Monthly Archives: March, 2016

New CDC Autism Data Highlights Importance of Long-term Services and Supports, Cultural Competency

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network indicating that 1 in 68 school-aged children are on the autism spectrum. In announcing the rate, which is unchanged from 2014, the CDC called attention to the critical role services and supports play in helping people with autism reach their full potential.

Autistic children, like people with all types of disabilities, need more avenues to gain independence. From an early age, they need to learn life skills that will enable them to fully participate in the community and to be actively and meaningfully involved in planning for their own transition to adulthood.

We need to have higher expectations for people with disabilities, in everything including academic achievement. We must empower them to do more than stay at home or work in non-integrated settings, like sheltered workshops. We also must take action to structure our communities and workplaces to embrace neurodiversity and benefit from these individuals’ strengths.

 To achieve this, we must ensure services are available to support children with autism through all stages of life – from early childhood and the school years, as they look toward college and employment, and ultimately as they live independently as adults.

 To that end, the nation’s 67 federally-funded University Centers for Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) are playing a leading role in conducting research, developing and testing cutting edge practices, and connecting families with services and supports. Continue reading →

“The grandparent scam”

by Mark Berg

It begins with a phone call. A young voice on the other end of the line says, “Grandma (or grandpa), this is (name of your grandchild). My voice sounds different because I’ve been crying. I’m in trouble and I don’t want to call my parents. They’d be furious. I’ve been in a car accident (or stuck in jail, or detained in a foreign country), and I need money right now.”

Turns out, it’s a scam; it’s not your grandchild calling, and she/he is not in trouble. This is just one of many scams being perpetrated on seniors.

A recent report, Fighting Fraud: U.S. Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors, summarizes the Committee’s investigation into this and other scams. Between January 1 and December 31, 2015, the Committee’s Fraud Hotline received 1,108 complaints from residents in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The top ten scams described in the report accounted for more than 90 percent of the complaints.

About a third of the complaints were about the IRS Impersonation Scam, which the IRS called “the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the IRS.” Nearly 900,000

Americans have been targeted by scammers impersonating IRS officials, with 30 to 50 people a week reporting that they lost money to the scam; more than 5,000 Americans have lost a total of at least $26 million.

In second place is the Sweepstakes Scams. Callers tell potential victims that they have won or have been entered to win a prize, but it requires the victims to pay a fee to either collect their supposed winnings or improve their chances of winning the prize. At its peak, law enforcement officials estimated that one sophisticated con operation alone made approximately 30,000 phone calls to the United States per day and stole $300 million per year from tens of thousands of seniors.

The third category of complaints is Robocalls and Unwanted Phone Calls. Twelve years after the national Do-Not-Call registry was implemented, we are still being disturbed by telemarketers and scammers. They use Robodialers to distribute pre-recorded messages or to connect the person who answers the call with a live person who poses as a representative of a bank, credit card company, creditor, or government agency to convince the victim to reveal account numbers, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, passwords, and other identifying information.

Fourth is the Computer Scam. Con artists convince victims to give them remote access to their computers, personal information, and credit card and bank account numbers so that victims can be “billed” for fraudulent services to fix a virus or poor computer performance. In a related scam, victims see a pop-up window on their computer instructing them to contact a tech-support agent. Microsoft – which receives complaints of computer-based fraud – estimated that 3.3 million Americans are victims of technical support scams annually, losing $1.5 billion per year. Unlike other victim-assisted frauds, in which scammers are successful in just one out of a hundred-plus attempts, it appears that computer-based scams have a very high success rate.

Identity theft, the grandparent scam above, elder financial abuse, the government grant scam, a romance scam, the home improvement scam round out the list.

The Senate Committee has a free fraud hotline: 855-503-9470 to help increase reporting and awareness of consumer fraud.

Mark Berg is a member of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, and Chairman of the Adams County Office for Aging’s Citizens Advisory Council. His email address is

“The Painful Costs of Elder Hoarding” – next avenue


by Rosanna Fay

“While over two million Americans are loyal watchers of the A&E TV show Hoarders and find it entertaining, I can tell you firsthand that when an older family member is a hoarder, there is nothing amusing about it.

“And when you’re the one who winds up footing the bill to clean up your loved one’s out-of-control mess — well, that’s its own kind of challenge.

“At a glance, my husband’s 84-year-old Uncle Dan appears to be a typical retiree in Florida. He is socially active, participates in volunteer programs and lives in a lovely mobile home community for seniors — a tidy trailer park. But he is not living in a tidy home.

A Risk of Eviction

“Our troubles with Dan began earlier this year when his HOA (homeowners’ association) contacted my husband in California to say that Dan’s one-bedroom property was in major violation of its policies; Dan was at risk of eviction.”

Read this next avenue article in its entirety here.

MORE ABOUT HOARDING – Anxiety and Depression Association of America

“Hoarding is the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. The behavior usually has deleterious effects—emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal—for a hoarder and family members.

“For those who hoard, the quantity of their collected items sets them apart from other people. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.”


“Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets in unsanitary conditions because they can’t care for them properly.”

MORE ABOUT HOARDING – “Let it go: Are we becoming a nation of hoarders”The New Yorker magazine

“My mother survived to the age of ninety-three, so she had time to develop a number of habits that people now consider to be symptomatic of dementia. Hoarding, for example.”

“Fruits and Vegetables to Fight Cataracts” – The New York Times

wellorangeAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

“Here’s another reason to eat your fruits and veggies: You may reduce your risk of vision loss from cataracts.

“Cataracts that cloud the lenses of the eye develop naturally with age, but a new study is one of the first to suggest that diet may play a greater role than genetics in their progression.

“Researchers had about 1,000 pairs of female twins in Britain fill out detailed food questionnaires that tracked their nutrient intake. Their mean age was just over 60.

“The study participants underwent digital imaging of the eye to measure the progression of cataracts. The researchers found that women who consumed diets rich in vitamin C and who ate about two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables a day had a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts than those who ate a less nutrient-rich diet.”

Click here to read this New York Times article in its entirety.

“Take a walk in the park” day – March 30

take a walk in the park day

“Don’t miss out on ‘Take a Walk in the Park Day.’

“It is an opportunity for exercise and relaxation. Are you stressed out? A walk in the park is just what the doctor ordered. Its calming and therapeutic. Taken after a busy work day, it helps clear your mind and re-energize you. Or, take the walk during lunch and you will find the afternoon of work goes by quicker and easier.

“A walk in the park will likely be the most enjoyable part of your day. However, make sure to do so with a clear mind and with your eyes open. In addition to avoiding a fall, open eyes will allow you to take in the beauty of nature’s wonders: flowers, and trees, birds, and wildlife.

“Tip: We suggest you take a walk in the park with a friend or your lover. It will prove far more enjoyable if you have company on your walk.”- SOURCE:

Friday Wrap-Up, March 25, 2016 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

friday wrap-up 03-11-16

Check out the listings of events for the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources partners’ networks in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.

Click here to read the entire newsletter



“I’d bet you never met a doula”

by Mark Berg

I recently met a woman in Gettysburg, Rosalie Moore, who told me she’s a doula. If you’re like me, you probably never heard of – let alone met – a doula. The word doula is Greek for “woman who serves.” A “birth doula” assists a woman and her family before, during, and after childbirth by providing physical assistance and emotional support.


But there is another important time in which a woman can serve. The role of a doula at the end of life – providing physical assistance and emotional support during the time of dying – is not new. Hospices have long had “vigil volunteers” who sit by the bedsides of the dying. Doulas, too, provide this service, and help in many other ways as people leave the world.

Let’s face it: most people don’t know how to prepare for death – of ourselves or our loved ones – or cope with it after it happens. We must make difficult choices while we’re in an emotional state, and too often, we don’t have the time to do the research that could help us make well-informed decisions. The result can be disastrous financially and emotionally.

Based on their training and personal preferences, doulas offer a range of services. “End-of-life doulas” help people prepare in advance. They work with the healthy and the terminally ill, exploring options for care prior to death and thereafter. They explain the full range of alternatives, enabling patients to exercise control over their medical care, as well as the details of what will happen once they’ve passed away. The process of discussing our mortality can put our minds at ease, secure in the knowledge that we’ve taken steps to ensure our wishes will be honored.

“Death doulas” support people who are nearing death, whether they have opted to die at home, in a hospital, or in hospice care. The doula will make two or three visits, and help create a plan to support them in their final hours. She may also walk clients through a life review, check on the status of end-of-life paperwork, or do the things that free loved ones to be present without distractions.

“Mourning doulas” support families after the death of someone who made no final arrangements in advance. They present a range of options while educating about ways to control expenses and create a fitting celebration of a loved one’s life while saying goodbye.

Everyone involved in dealing with death and dying recognizes that there is a role for doulas as an aging population grapples with how to gain some control over this inevitable stage of life.

Rosalie is completing a comprehensive certification program that prepares her to offer these services. She also provides coaching about “green” burials and funerals at home, organizing belongings after death, and planning life changes for those who have experienced a loss. “Being a naturally caring and calm person,” Rosalie told me, “I help people during a tremendously stressful time. And I love filling in with the small touches that make a big difference in having things go smoothly.”

Rosalie’s web address is

Mark Berg is a member of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, and Chainman of the Adams County Office for Aging’s Citizens Advisory Council. His email address is

“Here’s how witnessing violence harms children’s mental health” – The Conversation

violenceChildren are being increasingly exposed to violence. What’s the impact?

“Caroline was having a hard time getting her daughter to go to school. The night before, her daughter saw the news about a terrorist bombing that had occurred that day where several children and adults were killed and schools were immediately closed.

“Her daughter had a difficult time sleeping and was refusing to eat her breakfast. When Caroline asked her daughter what was wrong, she replied in a hushed tone,

“I’m scared mommy. If I go to school, will somebody come in and shoot me? I don’t want to die.”

“As researchers and clinicians who have studied the problem of violence over the past three decades, we have witnessed a steady increase in levels of children’s exposure to violence and its damaging effect on their mental health.

“How does this exposure to violence affect children and adolescents – especially their mental health? And how should we handle the increased fear and insecurity that results from such events?”

Click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.

Dreams for Veterans | for “… terminally ill veterans and their families through the fulfillment of a final dream.”

dreams for veterans

Dreams for Veterans serves our nation’s military communities by giving back to terminally ill veterans and their families through the fulfillment of a final dream.

Final dreams range from basic need items (like a working appliance or mobility scooter) to bedside reunions, final vacations with family, “meet and greets” with personal heroes or reconnecting with aspects of former military service.

A dream not only serves the recipient, but also brings comfort and peace to caregivers, loved ones, hospice professionals, veterans affairs and service officers, and all those they serve in communities across the nation.

We serve veterans in all 50 states and partner with America’s hospice professionals and veterans organizations to meet the unique needs of our nation’s veterans.

“What is water?”| “The Sermon on Sadness That Became a Viral Hit” –

what is water

“In 1996, when Harper’s Magazine sent writer David Foster Wallace on a seven-night Caribbean cruise, they were expecting a magazine-article-length, fish-out-of-water adventure. What they got back was practically a novella about the dread of death, and how being pampered for a week aboard an unsinkable vessel is little more than a denial of death’s inevitability. About a decade later, Kenyon College was less surprised when, in place of the commencement speech Wallace had been invited to give to the class of 2005, he delivered an unforgettable sermon on the sadnesses of modern life — and their cure.

“The genius of all of Wallace’s writing (aside from the beauty and exactness of the language itself) lies in the way he worked within the boundaries of established forms while reshaping them in weird and beautiful ways, commenting on a genre as it underwent his origami. His speech begins conventionally enough, with what he calls the “deployment of [a] didactic little parable-ish” story about two fish that are ignorant to the fact that they are surrounded by a thing called water. But, after accepting the parabolic-opening as “one of the better, less bullshitty conventions” of the commencement genre, he quickly turns the practice on its head by signaling that this isn’t going to be a typical go-forth-and-excel speech.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety and listen to Wallace’s “unforgettable sermon on the sadnesses of modern life.”.