Lung Health

By |September 13th, 2017|

Eldercare Q&A – October, 2017 – Learning About Lung Health

Q:What are the major lung conditions elders should know about?

Diseases of the lung are almost as common as breathing air. Lung problems that are common among older people include: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, lung cancer, and asthma.  Q&A column Oct 2017 Lung Health

Emergency Preparedness

By |September 12th, 2017|

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we could all use a reminder on how to be prepared for an emergency.  This video produced by Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency provides helpful information and resources.


Eldercare Q&A September, 2017 Preventing Cognitive Decline

By |August 4th, 2017|

Q:Are there any strategies for preventing or slowing cognitive decline?
A: Most studies are cautious about answering this question. One recent report by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care concluded that one-third of dementia cases could potentially be prevented  through better management of lifestyle factors, such as smoking, hypertension, depression, and hearing loss over the course of a lifetime.  QA ElderCare September 2017 Can We Prevent Cognitive Decline (2)

Eldercare Q&A The Care and Treatment of Sciatic Pain

By |June 5th, 2017|

Eldercare Q&A                                       July, 2017

    The Care And Treatment Of Sciatic Pain

Q: Is sciatic nerve pain something I just have to put up with?

No, sciatic pain does not have to be a chronic condition. The medical condition called “sciatica” is a major cause of work absenteeism and a major financial burden to both employers and our health care system.  Q&A July 2017 The Care & Treatment of Sciatic Pain

Extreme Heat Warnings

By |May 17th, 2017|

Who would have thought that we’d be talking about extreme heat this week, when we were all wrapped up in blankets last week?!  Temperatures could hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so please take a moment to review these important reminders about staying safe in extreme heat.

beready_extreme_heat 2017

Eldercare Q&A June 2017 Is Retirement Bad for your Health?

By |April 27th, 2017|

The Impact of Retirement on Your Health

Q: Does retirement have a positive or negative impact on health?

A: Retirement can have good and bad impacts on health. One study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that complete retirement leads to a 5-16% increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities, a 5-6% increase in illness conditions, and 6-9% decline in mental health. But these negative health effects are reduced if the retiree is married, has social supports, continues to engage in physical activity after retirement, or continues to work part-time after retiring. The negative health effects of retirement may be larger if a person has been forced to retirement.

The National Institute on Aging says that health problems have a big influence on the decision to retire early—but less research has been done on how retirement affects your health after you retire. According to the Harvard Health Blog, retirement for some people is a chance to relax away from the daily grind—but for others, retirement can be a period of declining health and increasing limitations. One study ranked retirement 10th on the list of life’s most stressful events. (Losing a spouse was #1.)

U.S Health and Retirement Study data shows that retirees were 40% more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than those still working. The increase was greater during the first year after retirement, and leveled off after that. Another study from England concluded that retirement significantly increased the risk of being diagnosed with a chronic condition. In particular, retirement raised the risk of a severe cardiovascular disease and cancer.

But there are other studies which link retirement with improvement in health, or a neutral effect on health. One study found that retirement did not change the risk of major chronic diseases, and brought about  a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms among people with chronic diseases.

So the impact of retirement on health may depend on the individual. The Harvard Health Blog suggests that “moving from work to no work comes with a boatload of other changes.” If you loved your work, retirement can bring some emptiness of purpose. If you had a stressful job, retirement brings relief. Either way, researchers offered these tips for a rewarding retirement:

  • Don’t retire’ from daily contact with friends and colleagues:
  • Maintain Activities like sports or traveling, to keep a purposeful daily life
  • Be creative: keep your brain healthy by painting, gardening, or helping other people
  • Keep learning: explore new subjects you’ve always been interested in.

Understanding what large group studies say about retirement is interesting, but studies can’t predict how retirement will affect your life. People who retire because of health problems may not enjoy retirement as much as someone who retires feeling healthy. But it makes sense to view retirement as a process, not as a single event, that will bring good changes and bad—just like the earlier stages in your life.


Upcoming Programs – The Healthy Living Center of Excellence

By |April 14th, 2017|

My Life, My Health Self-Management

A 6-week evidence based program being offered at Plainville Council on Aging, beginning Tuesday, April 25th.

CDSMP – flyer Plainvile 2017

A Matter of Balance

An 8-week evidence based program being offered at Canton Council on Aging, beginning Tuesday, May 2nd.

MOB – Flyer – 5-2 to 6-20-2017 Canton

Diabetes Self-Management

A 6-week evidence based program being offered at Sharon Adult Center, beginning Wednesday, April 19th.

4-19 to 5-24-2017 Diabetes SM – Sharon

These programs are made possible by funding from the Older Americans Act as granted by HESSCO, and a grant to the Healthy Living Department at Bay Path Elder Services and the Healthy Living Center of Excellence.

Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) A CHNA-7 and HESSCO collaboration

By |March 28th, 2017|

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps an individual to learn to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. MHFAFlyer_Plainville

Eldercare Q&A April, 2017 Getting Older, Staying In Shape

By |March 27th, 2017|

Q: As I get older, does it really matter to stay physically active?

A: Absolutely. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. There are many benefits from physical activity: