PRACTICAL VIEW : Where to Find Assistance to Keep You in the Comfort of Home

Here is a sampling of services that help the sick, elderly or dying to live at home rather than in a hospital or other institution.

* The Visiting Nurses Assn. provides home care throughout Los Angeles. It also furnishes speech, physical and occupational therapists and health aides who assist with bathing, dressing and other personal tasks. VNA accepts payment from insurance companies, Medicare and Medi-Cal. (213) 386-7200.

* Gerontology Home Companion offers part-time, full-time and live-in helpers to cook, shop, do housework, bathe patients and perform other chores. Fees: $9 to $10 per hour. (818) 713-0640.

* Aunt Bee's Laundry does free laundry for people with AIDS. Volunteers pick up and deliver. (213) 466-7601.

* Companions, nurses aides and attendants stay with patients to provide breaks for caretakers. Gerontology Home Companion. Fees: $9 to $10 per hour. (818) 713-0640.

* AltaMed Senior Health and Activity Center serves East Los Angeles and surrounding communities. It offers services including nursing, psychotherapy, physician referrals, delivery of meals and help with housework. It also advocates for clients with the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services. Many of its services are covered by Medi-Cal or Medicare. (213) 728-0411.

* The Freda Mohr Multiservice Senior Center provides counseling, case management and various social services, including home-delivered meals. It also offers a referral service and transportation for shopping and medical appointments and volunteers who phone homebound people daily. Available in West Wilshire, West Hollywood, Pico-Robertson and the San Fernando Valley. (213) 937-5900.

* The Watts Health Foundation Inc. assesses physical and psycho-social needs of clients, designs care plans and finds such services as financial aid and assistance with money management, Medi-Cal applications and locating housing. (310) 632-3903.

* From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at its Lynwood office, the Watts Health Foundation Inc. also provides day care for senior citizens with dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. These programs include physical, recreational and occupational therapy and group discussions. Medi-Cal and some private insurers will pay for the programs. (310) 632-0415.

* The Home Secure program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles provides and installs dead bolts, peep holes, locks and bathroom grab bars. Free for renters or homeowners in West Hollywood and parts of Los Angeles. To be eligible, single clients may earn a maximum of $27,050 annually, couples $30,900. (213) 937-5855.

* Hospital Home Health Agency of California focuses on relieving pain and providing improved quality of life for patients who have received all appropriate treatments and probably have six months or fewer to live. It can furnish equipment including hospital beds, portable toilets and wheel chairs, oxygen and prescription drugs. Medicare, Medi-Cal and an increasing number of insurance companies provide full payments. (310) 530-3800.

* Senior Health and Peer Counseling in Santa Monica provides advice on financial concerns such as housing and utility costs and Medicare billings. Funded by the city of Santa Monica, the program mandates that 86% of clients be Santa Monica residents. Fee based on ability to pay; no one turned away. (310) 576-2550.

* Other Senior Health and Peer Counseling programs are not limited to Santa Monicans. The agency also trains people over 55 to provide individual and group counseling to peers concerned about their health, finances or other issues. Its volunteers make home safety assessments to help elderly people get rid of hazards such as loose cords that could cause falls. Volunteers also do medication checks, coordinate services and keep in touch with clients. Fees are based on ability to pay; no one is denied service. (310) 828-1243.

* Meals on Wheels offers one hot meal each weekday for homebound city of Los Angeles residents over 60. Donations for meals are accepted but not required. (800) 834-4777.

* Home Delivered Meals offers one meal daily to Los Angeles County residents over 60. The meals are free, but donations are suggested. Local phone numbers are available from senior citizen centers and hospital discharge planners.

* Project Angel Food delivers a free hot meal daily to homebound people with AIDS in Los Angeles County. (213) 656-9615.

* Non-sectarian Bet Tzedek provides legal services to low-income Los Angeles County residents who have problems with government entitlement programs, nursing homes, wills, home equity fraud and other areas. (213) 939-0506.

* Low-income older people who believe they've been tricked out of the titles to their homes or into signing for loans beyond their means may contact the Volunteer Legal Services Project of Public Counsel, a public interest law firm sponsored by the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Assns. (213) 385-2977.

* The American Cancer Society offers many programs for people with cancer. People who can't afford them may receive hospital beds, wheelchairs and dressings. All services are free. (800) ACS-2345.

* Aid for AIDS pays rent, utilities and medical insurance for people too ill to continue working and caretakers for very ill people. It will pay up to $100 monthly for doctor-prescribed items not covered by private insurance or Medicare. A family reunification program pays for transportation for families to be with a dying person or sends the patient home to the family. Eligible are Los Angeles County residents who present a diagnosis from a local doctor saying they are unable to work because of AIDS. (213) 656-1107.

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