Milestones eNews
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Elder Care


Click on the headline to read the full article.

08.13.13

 City of immigrants

07.30.13

 Pets make their day

05.03.11

 Walkability matters

02.23.10

 Care for caregivers

09.08.09

 Heat can be deadly

 

Support groups offer safe haven


By Alicia M. Colombo Senior centers are a valuable resource for the support and connections that are so essential to maintaining emotional health as people age.

In addition to social and recreational activities, centers have staff counselors who can provide one-on-one help and resources. Regularly scheduled support groups provide a safe, confidential and nurturing environment. These groups may be led by licensed social workers, trained counselors or therapists, or senior volunteers.
          Here is a sampling of the support groups, grouped by topic, currently meeting at senior community centers in Philadelphia.

CAREGIVERS
Boomers R Heroes:
Caregivers meet to download stress, voice needs and fears, and learn to take care of themselves. North Broad Senior Center, twice a month (Sept. 9 & 23), 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Caregivers Support Group: I nformation, support & sharing of personal experiences. West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, most Wednesdays (Sept. 3, 10 & 17), 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.


GRIEF
Bereavement Support Group:
Southwest Senior Center, monthly, date varies, next session: Sept. 24, 11 a.m.
Loss & Support Group: Klein JCC, Wednesdays, 12:40 to 1:40 p.m.
Newly Bereaved:
Klein JCC, Thursdays, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Post Bereavement
(continued support in later months and years of grief): Klein JCC, Thursdays, 10:40 to 11:40 a.m.
Widows & Widowers Support Group:
Northeast Older Adult Center, Fridays, 10 a.m. 

HEALTH
Brain Health & Memory Retention:
 Exercises & activities for the mind.

West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, Mondays, 1 p.m.
Center in the Park, Wednesdays, 10 to 11:30 a.m.


Let’s Talk  (cancer survivors & relatives celebrate life): Mann Older Adult Center, 2nd Thursday of month, 10:30 a.m.


The Women of Faith & Hope   (breast cancer support group): Center in the Park, 3rd Monday of month, 1 to 2:30 p.m.


Kicking Cancer to the Curb  (cancer survivors): Marconi Older Adult Program, 3rd Wednesday of month (Sept. 17), 10 a.m.

The Doctor’s in the House  (discuss health concerns): Center in the Park, 1st Monday of month, 10 to 11:30 a.m.


SHARING WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND

Center Counselor Support Group:  Norris Square Senior Citizen Center, 2nd & 4th Thursdays of month, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

COMHAR Support Group  (Community Organization for Mental Health and Rehabilitation): Depression screenings, resources and referrals. Norris Square Senior Citizen Center, Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

LGBT Age 50+ Rap Session:  Outlet for LGBT older adults to discuss feelings and experiences. William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220, Thursdays, 1 to 2 p.m. 
The Next Chapter – Sharing Our Joys, Sorrows & Everything in Between: Volunteer-led peer discussion groups on life, love, loss and change. Sponsored by the Center at Journey’s Way.

·         St. Anne’s Senior Citizen Center, Tuesdays (starting Sept. 9), 10:45 to 11 a.m.

·         West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, Tuesdays, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

·         The Center at Journey’s Way, Tuesdays (Sept. 9 through Nov. 25), 1 to 2 p.m.

·         Center in the Park, Tuesdays, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

·         Juniata Park Older Adult Center, Wednesdays, 12:30 p.m.

·         Northeast Older Adult Center, Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.
Peer Support Counseling:   Juniata Park Older Adult Center, Tuesdays, 10 a.m.

Reminiscence Group:  Share memories of growing up, your family, happy times and more. South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. 
Sharing and Caring: 
Discuss your concerns over coffee, give advice and share resources. West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, Wednesday, 9:15 a.m. 
Silver Foxes (social and discussion for LGBT elders): William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. 215-732-2220, 4th Sunday of month, 2 to 4 p.m. 
Spiritual Journeys

·         Inspirational Hour  (share blessings, request prayers, encourage others): West Oak Lane Senior Center, Thursdays, 11 a.m.

·         Non-Denominational Inspirational Group  :Northeast Older Adult Center, Fridays, 9 a.m.

·         Pastor-led group reads and discuss passages: Peter Bressi Northeast Senior Center, two Mondays a month (Sept. 8 & 22). New group, call for details.       

TLC (Talking Listening & Caring) Groups:

·         Philadelphia Senior Center – Main Branch, Thursdays, 10 a.m.

·         South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, Fridays, 10:30 a.m.

·         St. Anne’s Senior Citizen Center, monthly (Sept. 24), 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Transition to Aging Group:  Adults, ages 50 to 100-plus, discuss  the challenges, surprises, and rewards of growing older.  West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. 

VETERANS
M  ale and female veterans from all branches of the military meet to talk and learn about resources.

·         Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, monthly (Sept. 3), 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

·         West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, 3rd Wednesday of month, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

·         North Broad Senior Center, last Wednesday of month, 1 to 2: 30 p.m.


LADIES OR GENTS 
Man to Man Wellness Sessions:
 
Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, Thursdays, 10 to 11 a.m.

Men’s Bull Session:  Men discuss sports, news, the economy & more. Marconi Older Adult Program, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. 
Phenomenal Women Group: Share life stories & record your experiences for future generations. Philadelphia Senior Center – Tioga Branch, Thursdays, twice a month (Sept. 4 & 18), 10 a.m. 
Supportive Older Women’s Network (SOWN) Groups:

·         Northeast Older Adult Center, Mondays, 9:30 a.m.

·         Klein JCC, Wednesdays, 10:40 to 11:40 a.m.

·         South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

·         Southwest Senior Center, Thursdays, 1 to 2 p.m.

Women’s Support Group:  Lutheran Settlement House, Mondays, 9 to 10 a.m.


CURRENT EVENTS

Having Our Say:  Discuss news and Black history. Martin Luther King Older Adult Center, Tuesdays, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Current Events  Discuss what’s happening in the world and how you feel about it. West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, Fridays, 9:15 a.m. 
Lifestyles: Reinvent yourself. Learn positive, inexpensive ways to redesign your home, clothing style, make-up, jewelry and more. Spring Garden Center, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
          Unless indicated otherwise, the above activities are free. All older adults, age 60-plus, are welcome at any senior center in Philadelphia. Some centers also welcome adults between the ages of 50 and 60. Contact your local senior center directly for more information.   Click here for a list  of senior centers. You may also contact the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

                                                            
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Companions help brighten lives


By Marcia Z. Siegal Evelyn Riley and Ernestine White, both 74, have developed quite a rapport in the two years they have known each other. Riley is homebound as a result of multiple chronic health conditions. White is her Senior Companion, who visits 20 hours each week, socializing with her and assisting with small tasks. Both say they might be sitting home alone, were it not for the other.

Riley is a participant in the In-Home Support Program (IHSP) intended to assist her in remaining safely at home.

“I’ve got a bad heart, high blood pressure, arthritis, slight dementia, and I’m bipolar,” Riley says. White helps her with light meal preparation, running errands, and accompanies her on outings and tomedical appointments. Most importantly, White’s companionship reduces the isolation Riley might otherwise experience “being homebound with no one to talk to,” as Riley puts it.

“Ernestine goes with me for shopping and to pay bills because I can’t walk by myself. Sometimes we go out on the plaza nearby and just sit and talk,” Riley explains “She’s an all-around help.

The Senior Companion Program (SCP) is one of three service programs for older adults sponsored by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) oversees the program in Philadelphia, working with 20 nonprofit organizations, including the five senior centers administering IHSP, to identify homebound elderly who could benefit by having a companion. Riley and White were matched through the IHSP for North Central Philadelphia administered by North City Congress at the North Broad Street Senior Center. 

In addition to IHSP consumers, Senior Companions work with homebound older adults identified by senior apartment buildings and by other social service organizations, according to Kimberley Johnson, PCA manager for the program.


There are currently 73 Senior Companions in Philadelphia, ranging in ages from 55 to 88, and “we are always looking for more people to serve,” she says. Senior Companions must be age 55-plus and meet income eligibility requirements and commit to 20 hours of service a week. In turn, they receive a tax-free stipend; travel and meal reimbursements; accident and liability insurance; mileage reimbursement while serving; paid holiday, sick leave and vacation time; paid pre-service training; and ongoing monthly training. 

White says she is grateful for the opportunity to serve this way. “It keeps me from sitting at home. I like being busy, and I like being useful,” says the retired administrative assistant. “Evelyn and I have a very good relationship. When she’s having a difficult day, we sit and talk it over. There’s always a way to talk things out. She lets things worry her. I tell her to try not to let things worry her. I’ll suggest we go for a walk if the weather is nice to take hermind off her worries, and I try to get her to smile and laugh.


Courtney White, IHSP supervisor at Center in the Park in Northwest Philadelphia, says Senior Companions are invaluable. “They’ve told us about extermination issues,about homes that need repair, about consumers who need a fan or air conditioner to deal with the summer heat, and other problems. Recently a Senior Companion shared with us that it did not seem safe for her consumer to live alone, that she was not doing well. We investigated further and eventually helped that person to move in with family. Senior Companions are our eyes and ears in the consumer’s home when staff or family members cannot be there.”

For information about having a Senior Companion assigned to you, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. For information about the Senior Companion Program, call 215-765-9000, ext. 5126 or e-mail tmoore@pcaphl.org.
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Help when it's needed


The In-Home Support Program (IHSP), administered through five senior centers in different areas of the city, provides early intervention and preventive services to assist eligible older adults, age 60-plus, on their way back to independence. Services, such as personal care, may be provided for four weeks for individuals who are in a period of recovery from a medical condition, or other circumstances for which assistance is needed.

If home support services, such as housekeeping or shopping are needed, help is available for a short-term period of six months. Other services, such as a Senior Companion, home-delivered meals and transportation, may be offered for a longer period of time. Seniors can also receive counseling about benefits and discounts. For information about the IHSP program, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. 

The following organizations currently administer the IHSP program: 
Catholic Health Care Services, St. Charles Senior Community Center (South Philadelphia): 215-732-1140 
Center in the Park (Northwest Philadelphia): 215-848-7722 
Klein JCC (Northeast Philadelphia): 215-698-7300 
Lutheran Children & Family Service, West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (West Philadelphia): 215-399-4980 
North City Congress, North Broad Street Senior Center (North Central Philadelphia): 215-978-1360

Photo of Senior Companion Don "Rick" Graddick and Dorothy Moore  by Raymond W. Holman, Jr. 
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PCA services help seniors stay in their homes


As people age, tasks which once were easy become more difficult -- cooking, cleaning, even caring for oneself can be a challenge. But with the proper support, many people can, and most would prefer, to stay in their homes. A broad range of services and resources is available to help make this possible. 

Home-based care enables the person to maintain independence; to remain in a familiar setting; and to maintain optimum control over his or her own well-being. 

The process begins with a phone call to the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. Following a telephone interview, an assessment worker may be scheduled to visit the home. A determination of eligibility will be made, based on your care needs and financial resources.


Getting the Care You Need
There are two options for service through PCA; Aging Home and Community-Based  Waiver Services; and Options.

Eligibility for services is based both on the individual’s need for care, and on ability to pay for services. There are formulas that take into consideration income, assets and expenses, to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a person is eligible to receive services at no cost; on a sliding scale; or on a personal pay basis.

To begin the process of determining eligibility, contact the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

Following is a list of services that may be available to you:

Adult Daily Living Services
Community Transition Services
Companion Services
Counseling Services
Environmental Modifications
Financial Management Services
Home-Delivered Meals
Home Health Services
Non-Medical Transportation Services
Participant-Directed Goods and Services
Participant-Directed Community Supports
Personal Assistance Services
Personal Care Services
Personal Emergency Response System
Respite Services
Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies
TeleCare

You can also apply, or refer someone for services, on PCA's website.
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Neighborhoods help seniors age in place


By Rita Charleston
Be it ever so humble, for many of us there’s no place like home – except when we reach our senior years and almost everything seems too much for us to handle. In some parts of Philadelphia, organizations have formed to provide the kind of help people need to “age in place,” an increasingly popular concept. Both Penn’s Village and the Rhawnhurst Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) operate largely on the basis of volunteer labor, but organizational models and funding differ.

Penn’s Village relies on volunteers to help elders who live in Center City from the Schuylkill to the Delaware Rivers, from Washington Avenue to Spring Garden Street. The organization provides all sorts of services so seniors can lead vibrant, active and healthy lives while staying in their own homes and in the neigborhoods they love.

It takes a “Village”
According to Jane Eleey, executive director of Penn’s Village, the “village” strategy for aging in place began in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in 2001. Today there are more than 145 villages in the U.S., plus in Canada, Australia and The Netherlands. Penn’s Village was established in 2008.  

“Our goal is to create a supportive community where people can stay in their own homes as they age, with the confidence that they are safe and connected to familiar surroundings, friends and services,” says Eleey. Penn’s Village provides its services thanks to more than 60 volunteers. Eleey, 68, works part time, and is the only person on salary. One phone call or e-mail message brings village members a wide range of volunteer services, including transportation, companionship, home organization, yard work, and light home repairs.


“If we can’t provide a particular service, we can usually offer members information on someone who can,” Eleey says. “Additionally, we offer any number of educational, social and cultural events twice a month and our 250 members can attend as many as they like.”

The cost for a “Villager” membership is $600 a year per household, which amounts to $50 a month; some limited subsidies are available to help people who cannot afford the cost. A tax-deductible “social membership” is $200 a year and entitles the person to attend events and obtain referrals to recommended service providers. “We need to grow our membership and are working hard toward that goal,” Eleey says. “Some people think they only need to join us when they need services, but by then it might be too late. Others support the organization before they need help themselves to insure that Penn’s Village is a strong organization at the point when they need services.” 

“Helping people stay in the community and in their own home is a very concrete concept. I like exciting, innovative projects, and I think this is surely one of them. We do things that nobody else can do,” says Eleey, who is a professional social worker.

NORC supports independence 
Abby Gilbert, program manager of Rhawnhurst Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), agrees. “ Supporting seniors 60-plus in their ability to stay in their homes and live independently, is our number one priority,” Gilbert says. Rhawnhurst NORC operates in Northeast Philadelphia in zip codes 19152, 19111 and 19149, and is a joint effort of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and Catholic Social Services. 

Founded in 2005, the NORC serves some 750 seniors in this tightly-knit community. Gilbert, who joined the organization in 2011, is a full-time staff member; there are also a full-time outreach coordinator, two part-time transportation coordinators and a dedicated staff of volunteers. 

“Some of the services we provide include transportation to grocery shopping and medical appointments within a seven-mile radius; home maintenance support; socialization and support groups; and a monthly newsletter of events information benefiting senior adults in the community. 

“We have also added three more zip codes: 19114, 19115 and 19116, in providing rides for essential errands. We can either provide them with a ride or refer them to other transportation opportunities available to them. For more information about the program, seniors can call 844-511-RIDE.” 

According to Gilbert, former director of the Klein JCC, Rhawnhurst NORC is committed to not duplicating services that are available elsewhere. “So we partner with other organizations that already provide things our seniors need, and we serve as a conduit between what they need and the provider who can best supply that need.” 

In her early 50s and still too young to be considered a senior herself, Gilbert nonetheless understands the importance of what she does. “Knowing that at the end of the day the work we provide makes our seniors feel safer and more comfortable in their own homes, and that we are only a phone call away, is reward enough for me.”  

For more information, contactPenn’s Village at 215-925-7333 or info@pennsvillage.org or Rhawnhurst NORC at 215-320-0351 or agilbert@jfgp.org.
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Find help, resources, services for seniors


www.pcaCares.org
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) website, pcaCares.org, offers a data base of more than 1,300 organizations searchable by keyword, type of service or organization name.

These include senior community centers, affordable housing, food banks,personal care serviceshome-delivered meals, employment assistance, legal services and benefit counseling, among others.

You can apply for in-home care services online, or find instructions for making application by phone or in person. There is also information about a wide range of resources and opportunities for seniors and caregivers; and listings of programs and events taking place in Philadelphia.

One section of Search is dedicated to a Calendar of general interest, senior-specific, and professional events.

Another section will help you find Senior Centers. Here you can search by name or geographic area of the city; or get a list of all centers by clicking “Search” at the bottom of the page.

In Search for Services, you can search by major category or a specific service type. 

Keyword Search is another way to find information on the website. Type what you are looking for into the Keyword Search bar at the right  side of the top navigation bar on every page.

Need more help navigating the website? Click here for a quick "how-to" guide that explains searching, printing search results, and how to get the most out of using this website.

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Advocacy alert: Support Governor Corbett's Budget


Contact your legislators Governor Tom Corbett has included in his proposed budget an increase in Pennsylvania Lottery funds for providing home and community-based services (HCBS) to senior citizens, enabling them to remain safely in their homes.

This is critical funding that will allow Philadelphia Corporation for Aging to continue to meet the needs of seniors currently receiving services – services that we know delay the need for more costly nursing home services. 

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, along with AARP and the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, is urging state legislators to support the Governor’s proposal. Statewide, the Governor’s proposal will appropriate:
• $12.9 million in Lottery Funds to annualize prior year’s expansion of HCBS
• $4.19 million to continue current programs
• $1.1 million  to provide HCBS to additional 500 seniors
• $2 million in Lottery Funds for grants to Senior Centers.

While the General Fund is experiencing significant revenue shortfalls, the Lottery Fund remains financially solid, and therefore we hope the budget that is enacted includes the Lottery funding necessary to meet the needs of seniors.

Call your legislators
AARP has activated a toll-free advocacy phone line to enable Pennsylvania residents to urge their lawmakers to support an increase for Home and Community Based Services in the state budget.

This hotline will connect individuals with their state legislators, enabling them to advocate for Governor Corbett’s budget proposal of a $21 million increase for Pennsylvania Lottery-funded programs that help seniors age with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities. Callers will be asked to enter their zip code, and then will be connected with their state legislator’s office.
 
 Call the AARP Advocacy Hotline Number: 1-800-295-5855

Background
Last June, the legislature passed a budget that included an additional $20 million appropriated from the Pennsylvania Lottery to the PennCare block grant to address waiting lists in the Options program.  The budget also included $5 million going to AAAs to address local needs.
 
With that funding, we have been able to:
 
Provide home and community-based services (HCBS) to more than 450 new consumers through the Options program. Close to 2,000 seniors are now able to remain safely in their homes thanks to the Options program.
 
Eliminate the waiting list for HCBS through the Options program  
 
Grant most PCA Providers a 1% increase, the first increase in seven years. 
  
This year the Governor is again requesting additional lottery funds for the PennCare block grant, with the majority of that funding going to support the annualized costs associated with meeting the needs of those removed from waiting lists.

AARP has activated a toll-free advocacy phone line to enable Pennsylvania residents to urge their lawmakers to support an increase for Home and Community Based Services in the state budget.

Call the AARP Advocacy Hotline Number: 1-800-295-5855

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Choosing a personal response system


By Marcia Z. Siegal Receiving prompt assistance in a medical emergency can help limit damage from a fall or stroke, for instance, and might even save your life. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) are one tool that can increase safety for people who live alone or who have medical conditions that put them at risk.

These systems consist of a button radio transmitter, typically worn on a bracelet or pendant; a console that receives your alarm transmission and connects you to a monitoring center; and a monitoring center that responds to the alarm. PERS enable you to summon help in a medical emergency at the push of a button.


 Professionals in the center can communicate with you about the emergency; contact the ambulance or fire department; and notify your emergency contacts. Systems range from basic to complex; your needs, budget and service preferences will determine which you select. Some of the latter offer a range of services, including fall detection; GPS trackers; medication, treatment and appointment reminders; and smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection. In shopping for a personal response system, research the company’s track record. Here are some considerations to help guide you in determining which system is right for you.

Services offered
Is the monitoring center open 24/7? What is the average response time? What is the notification procedure. and who gets alerted when an alarm is received? What kind of training does the staff receive? Does the company operate its own monitoring center or outsource this service? If you are interested in add-ons, such as fall detection, you’ll want a provider that offers those services. Many providers will cover an additional person in the household, such as a spouse, often for the cost of an extra help button device.

Making the connection 
Most PERS consoles connect over a landline telephone, but a number of companies also offer the option of connecting through the internet and mobile devices. Check on the PERS back-up system. The battery life of the button transmitter can vary and can be up to several years. Most companies monitor battery strength and many replace batteries for free. How long could the system operate in the event of a power outage in your home or area? You’ll also want to know about the power range: how far you can you be from the console and still communicate with the monitoring center. Does the company test the equipment regularly to find out if it is working? Check on the company’s policy for repair and replacements. Make sure that the help button device is waterproof, so you can wear it when bathing or showering.

Fees 
Initial costs and installation fees and ongoing costs can vary widely. Some companies offer a subscriber price guarantee; others may increase fees over time. Find out about the cancellation policy. Some systems are available on a month-to-month basis, but others require longer term contracts and may have steep cancellation fees.

Company history
Check on how long the company has been in business, and whether the equipment and call center technology meet industry standards. Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification for safety and reliability is widely respected for this industry. For information, call 1-877-854-3577 or go to www.ul.com. Click on online certification directory at the bottom of the homepage, then key in the UL label information on your PERS equipment to check if the certification is current.

You can also check on the company’s Better Business Bureau rating at 215-893-9235 or www.bbb.org. Click on “Check out a business or charity” and put the company’s name in the search function to see how the company is rated. You can also e-mail info@mybbb.org for information or to submit complaints.

Beware of scams 
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers to beware of unsolicited calls, letters or bogus invoices claiming that a relative or friend has signed you up for a prepaid personal response system and that you owe activation and other fees. For consumer protection advice, to submit complaints and/or report scams, call 1-877-FTC-HELP or go to www.ftc.gov.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Older Adult Protective Services Department  takes reports of senior scams and other forms of elder abuse at 215-765-9040 (open 24/7 for elder abuse).

Making a commitment

Get price quotes and terms of service in writing, and make sure to read the fine print. You may want to have someone else you trust read it over as well. But remember: a personal response system can only be helpful if it is used. Once you get it, keep the help button device on you.
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Combating elder abuse daily


By Marcia Z. Siegal
iStock_170.jpg

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 is designed to call attention to the millions of older adults who suffer abuse and exploitation.

But Valerie King and Kristen Klem are focused on the problem of elder abuse every day. They are investigators with Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS) Department, which investigated 2,475 reports of suspected elder abuse last year.

Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; financial exploitation; and neglect or abandonment. In the U.S., one in 10 older adults experience at least one form of abuse each year according to the American Society on Aging (ASA). For every case reported, nearly 24 cases go unreported, according to the ASA.

Neglect and self-neglect are the most common forms of elder abuse, according to PCA and national statistics. King recalls one case when OAPS was called in by the neighbor of a highly educated retired professional whose house had become unsanitary and was deteriorating. The man had been accustomed to being independent his whole life and had a hard time realizing he needed help, King says.

“He was anxious and overwhelmed and was lucky to have concerned neighbors who looked in on him," she says. 
"He became open to getting the services he needed to make the house safer and cleaner.”

While certain professionals are mandated to report elder abuse, anyone can report suspected elder abuse and neglect as this man’s neighbor did, and reporters can be anonymous.

Trained to look for all signs of elder abuse, OAPS investigators may find that an elder is experiencing more than one form of abuse. “Neglect and exploitation often go hand in hand, for instance,” Klem says.

An individual may be an easy target for exploitation due to dementia or other cognitive impairment, she says. “Someone might offer to help the person pay bills or shop, then take the person’s ATM card and help himself; or get power of attorney and take over the person’s assets,” she says. “If I see bills piling up or shut-off notices, or if the person is malnourished, even though he or she has an adequate income, I’ll call in our financial exploitation specialist to investigate whether financial abuse is occurring.

>While neglect is the most common form of elder abuse, financial exploitation is the most often reported, according to the ASA. In the U.S., the direct costs associated with elder financial exploitation were estimated to be $2.9 billion in 2011, a 12% increase from 2008, the organization reports.

The trusting nature of many older persons, combined with the fact that many own their homes and have accumulated savings and other assets, make them an attractive target for financial abuse, says Joseph Snyder, OAPS director and former president of the National Adult Protective Services Association. In addition, he points out, research suggests that other age-related changes in the brain may contribute to poor financial decision-making, including susceptibility to scams.

Financial exploitation is the fastest rising form of elder abuse and has been termed the “crime of the 21st century,” given the rapidly expanding demographic of older adults. 

OAPS Financial Exploitation Specialist Carlotta Bulls has seen older adults stripped of assets they worked all their lives to accumulate; even losing their homes and being forced to go into a nursing home. Family members are frequently involved. Even if the elder is aware of the abuse, he or she may be too embarrassed or reluctant to seek help.

“If an older person is used to taking out a certain amount from the bank each week and the account suddenly reflects, large and/or frequent withdrawals, that can be a red flag,” Bulls says. Scams targeting seniors are also rampant and can range from charity and sweepstakes fraud, telemarketing scams, home repair fraud, and more, according to Bulls. “As the saying goes: ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” she notes.

Philadelphia is on the forefront of addressing the issue, Snyder says. The Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Taskforce formed four years ago to strengthen collaboration between the Mayor’s office; law enforcement and legal assistance agencies; social services organizations, like PCA; and financial institutions. The Taskforce aims to prevent, detect, investigate, recover assets and prosecute financial elder abuse. Its collaborations have resulted in a number of referrals to law enforcement and arrests, Snyder says.

The Taskforce also provides training to help banks, investment firms, law enforcement, social workers and community agencies recognize the signs of elder abuse, and works to educate the broader community.

To report elder abuse 24/7, call: PCA Helpline 215-765-9040; toll-free outside Philadelphia: 1-888-482-9060; or the Pennsylvania Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-490-8505.

To request training about detecting and preventing financial exploitation or other forms of elder abuse for your organization, call 215-765-9000, ext. 4457 or 4403 or e-mail jsnyder@pcaphl.org or jspoeri@pcaphl.org.
PCA’s Stop Senior Scams website, www.StopSeniorScams.org, offers tips to detect, prevent and report senior scams. A brochure is available by calling the PCA Helpline, 215-765-9040.
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Signs of elder abuse


There are many indicators of abuse, neglect and self-neglect, which can be observed in both the behavior and condition of the older adult and the caregiver. Here are some of the common signs according to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Older Adult Protective Services Department:

Signs in the older adult
• Bruises, broken bones, burns, abrasions or other unexplained injuries
• Poor hygiene, unusual weight loss or dehydration
• Lack of needed glasses, hearing aids or other assistive devices
• Over- or under-use of medication
• Emotional state: anxious, timid, fearful or depressed
Caregiver signs
 
• Violence or excessive anger towards the older adult
• Conflicting stories about what is happening with the older person.

Financial exploitation
• Abnormal bank account closings
• Withdrawals of large amounts
• Older adult visiting bank in the company of a stranger
• Sudden display of new wealth by the caregiver
• An abrupt change in the person's will
• New transfer of property
• Older adult lacking basic needs, despite adequate financial resources
Signs of self-neglect
• Hoarding
• Inappropriate dress for weather conditions
• Leaving stove unattended
• Confusion
• Lack of housekeeping
• Failure to take needed medications

  For more information, visit the U.S. Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse website at www.ncea.aoa.gov.
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Making the arts accessible


By Rita Charleston
Marion Young is passionate about bringing the transformative power of the arts to those whose physical and mental limitations may present challenges.

“We know that art improves life, even if it’s simply the joyful experience of going to the theater or a museum,” Young says. “From studies done, we also know a lot about how exercising the creative muscle in your brain, especially with the disabled, can improve physical or mental skills.”As executive director of Art-Reach, Young practices what she preaches.

For the past 27 years, the organization has helped to provide accessibility to live theater, movie theaters and museums through the use of headphones or other devices for the hearing impaired, interpretation for the seeing impaired, and wheelchair access for all who need it. 

According to Young, Art-Reach was founded in 1986 by Joyce Burd, who had been working with the disabled community in Boston. When she moved to Philadelphia, she recognized a niche here that needed to be filled. 

“She noticed that theaters and other venues had a lot of empty seats on their hands, and a lot of people in the community who were unable to take advantage of any of those seats because they had various disabilities. So she looked for a way to meld the two things together so that everyone could benefit.”

“Often we see seniors who have experienced some sort of brain trauma, mental or cognitive changes, or who are wheelchair bound. They are often immobile and feeling very isolated. So bringing them to a venue and watching them come back to life and smile is remarkable,” says Young.


Art-Reach also sponsors a program called Independence Starts Here (ISH), a program that specifically targets those with hearing or vision loss so that they can fully participate in arts and cultural experiences.

Another part of the Art-Reach program connects cultural institutions with organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, such as residential homes, schools, churches, nursing homes and more. The cultural institutions provide them with deeply discounted or free tickets, or on-site programs. These cultural partners include theaters, dance companies, museums, gardens and historic sites, among others.

“Each year we serve about 17,000 people who normally would not have had a chance to enjoy the arts. That adds up to more than 250,000 since we began,” says Young. It’s gratifying , she says, to see “how important it can be to individuals to enjoy the kinds of things that have not been part of their lives for many years. We get such wonderful feedback from those we have helped bring joy back into their lives, that it makes me feel wonderful just to be a part of it all.”

For information, visit www.art-reach.org or call 215-568-2115.
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PCA releases State of the Agency Report


Forty years ago this spring, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) first began providing and coordinating congregate meals for older Philadelphians through a network of 13 nutrition sites located in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Today that program has grown to 23 full-service senior community centers and 10 satellite meal sites which last year served 495,964 congregate meals. PCA's State of the Agency Report for fiscal year 2013 details this, and the many other programs and services aimed at improving the lives of older Philadelphians.


Among them: 1.5 million meals were delivered to frail homebound seniors; 495,964 meals were served at senior centers; and 21,397 older adults received in-home services to help them remain in their homes.

These programs and services are crucial in a city where 43% of seniors are unable to afford one of life’s basic necessities, and 28,000 report skipping meals due to lack of money.

Click here to read PCA’s State of the Agency Report for Fiscal Year 2013.
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Make PCA's website work for you


Please help us improve our site
Click here to take a survey.

 Seven years ago, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) created the website, pcaCares.org, to serve as a resource for seniors, caregivers and professionals in the aging network. You can:
  • Search for senior centers and see a map showing where they are in the city
  • Get a list of affordable housing facilities, with phone numbers, addresses and emails
  • Find out about free or low-cost home repairs through PCA
  • Find resources for caregivers
  • Find job postings and professional conferences

The site includes a directory of more than 1,300 organizations that provide services, resources and information about aging. 

We would very much appreciate your input on the site, and on improvements that could be made. This survey has just 13 questions and will take just a few minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.

For more information about pcaCares.org, and a video about using it, click on "read more" below.
The pcaCares.org website organizes information into subject areas: 
  • Senior services
  • Senior lifestyle
  • Caregiving
  • Professionals; 
  • News and information
The listings of organizations are in the directory of resources, which is accessed through "Search" on the home page.  There are dedicated landing pages from which to search for senior centers; organizations; services; and calendar events. Within services, users can search by broad categories, such as In-Home Care; Housing; or Emergency. They can also search a list of specific services, such as personal care; housekeeping; assisted living; or utilities.

David Besnette, owner of  the website assisted-living-directory.com, has created a video that shows how to search pcaCares.org to find services for seniors. While he focuses on assisted living, the information is valid for whatever sort of search you wish to do. He also includes information about the resources available on the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's website.

Please help us make pcaCares.org a useful tool for you and others in the community by completing this survey. Thank you!

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This gift for Mom is more important than flowers


Mom-daughter.jpg

Each May, we take time to honor our mothers. We reflect on the valuable lessons we have learned from Mom, the selfless things she has done and her many contributions to our life.

This May, when you get together with mom or call her on the phone, take some extra time and figure out how she is really doing. Here are five questions to consider that might be helpful for Mom and the rest of the family to ensure she stays healthy and safe.

1. Are there major changes? Take note of physical and psychological changes that may be happening.
Check the 10 Warning Signs that indicate your mother might need some additional assistance.

2. What about end-of-life planning? Are you familiar with your mom’s end-of-life wishes? This might be a tough conversation to initiate, but will be valuable for all involved. Click here for tips on starting the conversation.

3. Does she know how to avoid scam artists? Anyone can be the victim of fraud or a scam, but older adults tend to be targeted more. Make sure mom is educated about avoiding scams and fraud.Useful tips to Protect Your Pocketbook.




4. Is home livable? Mom might be living in the same home you grew up in or a different place altogether.
Regardless, as she ages, there may be certain hazards in a home that increase the likelihood of a
fall. Learn about ways to Prevent Falls in the Home.

5. How do we keep in touch? Visits and phone conversations are great, but they are not always possible.

Make sure Mom can keep in contact. Has she tried emailing, texting and using Facebook? What about
Skype or Instant Messages? Make sure mom is comfortable Staying Connected many different ways.

These, and the resources below are provided by the U.S. Administration for Community Living:

Eldercare Locator Brochure
This brochure provides general information about the Eldercare Locator and community-based services. en Español  

Employment Options: Tips for Older Job Seekers
This brochure has tips for older adults who are looking to enter or re-enter the workforce, with suggestions for identifying job skills, finding job leads, filling out an application and preparing for an interview. 

Hospital to Home: Plan for a Smooth Transition
The guide provides planning tips for pre-hospital check-in as well as post-checkout from the hospital.

Housing Options for Older Adults: A Guide for Making Housing Decisions
This booklet provides an overview of the types of housing available to older adults, and highlights some personal and legal issues to consider in making housing decisions. 

Let’s Talk
This guide provides tips for starting the conversation about health, legal, financial and end-of-life issues with a loved one. 

Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults As You Age
It is important to know about your medicines to avoid possible problems. This brochure provides tips on taking medicines safely.

Pick Up The Pace
This consumer guide is designed to educate boomers about financial and retirement planning choices and to help them secure their financial outlook for the future. 

Prescription Drug Options for Older Adults: Managing Your Medicines
This brochure describes helpful ways of managing medicines and getting the best value for your medicines. The brochure lists key questions to ask health care professionals and suggests options to help pay for medicines, and ways of overcoming some medicine hurdles. 

Preventing Falls at Home
This brochure describes safety checks older adults can do in and around the house to reduce their risk of falling and help enhance their independent living. 

Protect Your Pocketbook: Tips to Avoid Financial Exploitation
This brochure provides information and resources on avoiding financial exploitation and offers tips on how to stay safe. 

Staying Connected: Technology Options for Older Adults 
This brochure features information for older adults who are interested in learning about new technology tools they can utilize to communicate with family and friends-especially younger generations. It includes tips on text messaging, setting up a Facebook page and emailing.

Staying "IN TOUCH" in Crisis Situations
This brochure outlines how families can stay in touch with older loved ones and be prepared when a crisis situation occurs. It includes a tear-off sheet for personal planning. 

Transportation Options for Older Americans: Choices for Mobility Independence
The brochure describes various types of transportation services for older adults and lists key questions to ask transportation provider to determine the best option to meet individual needs.

Winter Warmth and Safety: Home Energy Tips for Older Adults
The brochure offers some economical ways to stay warm and safe at home. 

If you find that mom might need a little assistance, you are interested in learning more or would like a free copy of one of these brochures, call the Eldercare Locator at 800.677.1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov to get connected with trusted local aging resources in your community.

Source: U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services
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Combating isolation, hunger, despair for four decades


By Linda L. Riley
Meet Helene, who is caring for her elderly mother; Emphers, who doesn't want to be a burden to her children; Walter, who needs help to stay in his own home since losing his eyesight. Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) has been helping thousands of older Philadelphians like them combat hunger, isolation and despair since 1973.

This week, PCA relleased a new, four and a half minute video, "PCA Cares for Seniors," where they, and others who receive PCA services, share their stories.

"The video really goes to the heart of what PCA does," says PCA President and CEO Holly Lange. "Whether it's  doing yoga at a senior center, or using CCT Connect to get to the doctor, or getting help caring for a loved one so she needn't go into a nursing home - all of our services are aimed at improving the lives of older Philadelphians."

The video is posted on PCA’s new YouTube channel, along with another, titled “Senior Centers: the original social network.” “We had some fun with that one,” Lange said. “We played on the themes of “chat room” and “instant message” and “friend requests” to show off the ways senior centers bring people together.”

Centers are crucial in helping combat isolation, Lange said. she said. “We know that in Philadelphia, more than 36% of those age 65 and older live alone. New neighbors may not be familiar, and family members may live far away. Being able to go to a senior center and meet people, have a good lunch, take an art or exercise class and learn about topics of interest to them provides a lifeline. They become part of a community, and remain active and engaged.”

“Isolation is a risk factor for many negative outcomes,” Lange said. “As seniors become more frail, and have mobility problems, they may not feel comfortable going to the supermarket. Nutrition suffers, and their health deteriorates further.”

For frail or homebound seniors, there are services and programs to help overcome isolation, providing transportation, companionship, in-home care, and home-delivered meals.

For more information about PCA’s services for seniors and caregivers, visit the website at www.pcaCares.org or call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

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Open House: LGBT-friendly apartments


Low-income senior housing
An Open House will be held on Saturday, March 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the new John C. Anderson Apartments at 249 S 13th St. in Philadelphia. 

Seniors, age 62 or older, who meet income restrictions are welcome to apply for residence in this LGBT-friendly complex. The income limits are $33,300 a year for one person and $38,040 for two people.
Rent is based on income and ranges from $638 to $786 a month.  There are nine one-bedroom apartment homes available for immediate occupancy. For more information, call 855-657-0325, e-mail JohnCAnderson@Pennrose.com or go to www.JohnCAndersonApts.com. Back to Top
 

City's many transportation alternatives


By Alicia M. Colombo Often the difference between an active, healthy lifestyle and being isolated from the community is access to transportation. According to the American Public Transportation Association, older non-drivers make 15% fewer trips to the doctor; 59% fewer shopping trips and visits to restaurants; and 65% fewer trips for social, family, and religious activities.

“Transportation services provide an important link in helping older Philadelphians maintain their independence and stay actively engaged in their communities,” said Bruce Bornmann, transportation manager at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. “A variety of transportation programs available in Philadelphia help decrease the risks of driving, provide social interaction, and diminish the attributes of otherwise being homebound.”       

Free or discount rides for seniors 

In Philadelphia, adults who are age 65 or older may ride SEPTA buses, elevated trains, trolleys, and subways on its fixed-route service free of charge.

To travel outside of the city, there is a $1 reduced rate to ride Regional Rail within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A pack of 10 Regional Rail tickets can be purchased for a 15% discount ($8.50) from the SEPTA website or any ticket office. Anyone can purchase these tickets on behalf of seniors, since they are validated at the time of travel.

To ride SEPTA for free or a reduced fare, seniors must show one of the following forms of ID: Railroad Retirement Annuity Card, Medicare Card (issued by the Social Security Administration), or PA Senior Citizen Transit ID Card. For information, call 215-580-7800 or go to www.septa.org.

Seniors or adults with disabilities who would like to become more familiar with SEPTA’s fixed route service may utilize the Accessible Travel Center at Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd. Information about accessible service options is available at the center.
There is also a full-size vehicle that allows riders to practice boarding and navigating mass transit in a stress-free environment.

Service animals, wheelchairs, and personal trainers or instructors are welcome at the center and on SEPTA vehicles. The center is open by appointment on weekdays during regular business hours.  For more information about accessible travel on SEPTA, go to www.septa.org/access.

Philadelphia’s purple PHLASH trolleys provide quick, easy and inexpensive travel to key historic attractions and cultural institutions. The route hits more than 19 key locations in Center City, including Sister Cities Park, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Zoo, Penn’s Landing, African American Museum, Liberty Bell, PA Convention Center, U.S. Mint, and Shofosu Japanese House & Garden.

The PHLASH runs every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and Friday through Sunday in May, September and October. Seniors and children up to age 4 ride free. For information: 215-389-8687 or www.ridephillyphlash.com.

Accessible transit
SEPTA Customized Community Transportation (CCT) Connect administers two ride-sharing programs. They are the federally mandated ADA service and Shared Ride Program, which is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), SEPTA CCT Connect provides comparable service for people with disabilities who are functionally unable to use regular accessible fixed-route bus service for their transportation needs. Eligible individuals can travel whenever and wherever buses operate in SEPTA's five-county service region. 

For older adults 65 and older, who are unable to use SEPTA’s fixed route system, SEPTA CCT Connect’s Shared Ride Program provides door-to-door transportation by advance reservation to registered Philadelphia seniors. Riders pay 15% of the ride cost and share a vehicle with other passengers; for programs funded by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), the 15% rider’s share of the cost of the ride is paid through that program, while the Pennsylvania Lottery pays the remaining 85%.  Shared Ride can take seniors to adult day services; senior community centers; medical appointments; and errands, such as shopping and banking. It is fully handicapped accessible. For more information or to register for SEPTA’s CCT Connect, call at 215-580-7145

For some riders who need additional assistance to utilize Shared Ride, the Attendant Transportation Service (ATS) is also available. Facilitated directly by PCA, this service provides door-through-door and upper floor assistance to eligible older adults with physical and/or mental handicaps who would not otherwise have access to transportation. Shared Ride registration and a separate ATS certification are required.  For more information about ATS or other transportation options for seniors in Philadelphia, contact the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

Volunteer rides

Silver Wheels can take older adults to non-emergency medical appointments, shopping, banks, pharmacies, social activities, and to visit friends or loved ones. “Silver Wheels is designed to ensure that older adults can continue to maintain their meaningful and vital community connections, regardless of their ability to drive to their destinations,” said Sara Popkin, co-director of adult and senior services at JFCS.

Riders must be able to make appointments for themselves and walk/transfer to vehicles without the driver's assistance. Walkers or canes are permitted, but the vehicles are not wheelchair accessible. A yearly assessment fee, which is calculated based on ability to pay, is required to register for Silver Wheels. There is also a $4 per-trip fee for a one-way ride of up to 30 miles, and one companion may ride along at no additional cost. For information on becoming a Silver Wheels rider or driver, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-866-532-7669 or e-mail intake@jfcsphilly.org.
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Ombudsman's role is protection


By Marcia Z. Siegal While a nursing home is commonly regarded as institutional living, for the people who reside there, it is their home. The same holds true for residents in other long-term care facilities, says Lynda Pickett, manager for PCA’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

“I stress over and over that this is where you live. You are paying for your care.  You deserve to have a voice in the quality of care and services you receive,” she says. In fact, federal and state regulations mandate long-term care residents’ rights to both quality of care and quality of life. 

The Ombudsman program utilizes both staff and volunteers to advocate for, and help to protect those rights.

“Everyone in long-term care needs an advocate,” says Pickett, noting that 443 complaints about Philadelphia long-term care facilities were reported to ombudsmen last year. “The role of the ombudsman is to hold systems accountable, to ensure that residents’ rights are protected,” she emphasizes.

 The ombudsman may address such issues as:
• Residents’ finances: Access to personal funds, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, charges, and billing
• Quality of life: Concerns about food, the physical environment, and social activities
• Professional care: Issues concerning medications, nursing care, physician and rehabilitative services, and the use of restraints
• Residents’ rights: Practices and policies that maintain the resident’s dignity; as well as policies regarding admission, transfer and discharge

“Many of the issues we address center on poor communication,” says Lori Walsh, ombudsman manager for CARIE, which provides services for long-term care residents in North, South and West Philadelphia.

"The nursing home, for instance, can be a confusing place especially for someone who has just moved in. It's busy and fast paced. People often don't know who they should (or can) complain to. It's always better to address a problem as soon as it has started, instead of waiting until it has escalated out of control. Residents and families can always call the ombudsman. Calls are always confidential and callers can be anonymous.”

Another growing concern pertains to discharge rights, she reports. “It's important for nursing home residents (and their families) to know that they have a lot of protection when it comes to discharge from a nursing home. If residents are in a nursing home for rehabilitation and they are told that their Medicare days are up and are feeling pressured by the nursing home to move out, they should contact the ombudsman. The ombudsman can educate callers about their discharge rights and advocate for nursing home residents when these types of issues come up.”

 A growing movement is underway to train long-term care residents as volunteer ombudsmen within their facilities. Pioneered nationally in 2002 by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents (PEER) program trains long-term care residents to work with facility staff to enhance the quality of care and quality of life for all residents and to educate them about their rights. Advocating and championing resolutions in-house, they are well-positioned since fellow residents are more likely to share their concerns with someone they know. In Philadelphia there are now eight facilities and 71 PEER volunteers participating in the program. 

The ombudsman program itself also relies on trained volunteers. “We are always in need of more community volunteers to expand our capacity to reach out and help,” Pickett says.

To learn more about residents’ rights in long-term care facilities or about the ombudsman program, including volunteer and PEER ombudsman opportunities, contact the following organizations:

In Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia:
 Center in the Park
 5818 Germantown Ave.
 215-844-1829
 www.centerinthepark.org

In South, West or North Philadelphia:

Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE)
 100 S. Broad St.
 Main number: 215-545-5728; Toll-free number: 1-800-356-3606
 www.carie.org
 Information is also available through the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 717-783-8975 or www.aging.state.pa.us. Click on “Advocacy (ombudsman).”
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Generations keep tradition going


By Marcia Z. Siegal
“Mom-Mom has lived with me almost all of my life,” says Karen Mangan. Growing up, Mangan’s household included her parents, Bob and Kathleen Snyder; brother Bob; and her maternal grandmother, “Mom-Mom.”

 “Mom-Mom” Helen Frain, now 94, continued to live with her daughter, Kathleen, after the children had grown up and their father, Bob Snyder, Sr. died. When Kathleen Snyder developed lung cancer, Frain helped care for her until she died, four years ago. She was quickly welcomed into her granddaughter’s Northeast Philadelphia home.

“Mom-Mom always told me that when she got old she didn’t want to go to a nursing home,” says Mangan, 43, who shared a bedroom with her growing up.  “It never occurred to us that she should.”

 Frain contends with serious hearing loss and with macular degeneration that impairs her vision and limits some of her activities. She has experienced several falls in recent years. “I don’t want to be alone. I feel safe being here,” she says of her current home.

“I help when I can.” She is a central figure in the household, where she joins in meals, helps with some of the everyday tasks, regales her great-grandsons with stories of her younger years, and can be with the boys when her granddaughter needs to run errands.

  She is quick, from force of habit, to straighten up and put things away so the house stays neat. “Sometimes, I like a bit of messiness,” Mangan jokes. “I know where things are.”

 Mangan, a stay-at-home mom for sons Paul (“Paulie”), and Shaun, ages 12 and 9, emphasizes that being her grandmother’s full-time caregiver is not something she could manage alone. Her husband, Paul, has been strongly supportive from the outset.

 "My mother was in a wheelchair when I was growing up, so I know firsthand what it’s like to live with someone with a disability,” says Paul Mangan, 49, a self-employed masonry contractor. “I used to help with the cleaning and the cooking and would assist her in moving from her wheelchair to the car, if she had to go somewhere.” These days, he drives Frain to doctors’ appointments and on banking errands when he is available, and helps Frain with her bills.

 Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) also provides assistance.  Funded through the federal government and Pennsylvania Department of Aging, FCSP aids eligible caregivers of adults 60+ when care recipients are unable to perform some of the tasks of daily living.

Mangan’s PCA care manager helped her develop a care plan, advises her about community and government resources, and keeps in touch regularly by phone and through periodic home visits. Mangan also receives financial assistance through FCSP, which she uses to help pay for some of her grandmother’s medical supplies which are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, and for several hours of housecleaning help each week.

 Frain's daily presence is not just a responsibility, “it’s a comfort,” Mangan points out.  “I have a small family,” she says. “My father and mother are deceased, and my brother lives in Pittsburgh. In some ways, Mom-Mom is all I have left. It’s great having her here.”

For her part, Frain says she enjoys being a part of the busy household and seeing yet another generation of the family grow up.  Her great-grandchildren return her affection, and both say they are lucky to have her in their lives. 

“She makes me happy when I am sad,” says Paulie.

“She always cares about my feelings,” says Shaun.
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Time to make a move?


By Alicia M. Colombo Most older adults want to be as independent as possible as they age, but the time may come when you are no longer able to be completely self-sufficient. There are many living options designed to support independent living, including in-home care and senior-friendly housing.

For seniors who need more care, other alternatives include personal care homes and 24-hour skilled nursing facilities. Each option varies based on physical needs; amenities or services desired; and finances. The first step is to decide what level of help you need.

“If people are having difficulty with their personal care, such as bathing, dressing or grooming; or mobility, it’s time to think about getting help,” said Ann Danish, director of care management at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA)


Family members may start to notice changes in an older person’s grooming or hygiene. A lack of food in the kitchen or too many pills left in the bottles of regular medications may signal that the person is neglecting self-care.

Care at home
PCA can conduct a free in-home assessment to determine a person’s eligibility for in-home care services through the Medical Assistance Aging Waiver Program, which is funded by Medicaid; or the Options Program, which is cost-shared by the consumer on a sliding-fee scale based on income. The individual may also be assessed for the Family Caregiver Support Program, Domiciliary Care, or LIFE program. Home modifications may also be available to make an older person’s home more safe and secure. “Sometimes, what prompts an older person to request an assessment from PCA is difficulty with their personal care; shopping; meal preparation or housekeeping; or self-care for a health issue,” said Danish. The assessment looks at the person’s health status, functional abilities, finances, ability to handle daily activities, and support system. “Most older people want to stay at home. They are contributing members of their community. They’re comfortable in their homes, and often enjoy socialization and close relationships with friends and neighbors,” said Danish.

Receiving home-delivered meals, going to an adult day or senior center, or getting help with personal care for a couple of hours can often be enough to enable an older person to remain safely at home. “Home care is generally less costly than care received in a facility, but what’s more important is how a person wants to live,” said Danish.

Independent living
Seniors who are still independent, but do not wish to continue to live in their existing home may consider senior housing. There are several senior housing complexes in Philadelphia that offer the convenience of maintenance-free living in a single level layout with one or two bedrooms. The costs and amenities vary greatly, depending on the type of housing.

There are some affordable senior housing complexes that offer rent control, linkage to social services, and easy access to transportation. “Affordable housing communities are independent living situations that allow residents to mingle with other seniors,” said Judee Bavaria, president and CEO of Presby’s Inspired Life. “While the complexes don’t provide care services, each building has a Housing Service Coordinator who works with residents to assist them to utilize existing community services, like PCA, meals on wheels and veterans’ benefits. There’s so much available through the community that seniors don’t realize. When they learn about it, they often become overwhelmed. The coordinators are really talented at linking seniors to services and helping them maneuver the various application processes,” said Bavaria. Some senior housing complexes may provide limited programming, such as intergenerational activities, trips and onsite computer/internet access.

Rent for certain affordable housing complexes run by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), commonly known as Section 8, is 30% of a person’s adjusted gross income. The income limit is $27,750, which excludes expenses for medical and child care; and utilities are included in the monthly rent. Another HUD program, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, allows residents to pay 20 to 60% of their median income for rent. The income limit is $33,300 with a maximum rent of $900, which also includes utilities.

For adults who have significant financial resources and would like more amenities, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) might be a more desirable option. “Within 50 miles of Philadelphia, there are more CCRCs than anywhere else in the country,” Bavaria said. “People typically come in as independent, then adjust their level of care as their needs change. If the need is minimal, home care might be a great option. Independent communities provide onsite security, socialization, and an on-call button for emergencies.”

Independent living in a CCRC is the first tier of a step-up living option. They offer single level units and a host of onsite amenities, including meal plan options, social services, housekeeping and security. Many include fitness centers, swimming pools, and regular entertainment. The entrance fee for a CCRC ranges from $60,000 to $500,000, in addition to monthly fees of $2,000 to $6,000. Fees are dependent on a variety of factors, including the health of the occupants; type of housing selected; rental or purchase; number of residents; and the type of service contract. To enter a CCRC, residents must quality physically and financially. “If you are a threat to yourself or others because of dementia, independent living of any kind is not an option,” said Bavaria.

Residents of CCRCs may purchase a life care contract that locks in their current monthly fee and would offer personal or skilled nursing care services at the same rate, if needed at a later time. Individuals may opt to purchase private long-term care insurance instead or privately pay for services as needed.

Personal care home
“Personal care is a step above independent living for people who may need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing or dressing,” said Bavaria. Personal Care Homes are residences that provide shelter, meals, supervision and assistance with personal care tasks for seniors or people with physical, behavioral health, or cognitive disabilities who are unable to care for themselves, but do not need nursing home or medical care. A personal care home is often the second level of care in a CCRC, but independent personal care facilities are also available. Monthly fees at Presby’s personal care homes start at $4,000, and Bavaria said they offer residents a private unit with all meals, some personal care services, and memory support for individuals with mild dementia.

While some personal care housing options have entrance fees similar to CCRCs, others do not, and the services available may vary. “Personal care homes used to be considered the same as an assisted living facility in Pennsylvania. Now assisted living is licensed and is a higher level of care,” said Bavaria.

Assisted Living
In Pennsylvania, an assisted living facility provides onsite food, shelter, personal care and supervision. Assistance may be provided with eating, transferring, using the bathroom, personal hygiene, managing health care, and self-administering medication. Residents of an assisted living facility cannot require continuous nursing care. Weekly activities can include motor skills exercises; self-care activities; social activities; crafts; sensory and memory enhancement activities; and outdoor activities. The cost for assisted living in Pennsylvania ranges from $1,600 to $4,500 per month. Medicaid funding is not available, although a state supplement to Supplemental Security Income is available.

Skilled nursing facility

When a person becomes a safety risk and the individual’s well-being is compromised in a community setting, placement in a skilled nursing facility, commonly referred to as a nursing home, becomes necessary. “Extensive medical needs, such as use of a feeding tube, skin breakdown, or late stage dementia are conditions that may require 24-hour care,” said Danish. The cost of nursing home care can be $250 a day or more. When medically necessary, this cost may be paid for through Medicare on a short-term basis or medical assistance. Long-term care insurance and private pay options are also available.
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Help making the best choice


By Alicia M. Colombo
When considering the living option that’s right for you, think about the level of care that’s likely to be needed in the near future. As with PCA’s assessment for in-home care services, most facilities will conduct a thorough evaluation of your mental, financial and physical status to determine eligibility.

If you need help with one or two activities of daily living, such as dressing or bathing, in-home care in an independent living setting may be appropriate. If more extensive care is needed, a personal care home or assisted living facility may be a better fit. Skilled nursing facilities are for people who need the daily attention of a nurse, and/or have complex medical or behavioral issues.

Here are some resources to help you find living options:

A Place for Mom features a directory of 19,000 senior-care properties and facilities, including adult day care, Alzheimer’s memory care, assisted living, independent living, short stay respite care, nursing homes and 55+ communities: 1-866-344-8005

AssistedLivingFacilities.org offers a directory of more than 36,000 assisted living facilities in the county and other resources, including a blog with related news articles and a Q&A forum: 1-866-333-6002

Friends Life Care serves eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware as a CCRC “without walls,” providing professional care management, home care and personal care services: 215-628-8964.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging provides referrals to hundreds of local services and programs, as well as free in-home assessments (for Philadelphia residents) for long-term care services: 215-765-9040.

Questions to ask:
*Can my loved one's needs be met? Be explicit about what the person requires.
*What is the basic monthly cost and what does it include? What are the added costs if extra help is needed?
*Is there an entrance fee? If so, is it refundable?
*What activities are provided?
*Are religious services held at the facility, or are residents taken to services off-site?
*What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
*What conditions would cause a resident to need to move to another level of care?
*Does a doctor make regular visits to the residence?
*Ask residents if they like living there, and ask any of their friends or family who might be visiting what they think about the facility.
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Modifications can make home livable


By Alicia M. Colombo
Many homes in Philadelphia were not built with aging in mind. As you grow older, climbing steps or getting around your home may become difficult. Changes or modifications to the home environment to accommodate a person’s physical needs can make completing daily activities easier and safer for older adults.

“A modification can be as simple as a stairway handrail or as complex as a motorized exterior wheelchair lift,” said Ellena Jonas, housing director at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). “The goals are to allow the older person to be as independent as possible within the home; to access the community more freely and easily; and to prevent nursing home placement.”

PCA’s Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP) provides minor repairs and modifications to homes of Philadelphia homeowners who are age 60 or older. The property must be structurally sound and have functioning utilities.

Repairs can include installing or repairing faucets, receptacles, doors and basement steps. Most homes also receive essential safety features, such as railings and smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. “Minor repairs can prevent a major problem. A small leak in the kitchen can eventually seep into the floor below and cause a big problem or an electrical short can start a house fire,” said Jonas.

Some of the modifications performed by SHARP include installing intercom systems, interior and exterior stairway railings, tub/shower grab bars, and adapted fixtures.
“People are unaware of how simple changes to their home can make such a big difference in their lives,” said Jonas. “A simple exterior wrought iron rail, which costs about $350, can provide a person with access to the outside world. An older woman once told me that she can now proudly walk up her front steps without needing to crawl. The neighborhood children made fun of her, whenever she returned to her home and had to crawl up the steps to the house.”

Small changes, like the exterior rail described above, provide multi-tiered benefits of increased independence, mobility, health and safety. Intercom systems can be installed with a door release to allow an older adult with mobility issues to communicate with visitors at the front door and to “buzz in” the meals on wheels delivery person, health care aid or friends, for example. “Many older adults in Philadelphia leave their doors unlocked, because they can’t get to the front door. An intercom provides safety and security. It can also decrease isolation, since the senior won’t miss visits from family or neighbors,” said Jonas.

Recipients of PCA’s long-term care (LTC) services can sometimes receive more extensive modifications, including electric stair glides. 

“I’m pleased to see so many exterior wheelchair lifts and stairglides being installed for our Waiver consumers,” Jonas said. “It allows wheelchair users to independently leave their homes to go to medical appointments, day care centers and other community programs.” Durable medical equipment, such as tub chairs and raised toilet seats, which are recommended by an occupational therapist (OT), may also be provided.

Choosing modifications
To determine whether an individual could benefit from home modifications, the SHARP program first has an OT evaluate the home. “The OT looks at the whole picture – not just the house – to evaluate an individual’s specific needs with regards to a disability,” said Jonas. For example, the height of a front door peep sight; an accessible kitchen counter; tub grab bar; or hand-held shower will be different for each person.  “The Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines aren’t a universal fit for all people with disabilities. The OT interviews the consumer about his or her lifestyle and personal habits to design modifications that are a good fit,” said Jonas. The OT completes a full-scale evaluation of the home, makes recommendations, and prioritizes them based on helpfulness and independence for the senior. The goal is to attempt to create a barrier-free environment.

Assistance with modifications available
Low-income older adult homeowners may receive $850 in modifications and $1,550 in minor repairs from PCA’s Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP). Households with incomes up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, $1,915 a month for one person or $2,585 for a couple, can receive SHARP services at no cost.

SHARP allows people of all income levels to receive services on a sliding scale, based on their income through cost sharing. “We recognize that households above the Federal Poverty Guidelines have the same needs for home repairs and modifications,” Jonas said. “Consumers feel confident that they will receive quality services because a reputable agency, PCA, is backing the work. So many of our consumers have been scammed by contractors that take their money and fail to provide services. Cost-sharing is a great concept, and we expect to see it continue to grow,” she said.

Since the program began in 1980, SHARP has completed more than 14,000 modifications to the homes of seniors in Philadelphia and continues to provide 600 additional home repairs annually.

The wait time for SHARP is about 4 to 5 months. The work is guaranteed for one year, and SHARP recipients can re-apply to receive additional work after five years. For more information about SHARP or PCA’s long-term care programs, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040 or visit www.pcaCares.org. 
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Honoring life's passages


By Linda L. Riley David Campbell’s woodworking took a surprising turn when his father-in-law became seriously ill. At the time, Campbell was 56 and had been teaching woodworking, carpentry and construction at Eastern Center for Arts and Technology in Willow Grover for almost 13 years.

 “I knew he was going to die, and I just started making his casket. I didn’t tell anyone,” Campbell says. It became a way to pay homage to the man who originally introduced him to woodworking, and with whom he was very close. “While I was working on it, I was thinking of him – all the things we did – it was a cathartic experience.”


 “When I finished it, I came upstairs and said, ‘I’m done.’ He had told his wife, Renie, about it not long before. “We went to see him, and two hours later, he died. I decided at that time to change careers and commit myself to doing woodworking full time.” That was in 2008. 

 “This experience inspired me to consider all of the passages we go through in life – births, marriages, families growing and changing, aging, death. I realized my life’s purpose was to create special pieces to mark these passages,” he says.

 Since then, Campbell has dedicated himself full-time to his woodworking, under the name ‘The WoodsMyth.’

 Each of his hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces is custom-made. Among them have been cradles, Chuppah wedding canopies, hope chests, and other pieces of furniture. He allows each piece of wood to suggest its use. Cross-sections from the trunk of a walnut tree became a 14-foot long bench that provides seating in a gallery at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill. The massive, gnarled root of a cherry tree became a magnificent menorah, which is among his works currently on display at “The Art of It” gallery in Jenkintown.

 Among the most meaningful commissions, he says, are the caskets and urns he crafts for life’s final passage.

Journey of discovery

 That first casket, created for his father-in-law, set him on a quest to learn more about funeral practices, customs and regulations. He discovered that, although embalming is a common practice today, it is not required by law. Designed to preserve the body, he says it became prevalent in the United States during the Civil War when great numbers of soldiers died on the battlefields, far from home, he said. Their bodies were embalmed to make it possible to transport them home for burial. Campbell is part of a “green” funeral movement which shuns the practice, and others designed to prevent or delay the natural process.

 “Embalming is not necessary at all in today's world, and it is a process that uses very toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, which poison the earth and seep into groundwater,” Campbell says. “My caskets, made from recycled or reclaimed wood and made without toxic chemicals or metals, honor the earth and the lives of those who are returned to the earth.”

 He points out that under the Federal Trade Commision’s Funeral Rule, a funeral home may not refuse to accept any container in which you wish to bury your loved one. (see related story) “People don’t know this,” he says.

  His caskets range from a simple pine box to a sleek cylinder, to a hollowed-out tree trunk. Images, shapes and symbols that are meaningful to the deceased are often carved into them. Urns may take a variety of shapes, depending on the piece of wood. Because he works with wood from fallen trees, or from those that have been taken down due to disease or for other purposes, each one is unique. His process involves a three-way conversation of sorts – between himself, the family, and the wood.

 “In the past several years,” he says, “I have had the privilege to work with families who have found comfort and a sense of peace as they joined with me in the creation of a one-of-a-kind casket or urn.  I have found that for families facing a loved one’s death, designing a vessel for that final passage can be a powerful and healing part of the process.” 

  Several times, Campbell has participated in the Tahara, the cleansing, washing and dressing of the body, which are part of a proper Jewish burial. “There’s a series of prayers that they read,” he says. “It’s very powerful.”

 “I believe that acknowledging that our bodies will return to the earth after death, that we will become one with nature, is part of the spiritual journey to an acceptance of our own mortality,” Campbell says.

For more information:

The WoodsMyth - David Campbell
7743 Albright Ave. Elkins Park, PA 19027
Phone - 215-565-5018
Email - info@thewoodsmyth.com

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Emergency Fund in peril as cold strikes


Fund offers aid to senior citizens in crisis
Since October 15, $83,563 has been disbursed by the Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians, to help 233 households in need of fuel oil.

But as of today there is just $14,603 left in the fund, and officials at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging are worried.

“Last year, even with the mild winter, we disbursed more than $198,000 on fuel for 700 households,” says Chris Gallagher, director of PCA’s Helpline, which administers the fund.  “With the resources we now have, and with temperatures dropping, we’re very concerned that we won’t be able to meet the needs,” Gallagher said.
 
The Emergency Fund is a resource of last resort for senior citizens who are referred by social service agencies and clergy, after it has been verified that they have exhausted all other resources. Philadelphia has the second largest proportion of persons age 65 and older of the  nation’s 10 largest cities and its elderly experience poverty at a rate that exceeds that of the state and the nation. 

Donations to the Emergency Fund can be made by calling the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040; or online.  

The elderly population is disproportionately affected by hypothermia (commonly known as cold stress), caused by excessive body heat loss and exposure to cold.


Symptoms of Cold Stress:
•Sleepiness (difficulty waking up)
•Confusion
•Slurred speech
•Lack of coordination
•Uncontrolled shivering
•Weak, slow pulse
•Slow breathing
•Puffy face
•Cold, stiff muscles
•Trembling of one side of the body or in one arm or leg
•Change in behavior or personality

How to Reduce Your Risk of Cold Stress:
•Stay warm and dry, indoors and outdoors
•Avoid exposure to snow, wind, rain and water/dampness
•Dress warmly
◦Wear loose layers of clothing, especially woolens
◦Cover head and neck (wear a hat and scarf)
◦Wear gloves or mittens
◦Change socks and long underwear if they become damp or wet
◦Wear warm shoes and socks
•Keep skin and clothing dry to lessen the chance of frostbite
•Eat nutritious meals on a regular basis, especially a hot meal
•Drink a lot of fluids

What To Do in an Emergency:
•DO call 9-1-1 for medical assistance
•DO cover head and neck
•DO wrap in blankets, towels, extra clothes, or newspaper
•DO handle the person gently
•DO warm the person gradually
•DO take off wet clothes and provide warm, dry clothing

What Not To Do in an Emergency:
•DO NOT give hot drinks or hot food
•DO NOT give alcohol or medications
•DO NOT bathe or shower
•DO NOT rub or massage arms or legs
* If taking medication for high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, poor circulation or sleeplessness, talk about hypothermia/cold stress with your doctor.

The Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians is supported by individual donations, corporations, foundations and proceeds from special events. Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) administers the fund on behalf of a coalition of 22 community-based social service organizations and service providers. 
  
  
For more information, click here.
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Emergency Fund Dangerously Low


By Linda L. Riley
The Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians, which provides aid to seniors in crisis, is itself in a precarious state. Officials at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging warned that, without a significant increase in donations, it may have to close just as winter gets underway.

"Last year we disbursed more than $198,000 on fuel alone – and at the moment we have only $30,000 in the Fund,” said Chris Gallagher, director of PCA’s Helpline, which administers the Fund.

Gallagher said that with snow and cold weather arriving so early this year, there is likely to be greater need for assistance with heating bills than in the past several years, when winters have been mild. "To give you an idea of a day this time of year, yesterday we had 12 Efund requests. Four were general, total $400; four for food, total $225; and four for oil at $3.58 a gallon, totaling $1,432. That's a total of $2,057 in one day. At this rate, $30,000 won't last through the month."

Donations can be made online at keepseniorswarm.org.

Even with the mild winter last year, close to 700 households received assistance with fuel bills. “We anticipate there will be heavy demand for aid from people who cannot afford fuel oil this winter, and with the resources we now have, we’re very concerned that we may not be able to meet the needs,” Gallagher said.

The Emergency Fund serves as a last resort for Philadelphia’s senior citizens who have exhausted all other resources. In addition to fuel oil, it provides assistance with food, prescriptions, medical supplies and other necessities. It is supported by individual donations, corporations, foundations and proceeds from special events.

Founded in 1979, the Emergency Fund is coordinated by PCA and guided by a coalition of 22 organizations serving seniors and their families. Recipients of assistance are referred for help by recognized social service agencies and members of the clergy and must  have exhausted all other resources for help. Since its founding, the Emergency Fund  has helped  nearly 23,000 city seniors in need. 
Donors can contribute online at www.keepseniorswarm.org; or by calling the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040; or mailing in a donation made out to the Emergency Fund and addressed to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, 642 North Broad St., Phila., PA 19130. 
 

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'Tis the Season: Check on elderly neighbors



Exposure to harsh winter weather and cold temperatures can kill, whether you are outside or living in a home with insufficient heat. Older adults are at an especially high risk for hypothermia, commonly called ‘cold stress,’ which is caused by excessive body heat loss and exposure to cold. According to The American Geriatric Society, 50% of hypothermia deaths occur in people age 75 or older.

Even mild cold can have adverse health effects on the elderly because of compromised circulation and respiratory conditions. Cold stress can happen indoors at temperatures of 60° to 70°F. Those who don’t dress warmly enough; live in a cold house; lack shelter from the elements; eat poorly; or take prescription medications for high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, poor circulation or sleeplessness are at risk for cold stress.

People can protect themselves by following these simple guidelines, given by Sharon Congleton, RN, BSN, health promotion nurse supervisor at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA):
• Stay warm and dry, indoors and outdoors
• Avoid exposure to snow, wind, rain and water/dampness
• Dress warmly
• Wear loose layers of clothing, especially woolens
• Cover your head and neck with a hat and scarf
• Wear gloves or mittens
• Change your socks and long underwear, if they become damp or wet
• Wear warm shoes and socks
• Keep skin and clothing dry to lessen the chance of frostbite
• Eat nutritious meals on a regular basis, especially hot meals
• Drink a lot of fluids

Symptoms of a cold stress emergency include:
• Body temperature below 95°F
• Uncontrolled shivering
• Excessive sleepiness
• Confusion
• Slurred speech
• Lack of coordination
• Weak, slow pulse
• Slow breathing
• Puffy face
• Cold, stiff muscles
• Trembling on one side of the body or in one extremity.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance. Immediately remove any wet clothes and put on warm, dry clothing. Cover your head and neck, and wrap yourself in blankets, towels, extra clothes, or newspaper. In an emergency, do NOT bathe/shower, rub arms or legs, eat hot food, drink alcohol or take medications.

During the winter months, neighbors, friends and relatives are urged to check in on older adults regularly, just as they would during a summer heat wave. For information on weatherization and utility assistance programs that can help keep your home warm during the winter, go to www.keepseniorswarm.org.

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Program offers early intervention


By Linda L. Riley Sometimes, a small thing can cause a big catastrophe – or a little help can prevent a disaster. In her job as In-Home Support Program (IHSP) Coordinator at Center in the Park, Sharon Benjamin is in the prevention business, and she’s seen this proven true dozens of times.

For example, she cited one elderly woman who was scheduled for some home repairs through Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Senior Housing Assistance and Repair Program (SHARP).

“She had outlets with wires exposed; no outdoor railing; her outdoor cement steps were cracked and the back door was not functional – she had a chair propped against it,” Benjamin recalled.  With these fire, safety, security, and tripping hazards, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The SHARP mechanic was about to start work when he discovered that an exterminator was needed to treat the house, without which the job could not go forward. Benjamin stepped in, was able to have the house treated by an exterminator, and the repair work went on as planned.

Benjamin said that situations are often complex, and when a person comes into the program for one reason, the staff frequently finds other issues that also need to be addressed. Center in the Park is one of five providers of IHSP, which is administered by PCA. It’s an early intervention program, according to Assistant Director Wanda Mitchell.

“In-Home Support provides early, flexible and immediate interventions,” Mitchell said.
The program serves Philadelphia residents, age 60 or older, who are homebound, and in need of one-time, short-term assistance.  Unlike the process for obtaining long-term care services in the home through PCA, which requires a thorough assessment of both physical health and financial resources, IHSP providers can act quickly to address a specific problem. More than 2,200 individuals received services through IHSP in 2012, she said.

One of them was a man living in Northwest Philadelphia, who had a stroke. “He lived on his own, and was not married,” Benjamin said. He realized he was having a stroke; but he feared alerting others in the neighborhood to the fact that his home was empty. “Because of the neighborhood, instead of calling an ambulance, he got on a SEPTA bus,” Benjamin said.

Once on the bus and away from his neighborhood he told the driver, and was taken to the hospital by SEPTA police. “He was hospitalized for several weeks, and while he was in the hospital, his home was broken into,” Benjamin said. She was able to arrange for his back door to be secured and to have locks installed.

When he came home from the hospital, through IHSP he received home-delivered meals and help with medical transportation, and medical equipment, including a raised toilet seat, grab bars, and a hand-held shower. He’s less isolated now, and feels more secure in his home, she said. 

 In another case, a woman who had a stroke moved in with her adult daughter after being released from the hospital. Through IHSP, grab bars and an indoor railing were installed in the daughter’s home. Benjamin also arranged for home-delivered meals, transportation for medical appointments, and a Senior Companion.

“The Senior Companion has made a great difference in her life,” Benjamin said. “He gets her out in the community, travels with her to therapy, and keeps her from being isolated during the day,” when the daughter is at work. “When I first met her, she was pretty withdrawn – she had just lost her spouse and suffered her stroke,” Benjamin said. “Since then, she has become more outgoing.”

Some of these services – home-delivered meals, transportation and Senior Companion – can be continued as long as the need is present, Mitchell said. On a short-term basis, personal care and home support services can be provided. If the need continues, Mitchell said, the individual would be assessed to determine eligibility for long-term care services through PCA.

 To access IHSP services, an individual can either call one of the sites directly (see contact information below); or call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In-Home Support Program Sites

PCA subcontracts with five providers, each of which serves a designated geographic area of the city, as follows: 
Northwest Philadelphia: Center in the Park, 215-848-7722
Northeast Philadelphia: Klein JCC, 215-698-7300
West Philadelphia: Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, Inc., 215-472-6737
North Central Philadelphia: North City Congress, 215-978-1360
South Philadelphia: Catholic Social Services St. Charles Senior Center, 215-732-1140
 
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Disturbing trend has advocates concerned


By Linda L. Riley
A recent trend has advocates for the rights of nursing home residents concerned.

According to Lynda Pickett, manager of the Ombudsman program at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, some facilities are sending patients home without informing them of their payment options. As a result, some people are being discharged too soon, which can have serious consequences.

“We had a resident who went in, she had surgery on her leg,” Pickett said. “They got her out of the hospital quickly and sent her to rehab.” After the first 21 days, “she was sent home from rehab in an ambulance, and ended up back in the hospital the next day.”

“It was an improper discharge, which put that patient at risk,” she said.


The cause of this, Pickett says, is money. A person who is admitted to a facility for rehabilitation following a hospital stay of at least three days has a 20-day period during which Medicare will pay fully for the individual’s care.

“Once they reach that 21st day, they’re sending residents home,” Pickett said. The patient is led to believe that benefits have run out, and they have to leave. But that’s not necessarily so.

“If they are no longer eligible for Medicare, the facility has an obligation to inform them of their options,” she said. These include appealing for a longer stay; making a copayment of $100 a day or more; or applying for Medicaid. From the facility’s point of view, however, a Medicaid patient is much less desirable than a Medicare patient, because the payment is lower.

Pickett said that some facilities which are licensed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as nursing homes, and are qualified to take both Medicare and Medicaid patients, are instead marketing themselves as rehabilitation facilities.

“In some instances, during admission they’re telling people, ‘You can only be here short-term; we don’t have any long-term beds available,’” she said “It’s a systemic issue – there are some providers in high-end facilities that only want to allow a limited number of Mediaid beds. You come in as a Medicare patient – you’re in a bed – your Medicare runs out, and they say, ‘We don’t have any beds.’”

But, she said, “A bed is a bed is a bed.” There is no such distinction as a Medicare bed versus a Medicaid bed; a short-term bed versus a long-term bed. “People shouldn’t be forced to go home prematurely,” she said.

For information on the rights of residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes; or to register a complaint or request assistance, call the following:

In South, West or North Philadelphia: Center for Rights and Advocacy for the Elderly (CARIE),  215-545-5728.

In Northeast or Northwest Philadelphia: Center in the Park, 215-844-1829.
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Speaking out against elder abuse


Theme of National Residents' Rights Month
October is National Residents' Rights Month and the theme for 2013 is, "Speak Out Against Elder Abuse!"

Abuse of older adults is one of the most under-recognized and under-reported social problems in the United States. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, adult children are the most frequent abusers of the elderly. Spouses are the second most likely perpetrators.

These family members are often the senior's only source of support, making the victim unwilling or unable to seek help. Most victims are isolated in their homes, which keeps the abusive situation hidden.

Confidential calls to report abuse may be made by anyone, including the older adult in need.
Report suspected abuse to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's Older Adult Protective Services Department, by calling the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. 

Investigators are available 24-hours-a-day for reports of abuse.



PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services Department provides the resources to intervene when an older adult is abused, abandoned, neglected or financially exploited. The department investigates more than 2,000 reports of abuse and neglect annually.

Older Adult Protective Services provides the resources to detect, prevent, reduce or eliminate:
  • Self-neglect
  • Neglect by a caregiver
  • Physical, sexual or psychological abuse
  • Misuse of the older adult’s money or personal property
  • Abandonment
When abuse is reported, social workers are available to take the necessary action, including intake, investigation, assessment, care planning and crisis resolution.

These services are made possible through the Older Adult Protective Services Act of 1987.
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Signs that signal elder abuse


Abuse can take many forms, from physical and emotional to financial exploitation, and even self-neglect, in cases when an older adult is not capable of caring for him or herself. There are many indicators of abuse which can be observed in both the behavior and condition of the older adult and the caregiver.

Below are some of the more common signs of abuse:

  • Bruises, broken bones, burns, abrasions or other unexplained injuries
  • Poor hygiene, unusual weight loss or dehydration
  • Lack of needed glasses, hearing aids or other assistive devices
  • Over- or under-use of medication
  • Emotional state: anxious, timid, fearful or depressed

    Following are other signs that may signal caregiver abuse, financial exploitation or self-neglect.

Signs of caregiver abuse

Violence or excessive anger towards the older adult; offers conflicting stories about what is happening with the older person.

Signs of financial exploitation:

  • Abnormal bank account closings
  • Major withdrawals
  • Older adult visiting bank in the company of a stranger
  • Sudden display of new wealth by the caregiver
  • An abrupt change in the person's will
  • New transfer of property
  • Older adult lacking basic needs despite adequate financial resources

Signs of self-neglect:

  • Hoarding
  • Inappropriate dress for weather conditions
  • Leaving burning stove unattended
  • Confusion
  • Lack of housekeeping
  • Failure to take needed medications

Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS) can intervene when a person:

  • Is age 60 or older
  • Is a Philadelphia resident
  • Has no responsible caregiver present or is neglected by those responsible for providing food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder
  • Is at imminent risk of danger to self or property
  • Is unable to perform essential tasks or obtain services necessary to maintain physical or mental health

Older adults who do not meet any of these criteria will be referred to other social services within PCA or in the community, as appropriate.

For additional information, visit the following websites:

PA Department of Aging

National Center on Elder Abuse

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Helping serve Latino elders


By Alicia M. Colombo
Philadelphia is home to 30,000 Latino seniors, who come from 20 Spanish-speaking countries. Of the region’s Latino population who are age 60 or older, 63 percent live in Philadelphia; most in the north and lower northeast sections of the city. 

"Foreign-born seniors are among those most at risk for needing aging services,” said Allen Glicksman, director of research and evaluation at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). “Yet language barriers and cultural barriers can pose an obstacle to getting such critical assistance.”

The need for aging services can mark one of the first times foreign-born seniors have to venture beyond the security and insularity of their own community for help. Many seniors can find it particularly difficult to access outside support because traditionally, elders in their native land would be cared for by family members. In America, children are often working outside the home and unable to provide this kind of full-time care.

Language is the biggest obstacle to accessing benefits and services.  “Many Latino seniors who have limited English proficiency prefer to speak in their native language because it makes them feel more comfortable,” said Lissette Ramos, PCA’s Latino outreach coordinator. “Speaking in Spanish helps seniors gain a better understanding of the information that’s being presented, including services available to them and the process to access those services.”

PCA has key materials translated into Spanish, and the website, www.pcaCares.org, offers automated translation; the agency also works to recruit bilingual staff. 

Other barriers to service include the fear and stigma associated with accessing benefits and requesting government intervention; limited knowledge and understanding of available resources; and preference to have family or friends assist with caregiving needs. 

PCA works to help connect aging services agencies and Latino community organizations to assist Latino seniors. The Latino Advisory Committee, which Ramos chairs, was formed to develop strategies on how to better serve Latino older adults, increase networking among aging service agencies, and improve access to aging services. PCA also provides training for professionals who serve Latino older adults. 

Ramos and her Spanish-speaking colleagues attend community events and fairs to provide presentations and information. PCA also hosts a free annual conference for Latino elders and caregivers from the community, which includes health screenings, presentations, entertainment, and information from community or social service agencies. The next Fair for Latino Elders will held on October 5 at St. William Memorial Hall, 6200 Rising Sun Ave. in Philadelphia. The theme is “El Arte de Una Vida Saludable” (the art of healthy living). 

Ramos says the most common requests she receives from Latino seniors are related to finding housing; major home repairs; home care; transportation issues; and benefits, such as accessing or finding additional income, assistance with paying utilities, oil, insurance, medical bills, medications; and access to food.For more information about these and other services for seniors, call PCA’s Helpline at 215-765-9040 or go to www.pcaCares.org. Spanish-speaking staff are available to answer calls, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Translation of PCA’s website is available in 15 languages by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on the country’s flag.
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City of immigrants


By Linda L. Riley
In 1638, the Swedes were the first immigrants to lay claim to what William Penn later dubbed the “City of Brotherly Love.” They displaced the native Lenni Lenape; less than 20 years later, the Swedes were deposed by the Dutch, who then were overpowered by the British.

That rapid turnover hasn’t let up; for the past 375 years, successive waves of immigrants have come, and continue to arrive, from every corner of the globe. While earlier immigrants came primarily from Europe, the majority of today’s newcomers are coming from Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Latin America, and, more recently, Africa.

Changing immigration patterns
While earlier immigrants came primarily from Europe, the majority of today’s newcomers are coming from Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Latin America, and, more recently, Africa. 

Between 1980 and 2011, the number of people living in Philadelphia who came from Asia and the Pacific Islands more than quadrupled, from 15,520 to 65,422.

During the same time period, the city has seen the population of residents from the Caribbean and Latin American countries rise from 11,380 to 57,028.

The increase in emigration from African nations has been equally dramatic, though the numbers have not been as great. In 1980, 1,600 people in Philadelphia listed African nations as their country of origin; by 2011, there was a ninefold increase, to 14,483. At the same time, the numbers of immigrants living in Philadelphia from European nations and the former Soviet Union has dropped, from a combined total of 72,400 people in 1980 to just under 41,000 in 2011.
Seeking refuge and opportunity
The challenges faced by these immigrants vary widely, depending on the circumstances that brought them here.

Julianne Ramic, director of social services for Nationalities Service Center (NSC), works with many refugees who fled persecution, torture and war in their homelands. One of the first steps is linking them to health care. “We have some Bhutanese who have not seen a physician in 20 years, who are 60, and are just now being diagnosed with chronic conditions,” said Ramic. She said NSC works with eight health care clinics that provide services

Founded in 1921, NSC offers immigrants a range of services, including help finding housing; assistance with documentation and legal matters; and job readiness and placement resources.  Ramic said a project dedicated to helping survivors of torture and trauma received funding last fall, and is now serving more than 100 people from countries around the world. NSC also operates Nationalities Senior Center, funded in part by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), which offers older immigrants a nutritious lunch five days a week; opportunities for socialization; health and wellness programs; exercise classes; and social services.

The Pacific Rim Resource Center  (PRRC) was created to serve immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Island, many of whom are coming from war-torn nations. The PRRC provides health and social services, and helps them access resources.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who come seeking education or opportunities. According to the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, 38 percent of immigrants in the Philadelphia area have a college education, as compared with 32 percent of U.S.-born adults. Many who came here to attend college wish to stay.  

Anne O’Callaghan, herself an Irish immigrant, had been in the Philadelphia area for three decades when she founded the Welcoming Center in 2003.  The center serves as a centralized information resource to help immigrants access the many services available to them locally.  Help finding a job, starting a business, getting job training, learning English, and accessing legal advice are among the resources and information provided through the Welcoming Center.

Learning a new language
Both NSC and the Welcoming Center offer classes for those with limited English proficiency, but the slant of each is quite different. While NSC offers basic English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, the Welcoming Center offers both the basics and a six-week English for Entrepreneurs curriculum. This course helps business owners and retail workers build a specialized vocabulary and develop skills in customer relations. Beginner and advanced ESL classes are also offered, free, by the Center for Literacy. 

  
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Centers serve seniors in many languages


By Marcia Z. Siegal Fifty-six percent of the city’s population aged 60+ are minorities, immigrants or both. Of all Philadelphia residents age 60+, 14% are foreign born, and an estimated 17% of older Philadelphians speak a language other than English at home, according to Allen Glicksman, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s director of research and evaluation.

Senior community centers in neighborhoods throughout the city provide support systems and offer resources to help them access services. They also work to bridge differences among center members, who represent many cultures, ethnicities and languages.



At Nationalities Senior Program, where some staff members speak Vietnamese and Chinese, “we host cultural celebrations throughout the year,” says Center Director Barbara Rubio. The center draws a broad range of immigrants from well beyond its Logan neighborhood, among them Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian, Indonesian, and Latvian-born seniors, she says.

“Our members take part in activities from their native countries like mahjong, Vietnamese ‘four-color’ card games and board games like Chinese chess,” Rubio says. “One of our members leads a weekly Tai Chi class.” The center also has a large number of African-American members, and celebrates Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month, “not only with activities, but with special food that members help to cook, including black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens,” she says. During the Asian moon festival in the autumn, members decorate the center with Chinese lanterns; dragons and other traditional symbols festoon the center for Chinese New Year.

Nationalities Senior Program is just one of many centers where food and cultural programming and the presence of at least some bilingual staff help to bridge differences. Northeast Older Adult Center’s flag tree represents countries of origin ranging from Thailand and Iraq to Colombia and the Philippines. The center hosts frequent cultural festivals, with food, music, and educational programs, such as the Hispanic Heritage celebration director Maria Ramirez says is planned for September.

  “We find that food is a really good way to get people to connect,” says Jim Crawford, director of Peter Bressi Northeast Senior Center. “We celebrate all the holidays — Christmas, Kwanzaa, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and more,” he adds. More than half the members are African-American, while a total of 10% are foreign-born Asian and Latino seniors. Although the center has no bilingual staff, members who are more fluent in English help to translate for one another, Crawford says.

  Such cultural festivals are also common at Southwest Senior Center, where members include immigrants from Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Italy, and where 70% of members are African-American. 

The St. Charles Senior Community Center devotes one day each month to activities, like mahjong and Chinese-language movies, to welcome Chinese immigrants.  For the second year, the center has a bilingual student intern from University of Pennsylvania who will help expand programming and outreach for Chinese immigrants. “The word is out about us,” says Center Counselor Christine McMenamin.  “Our Asian neighbors feel at home here. We want to encourage them to come often.”

Other centers have found a niche serving one ethnic group almost exclusively. With 99% Latino membership, Norris Square Senior Citizen Center in North Central Philadelphia is among them; Spanish is spoken almost exclusively by members and staff. Through meals of familiar foods like rice and beans and plantain dishes, cooking classes, Latin dancing, an annual celebration of Three Kings Day and its own Puerto Rican Day parade, “we try to keep the culture,” says Norris Square’s Activities Coordinator Sheila Mercado.

At the Philadelphia Senior Center - Coffee Cup Satellite and Asian-Pacific Senior Resource Center in South Philadelphia, the staff speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese. “It’s easier to make seniors feel comfortable using our services,” says Center Director Phillip Lai. Bilingual staff members help immigrants navigate the health care and benefits systems. Recently, Coffee Cup established a cancer patient support group for Asian immigrants, with the assistance of the American Cancer Society. “It was not available in this region, and we saw there was a great need to help these patients and their caregivers,” Lai says.

Both here and at On Lok House in Chinatown, seniors enjoy a meal; play mahjong and other Chinese games; use Chinese-language computers; and take part in traditional folk dance, exercise, and art classes. Many members at On Lok House have become accomplished painters in the traditional Chinese style under the tutelage of one of the area’s renowned teachers of this art form.

Marina Zhitnitskaya, director of the Klein JCC & Russian Satellite Center, says “We celebrate American, Russian and Jewish holidays.” She vividly recalls Anatoly, who was more than 80 years old when he first ventured to the center. The immigrant from the former Soviet Union had rarely left his Northeast Philadelphia home before. “He said he was afraid to go out because he could not communicate except in Russian, but from the start he was comfortable with us and soon came every day. He said he ‘felt like himself here,’” Zhitnitskaya says.

He later gained enough confidence to take the English as a Second Language classes which are offered here, along with computer instruction; cultural and educational programs; a weekly Jewish Sabbath celebration; citizenship classes; and Russian-style entertainment. 

Centers like this become a home away from home for the people they serve, according to Zhitnitskaya. “Whenever we are closed for a holiday, they’ll come back and tell us ‘Thank God you’re open.’ They miss being here,” she says.

Photo by Eva Iavarone: Two participants at the On Lok Center confer during a drawing class

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Resources for immigrants


According to Allen Glicksman, PCA’s director of research and evaluation, 35,000 of Philadelphia’s residents age 60 or older were born in another country. The median number of years they have been in the United States is 29 years; most arrived when they were still of working age, and have grown old while living here. For them, the challenges and losses of aging are further complicated by cultural differences and language barriers.

There are organizations dedicated to helping them adjust, access services, and learn English.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
As the Area Agency on Aging for Philadelphia, PCA provides a needs assessment for long-term care services to any Philadelphia resident age 60 or older. If the individual has limited English proficiency, an interpreter is provided during the assessment process. PCA also provides funding for a number of senior centers which serve immigrant elders.

PCA provides and coordinates a broad range of social services for older Philadelphians, including care at home, senior community centers, home repairs and modifications, legal assistance, transportation, and protection from abuse. Interpreters are available, on a case-by-case basis, to assist limited-English-speaking clients and their families at no charge.

For more information, call the PCA Helpline at the numbers listed below.
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
 642 North Broad Street
PCA Helpline: 215-765-9040 (English, Spanish and Russian)

PCA language-specific phone lines
:
Chinese - 215-399-4944
Khmer (Cambodian) - 215-399-4940
Korean - 215-399-4941
Vietnamese - 215-399-4942
Hindi (Asian Indian) - 215-399-4943

 PCA’s Helpline also contracts with the Language Line, to enable quick response to any linguistic needs not addressed by these dedicated lines or one of the bilingual staff members.
 PCA’s website, www.pcaCares.org, offers automated translation into 16 languages.

Center for Literacy
Free beginning, intermediate and advanced English as a Second Language classes are offered at many branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia and at community centers in neighborhoods throughout the city.
399 Market St., Suite 201
215-474-1235; www.centerforliteracy.org

City of Philadelphia 
Free language access services are available to help Philadelphians with limited English interact with city agencies. These services include bilingual employees, telephone interpreters, and free language identification cards in 23 languages, including English. The card may be shown at a city office to easily convey the need for interpretation, but it is not required.
To print out a card, go to:  www.welcomingcenter.org/immigrants/language-access
 
When calling the city’s 3-1-1 hotline (for general inquiries) or 9-1-1 (for emergencies), non- English-speakers are urged not to hang up, but to hold until an interpreter comes on the line.

Nationalities Service Center
Provides social, educational and legal services to immigrants and refugees of all ages
1216 Arch St., 4th Floor
215-893-8400; www.nationalitiesservicecenter.org

Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
 Services are primarily directed to connecting immigrants with economic opportunities, and providing tools and skills that will help them, including job placement; support for entrepreneurs; help getting a driver’s license; legal consultation; and job training.
 One Penn Center, Suite 555, 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
 215-557-2626; www.welcomingcenter.org

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Pets make their day


By Alicia M. Colombo
Helen Martin extends a $1 bill towards Bayou as she calls, “Here, boy.” The golden retriever turns to catch her gaze and excitedly walks to her, placing his chin on her leg. He then takes the bill in his mouth and immediately hands it to his master.

    “I come from a pet family. I love animals,” says Martin, who turns 86 this month. Martin attends Mercy LIFE’s North Hancock Adult Day Center, 3240 N. Hancock St. in Philadelphia, four days a week. She participates in many scheduled activities and trips, but most enjoys time spent with her furry friends at the monthly Pet Therapy Day.

Photo of Helen Martin and Bayou by Alicia M. Colombo


 As a Facility Dog, Bayou has been trained to respond to the needs of disabled people in the Caring Paws program, a division of Caring People Alliance. He obeys 40 commands, including sit, stay, turn and come here. He can also complete more advanced tasks, like picking up a dropped credit card from the ground, or lifting his paw to help people in a wheelchair untangle his leash without bending down.

  But the most valuable aspect of pet therapy is the love the animals share with their human companions through emotional and physical interaction. Animal therapy has proven to be a great way to help seniors battling cognitive issues. It can help decrease feelings of loneliness and boredom, and cope with loss and depression after close friends and family members pass away. Playing with the animals also has a fitness benefit, as it encourages seniors to engage different muscles.

  “Tactile stimulation is very important in animal therapy, especially with depressed people and Alzheimer’s patients,” says Marjorie Shoemaker, director of the Caring Paws Program. “We use 25 different animals, including ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits and rats, to provide a variety of auditory and visual stimulation. Rats have a horrible reputation, but they are very intelligent and highly interactive, which makes them the most popular therapy animal after dogs,” Shoemaker says.

She helps facilitate pet therapy sessions like this one at 38 locations in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware counties.

  Many of the seniors at the Mercy LIFE Adult Day Center grew up on farms, and animals were part of their daily lives. But over time, they’ve had to give up their pets when they moved or became too ill to care for them. Pet therapy provides the benefits of pet ownership without the work or expense.

  “Spending regular time with animals helps seniors deal with loss, stress and the effects of aging or disease,” says Elizabeth Johnson, recreational therapy supervisor at Mercy LIFE. “A lot of things are out of your control as you grow older. The animals don’t judge; they provide unconditional love. Our residents call the therapy pets their babies and relate to them as children. Their faces light up when they see the animals every month.

  Nancy McCullough still remembers Princess, the dog she raised from a puppy when she was a child. “Having a pet and losing it is too hard. I never got another dog after my Princess died,” said McCullough, now 78, who faithfully attends the monthly Pet Therapy Days.  
  For more information:

Caring Paws Program - 215-763-0900 or www.caringpeoplealliance.org

Mercy LIFE provides community-based long-term care services for older adults in South and North Philadelphia, and Delaware County – 215-339-4747 or www.mercylife.org
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Free produce vouchers for low-income seniors


Distribution is underway
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) is distributing $20 worth of Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program produce vouchers to income-eligible Philadelphia seniors.

Voucher eligibility
Seniors must produce proof that they are Philadelphia residents, and will be age 60 or older by December 31, 2013, to receive the produce vouchers. Acceptable forms of identification include a Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s ID. Other forms of ID that include age and residency will also be accepted. Seniors must sign in person (or through a proxy) and may receive the vouchers one time per year only.

Seniors must also declare that they meet the 2013 household income guidelines, which are: $21,257 (1 person), $28,694 (2 people), $36,131 (3 people), and $43,568 (4 people).

PA produce only
Starting this year, the produce vouchers can be used only for Pennsylvania-grown produce sold at certified farmers’ markets in Philadelphia. This means you can purchase a variety of delicious seasonal produce that was grown right here in Pennsylvania. Here’s a sample of the state’s bounty.

Cherries, peas and raspberries will only be available in July, so take advantage while you can. Other Pennsylvania-grown produce is available for a long growing season, including apples, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, eggplant, grapes, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Later in the summer, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, peaches, pears and plums will come into season.

The produce vouchers must be used by November 30, when cauliflower, turnips and pumpkins will be available for your Thanksgiving dinner. 

If you’re not sure what Pennsylvania produce is in season, inquire at your local farmers’ market. Cooking tips and recipe ideas may also be available at the market.

The produce vouchers, made available through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. In 2012, more than 36,500 older Philadelphians received free produce vouchers. This year, additional funds will allow the program to serve an additional 250 older adults.

Vouchers will be distributed at PCA, 642 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and at other designated sites, including the Reading Terminal Market at 12th & Arch Streets on July 10 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Reading Terminal Market is a popular distribution location, since the vouchers can be spent onsite. 

For questions about eligibility and more information, including locations of additional produce voucher distribution sites and farmers’ markets that accept the produce vouchers, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.
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Serving through companionship


By Marcia Z. Siegal Don Graddick repaired and dismantled ships at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; served as a cook; and worked in a variety of other endeavors.  “You name, I’ve done it,” he says.

Khalid Mumtaz is a former Olympic athlete, professional boxer and wrestler, and sports educator. Born in India and raised in Pakistan, he travelled worldwide as an ambassador for sports organizations before settling in Philadelphia.

Today, the men share a common avocation as Senior Companions who spend 20 hours a week visiting the homebound elderly and helping them with tasks. As Senior Companions, they receive a tax-free stipend for their services.


“I would recommend this program for anyone who has free time and wants to help people who can’t get out of the house on their own or who can’t always do things for  themselves,” says Graddick, who always carries a Senior Companion brochure in his back pocket in case he encounters a likely prospect. “For giving something back to the community, there’s nothing like it.”

His 20 hours per week are spread among three different individuals. “There’s my Monday lady, my Tuesday and Thursday lady, and my Wednesday lady. My Monday lady, she’s got two cats and a dog. Her dog likes to play and her cats like to be stroked, so I do that. We talk about religion, politics, whatever she wants to talk about. She’s Jewish, and she’s trying to get me to learn Hebrew.

“My Tuesday-Thursday lady likes to talk about cooking, and we watch the Food Network together. She’s got climbing plants on a shelf by her kitchen window. The vines roam all over the place. I help her put up hooks and string, so they have something to hang on. While I’m doing that, I’ll take the dead leaves off. We play games, talk about what’s in the news. I remind her to eat her snack and take her insulin.”

Dorothy Moore, his “Wednesday lady,” says “Don is very helpful — a very nice person. He helps take me on walks. We watch TV together (“All My Children” is a favorite), and he helps me with errands, like going to the store. Whenever he comes, he makes me feel good.”

Graddick says that he enjoys listening to his consumers and keeping them company. “Most of all, I like to joke with them,” he says. “It’s like that column in Reader’s Digest, ‘Laughter the Best Medicine.’”

Khalid Mumtaz is a companion to Isom Ingram, and visits four times a week. Despite severe physical limitations, “he wants to get the best out of life, which I like,” Mumtaz says.

Mumtaz says he was inspired to become a Senior Companion “to do something for those in need of help and knowing that one day I myself might be in the same situation and in need of help.”

The winner of a silver medal in boxing at the 1958 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Mumtaz has helped to cultivate Ingram’s interest in sports and encourages him to become more physically active. The two watched the London Olympics on television together and enjoy other sports programs. In addition, “Khalid helps me exercise my arms and legs,” says Ingram.  Mumtaz also encourages him to try to walk more.

The exchange of interests works both ways, Mumtaz is quick to say. “Insom likes to play checkers. He likes certain television programs.  He convinces me, and I convince him. We have been doing things of mutual interest,” he says of the activities the two now share together. “In addition, every day I come I bring the newspaper with me, and we discuss the latest news and politics.”

“We have conversations about almost everything,” says Ingram.

“That’s the way we are — the hours pass quickly,” Mumtaz says. “I have a good time. When I come out, I feel refreshed, and Insom is satisfied. It’s not just that we have passed the time. The time passes beautifully.”

Photo of Don Graddick and Dorothy Moore by Raymond W. Holman, Jr.
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Shared history creates a bond


By Marcia Z. Siegal

“We lived in the same country. We witnessed the same historic events, survived the same experiences. We have much in common,” Beneta Karbutova says of the homebound older woman she visits through the Senior Companion program. “That’s why it never happens that we have nothing to speak about.”

Both women speak Russian and have a shared culture; both lived in what was then the Soviet Union, and have similar memories of World War II, the Holocaust and the different regimes of the Communist era.

Karbutova learned of the Senior Companion program at the Klein JCC in Northeast Philadelphia where she was taking citizenship classes two years ago. “It is necessary for older people to feel there is somebody who is interested in them and has things in common with them,” she says. “I felt that if I can help a person, I would try to help. Because I am Russian speaking, I felt it would be easier to work with a person who is also Russian speaking.”

Karbutova was an engineer; the woman she visits was a physician who immigrated to the U.S. with her late husband years ago when he was offered a professorship at a local university.

“She has no one in the U.S. now,” the senior companion explains. “I understand I am a friend. To her, this is very important, but our relationship is a lot for both sides.”

Of their 20-hour a week routine, she says: “I give her lunch. We watch programs on TV together; we especially enjoy classical music programs on cable channels.  We read. We talk. I help her to take walks down the corridor in her apartment building. Our relationship is good, very good.”


However, the role can be quite challenging, Karbutova says.  Her companion is frail, and she can become depressed at her limitations; and she misses her family in Russia. “I cannot be indifferent to this, but I realize that each of us can be in such a situation,” she continues. “No one knows what can happen in a few years, a few months, a few minutes. Any of us can become older and ill. That’s why I understand that if I can be of a little help, I try to do it.”

While 12 years younger than the consumer she serves, “I am also an aging person,” Karbutova points out.  “I don’t know how long I can be in this position, but while I can, I will be.”
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Love and courage keep these grandmothers going


By Linda L. Riley
John Steinbeck once wrote “it takes courage to raise children.” If so, courage abounds among the increasing numbers of people who are stepping in to raise their grandchildren.

“It can be intimidating and overwhelming when you first start,” says Shirley Shelton, age 60, who is raising three grandchildren, ages 6, 9 and 10.

According to the Supportive Older Women’s Network (SOWN), Shelton is one of more than 16,800 grandparents in Philadelphia who are raising their grandchildren. The organization provides a range of supports and services through its two GrandFamily Resource Centers, located in Manayunk and North Philadelphia. 

Shelton says when she first learned about the GrandFamily program, she was resistant. “I said, ‘I’m not telling anyone my business.’ I thought I was the only one on earth doing this. I was sitting home, thinking, ‘My daughter is the only one who left me with these kids.’” That was two years ago. Today, she says, “I love this group so much.”



Richelle Phillips, program coordinator for SOWN’s GrandFamily Resource Center, says she often encounters resistance. “Outreach is difficult,” she says.  “It’s hard because of the stigma – because people are embarrassed.” she says. Grandparents encounter hurtful remarks, even in places where one might expect a more charitable attitude.

“I’ve had some of my grandparents tell me when they’re in church with their grandchild, how much it hurts them when people get catty about the reasons these ladies are raising their grandchildren,” says Phillips. Those reasons often include drugs, incarceration and abandonment, she says, “Most of the reasons are kind of ugly.”

But when they get together with others in the same situation, the support and understanding really helps, Phillips says; especially for those who are isolated. “I have a lady in her 80s with a 2-year-old,” she says. “We have a telephone group with five of us on a conference call every week, sharing resources and information.” 

Evelyn Taylor, 68, who is raising her grandson’s 8-year-old daughter, finds the group offers shared wisdom, sympathy, support and sound advice. When Taylor’s great-granddaughter started acting up in school, “Shirley (Shelton) told me to get counseling for her.” SOWN helped connect her with counseling. 

Her great-granddaughter “talked about things that were bothering her, and she’s doing much better,” Taylor says. “She’s in church, she’s on the praise team, she’s in the choir – so she can focus on what she does have, not on what she doesn’t have.” 

“They’re angry. They’ve been angry ever since they realized, ‘I’m not with Mommy,’” Shelton says. “They have abandonment issues, behavioral issues. They wonder, ‘What did I do wrong that my mommy doesn’t love me?’ They think, ‘All the other little kids at school have a mother and a father, why don’t I?’” 

At school, other children’s curiosity can be hurtful – or cruel. “My great-granddaughter’s girlfriend wants to know, ‘where’s your dad? Where’s your mom? Why are you being raised by your grandmother?’” Taylor says.

But, says Shelton, “I didn’t do wrong. The mother did wrong.” And, she says, the children see it clearly. “At 4 years old, my great-granddaughter said to her mother, ‘You could have chosen us or you could have chosen drugs. You chose drugs.’” 

“These kids need a fighting chance regardless of the situation they were born into,” Shelton says. “They don’t go out of the house without a hot breakfast.”

“We’re raising our grandkids the way we were raised – we have rules and regulations in the house,” says Taylor. “I say, ‘I’m pointing you in the right direction – it’s up to you to follow.’”

Both Shelton and Taylor were determined to keep their grandchildren out of the foster care system, no matter the cost to themselves. Both went to court to obtain permanent custody of their grandchildren. 

“I tell them – your grandmother loves you so much, she chose to raise you,” Shelton says.

Photo of Evelyn Taylonr (left) and Shirley Shelton  by Linda L. Riley
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Resources for grandparents raising grandchildren


GrandFamily Resource Centers
Offers in-person and telephone support groups; counseling; workshops; computer training; wellness services; advocacy; parenting programs; family activities; and crisis intervention.  

Two Locations:

SOWN Offices (Manayunk)
4100 Main Street, Suite 200 
215-487-3000, ext. 23 or 24

Honickman Learning Center (North Philadelphia)
1936 Judson Street
215-235-2900, ext. 6206

100 S. Broad Street, Suite 1810
215-988-1242
Assistance with understanding custody issues including physical, partial and legal custody, and filing for custody. Provides direct legal representation; counseling and advocacy services on custody; support; visitation; protection from abuse; and other issues, such as housing, financial stability, and planning for their and their children’s future care.
1-800-986-5437
Grandparents and other relative caregivers may apply for free or low-cost health insurance on behalf of the children they are raising.

Temple University Intergenerational Center Temple University College of Health Professions and Social Work
1700 N. Broad Street, Suite 412
215-204-3105
Provides services for children in
kinship placement, informal care and foster care who are primarily grandparents raising their grandchildren.  Provides homework help and tutoring; counseling; a violence prevention program; and free or reduced rates for cultural and recreational trips and events. 

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Tips to improve home fire safety


By Clarence H. Jones

In a fire or other emergency, a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Preparing for such an emergency ahead of time can save you those precious few minutes, and is especially important for older adults.

Having a safe environment is one of the best preventive measures, both when there is an emergency, and in day-to-day situations. “It’s not just fire or other emergencies,” said Derrick J. V. Sawyer, Deputy Chief for the Fire Prevention Division of the Philadelphia Fire Department.  The Fire Department also responds to seniors who suffer falls in their homes, and he said, “Older adults are also at a higher risk of falls.”

He recommended that seniors should, “have the proper shoes. Shoes with non-slip soles. And if you have throw rugs they too should have a non-slip backing.” Sawyer said taking these steps will “reduce the risk of falls.” This is also important if a senior needs to exit the house in an emergency.

Have a “Home Escape Plan” and know what to do when a fire alarm sounds, he said. “Getting out of the house is highest priority. Then call 911,” Sawyer said. “Having a meeting place once you are out of the building is very important. Have everyone in your household meet at the corner mailbox, for example. The worst thing is not knowing where everyone is. If you can account for everyone, then we will not have firefighters risking their lives rushing into a burning building unnecessarily.”

Sawyer said that you “should practice your Home Escape Plan,” as well. Waking up in the middle of the night to a smoke-filled bedroom can lead to panic and confusion.


 If you have an escape plan and have practiced following it, that can mean the difference between life and death.

Another time-saving tip Sawyer suggested is to keep a “Go Bag.” It can be a small backpack or a small duffel bag. Your “Go Bag” can contain important documents; checkbook or credit cards; medications; and important phone numbers – anything you think you might need if you have to evacuate your home quickly. Keeping a flashlight with fresh batteries next to your Go Bag or bed will help you find your way out of a dark and smoke-filled building.

A working smoke alarm is also very important, Sawyer said. He says that according to the National Fire Protection Association “85% of people who died in a house fire had no working smoke detector. Mostly because the battery died or was removed.”

Sawyer said the Philadelphia Fire Department is launching its yearly campaign to inform all city residents to test the battery in the smoke detector each week. “There are newer types of smoke detectors coming out that have 10-year lithium batteries,” he said. A new citywide ordinance requires that all smoke alarms have 10-year lithium batteries. “The Kidde 910 brand of smoke detectors with a 10-year battery is what the Philadelphia Fire Department installs,” he said.

Smoke alarms should be placed in each bedroom, hallway and family room. Smoke alarms should not be installed in the kitchen or bathroom because the steam from a shower or smoke from burnt toast can set off a false alarm, Sawyer said.

The National Fire Protection Association ranks seniors 65 and older, and children age 5 and younger, at the greatest risk of death and injury because they often need help getting out of their homes in case of an emergency due to problems with mobility.

Many older adults have mobility issues due to different health problems, Sawyer said. He advised, “If mobility is a problem, one solution is to sleep near an exit on the ground floor.”

He also suggested some simple exercises that seniors can do at home to improve their mobility, such as holding on to the back of a chair and doing several leg lifts. From this same position you can squat down and then rise up again. Doing this several times can help strengthen your body’s core.

Many people have fire extinguishers in their homes, but it is not recommended that you try to fight a fire yourself, Sawyer said. “Most people are not trained to use it. If a fire extinguisher is used in the wrong way it can make a small fire much bigger. But if you do intend to use your fire extinguisher get some training on how to use it, or at least read the instructions before you try to use it.”

To use a fire extinguisher effectively, the Fire Department suggests four general rules called “PASS”, which means: Point, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.

The Philadelphia Fire Department has also devised a “Home Fire Safety Checklist.” It contains a list of things you can do to make your home more fire safe. A copy is available online at www.freedomfromfire.com.

For more information about The National Fire Protection Association, visit www.nfpa.org.
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Legal help for older Philadelphians


By Alicia M. Colombo
With funding from the Older Americans Act, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) supports legal services for older adults in the city. Philadelphia residents age 60+ are eligible to receive free legal services from three providers, each of which covers specific areas of the law. There are no income requirements, but services are prioritized by greatest need. The providers are Temple University Elderly Law Project (described below); SeniorLAW Center; and Community Legal Services.

Temple University Elderly Law Project
According to Debra Kroll, executive director of the Temple University Elderly Law Project, their most requested services are wills; long-term care planning; and social security issues and appeals.

“We handle a lot of concerns about the financial ramifications of caregiving. Sometimes seniors have promised their homes to their children and have questions about estate recovery,” said Kroll.”  Services are provided by law students at Temple University, under Kroll’s supervision.

“Elder Law involves all areas of law. We are serving people who are at a vulnerable time of life," said Kroll.

 Temple Elderly Law Project, Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, 1719 N. Broad St. Hotline at 215-204-6887 is open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call for the student-run community legal clinic schedule, which varies by semester.  

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CLS: Income and health care are top concerns


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“We provide the type of legal services that tend to be needed by the most vulnerable population. The needs we’re addressing are the most basic: income and access to health care,” said Pamela Walz, supervising attorney of the Aging and Disabilities Unit at Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia.   

CLS helps older adults who are facing issues with benefits and entitlements including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, veterans’ benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. 

CLS can help seniors to appeal benefits denials or terminations, and give advice on the Medical Assistance Estate Recovery Program (commonly known as Estate Recovery), which allows state Medicaid programs to recoup the money spent for nursing or in-home care from a person’s estate (i.e. by sale of their home and other assets, after the person’s death).

“Many people want to know what will happen to their home or assets, if they go into a nursing home. We explain everything to them,” said Walz.

Older adults in long-term care facilities, such as nursing or boarding homes, have special legal concerns. “People have a right to stay in a nursing home and not be evicted,” said .


“We deal with a lot of payment-related issues and assistance with qualifying for Medicaid. When a spouse is living in the community, we help them obtain a spousal maintenance allowance to pay for their own housing and medical needs,” said Walz.

CLS can assist nursing home residents with quality-of-care concerns; help to make reports to the health department; answer legal questions; and work with an ombudsman to advocate for residents. “We are also involved with policy advocacy for strong oversight of personal care homes, to make sure residents get the respect and quality of care they deserve,” Walz said.

Walk-ins are accepted at 1410 W. Erie Ave.: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Homebound older adults may call 215-227-2400 for intake: Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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SeniorLAW: Housing is #1 issue


“The number one issue right now is housing,” says Karen Buck, executive director of SeniorLAW Center. “It’s a reflection of the economic crisis. Illegal lock-outs and evictions are a major problem in Philadelphia, especially among low-income people and seniors. If you can’t get into your home, it affects everything else. You can’t access your medication, food and other necessities.”

SeniorLAW Center represents, educates and advocates for low-income older tenants, homeowners and sometimes senior landlords to resolve issues. Other housing-related concerns they help address include utility shut-offs, uninhabitable living conditions, mortgage foreclosure and contractor fraud.

According to Buck, Pennsylvania landlords are required to follow eviction procedures, which include providing written notice with a minimum of 10 days’ notice to vacate. A landlord may only evict if the tenant has not moved after the term of the lease expired; has failed to pay rent; or if a major lease provision has been violated (for example, keeping a pet when the lease forbids it).

Attorneys at SeniorLAW Center also work with older adults who have been abused or exploited; grandparents raising grandchildren; and those who need help to prepare their personal planning documents. 

As the Pennsylvania partner for the Mid-America Pension Rights Project, SeniorLAW responds to pension-related questions and issues through its SeniorLAW HelpLine. These may include denial of benefits or lost pensions; inability to locate documents; and pension company bankruptcy.

This free service is available to people of any age or income, including beneficiaries. “This is a really underused service. It can make a big difference in someone’s income and economic survival,” said Buck. 

Walk-ins are only accepted at SeniorLAW Center’s Center City office (100 S. Broad St., 18th Floor) for specific legal matters on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Issues may include domestic violence or protection from abuse, lock-out or eviction, stolen money or frozen bank accounts, utility shutoff, or terminally ill people who need wills or financial planning documents. Intake/HelpLine at 215-988-1242 open: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community legal clinics held each month in diverse neighborhoods. 

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Services to help seniors with pets


By Linda L. Riley
Dr. Edward Creagan,professor of oncology at Mayo Clinic Medical School,says that animals can be a significant factor for successful aging in general, and can help patients cope with cancer. "Studies suggest that pets can do more than keep you young at heart,” Creagan says. “They can help keep your heart — and the rest of you — younger and healthier.”

Yet there are practical problems to pet ownership, which can increase as we age. Taking a pet to the vet, or buying pet food and supplies can seem insurmountable tasks, especially if you have mobility problems; winter weather can make things even more difficult. There are services to make these things easier. For example, several local vets make house calls to your pets;  and online ordering can make purchase of food and supplies more convenient, and even cheaper.



Keeping Fido and Felix healthy
One resource that can make having a pet easier as one's mobility decreases is the availability of a mobile or house-call vet. Following are three Philadelphia veterinarians who will make house calls; if you have a vet you have been using, you may also want to ask if this service is available. 
Jennifer Muller, VMD, of House Call Vets; 215-704-9009 
Thomas M. Pickard, VMD; 215 – 843 – 1780 
Natasha Kassell, VMD  215 - 407 – 4535

There are also some lower cost veterinary services available for seniors and low-income pet owners.

PAWS, the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, has a low-cost Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at 2900 Grays Ferry Avenue serves pet owners who have difficulty affording or lack access to basic veterinary care. Phone: 215-298-9680.

The Pennsylvania SPCA offers Low Cost Vaccine Clinics  every Wednesday and Saturday of each month from 9am to 3pm. No appointment is necessary. The clinic is located at 350 E. Erie Avenue; phone: 215- 426-6300


Let your fingers do the shopping - online
Buying pet food and supplies online can be both more convenient and less costly.  Having pet food or kitty litter delivered to your door can enable you to purchase in larger quantities than if you had to carry them home from the store yourself.  This can bring down the price. Some online sites will also offer free shipping. Among the online purveyors are www.PetFoodDirect.com; www.PetFlow.com; www.petco.com; and www.Wag.com.  

For more resources and information about pets and seniors, visit www.phillypetsandseniors.org

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LIFE programs help seniors stay home


By Alicia M. Colombo
Three neighborhood-based programs in Philadelphia provide services to help older adults take care of chronic health needs, so they can continue to live at home and in their community for as long as possible. Called “Living Independently for Elders,” they are based on the nationally-recognized Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Eligible elders who enroll in these programs can receive adult day services, primary health care, and in-home care, as part of an individual plan of care that addresses the person’s physical, mental, spiritual and social needs.

“LIFE is the provider of care, and also the insurer, so the senior has no out-of-pocket costs or co-pays for doctor’s visits, specialist care or medications," said Taryn Duckett, director of marketing for Mercy LIFE which serves seniors in North and South Philadelphia.

Eligibility
Seniors who meet the following requirements may be eligible for LIFE services:

• Age 55 or older
• Live within geographic area of a LIFE program (see locations below)
• Eligible for nursing home level of care
• Able to live safely in the community with services
• Eligible for Medicare, Medical Assistance (Medicaid) or be able to pay privately.

“We urge people to call to discuss their personal situations," said Duckett.


Referrals to other local services, such as Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), are provided to people who do not qualify for LIFE.

LIFE Programs in Philadelphia

 Mercy LIFE is affiliated with Mercy Health System and serves Philadelphia residents in zip codes: 19106, 07, 22, 23, 25, 33, 34, 37, 40, 45, 46, 47, 48. For information: 215-339-4747 or www.mercyhealth.org/services/mercy-life.

  LIFE UPenn is affiliated with University of Pennsylvania and serves zip codes: 19103, 04, 21, 30, 31, 39, 42, 43, 51, 53. For information: 215-573-7200 or www.lifeupenn.org.

  NewCourtland LIFE serves zip codes 19118, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 38, 41, 44, 50. For information: 1-888-530-4913 or www.newcourtlandlife.org.
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Some doctors still make house calls


By Alicia M. Colombo
Remember the old days, when doctors made house calls? You may be surprised to learn that some physicians still visit patients in their homes.  Among the services available are regular medical exams,  blood tests, x-rays, hearing aid fittings, eye exams and physical therapy.

At least 10,000 older adults in Philadelphia (16% of people age 60+) report they cannot walk or get out of bed on their own – even with assistance, according to a survey of the Public Health Management Corporation. Mobility issues make getting regular medical care and tests difficult. But resources are available to help overcome these difficulties.


"Older adults have a range of issues, from physical impairments causing ambulation dysfunction to cognitive impairment issues, that prevent them from getting out of the home to the doctor’s office,” said Shani Gilmore, service coordinator supervisor at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).

“The majority of PCA consumers do not have an informal caregiver to help them get out of their home and to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment,” said Gilmore. The problem is compounded by the nature of Philadelphia row homes, which often have steep stairs and lack wheelchair access, she said.

“The ability to have someone come to their home who can order tests or give referrals to other specialties, such as cardiology or telehealth, allows a continuity of treatment.” She said that follow-through with additional tests, such as routine blood work for heart patients on blood thinners, is also more likely when a senior doesn’t have to leave their home.

“Regular doctor visits can prevent or delay the need of formal in-home care services. Home-visiting doctors provide a vital resource for maintaining a senior’s health and independence,” said Gilmore.

There are many doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners who will make home visits in Philadelphia. Each provides different services or care.

Primary care provided
; Physicians are available who specialize in family medicine, general practice, geriatrics, and internal medicine. Home-visiting doctors and nurses can provide physical examinations and give tests, including x-rays and electrocardiograms (EKGs). Some can also make arrangements or give referrals for other services, including in-home blood draw/testing, nursing care, physical therapy or ambulance transport. Some speak Russian or will respond to an emergency 24 hours a day. Others will only travel to certain parts of the city.

Specialty care at home
Eyes, ears, feet, and teeth – as we age, some or all of our systems may need extra attention.  There are some specialists who are available to make home visits.

“We do everything from beginning to end in home,” said Bruce Weinstein, owner of Tru-Tone Hearing Aid Center. Their services include exams, fittings and repairs. “When I got into this profession, most hearing aid companies went into the home. It was standard practice 30 or 40 years ago. Now, most companies will not visit homes,” If a medical issue is discovered, such as an ear infection or wax build-up, Weinstein said his staff makes a referral to a home-visiting doctor.

Other specialties for which home-visiting practitioners are available include optometrist; ophthalmologist; podiatrist; chiropractor; dentist; psychiatrist.

To obtain a list of home-visiting doctors, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

NOTE: This list is for informational purposes only; PCA does not recommend any particular doctor. Please call the doctor’s office directly to discuss insurance requirements, services provided and other details.
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Winter safety: preventing fires and falls


By Alicia M. Colombo

As tough as the cold weather is on everyone, it’s particularly dangerous for senior citizens.

The cold can aggravate arthritis, while snow and ice can make you slip and cause debilitating falls.

Tread carefully
Be very cautious, when walking outside in wet weather. Ice can form very quickly and can sometimes be hard to spot. To help prevent slips or falls, wear shoes with spikes or non-skid soles. Use handrails, or hold on to someone for stability.  Avoid going out after dark or in hazardous weather conditions. Stay on sidewalks and areas that have been cleared of snow and ice. You can sprinkle road salt, sand or kitty litter on your sidewalk, step or driveway to melt ice or prevent water from freezing.

Winter auto safety
Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your car. Check the air pressure and tread on your tires regularly. Keep  all fluids full, including anti-freeze, oil, wiper fluid and your gas tank. Before winter starts, have a mechanic check your brakes and battery life.  Belts, hoses and windshield wipers should be inspected for leaks or cracks, and replaced if wear is present.

Seniors should have a severe weather travel kit in the trunk, especially on long trips. This kit should contain a blanket, ice scraper, shovel, flashlight with batteries, jumper cables or auto starter, air compressor, first aid kit, and gas can.



Avoid driving in poor weather conditions and visibility. Make alternate plans or take public transportation. Stock up on necessary items and food before bad weather hits.

For resources to help seniors drive longer and safer, go to http://seniordriving.aaa.com. (AAA membership is not required.)

Heat your home safely
Older adults are 2 ½ times likelier to die in a fire than the general population; and as you age past 65, the risk increases even more, according to the National Fire Protection Association. More home fires happen during the winter months than any other time of the year, mainly due to improper use of home heating devices. If you home is very cold or drafty, you can add extra insulation and seal windows to help keep out cold air.

Never use kitchen ranges or gasoline heaters to heat your home. Portable heaters should be used with caution. Electric heaters are safest, but only if the cord has no cracks, breaks or loose connections. Approved K-1 kerosene heaters are the only safe fuel-based heater. Kerosene must be stored outside and the unit taken outdoors for filling, after it cools completely. Never overfill the heater, and replace old wicks once a year.

With all heaters, be sure to keep an open space of at least three feet in any direction. Never place portable heaters at the bottom of the stairway or in a walkway.

If you use a wood burning stove or fireplace, make sure you have a glass front or screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs, and have the chimney flue checked annually.

More tips and resources
*Philadelphia residents may have 10-year lithium battery-operated smoke alarms installed free of charge by the Philadelphia Fire Department. Call 3-1-1 or go to www.freedomfromfire.com to sign up or receive other tips, including a home fire safety checklist.
*To alert you of a fire or gas emergency, the Philadelphia Fire Department recommends smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors be installed on every level of the home and that they be checked regularly. The law requires all Philadelphia homes to have a CO detector within 15 feet of sleeping areas. CO is an odorless gas, which can leak from furnaces and heaters. Exposure causes severe illness and death within two hours.
*Older homes can have damaged or improper wiring. If you have an electrical concern, contact PECO customer service at 1-800-494-4000 or a certified electrician.
*If your pipes freeze, do not try to thaw them with an open flame. Get help from a neighbor or expert. Only hot water or a special device should be used.
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Resources help veterans


By Marcia Z. Siegal
Most veterans of the Vietnam War are 60 or over, most Korean War veterans are over 70; and most World War II veterans are 85-plus; all within or approaching the range where aging support services may be needed.

There is a wide range of benefits to which they may be entitled, including healthcare and disability benefits; monetary assistance for personal care and adult day services; respite services for family caregivers; and housing in VA retirement, assisted living and nursing home facilities. 

Following are government and independent organizations that provide help, support and benefit counseling to veterans of the U.S. armed services and their families.



VETERANS BENEFITS CLAIMS ASSISTANCE: INFORMATION AND REFERRAL

American Legion
215-381-3032; www.legion.org
Assistance with VA disability and pension benefits claims; help with resources on education, employment and business, death benefits and other veterans’ issues.

AMVETS
215-381-3294; www.amvets.org
Helps with VA disability and pension claims

Disabled American Veterans
215-381-3065; www.dav.org
Helps service-connected disabled veterans and their families with: claims for VA disability and pension compensation; vocational rehabilitation and employment; education; home loan guaranty; life insurance; death benefits; health care; and more.

Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center
215-923-VETS; www.pvmsec.org:
Help with VA disability and pension benefits and GI Bill entitlements. On-site resources include: PA CareerLink, VA Regional Office representative, Homeless Advocacy Project (legal services), weekday shuttle service to and from VA Medical Center, Philadelphia VA homeless outreach team, and emergency food and clothing.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Benefits Administration
Philadelphia Regional Office and Insurance Center (VAROIC
1-800-827-1000; www.vba.va.gov/ro/philly/
Help with claims for VA disability and pension benefits; death benefits; vocational rehabilitation & employment; and life insurance.  Assistance with VA education benefits and home loan applications.  Hosts nationwide call centers for both Insurance and Pension Management. One of eight national call centers for other veterans benefits.

Veterans of Foreign Wars
215-381-3123; www.vfw.org
Help with VA pension and disability benefits. Services not restricted to veterans of foreign wars.

Veterans Support Group of America
267-702-5874
Help with VA disability and pension benefits, housing assistance and employment and education benefits.

HEALTH CARE

The benefit most underutilized by veterans is also one of the most basic -- the VA healthcare system. It offers medical care for free or at a modest co-payment to veterans who meet financial eligibility requirements. In addition, veterans must be enrolled in order to access VA benefits for residential facilities, personal care, and other aging and disability support services.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Administration
Philadelphia VA Medical Center
1-800-949-1001 or 215- 823-5800; www.philadelphia.va.gov

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Administration
Philadelphia Vets Center

Mental health counseling/readjustment services for vets who have been in a war zone
Center City: 215- 627-0238
Northeast Philadelphia: 215- 924-4670

Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-TALK; 1-800-273-8255;  www.veteranscrisisline.net
PTSD Information Line
1-800-296-6300

HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION

Philadelphia Alliance for Supportive Services to Veteran Families
215-232-7272, ext. 3046

INFORMATION AND REFERRAL/ADVOCACY

Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission
215-686-3256 or 3257; www.phila.gov/veterans
Refers veterans to government or social service agencies for the counseling or services they require. Maintains contacts with veterans' organizations, as well as governmental and other service providers, to assess and advocate for veterans’ needs.

SENIOR CENTER VETERANS GROUPS

King Older Adult Center
2101 W. Cecil B. Moore Ave., Philadelphia 19121; 215-685-2716.
Veterans Association meets the third Wednesday of every month from 10 to 11 a.m.

West Philadelphia Senior Community Center
1016-26 North 41st St.. Philadelphia 19104; 215-386-0379.
Veterans Club meets the third Wednesday of every month, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

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Rules relaxed but Voter Photo ID still required



Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation and State today announced voters can choose to receive either secure PennDOT IDs, or Department of State voting-only ID cards, when visiting a PennDOT driver license center to obtain photo ID to vote under the state’s new voter ID law.
 
The agencies also announced that, in order to get the DOS voter ID card, an individual need only give his name, date of birth, social security number, and address; however, proof of residence is not required.
 
PennDOT will then, while the individual is at the driver license center, confirm with the Department of State that the applicant is a registered voter. Upon confirmation, the applicant will get a DOS voter ID card.
 
If an applicant’s voter registration or information cannot be confirmed while he is at PennDOT, that applicant will not have to return to PennDOT to get the other ID card once the voter registration or information is confirmed. The Department of State will mail the voter ID card to the applicant.
 
“We believe these updates to our process will meet the Supreme Court standard that voter ID cards be liberally accessible,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said.
 
Aichele said the two state agencies agreed to modify the process for all voters to be able to receive the DOS voter ID card following the state Supreme Court’s remanding the lawsuit challenging the law to Commonwealth Court.
 
The Supreme Court’s decision questioned whether the agencies’ attempt to qualify applicants for a secure PennDOT ID before offering the DOS voter card was consistent with the General Assembly’s intent to provide liberal access to an acceptable voter ID card.
 
“It’s important to note that anyone who qualifies for a secure PennDOT ID, which unlike the DOS voting-only ID card, is good for general identification purposes, may still get a PennDOT ID free of charge with the proper documentation,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch. 
 
Information on the voter ID law is available at www.votesPA.com, or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
 
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Aging conference: not just for pros


Topics range from sex after 60 to caregiver stress

A four-day conference, presented by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging October 1-4, will delve into a broad range of practical, ethical cultural and political issues around aging. Conference Chair Thomas Shea said that although primarily designed for professionals working with older adults, many of the sessions have a broader appeal.

"We're really looking at the whole person, not just at services," Shea said. "For example, one session focuses on the creative experience, and another on how spirituality can impact the older person's personality and response to experiences.One considers the effects on individuals, and on society as a whole, of the Black Migration from the rural South to Northern cities that began in 1910 and continued through 1970. Another looks at the impact of  the Holocaust  on survivors as they age."

There are sessions on psychiatric and psychological issues, incuding hoarding, dementia and depression; resources available to help; and how to overcome resistance to treatment.

Improving the quality of services offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered adults is the subject of one session.


Others include identifying and dealing with financial abuse; and the medical, legal and ethical aspects of decision-making capacity in older adults.

Several sessions address the political and practical realities of elder care, including the upcoming budget debate, healthcare reform and Pennsylvania's restructuring of some programs for senior citizens.

The conference will be held at PCA, 642 North Broad Street. The registration fee for each half-day session is $40; $20 for full-time graduate students and senior citizens, age 65 and older. For the catalog, click here; to register online, click here. Those qualifying for a student or senior discount must register by mail; print out and complete the registration form on page 30 of the catalog, and mail as instructed on page 31. Continuing education credits are available for $15 per half-day session.
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Need legal help, transportation to get photo ID?


By Linda L. Riley
For the first time, Pennsylvanians will have to show a valid photo ID to vote in November’s election.  Those who don’t have one can get a free ID from a PennDOT Center, by presenting the required documentation.

Your original Social Security card is one of the required documents; if you don't have the original, in some cases providing your Social Security number may be sufficient. Click here for details on what is required.

There are five centers in Philadelphia, but you can go to any center in the state. Call for locations and hours: 1-800-932-4600.

Questions and legal issues
 Call the PA Voter ID Coaliton, 1-866-687-8683, with questions about the law.

Call the SeniorLaw Helpline, 1-877-727-7529, for help with legal issues and obtaining required documents.

 Call Philadelphia’s Voter Registration office: 215-686-3469, for information on absentee and alternative ballots.

If you need help getting to a PennDOT Center, there are several alternatives.


Transportation to PennDOT Centers 
 The Voter ID Coalition will provide transportation from designated locations throughout the city.  Individuals who will need transportation may call the Coalition's Voter Education Field Campaign Headquarters at 215-848-1283. 

Members of City Council will provide information about transportation and in some cases will arrange transportation for citizens in their district. Contact City Council President Darrell Clarke's office for details: 215-686-2071.

TransMercy Ambulance Company will provide free transportation to a photo ID Center, from residences or care facilities anywhere in Philadelphia. To arrange for a ride, call 215-464-7775.

The PA Voter ID Coalition needs volunteers to help with canvassing, the phone bank and other tasks being organized out of the field office at 310 W. Chelten Avenue in Philadelphia. To volunteer, please call 215-848-1283.
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Model project helps with depression


By Marcia Z. Siegal

“Beat the Blues” is a research project underway at Center in the Park (CIP),  which explores screening and intervention for depression among African American older adults. This is a group considered to be at greater risk for depression, and whose depression often goes unrecognized and untreated.  CIP is collaborating with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s Center for Innovative Care in Aging on the project, which provides a model for increasing depression screening and intervention in a community-based setting.

Senior centers like CIP can offer a natural gateway for this kind of screening and intervention, according to  Megan McCoy, CIP director of grant research and development, since they routinely assess older adults for service needs and health status. She says they can also provide ‘safe havens’ for individuals who may be reluctant to consult with their primary care physicians about feelings of sadness or depression but who might be more comfortable disclosing their feelings to trusted senior center staff.

CIP reached out to center members and others in its Northwest Philadelphia community and beyond, including homebound elders, to recruit participants. Through the project, 703 African American older adults were screened for depression over a two-year period.   Of those, 208 screened positive for depression and were eligible for the one-on-one Beat the Blues intervention.


Intervention  included information and referral to resources, such as behavioral health programs; up to 10 weekly sessions with a counseling professional (held at the participant’s home or other preferred location); and case management. Through “behavioral activation,” a key aspect of the project, participants were helped to identify meaningful activities they could engage in to feel more hopeful and positive. They then received help with breaking down their ‘action plan’ into manageable steps.

As one participant noted, “You not only helped me to recognize that I had symptoms of depression and that having those feelings was a problem, but [also]how to get myself out of it.”

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One received the Beat the Blues intervention immediately; the other received the intervention after a four-month delay.

CIP initially collaborated with Thomas Jefferson University’s Center of Applied Research on Aging and Health on the study.  When Beat the Blues’ lead investigator, Laura Gitlin, Ph.D., became director of  the Johns Hopkins  School of  Nursing’s Center for Innovative Care in Aging in 2011,  Johns Hopkins University became the collaborator.

CIP is incorporating depression screenings as part of its regular enrollment process for new members as a result of its positive experience with the project, says Lynn Fields Harris, CIP executive director. “We feel that it’s important to do an initial screening and make referrals to resources in the community,” she says. “We also will do screenings for current members upon request.”

CIP and Johns Hopkins University are currently developing a Beat the Blues training manual for community-based agencies, including community senior centers, to help them address depression among older adults. In addition, CIP hopes to sponsor more “Beat the Blues” workshops, such as its “Beat the Holiday Blues” program of last fall.

The project is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.
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Services can help seniors stay home


By Marcia Z. Siegal

As people grow older and more frail, more support is needed to enable them to stay in their own homes. Research shows that most would rather remain in their own homes than go to a nursing home.   

An assessment can provide a starting point. In Pennsylvania, Area Agencies on Aging, like Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), provide free assessments to individuals 18 and older upon request. 

To begin, an assessment professional meets with the individual in the home to evaluate the level and types of care needed, and financial resources available. Low-income seniors who qualify clinically may be eligible for care at little or no cost; others may qualify for cost-sharing. The assessment helps determine eligibility and what options are available.
 
Help comes to you
Personal care services provide help with such daily activities as bathing and toileting; assistance with dressing and grooming; and help with medication. Some household tasks may be included, such as meal preparation, shopping, laundry and light housekeeping.  You may contract for these yourself, or go through PCA or another care management organization.

When hiring home care assistance yourself, it’s important to know the medical and care needs and the skills and training required, advises Connie Jones, RN, nursing supervisor with PCA’s Long Term Care Access Department. “Be sure that the agency does criminal background checks and that you get references. Keep an eye on the situation: pop in unannounced to check how things are going, and be sure to report any problems as soon as they occur.” 

Care and companionship
Adult day services centers are non-residential programs for those who are isolated, or cannot remain safely at home alone. Centers provide care, oversight, and social connections, according to Cynthia Wishkovsky, vice president for aging programs at the Center at Journey’s Way’s adult day program in Northwest Philadelphia.

“People really need social interaction — to feel part of something and be a part of others’ lives,” Wishkovsky says. Services provided typically include medication administration; on-site nursing; oversight of physical and other therapies; health screenings; meals; grooming; showers; laundry; transportation; activities such as art, music and exercise; and caregiver support.

Managed care programs
Pennsylvania’s Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) programs serve individuals 55-plus, who are eligible for nursing home care, but choose to remain at home. LIFE programs provide services managed by an interdisciplinary team. Services are delivered at adult day centers and in the home. These include medical and nursing care; medication management; meals; rehabilitation; personal care; homemaker services; transportation; and caregiver support. Affiliated hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes provide care as needed.

Caregiver Karen Middleton says her mother receives transportation to medical appointments and attends one of Mercy LIFE program’s adult day centers “where she has fun,” and the staff monitors her health.  An aide helps in the home two hours a day, and Middleton participates in the program’s caregiver support group.

“Caregivers can get really stressed out,” Middleton says. “I’m really glad there are programs, like LIFE, available to help.”

 There are three LIFE Programs in Philadelphia, each of which serves a designated geographic area.

 To schedule an assessment, or for information on aging resources, call the PCA Helpline, 215-765-9040.  PCA’s website includes a resource directory of aging services and agencies in the region. 
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Less help, oversight for homebound seniors


By Linda L. Riley
frail-elderly.jpg

Significant changes have been made to Pennsylvania’s Aging Waiver Program which officials at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) say will impact the range of assistance provided to the frailest and poorest of the Commonwealth’s senior citizens.

The Department of Public Welfare, which administers the Aging Waiver Program, revised the definition, scope and reimbursement for the oversight of care plans, effective July 1, 2012. According to officials at PCA these changes may have a negative impact on their ability to safely provide care at home for many individuals who are nursing-home eligible.

“The new regulations are limiting the oversight and review for Aging Waiver participants to such a great extent that we feel we will not be able to confidently assure the safety at home of  some consumers,” said Holly Lange, PCA senior vice president.


The Aging Waiver program was created to offer low-income nursing home eligible consumers the option of receiving care at home, rather than in an institutional setting. Lange said the changes may result in more consumers having no other choice but to enter a nursing home.

The changes put in place last month by DPW reclassified key functions in the Aging Waiver Program, Lange said. Prior to July 1, care plans were developed and overseen through care management. Classified as an administrative function, care management comprised activities ranging from nursing visits to consumers and review of care plans; to assistance with financial issues, along with development and monitoring of care plans.
 
Under the new regulations, care plans are developed and overseen by service coordinators, whose responsibilities are more narrowly defined. According to Lange, service coordinators are responsible only for care planning, service arrangement, follow-up, and reassessment.  They are not charged with addressing the more comprehensive aspects of a consumer’s wellbeing, such as living situation, housing, benefits and insurance counseling.

The new reimbursement system will also have a negative impact on the amount and types of help that can be provided, Lange said. She said service coordination is classified as a service, and as such, is reimbursed in 15-minute, billable increments; as opposed to care management for which used a set monthly rate per consumer.  The new system also prescribes a limited number of hours to be dedicated to each consumer without state approval for additional hours, and will force the use of more telephone contact, rather than visits to the home. 

According to Lange, based on the new reimbursement structure, PCA has eliminated 27 staff nursing positions. “Under the monthly rate per consumer paid through the care management system, we were able to cover the cost of having nurses visit consumers at least twice yearly and review every care plan. We will not be able to do this going forward even though these consumers by definition are eligible to be in a nursing home, where they would receive that level of care,” Lange said. “These rates also do not take into consideration the cost of providing interpreters for the increasing numbers of non-English-speaking elders.”

Without the assurance of routine nursing visits and review, and frequent visits by care managers, Lange said PCA may not be able to manage in-home care for many consumers whose conditions are precarious.  “Many of those now receiving care at home have cognitive deficits, multiple chronic conditions and frequently-changing needs and medications,” she said.  “Their conditions can change dramatically from one day to the next, and responding to those changes can require many hours. A fall can lead to hospitalization; bills left unpaid can result in heat and power shutoffs and evictions; chronic or progressive conditions such as dementia, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease can worsen rapidly.”

“With close oversight, they can be cared for at home; but the new regulations place too many constraints on our ability to safely care for them in their homes. Without the close oversight a care manager provides, a situation can escalate rapidly, with undesirable consequences,” she said.  The only alternative in such cases will be a nursing home.

“It is difficult to understand why DPW would choose to create a situation that so undermines the success of the Aging Waiver Program, and which will increase nursing home utilization, which is two and a half times more costly to the state than care at home,” Lange said.
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Will you be able to vote this November?


By Linda L. Riley
According to U.S. News and World Report, more than a million Pennsylvanians age 65+ voted in the last Presidential election. 

Nationwide, more than 90% of those age 65+ are registered to vote. But they may not be able to  vote this November, as a wave of Voter I.D. laws sweeps the nation, and Pennsylvania with it. 

Starting with the November 6, 2012 election, Pennsylvania voters will be required to show photo ID, even if they have voted for years in the same district.

According to figures released by state election officials last week, more than nine percent of the state's voters have neither a Pennsylvania driver's license or a non-driver PennDOT photo ID. In Philadelphia, 186,000 voters do not have either form of photo I.D. Following is a checklist of acceptable forms of ID.

Use this checklist to determine if you have the appropriate ID under Pennsylvania's Voter ID law:

 PA driver's license or photo ID card issued by Dept. of Transportation (Current or expired less than a year)
 U.S. Passport (Must be current; expired passports not accepted)
 Active duty or retired U.S. military or Pennsylvania National Guard photo ID (An indefinite expiration date will be accepted); Military dependent’s ID (Must be current; expired IDs not accepted)
 U.S. government-issued photo ID (ex: employee, armed services, etc.)
 Employee photo ID issued by a Pennsylvania county, city, town, township or borough (Must be current; expired IDs not accepted)
 Student photo ID issued by a Pennsylvania college or university (Must be current; expired IDs not accepted)
 Photo ID issued by a licensed nursing, personal care or assisted living facility (Expired IDs not accepted.)

If you checked any of the boxes above, and you are registered, you are ready to vote. Remember to bring your photo ID to the polls. (If you are not registered to vote, the deadline to register is October 9).

If you don’t have one of the forms of photo identification listed above, you may be able to obtain a free non-driver photo ID from PennDOT.  Click here for details.

Voters who once had a PA driver’s license or non-driver ID may not have to present additional documentation. Call PennDOT to verify if your information is in the system.
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Don't lose your right to vote!



All Pennsylvania voters will have to show a valid photo ID in order to vote in November. If you, or someone you know, don’t have an acceptable photo ID, it may be possible to obtain a FREE non-driver photo ID from a PennDOT office.

Before going to PennDOT, check to make sure you have the correct documents.  You will need:

 Official Social Security Card (not a copy) – Need a replacement card? Philadelphia residents must apply in person or by mail to the Social Security Card Center at 2 Penn Center. Suite 2000B, 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 20th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102-9713. Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (except federal holidays). For information: 1-800-772-1213

AND ONE of the following:
 Official birth certificate with raised seal (copies or hospital registration forms not accepted) – Don’t have the original? People born in Pennsylvania do not require a hard copy for voting purposes. When you go to a PennDOT driver’s license center, PennDOT will certify the birth record with the Dept. of Health.
 U.S. Citizenship Certificate (INS form N-560)
 Naturalization Certificate (INS form N-550 or N-570)

AND TWO of the following:
 Lease Agreement or Mortgage Documents
 Current Utility Bill (cell phone bills not accepted)
 W-2 Form
 Tax Records
 Current Gun Permit
Voters who once had a PA driver’s license or non-driver ID still must get a current ID; but may not have to present additional documentation. Call PennDOT at 1-800-932-4600 to check whether you are in the system.

If your current name does not match the name on your documents above, you will be required to provide supporting documentation, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree.

There are five PennDOT photo ID locations in Philadelphia:801 Arch Street                                
2320 Island Avenue
7121 Ogontz Avenue

1530 South Columbus Blvd.

Oxford Levick Shopping Center 919-B Levick Street

CALL 1-800-932-4600 AND ASK FOR PHOTO ID HOURS AT THESE LOCATIONS BEFORE GOING; THEY ARE NOT ALL OPEN EVERY DAY AND HOURS FOR PHOTO IDS VARY.

You will be required to fill out an application for the photo ID; and to sign an oath stating that you are a registered voter, have no photo ID and require one in order to vote.

A lawsuit filed by AARP is challenging the constitutionality of Act 18, Pennsylvania's voter ID law. In the meantime, there are numerous outreach and education efforts aimed at helping people obtain valid photo IDs.  If you don't have the necessary documents to obtain a photo ID and will have trouble obtaining them, there is help available.
  • The Committee of Seventy has a hotline for voters: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) Answered Live Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Contact the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania: (877) 424-ACLU (2258) or voterid@aclupa.org
    SeniorLAW Center will hold pro bono legal clinics to help procure birth certificates and ID to vote.  The first clinic is slated for Friday, August 3, 2012 from 10 a.m. to noon at Face to Face in Germantown, 109 E. Price Street.
  • You can also call the SeniorLAW Helpline 1- 877-PA SR LAW (1-877-727-7529)
  • Contact your state legislator.  
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Small changes can make big improvement


By Alicia Colombo
Philadelphia's many neighborhoods of older homes have lots of character and charm. But most were not built with aging in mind.

If you want to stay in your home as you age, there are ways to make it more senior-friendly. Having railings, grab bars, lighting and safety equipment can help prevent accidents or injuries, making your home a safer environment.  

For quick tips on how to make your home senior-safe, click here. More guidelines and resources for having repairs and modifications made are below. 


Everyone, regardless of age or health, should have stairway railings on the inside and outside of their home, recommends Wayne Lindsey, production manager with Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Housing Dept.

“Railings are a must for three steps or more. A senior shouldn’t have to reach for a railing or something to grab onto. The railings are not just for the residents’ use, but for visitors as well,” said Lindsey.

Like a railing on your stairs, grab bars in the tub and around the toilet can help to navigate the bathroom. Full-size bathmats in the tub can prevent falls. If you cannot sit in the tub or stand for long, consider installing a handheld shower unit along with a shower chair.

These items are available at many department and hardware stores, but should be installed by qualified professionals.

“If you need to hire a contractor, they must have a Pennsylvania contractor’s license and Environmental Protection Agency lead certification,” said Dom Cisco, PCA construction manager. Contractors should also have liability and workman’s compensation insurance.

Before you sign anything, ask for references and check the contractor’s Better Business Bureau rating on the website or by calling 215-985-9313. Make sure everything is spelled out in your contract, including payment terms. You should never be asked to pay more than 1/3 of the cost up front, and full payment should never be required until the work is completed.

“A good rule of thumb on cost is twice the cost of materials. If you are being charged $1,000 to install a $200 railing, something is not right,” warns Cisco.

When thinking about adaptations to your home, make sure you have essential safety measures in place. A combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector should be installed on every floor, including the basement. “They should always be hung where a senior can access them to change the batteries easily,” said Lindsey.

Many older adults leave their front doors unlocked, because they have trouble getting to the door. “About 70% of the people we serve have a physical handicap, and 30% are bedridden or wheelchair bound,” said Lindsey.

Automatic door release systems can be installed for around $500. A wireless intercom system can be mounted on the outside of your home to let you know who’s at the door. Units start at $80 at Radio Shack and similar stores. “The best option may be a key safe (around $30 at Lowes), often used by realtors. It can be attached to the front door. The homeowner can give the combination to meals on wheels drivers, in-home care aides, family or friends,” said Lindsey.

Repair Programs for Low-Income Seniors

Low-income Philadelphia homeowners, age 60 and older, may qualify for free home repairs through PCA’s Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP).

SHARP provides minor repairs to improve the safety and security of older Philadelphians’ homes, including installing or repairing faucets, entry doors, locks, doorbells, receptacles, smoke detectors, and basement steps. SHARP also provides modifications for older people with physical disabilities to allow them to live more independently, including adapting bathroom fixtures and installing railings.

Gross income guidelines are $1,396 per month for one person or $1,891 for two people. For more information or to apply, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. The PCA Helpline can also provide information about other housing repair and assistance programs.

For major home repairs and modifications, the wait time can be significant. “Unfortunately, there are no emergency services for home repairs. Many of these programs have a long wait, so it’s important to apply early,” said Lindsey.

Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation’s (PHDC) Basic Systems Repair Program provides low-income homeowners with repair or replacement of electrical, plumbing/sewer, heating, roofs, or structural problems. The income guidelines are the same as SHARP’s, 150% of poverty.  Applicants cannot own other properties and the property must be current or under agreement for real estate taxes. The current wait time for services is anywhere from 24-48 months depending on the type of service needed.   

PHDC’s Adaptive Modification Program helps low-income Philadelphia residents of all ages with permanent physical disabilities live more independently in their home by providing free adaptations to a house or apartment, allowing easier access to and mobility within the home. This is a one time only service and applicants are served on a first-come, first-served basis.  The current wait for AMP is about 24-30 months from the date of application until services are completed. Typical modifications include railings, stairway elevators,  exterior wheelchair lifts, barrier-free showers, and widened doorways. For more information vist the website or call: 215-448-2160.
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No More "Community Choice" for Seniors Leaving Hospital



For many senior citizens, admission to the hospital may now be a one-way ticket to a nursing home.

The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has changed regulations which, up to now, enabled hospitals to contact Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) when a senior patient was ready to be discharged. This program, called Community Choice, permitted PCA to order an initial care plan, to provide immediate, expedited services for Medicaid consumers. This would put services in place, enabling the senior to return directly home after a hospital stay, while awaiting DPW approval of a longer-term plan.

Under DPW’s new regulations, effective July 1, services for these consumers will be delayed until a care plan is approved — a process that may take up to 35 working days.  Meanwhile, nursing homes can admit an individual immediately, and apply for reimbursement retroactive to the admission date. 

As a result, for those who require services to remain in the community, nursing home placement may now be the only choice.


As described on the Pennsylvania Department of Aging website, Community Choice process promotes alternatives for older adults and people with disabilities of all ages, “allowing them to stay in their homes and avoid going into Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF) by giving them faster access to services. Community Choice is also available to people who are moving from Long Term Care Facilities back into their communities.”

These Home and Community-Based Services can include home-delivered meals; personal care; respite services; transportation to health providers; personal assistance services; and more. Currently, more than 8,500 eligible older Philadelphians receive such services through the Aging Waiver, funded by Medicaid dollars.

This action by DPW is contrary to Pennsylvania’s previous efforts to rebalance long-term care systems, providing greater access to home-and community-based services (HCBS) and reducing dependence on institutional care.  The Community Choice initiative had been available in 12 Pennsylvania counties, including Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is well ahead of the rest of the state in rebalancing care by providing more than 50 percent of its nursing home-eligible seniors with HCBS, according to PCA senior vice president Holly Lange.

“While nursing homes may be the right choice for some, they are also by far the most expensive option; and they are not what most senior citizens would choose for themselves,” Lange said.  “The choices have now become more limited for some of our most frail seniors.”
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Working for protection and prevention


By Karen C. Buck, Esq.
Elder Abuse is a Philadelphia crisis, a national crisis, a worldwide crisis. It occurs everywhere:  at home, in hospitals, in nursing homes and facilities; and it affects everyone:  all cultures, races, economic groups, education levels, communities.  No one is exempt.

SeniorLAW Center's lawyers and advocates partner with the courts, the legal community, the nonprofit community, and the aging network to help prevent and respond to the many pervasive forms of elder abuse perpetrated against our elders, often by their own families, loved ones, caregivers, and those they trust.

These include physical abuse and domestic violence, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial exploitation, and sexual abuse. Statistically, victims of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation have three times the risk of dying prematurely.

In the past year, we helped provide protection and restitution for more than 200 elderly victims, including more than 100 elders seeking protection from violence and abuse in their own homes.  

Lives are at risk: 
Lives such as one of our recent senior clients, Mrs. M, in her late 60s, who came back to Philadelphia for her mother’s funeral and to take care of her ailing 80+ year old father in his home.  A home that had been taken over by her own nieces, who came downstairs one morning carrying an automatic weapon threatening to kill her…and who became enraged when she asked them to leave, and beat her with metal pipes, putting her into the hospital.  (The nieces were prosecuted and removed from the home and 3 year protection orders obtained)   

Or abuse at the hands of total strangers….a senior in his mid-70s received a phone call stating he had won a sweepstakes and they were sending him an initial check of $1000…which did arrive!  But then he was told to receive the remainder he needed to send a money order for fees….they called again and again, they gained his trust, they eased his sense of isolation, they gave him hope…and he borrowed nearly $80,000 to send to them.  Now he faces bankruptcy as a result of the fraud.  And the money is gone. 

We all can help:
• Talk about elder abuse with your loved ones, your colleagues, your neighbors
• Speak out if you see abuse!
• Be aware, befriend, be knowledgeable
• Share resources:  legal services, protective services, ombudsman, victim services
• Become an advocate
• If you are a senior, plan for your future, be cautious, stay connected and report.  Have no shame.  You are not to blame. 

SeniorLaw Center is here to help elder victims and proud to serve them.   

We ask you to help us fight for justice and protection for the elders of our City and our nation.

Karen Buck is Executive Director of SeniorLAW Center,a nonprofit organization which protects the rights of older Pennsylvanians through representation, education and advocacy. 

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Task Force tackles elder abuse


By Marcia Z. Siegal


 Senior citizens in the United States lose a minimum of $2.9 billion each year to financial exploitation, most of which is perpetrated by family members or trusted others. According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only one in 44 cases are reported.

The problem is especially acute in Philadelphia, which has the highest proportion of seniors of the nation's 10 largest cities. In 2010, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) began partnering with the city with the support of the Mayor, District Attorney and Police Commissioner to form a task force addressing financial exploitation of the elderly.


The Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Taskforce  aims to strengthen collaboration in order to prevent, detect investigate, recover assets and prosecute financial elder abuse. It also trains law enforcement, social workers, banks and community agencies about elder financial abuse.  Finally, it works to  raise awareness among seniors and the general community about  elder financial abuse and how to prevent it, according to Joseph Snyder, director of PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services.

In 2011, the Verizon Foundation awarded PCA a $10,000 grant for Domestic Violence Prevention Healthcare & Accessibility. The grant is being used to train professionals in banking, law enforcement, accounting, social services and community organizations to detect and report elder financial exploitation. 
 
The Verizon Foundation grant enables PCA to expand upon a pilot program, developed in 2003, which focused on training bank tellers to recognize signs of financial exploitation of senior customers. That model was created by Joseph Snyder and Linda Mill, a certified fraud examiner, as a model training and investigation program for Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo Bank).

Expanding this training to a broader range of professionals “will strengthen the coordination between organizations involved in victim protection on many levels, including agencies in the aging network, city departments, health and social services, and community-based organizations. All are on the front lines in serving older adults,” said Snyder.

To learn how to recognize the signs of elder abuse, click here.

To request organizational training on recognizing signs of financial exploitation, call Snyder at 215-765-9000, ext. 4457 or email him: jsnyder@pcaphl.org

PCA’s Stop Senior Scams website offers tips to detect and prevent senior scams and what to do if an individual suspects he or she may have been scammed.


Photo: KYW's Kim Glovas interviewed Deputy Commissioner Charlotte Council of the Philadelphia Police Department, for a story about the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Taskforce. Click here to listen. Photo by Eva Iavarone.

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Older Americans Act may address LGBT needs


By Ed Bomba
Forty-seven years ago, when President Lyndon Johnson first signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) into law, it mandated a full range of efficient, well-coordinated and accessible services for older Americans.  The services were designed to help Americans age successfully, with modern health services and financial security, while giving them the resources to be able to stay in their own homes. 

When he signed the legislation, President Johnson said, “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years.”

Congress has been responsible for reauthorizing the OAA approximately every five years, making sure that the law stays relevant as the needs of older Americans have changed. 

The Act is once again due for reauthorization, with a committee vote expected in the Senate in June.  If approved as proposed, the OAA would, for the first time, specifically recognize the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older Americans.
Over the course of the last five decades, Congress has recognized the special needs and issues of cerain groups, including older Americans who live in rural areas; who are members of low-income minority populations; who have severe disabilities; who have limited English speaking ability; and older individuals with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders and their caretakers. 

Since 1965, the OAA has also added focus on the nutritional, housing, employment and legal needs of older Americans. 

Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, has introduced the legislation which would result in increased outreach efforts to help assure that LGBT older Americans have equal access to the aging services already available through the Older Americans Act. 

The bill also directs government agencies to reach out to older Americans who suffer abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, face cultural, social, or geographic isolation, as well as those living with HIV.

Because they have faced lifetimes of legally-sanctioned discrimination in education, employment and housing, LGBT older Americans are less financially secure than older Americans in general.  LGBT people are not allowed to share equally in Social Security, Veterans, or employer-provided medical benefits.  LGBT Americans are often taxed at higher rates than their married counterparts on medical benefits and inheritance, further weakening their financial stability.

The proposed changes to the Older Americans Act will not change all of these inequities.  What it will do is give those Americans who have traditionally been underserved an opportunity for equal access to the aging services that all other older Americans enjoy. 

Ed Bomba is a member of the LGBT Elder Initiative, a coalition of Aging and LGBT service organizations and consumers, that supports Senator Sander’s bill to reauthorize the Older American Act.
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Aging Waiver is a lifeline


Bobbi Jones: Testimony
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for allowing me to be a voice today for my 92 year old mother, Daisy Mitchell who is a consumer under the Aging Waiver program.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

Longevity runs in my family. My mother had six siblings that lived to be past 70, four of them lived past 90 one is still alive and living at the age of 95 at home with her daughter as her primary caregiver. The key to their longevity was the quality of life administered by their loved ones through their love, care, compassion, hope.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

The beginning of my mother’s decline reared its ugly head after she suffered from of a fall five years ago which left her with a broken shoulder. I was working full time then and didn’t know where to turn. She went from the hospital to a nursing facility rehab and subsequently home.

Here we were ten weeks later faced with my mom’s physical capacity diminished needing complete assist, non-weight bearing, fall risk and the beginning stages of dementia.

Somewhere in our plight with my having to continue to go back to work after FMLA and vacation time had been exhausted I heard about PCA and that there was hope for us in the ability for my mother to return home. A care manager visited her in the rehab and PCA’s advocacy for my mother began. She had a voice.


QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

The Waiver program enabled me to go back to work with the assurance that my mom would be safe in our home and she would have the care of someone close to her to provide her with her personal hygiene needs, meals and companionship.

The care manager acted as a liaison for my mother to receive all of the necessary safety devices needed in our home such as a hospital bed, grab bars, hand held shower and wheel chair. The care manager coordinated my mother’s needs with the state Medicaid program so that she would be a consumer in the Aging Waiver program.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

During a two year period after that my mom underwent surgery, and endured two stays at nursing facility rehabs at which time her physical and mental capacity continued on the decline. All the while PCA care management team was there for her with each twist and turn her health took. The quality of mom’s life was their primary focus. They were there for me, the primary caregiver, as a sounding board when time of frustration, depression and physical exhaustion set in, there was compassion. Their periodic assessments and my ability to contact them when mom’s needs changed gave us hope.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

I was laid off from my job of 30 years in the summer of 2010. I thought that I would take 6 months to be with mom then get back out into the workforce. By then mom’s physical and mental capacity had continued to decline and her needs were more in that she now needed full time care. At that time PCA had assessed mom and increased the home care aide’s time from 2 hours a day Monday through Friday to 4 hours a day. 

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

Mom had a cerebellar stroke in January, 2011 before I had the opportunity to get back into the work force. There was a suspension of services for mom through the waiver program until mom came back home from Hospital and Rehab stays which was four months later. There was a reapplication process with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging that the PCA care management team coordinated, however the approval process from the Department of Public Welfare took another four months which meant four months without the ability to go find a job and finances were rapidly depleting.  Although I was not receiving the services through the waiver program I was still able to communicate regularly with the Care Management team on status updates and they gave me hope.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

Shortly after mom was back in the program she had two mini strokes… and our financial situation forced us to move from our home (apartment) to a less expensive living situation and into a house with stairs. In anticipation of the move and the assessment of my mom’s needs, PCA care management team jumped in and started the process to again provide my mother a safe environment in our new home, a process which started in November, 2011.

The most important element in the move to assure that my mom would continue to have quality of life was the installment of a stair chair the home. A week after moving in January, 2012 mom fell out of her wheelchair and broke her other shoulder. Mom was hospitalized and subsequently sent to rehab and once again her services were suspended and so was the approval process for the stair chair as mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

In March, 2012, Mom came home and the Aging Waiver services were resumed but mom has been limited to one room in the house with no access to the outside world unless it is to go to the doctor or another visit to the emergency room.

Here we are in June, 2012 and still no stair chair which coupled with her escalating dementia her world is getting smaller and smaller as is her quality of life. The stair was finally approved May 1st after a long exhausting approval process by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and/or the Department of Public Welfare but has yet to be installed.

The PCA care management team has been successful in coordinating with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and/or Department of Public Welfare in providing my mom with extended hours for the care aide so that she will have assistance while I am at work so that I can continue to provide food, shelter and care for my mother and pull ourselves out of the poverty level that we now find ourselves in.

QUALITY OF LIFE; LONGEVITY; CARE; HOME; COMPASSION; HOPE. Aging Waiver Program.

What will happen to my mother’s quality of life now if the proposed changes to eliminate Care Management for my mother and be replaced by restricted Service Coordination?  Will there be accessibility to these coordinators to address the condition of my mother that changes from day to day and their ability to respond to those changes which can require many hours given each situation?

I implore you to continue to allow the Aging Waiver program to remain the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging so that the coordination, compassionate and cost effective care to my mother can continue.

This testimony was presented at a May 31 hearing on Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's four-year plan and budget for 2012-2013. To see video of the testimony, click here.

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DPW regs jeopardize the most vulnerable


By Linda L. Riley
New regulations will go into effect July 1 that officials at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging say will endanger the health, welfare and safety of more than 8,400 frail, homebound senior citizens in Philadelphia – and more than 20,000 seniors across the Commonwealth.

“The safety net that Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable seniors need and deserve is being shredded by policy decisions from the Department of Public Welfare which jeopardize our ability to serve them most effectively,” said PCA President Rodney D. Williams.

Pictured: Caregiver Bobbi Jones, who testified at a May 31 hearing about the new regulations. See story below for her testimony; click here for video.
“These are seniors who are entitled to nursing home care, paid for by Medicaid, said xxxxx . “They are all frail and physically disabled; many are also mentally compromised.  They could go into a nursing home, and have nursing care available at all times. But DPW has somehow decided that they don’t need any nursing oversight for the care they are receiving in their homes. This is irresponsible, and could have tragic consequences.”

The Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) new regulations:
• Make no funding available  for nursing review and oversight of their cases and care plans. 
• Limit to an average of three hours per month the amount of time that can be devoted to consumers
• Downgrade the level of care, replacing care management with much more limited service coordination.
• Make no provisions for the thousands of elderly consumers in Philadelphia who are non-English- speaking

For people like Bobbi Jones and her 92-year-old mother, Daisy Mitchell, the impact will be devastating. Over the past five years, her mother has broken both shoulders, been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, had surgery, and had three strokes.  Throughout all this, Ms. Jones, her primary caregiver, has relied on her Philadelphia Corporation for Aging Care Manager in a multitude of ways. 

“All the while PCA care management team was there for her with each twist and turn her health took,” Ms. Jones said. “Their periodic assessments and my ability to contact them when mom’s needs changed gave us hope.” 

“The new regulations only require “at least one telephone call or face-to-face visit per calendar quarter,” Williams said. “This simply is not sufficient for Jones’ mother and the thousands of others like her.”

Like Mrs. Mitchell, the vast majority of consumers enrolled in the Aging Waiver suffer from multiple chronic conditions and disabilities, their conditions are generally deteriorating, and they are often taking half a dozen or more medications.  Their care is very complex and requires significant oversight. Nurses’ review of their care plans is essential.

“The changes the Department of Public Welfare plans to implement are grievously shortsighted,” Williams said.  “They will jeopardize seniors’ safety and wellbeing; and they will greatly increase the numbers of seniors being admitted to nursing homes, ultimately costing – not saving -- the Commonwealth millions of Medical Assistance dollars.”
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Grim outlook for senior services


PCA to present four-year plan at public hearing May 31  
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging(PCA) foresees  a devastating collision between the increasing needs of Philadelphia’s senior population and decreasing funding is predicted over the next four years.
 
“The safety net that Pennsylvania’s seniors need and deserve is being shredded,” said PCA President Rodney D. Williams, “in part by neglect and funding shortfalls, and in part by policy decisions which jeopardize our ability to serve them most effectively.”
 
PCA will present its Four-Year Area Plan for Aging Services at a public hearing on May 31.  As the Area Agency on Aging for Philadelphia, PCA is required by federal law to produce an Area Plan every four years. The public is invited to comment on the plan for 2012-2016 at the public hearing, beginning at 10 a.m., at PCA’s offices, 642 North Broad Street in Philadelphia.   

Already, Williams said, continued flat funding has contributed to closing of five senior centers and six satellite meal sites, reducing the number of seniors served from 33,000 to 20,000.  The Options program for in-home care has a waiting list of more than 1,000 people; and the city just announced that it is cutting $325,000 from the Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program, which PCA administers. 

“Our city’s seniors experience poverty at a rate almost double that of Pennsylvania and the nation," Williams said.


"More than 117,000 older Philadelphians have trouble paying for one of life’s basic necessities; 23,000 report skipping a meal for lack of money. Despite that, the state has not increased funding for aging services from the Pennsylvania Lottery for the past six years -- when, in fact, Lottery revenues are growing, and there is a significant surplus.” 
 
Older adults, community advocates, aging services professionals, and members of the community are invited to testify at the Public Hearing, or submit written comments to PCA. To register to testify at the May 31 Public Hearing or to submit written comments, contact Lauren Ring by May 25 at 215-765-9000, ext. 5075 or via email to lring@pcaphl.org . 

Read the draft Area Plan for Aging Services.

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Bleak outlook for senior services


Testimony invited on Four-Year Area Plan for Aging Services
In the next four years, increasing needs among Philadelphia’s elderly combined with steadily decreasing funding will produce devastating results, predicts Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) President Rodney D. Williams.

“The safety net that Pennsylvania’s seniors need and deserve is being shredded,” Williams said, “in part by neglect and funding shortfalls, and in part by policy decisions which jeopardize our ability to serve them most effectively.” 
   
This assessment coincides with PCA's preparation of its four-year Area Plan for Aging Services, which is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. 

“Philadelphia’s senior population is steadily growing older, frailer, poorer and increasingly minority and limited-English-speaking,” Williams said. “Our city’s seniors experience poverty at a rate almost double that of Pennsylvania and the nation. More than 117,000 of them have trouble paying for one of life’s basic necessities; 23,000 report skipping a meal for lack of money.

"Despite that, the state has not increased funding for aging services from the Pennsylvania Lottery for the past six years -- when, in fact, Lottery revenues are growing, and there is a significant surplus,” he said. 
 
Already, continued flat funding has contributed to closing of five senior centers and six satellite meal sites, Williams said ; reducing the number of seniors served from 33,000 to 20,000.  The Options program for in-home care has a waiting list of more than 1,000 people.
And the city just announced that it is cutting $325,000 from the Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program, which PCA administers.
 
At the same time, the Department of Public Welfare has announced plans to implement significant changes to the system of service delivery, “that will seriously compromise the fundamental ways in which Pennsylvania’s Area Agencies on Aging serve senior citizens,” he said.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 31 to obtain comment on the agency’s four-year plan, proposed budget and programs for 2011-2012. The hearing will take place, beginning at 10 a.m., at PCA, 642 North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Older adults, community advocates, aging services professionals, and members of the community are invited to testify at the Public Hearing. To register to testify at the May 31 Public Hearing, contact Lauren Ring by May 25 at 215-765-9000, ext. 5075 or via email to lring@pcaphl.org. 
 
Click here for additional information about the hearing, including the draft Area Plan and a copy of PCA’s proposed budget for 2012-2013.
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10th "Celebrate Arts and Aging" underway


A month of opportunities to make and experience art
Four exhibits showcase the talents of older artists this month, as part of Phi