Monthly Archives: February, 2016

“Pivotal Nursing Home Suit Raises a Simple Question: Who Signed the Contract?” – The New York Times

nursing home death Scott Barrow’s reflection in a portrait of his mother, Elizabeth Barrow, who was killed at a nursing home in 2009. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

“Elizabeth Barrow celebrated her 100th birthday at a backyard gathering with her son and three grandchildren in the coastal Massachusetts town where she raised her family and cooked lunches in a school cafeteria.

“A month later, in September 2009, Mrs. Barrow was found dead at a local nursing home, strangled and suffocated, with a plastic shopping bag over her head. The killer, the police said, was her 97-year-old roommate.

“Workers at the nursing home, Brandon Woods in South Dartmouth, Mass., had months earlier described the roommate in patient files as being ‘at risk to harm herself or others.’

Read this New York Times article in its entirety, click here.

Department of Aging wrap-up for Friday, February 19, 2016


Each week the Pennsylvania Department of Aging 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 February 19 newsletter.

Broaden your knowledge base – these webinars are free


Copeland Center for Wellness & Recovery Doors To Wellbeing

Join us and register TODAY for upcoming webinars and explore topics in-depth with Peer Specialist leaders and subject matter experts.

Webinars are always free but pre-registration is required.

  • Peer Support Works – The Paper Proof | Tuesday, February 23rd – 2:00 pm
  • A Decade of Peer Culture, Support and Leadership in Philadelphia | Tuesday, March 29th – 2:00 pm
  • Did you miss the first webinar on January 26? No worries you can tune into the recorded session: Introducing Doors to Wellbeing

Temple University Institute on Disabilities | Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking Family Leadership for Inclusive Education in Non-Traditional Settings

Free leadership development training for families of students receiving special education services in Pennsylvania — home schooled or in cyber charter, charter, private or parochial schools.

  • Igniting Inclusion—Adaptations, Modifications and Supports for Success | Tuesday, March 8 – 7:00 pm. How to include any child by:
  • structuring the environment
  • changing curriculum based on needs
  • preparing for behavioral concerns
  • applying these concepts to varied settings
  • partnering with schools for success

PRESENTER: Lisa Wallace-Larkin is the parent of a child with a disability, has been an educator in both public and charter schools and an Inclusion Consultant for the ARC of PA. She works  as the Inclusion Specialist with the Arc of Philadelphia, is a parent consultant for Pennsylvania’s Education for all Coalition (PEAC,) and a member of the Philadelphia Right to Education Task Force.

  • Breaking the Cycle of Chaos—The Power of Positive Parental Coaching | Tuesday, April 5 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Learn:
  • the ABCs of behavior
  • How to implement behavior strategies that work
  • how to prevent problem behaviors before they occur
  • how to change your behavior to change your child’s behavior
  • to apply these concepts across all settings

PRESENTER: Becky Millspaugh is an educator and parent who embraces the vision of positive behavior supports.  She has over 10 years experience supporting students and families in Pennsylvania  as part of the State’s Coordination Team and through various school districts in the area of Positive Behavior Support.


“A New Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health?” –

Almost 20 percent of Americans have a mental illness. Could a simple change in diet offer relief?

.nutrition mental health

“For as long as he could remember, Jeff says, “I always kind of wished I would die.” As a teenager, the Northridge, California, native turned to pot and crystal meth, and for years swung between bouts of deep depression and flights of mania. It wasn’t until he was 43 that a psychiatrist diagnosed him with bipolar disorder.

“Thanks to meds, today Jeff, who didn’t want his last name used, is stable, self-assured, effervescent even. But a cheaper solution without pernicious side effects might have been hiding in his cabinet that is, his kitchen cabinet. Recent research suggests that eating right might stave off more than heart disease and diabetes; it could prevent mental illness and even treat it.”

Read this article in its entirety at

Couple celebrates 83 years of marriage on Twitter

“Amor vincit omnia, et nos cedamus amori.” – Virgil

“Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love.”

longest married.jpg

Perhaps you saw the article in The Washington Post about the couple – John (104 years old) and Ann (100 years old) Betar – who celebrated their long marriage by sharing tips on Twitter.

This Senior Planet article shares some of the “tweets.”

“Lancaster County may soon be first in the nation to end chronic homelessness” – Lancaster Online

homelessness word ard

“The Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness has made impressive progress in tackling homelessness, including achieving ‘functional zero’ for veterans. It means the coalition, since July, has the capacity to house any vet within a month of becoming homeless.” – Lancaster Online

This article at Lancaster Online indicates that suggests that local efforts are close to ending  chronic homelessness.

Homelessness is the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing, or lack “fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.” The legal definition of homeless varies from country to country, or among different jurisdictions in the same country or region. – WikiPedia

The National Alliance to End Homelessness’s Fact Sheet on Chronic Homelessness addresses some of the questions about chronic homelessness.

“Tax Time Can Bring A Minefield Of Risks for Older Taxpayers” – National Consumer Law Center

With all the W-2s sent and tax season in high gear, advocates from the National Consumer Law Center and Consumer Federation of America warn of the risks and problems faced by taxpayers who use paid tax preparers. These include:
  • Fraud, errors, and lack of fee transparency from unregulated paid tax preparers. The vast majority of paid tax preparers are not required to meet any minimum educational, competency, or training standards. Consumers are at risk from preparers who make errors or even commit fraud, exposing them to the possibility of audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or even criminal sanctions. Fees can be as high as $400 to $500, but preparers often refuse to provide firm price quotes ahead of time.
  • Needless fees paid for financial products. Many paid preparers offer and promote financial products that can be unnecessary and expensive, such as refund anticipation checks (RACs). Consumer advocates also warn of a new generation of refund anticipation loans (RALs) on the market. These “no-fee” RALs are different from the ones that were driven from the market several years ago. However, some of these products could pose other perils, such as the possibility that paid preparers will increase their tax prep fee to include the cost of the RAL.
Free Alternatives for Older Taxpayers
Two free alternatives for low-income taxpayers are Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites (1-800-906-9887 or at and AARP Tax-Aide sites: ( Choosing a VITA or AARP Tax-Aide site saves eligible taxpayers the cost of a tax preparation fee. Many VITA sites can also help taxpayers open a bank account or get a low-cost prepaid card, which enables taxpayers to get fast refunds without paying a fee.
The IRS Free File program ( includes websites that allow some low- and middle-income taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes online for free.

Related Materials
NCLC/CFA 2016 Tax Time Consumer Advisory is available at:
NCLC Report: Prepared in Error (April 2015) is available at:
NCLC Report: Riddled Returns (March 2014) is available at:
NCLC’s State Model Individual Tax Preparer Regulation Act (November 2013), is available at:
NCLC has worked for over a decade on the issue of tax-time financial products, particularly refund anticipation loans (RALs). NCLC’s annual RAL reports and other materials are available at
“With all the W-2s sent and tax season in high gear, advocates from the National Consumer Law Center and Consumer Federation of America issued their annual advisory warning of the risks and problems faced by taxpayers who use paid tax preparers.”

Department of Aging wrap-up for Friday, February 12, 2016

Each week the Pennsylvania Department of Aging 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 February 12 newsletter.

“Why Older Adults Are Seeing a Spike in Drug Prices” – next avenue

“Surprisingly, expensive specialty medications aren’t the only problem”Seniors-Face-Drug-Price-Spikes

“Total U.S. spending on prescription drugs by individuals, insurers and governments jumped 13 percent last year – the largest increase since 2001. One in four Americans report having difficulty paying for medications.

“Older Americans are somewhat shielded from the full impact of rising drug prices by Medicare’s Part D program, which greatly expanded their coverage. Since Part D’s implementation in 2006, seniors’ average out-of-pocket spending on medications has actually declined, from $708 to $564 annually in 2012.

Especially vulnerable

“But a recent trend of price spikes for specialty drugs might be a snake in the grass for seniors on fixed incomes. Since most take multiple prescriptions, they face greater odds of needing at least one of these expensive medicines.”

Read this article at in its entirety, click here


Input needed State Health Clinic meeting | Central Region Communication Forum Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Department of Human Services (DHS) was recently awarded a planning grant that will assist us with the creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant will allow us to determine how CCBHCs fit into system redesign efforts, and support our efforts to improve the behavioral health of Pennsylvanians by providing community-based mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

CCBHCs will serve adults with serious mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance and individuals with substance use disorders. The clinics will provide intensive, person-centered, multidisciplinary, evidence-based screen, assessment, diagnostics, treatment, prevention and wellness services. This grant will allow Pennsylvania to develop an application to participate as a demonstration state which will help us further bridge the gap between physical and behavioral health and enable us to treat all health issues equally and comprehensively. This approach builds trust with those we serve and the result will be better outcomes and better health.

DHS invites you to attend one of the four regional CCBHC communication forums. This will be an open forum to gain input from our stakeholders and provide an opportunity to voice questions, comments and concerns regarding the CCBHC process.

Northeast Region Communication Forum
Date: Friday, February 12, 2016
Time: 1-4PM
Location: OMHSAS Field Office, 100 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton, PA

Central Region Communication Forum
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Time: 1-4PM
Location: County Commissioners Association of PA (CCAP), 2789 Old Post Road, Harrisburg, PA

Southeast Region Communication Forum
Date and location to be determined.

Western Region Communication Forum
Date and location to be determined.

We will distribute the dates and locations for the Southeast and Western Region communication forums as soon as they are confirmed. If you would like to attend, please email your RSVP to with the following information: name, agency (if applicable), email address and which forum you plan on attending.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. We look forward to seeing you there.