Monthly Archives: November, 2014

Ron Williams, President of Threshold Rehabilitation Services, obituary


Ronald L. Williams, 70, of Cumru Township, passed away on November 26, 2014 in the comfort of his home with his family by his side.Born and raised in Lancaster, PA, Ron was the son of the late Louis E. and Elizabeth (Yost) Williams.

He graduated from Garden Spot High School and the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Education degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.

Ron started his career in Pittsburgh at Transitional Services as the Mental Retardation Program Director and then at St. Francis Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center.

His passion for community-based services for the developmentally disabled led him to become an early pioneer in 1969, receiving state funding and providing the first community-based residential programs in Western PA, serving for 11 years as the Executive Director for Horizon Homes.

– See more at:

“Older people may be better learners than we think” – The Conversation


man jumpingPeople who stay mentally stimulated and physically active can delay onset of cognitive decline. Daniel Erkstam/Flickr, CC BY-SA

“Older people may be able to learn more from visual information than their younger counterparts, according to a study published today in the journal Current Biology.

“‘The take-home message the study authors gave was that healthy older people are good at learning,’ said Professor Henry Brodaty, co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW. ‘They have the same plasticity, but they’re not as good at filtering out other information.’

“The brain needs to be able to easily learn new information (plasticity), and filter out irrelevant information (stability). The experiment was designed to test whether ageing affects the brain’s plasticity, stability, or both.

“The researchers had ten 67 to 79-year-olds and ten 19 to 30-year-olds view screens displaying six letters interspersed with two numbers. Each screen also had moving dots in the background, and the participants were asked to report just the numbers.”

Continue reading this article from The Conversation, click here.

“Technology helping more baby-boomer grandparents stay plugged in to grandkids” – The Washington Post

plugged in g-parentsLinda Drake, shown at home in Denver with her dog Beto, uses her laptop to have a video call with her granddaughter Colleen Drake, 12, who lives in Arlington, Va. Drake texts regularly with her six grandchildren, who are ages 10 to 15. (Dustin Bradford/For The Washington Post)

by Nora Krug | The Washington Post

“Like a lot of grandmothers, Sheri Williams doesn’t get to visit her grandchildren as often as she’d like. In part, that’s because she has a full-time job and nine grandchildren spread across several time zones. The youngest one lives in Arlington, Va.; the oldest lives in Hawaii. “I can’t just drive down the street,” she says.

“Instead, Williams, a 63-year-old medical administrator in Springfield, Ill., relies on technology to get a virtual dose of kisses, hugs and updates. She checks Facebook for the latest photos and family news, and shares milestones (and endures tantrums) with her 14-month-old grandson in Arlington, via Skype. For her, the interaction is almost as good as it is in person. “I get to say, ‘Hey, buddy,’ and see him break out in a smile,” she says.

” Although most grandparents still communicate with their grandchildren by phone, evidence suggests that a growing number of them — baby boomers, especially — are turning to online tools to connect.”

Read this Washington Post article in its entirety; click here.

“More aging boomers, but fewer doctors to care for them” – The Conversation


more agingWe need to rethink care for the elderly. Image of hands via Lighthunter/Shutterstock

“By 2030, the last of the Baby Boomer generation will have turned 65 years old, putting the population of “senior boomers” in the United States at approximately 71 million. Currently, only about 7,000 certified geriatricians – physicians specializing in the care of older adults – are practicing in the US. That’s about one geriatrician for every 10,000 of these expected seniors, assuming that the number of geriatricians remains stable. However, the number of new trainees in the field of geriatrics is going down.

In 2010 there were 1,000 fewer geriatricians in practice than a decade earlier. To compound this problem, only about 220 physicians complete geriatrics fellowship training programs.

Geriatricians often act as primary care doctors, and at times as specialist consultants, for patients who are advancing in age and may require targeted, specialized care to maintain function and quality of life. Geriatricians are attuned to the specific needs of the patient at … click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.

” How Americans Living Longer Will Shape the Future of CCRCs” – Senior Housing News

“Americans are living longer than ever, and that trend just might be the tipping point continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) need to be Baby Boomers’ No. 1 senior housing choice in the years to come.

“But first, Baby Boomers and those who assist them with retirement planning need to know what a CCRC is, which means providers must go beyond traditional avenues of marketing to both educate and attract tomorrow’s resident.

“‘The education surrounding CCRCs is poor,’ says Cathleen Toomey, vice president of marketing at New Hampshire-based CCRC RiverWoods, noting that the CCRC model is a perfect “sell” for Americans who are planning ahead. ‘My challenge is to first explain to people what a CCRC is and why it’s the perfect community for the person intending to live a longer, more vibrant life.’

“Life expectancy in the United States rose to 78.8 in 2012 — setting a record high. That number is an increase of 0.1 year from 78.7 years in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.

“‘It’s hitting everybody that we’re living longer,’ Toomey says. ‘People have to let go of one major prejudice, which is in order to be independent you have to live in your home by yourself. That is very limiting. What happens when you have to stop driving at night? Or you can’t use the steps to get to the second floor or attic in your home? Your world becomes very small. But in a CCRC, you could be having dinner with somebody at a different restaurant every night.’”

To read this Senior Housing News article in its entirety, click here.

Click here or on the graphic below to learn more about the Continuing Care Retirement Community.


To see the list of continuing care retirement communities in the Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Service Area, according to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department Website, click on the county below:

Department of Aging wrap-up for Friday, November 21, 2014

PA department of aging logo

Each week the Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Aging, Brian M. Duke, releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the November 21  newsletter.

Items worth noting from the newsletter include:

  • This video (click on the graphic) – Department of Aging Launches Video to Mark National Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month


  • Request for Applications – Targeted Technical Assistance to Build the Business Capacity of Community-Based Aging and Disability Organizations for Integrated Services Partnerships – The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is announcing an opportunity for up to ten (10) networks of community-based aging and disability organizations to participate in a learning collaborative and receive targeted technical assistance related to business acumen.
  • LIHEAP Began on November 3 – The Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program also known as LIHEAP, helps low-income families pay their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company, or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat. The program will begin accepting applications on November 3, 2015, and is expected to remain open until April 3, 2015.
  • Information about the Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) is a federally funded program that allows states to receive additional Medicaid funds for community based (waiver and certain non-waiver) programs. These programs support persons with intellectual disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, mental health concerns, and older Pennsylvanians. This program is scheduled to run through September 30, 2015.

“Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety— Three Case Studies” – Police Chief Magazine

Mental Health First Aid logo

Bryan V. Gibb, CIT, Director of Public Education, National Council for Behavioral Health

“Police executives are challenged with providing effective services to the whole community served by their departments, which includes persons experiencing crises or mental health challenges. Training is certainly a key component in preparing officers to respond effectively to situations involving persons with mental health issues, and the greater their proficiency, the greater the likelihood of a safe and effective outcome.

“The gold standard for such preparation is the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, but a new complementary evidence-based program, Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety (MHFA-PS), has been piloted and distributed around the United States by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.1 This program has been adopted as an 8-hour training for non-CIT-certified officers, either as a stepping stone to CIT certification or as required training for all new cadets.

“MHFA-PS provides a basic action plan officers can use to perform their integral and ever-present role as first responders and conduits to behavioral health and criminal justice systems. Participants learn the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems; build understanding of the importance of early intervention; reduce stigma, and, most importantly, learn how to help someone in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.

“MHFA-PS training is designed for offi- cers to utilize not only during a mental health crisis response, but also during their routine consensual encounters with victims, witnesses, homeless people, missing persons, and other community members appearing distressed. Similar to standard first-aid training, MHFA-PS skills can be applied on or off duty in a variety of settings, to include helping family, friends, and comrades potentially affected. In addition, any public safety officer, regardless of rank or position, may find him- or herself confronted with a mental health crisis. The expansion of community corrections reentry programs may increase contacts between public safety officers and inmates affected by mental illness residing locally. Other known affected groups includes youth, possibly facing the onset of a mental illness condition; the elderly; and perhaps most regrettably, returning veterans.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety.

“You’ll probably live much longer than you think you will” – The Washington Post


“Do you think you’ll make it to 75? That was the question that the massive Health and Retirement Survey posed to 26,000 Americans over the age of 50 in 1992.

“Specifically, the researchers asked respondents to guess their odds of living to age 75: 10 percent? 50 percent? 100? Now, nearly 25 years later, researchers can evaluate how well the respondents did at guessing their chances of living that long — simply by counting how many of those people actually made it to 75.

“In general, people wildly underestimated their chances of reaching 75. Seven percent of respondents said there was simply no way they’d live to 75 – they gave themselves a zero percent chance of living that long.

“But in fact, nearly half of this group lived to 75 – or longer. Among people who gave themselves 50-50 odds, 75 percent saw their 75th birthday.”

Click here to read this Washington Post article in its entirety.


“A silent community speaks out about communications technology” – PublicSource

silent community

Story by Halle Stockton, video by Molly Duerig and Natasha Khan | PublicSource

“Her voice and hands sapped by ALS, Mount Lebanon resident Mara Sweterlitsch uses a speech-generating device to write and print out questions for her next doctor’s appointment.

“Jennifer Lowe, a 46-year-old Brighton Heights woman with cerebral palsy, handles email and phone calls through her communication device to work as an education consultant for students with disabilities.”

Institute on Disabilities Releases New Video: “Autism and First Responders – Seeing Beyond the Smoke”

inst on disabilities

In collaboration with Willow Grove Fire Company, Upper Moreland Police Department and Horsham Fire Company, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University produced the video, Autism and First Responders: Seeing Beyond the Smoke to help increase awareness of the unique issue presented by people with autism, and to inform fire fighters, police officers and other first responders on how to recognize some signs of children and young adults with autism. However, parents, family members, educators and others who support people with autism will also find valuable information.

The 20-minute video features a house fire scenario with suggestions on how to recognize and manage challenges that people with autism may present, along with interviews with Chief Brian Focht, fire fighters Tom Winterberg, Marc Medoru, family members and children with autism.

Funded by PA Developmental Disabilities Council the video is available on the Institute’s You Tube channel.

Beverly Franz, PhD, the video’s producer and project director of the Institute’s criminal justice initiative, says that the video is meant to enhance the already honed skills of the first responder community.

“We present information and resources for first responders that might help define behaviors that they encounter and offer some methods to improve success when an event involves a person with autism.”


The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is Pennsylvania’s University Center for Excellence, one of 67 across the country. Through training, information dissemination and assistance, the Institute strives to achieve a society where all people are valued and respected and where all people have the knowledge, opportunity and power to improve their lives and the lives of others.