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SF twins deal with common problem facing seniors

August 14, 2012 11:23:15 AM PDT
Two of San Francisco's most well-known personalities are dealing with an enormous challenge. What they are going through highlights a national problem facing seniors. Marian and Vivian Brown are in the San Francisco Hall of Fame. But now they are fighting to stay in the city they love even though the health care they now need is hard to find and very expensive.

Marian and Vivian Brown are identical twins; colorful characters in San Francisco since they arrived from Michigan more than 40 years ago.

The prospect of having to leave San Francisco has worried the 85-year-old sisters since Vivian developed Alzheimer's disease and is now hospitalized.

The twins are searching for an assisted living facility in San Francisco, but experts say the costs range from $3,500 a month to $7,000. The twins made money over the years doing commercials and making appearances, but Marian says as they have gotten older the jobs have dried up and just being a San Francisco institution doesn't pay the bills.

"That's no advantage; you can have a reputation, you can have everything but if you can't afford it, you can't afford it," she said.

David Nolan is a health care consultant who works with the city's Department of Aging and Adult Services. He says San Francisco is a good place to grow old.

"This city has been incredibly innovative, they are willing to put general fund money into programs that many cities don't have the money to do that," Nolan said.

But he agrees most assisted living facilities in the city target either the wealthy or the poor; the twins feel trapped in the middle. Now their dilemma has come to the attention of the Jewish Family and Children's Services, which operates apartments.

"Our emergency assistance program accepts donations from the Bay Area, which is generous in providing for this very frail and needy segment of the population," Jewish Family and Children's Services spokesperson Judy Lynch said.

Marian is hoping she and her sister will be able to stay in the city and be together again.

"It's been very lonesome without her," Marian said.

Officials with Jewish Family and Children's Services say they respond to every request, though not everyone can be helped.

Click here to make a donation to the Jewish Family and Children's Services program.


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