“The writer and her guide dog, Mylo. (Haben Girma)”
by Haben Girma
“My guide dog crossed the street, then jerked to a halt. ‘Mylo, forward.’ My left hand held the leather harness that wrapped around his shoulders. ‘Forward,’ I repeated. The harness shifted, and I knew he was peering back at me. Some barrier, unseen and unheard by me, blocked our passage.
“Cars created little earthquakes in the street on our left. Behind us ran the road we just crossed. I made the decision: ‘Mylo, right.’ He turned and headed down the sidewalk. I directed him around the block to bypass whatever had stood in our way.
“My dog never knows where I’m going. He has his theories, of course. You went to this cafe yesterday, so clearly you’re going there again, right? Or he’ll veer toward an open door. Seriously, Haben, we need to step in here for a sniff.“
Read this story in full at The Washington Post.
This message from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Secretary, Robert Torres, comes in the Inside Aging – August eblast. It’s an idea that many in our Service Area (Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Counties) have talked about … shared housing.
“Many of us may have experienced placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility—it’s a challenging process for both the family and the older adult. This can isolate the senior from regular time with family and friends and put them in a new setting to adjust to, as opposed to the comfort they have been used to in their own home or local community. The family having to rehome an older adult may worry about cost, quality of care, and a change in convenience of spending time with them.
“Aging in place is an option we know that most seniors prefer, and improving access to affordable and accessible housing is an objective of the department’s State Plan on Aging. An AARP study found that an overwhelming 90% of people age 65 and over would rather stay in their own home as they age.
“It’s important to know that there are alternatives for the seniors in our lives when it comes time to make such a difficult decision. Within the last two years, the Department of Aging has overseen the launch of two very exciting housing programs: the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) pilot program, and Pennsylvania’s very first Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity (ECHO) program.
“The SHARE housing program launched in 2017 in Pike, Wayne, and Monroe Counties in partnership with the Pike County Area Agency on Aging and the support of the counties’ commissioners. SHARE brings together homeowners with extra space in their home and individuals, referred to as home seekers, in need of affordable housing. SHARE counselors assist a matched set of homeowners and home seekers in making a plan where affordable housing is offered in exchange for rent, help around the house, or a combination of both.
“Last year, the department celebrated Pennsylvania’s first ECHO cottage in Clearfield County. Elder cottages are small, separate, manufactured residences that are temporarily placed on the side or rear yard of a host family for an older adult. This allows privacy for both the senior and host family, while at the same time assuring accessibility for both parties as necessary. Additionally, the cottages are far more cost-effective for both parties and give the older adult the option to avoid premature admission into a long-term care facility.
“SHARE and ECHO allow seniors to age in their communities, close to their family and friends, without concern of isolation. Programs like this can give families one peace of mind about their loved one’s wellbeing. If you are interested in exploring housing alternatives for an older adult, please reach out to Julie Seby, firstname.lastname@example.org, at the Department of Aging to learn more about these programs.”
Click on the above graphic to download the complete Community Meetings file as a .pdf.
Beginning January 2020, Community HealthChoices (CHC) will be the mandatory managed care program for Pennsylvanians residing in the Lehigh/Capital, Northeast, and Northwest CHC zones* who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (Medical Assistance), enrolled in Medicaid waivers for physical disabilities, and Medicaid-eligible consumers who reside in a nursing facility. As a managed care program, CHC gives individuals the choice of health plans to best match all their health care and long-term care needs.
You are invited to a community meeting to learn about the CHC program and have an opportunity to ask questions. If you wish to attend one of these community meetings, a list of dates and locations has been provided below. Most locations have two sessions — a morning session and an afternoon session. Each session will run for approximately two hours. Space is limited. If you are not planning to attend alone, please be sure that each additional person(s) register as well.
You can view the invitation that was sent to CHC participants here.
* The Lehigh/Capital Zone includes Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Perry, and York counties.
by Robert Weisman
“WOBURN — Scanning recent police reports from the Massachusetts communities under her jurisdiction, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan was alarmed to spot what she called a ‘tragic spike’ in suicides.
“Fifty-two county residents had taken their lives in the first half of this year, a toll up almost two-thirds from last year. She knew that plenty of young people battle anxiety but was surprised to learn the residents’ average age was 46. A quarter were over 60.
“‘The numbers are dramatically higher than we’ve seen in the past,’ Ryan said. Although it’s impossible to pinpoint one cause, ‘loneliness is definitely a factor,’ she said. ‘“Many older people are feeling disconnected from other folks in their communities.’”
“More than one-tenth of adults 65 and older currently binge drink, putting them at risk for a range of health problems, a new study shows.”
posted by Rachel Harrison
“The study also finds certain factors—including using cannabis and being male—are associated with an increase in binge drinking.
“Binge drinking is risky, particularly for older adults due to aging-related physical changes—an increased risk of falling, for example—and the likelihood of having chronic health issues. Despite the potential for harm, little research has focused on binge drinking among older adults.
“‘Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications, and complicating disease management,’ says lead author Benjamin Han, an assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine and palliative care and in the population health department at New York University.”
How Much do you Need to Earn to Afford a Modest Apartment in your area? Click here to find out.
Recall the 2015 movie, The Intern with Robert DeNiro?
AARP reports, “The job market is looking bright for older Americans who are looking for jobs.
“If you think older workers are sitting around twiddling their thumbs, hesitant to contact employers in a tightening labor market, you’d be wrong. In February, the unemployment rate for those 55 and older was 3.2 percent — nearly a full point lower than the overall 4.1 percent rate for the entire U.S. population and drastically lower than the 14.4 percent rate for teens.”
“For the first time ever, we have five generations in the workplace at the same time, says entrepreneur Chip Conley. What would happen if we got intentional about how we all work together? In this accessible talk, Conley shows how age diversity makes companies stronger and calls for different generations to mentor each other at work, with wisdom flowing from old to young and young to old alike.” – Watch this energizing 12-minute TEDTalk.
by Josh Axelrod, Samantha Balaban and Scott Simon
“Dr. Julie Rickard thought her visit to Wisconsin over the Christmas holiday would bring a break from her day job working in suicide prevention in Wenatchee, Wash.
“The visit didn’t go as planned. After a tense fight broke out between her mother and another family member, everyone dispersed. Rickard readied herself for the trip back to the Pacific Northwest.
“At the airport, she received a call from her mother, Sheri Adler. This was not out of the ordinary — Adler, like many adoring mothers, always calls her daughter after parting ways.
On the phone, Adler wanted to tell her daughter how much she loved and appreciated her.
“‘Normally I would think, “Oh that’s a sign of suicide … ”’”
Continue reading this article at NPR.org.
Opioids and older Americans | clear and present threat; FREE presentations near you about “controlling the opioid epidemic in our aging and disabled populations”
Recent “revelations” about the pharmaceutical manufacturers producuction and marketing of opioids has garnered national media attention … finally.
“It was the early 2000s, and they usually talked over old-school computer message boards. Occasionally they gathered in person, carrying posters of their children and middle-aged spouses — all dead from OxyContin overdoses.”
We now know that the warnings these people tried to send matched the incidents that the 2015 book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
“In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America—addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
“Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two riveting tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been a catastrophic opiate epidemic.
“The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive—extremely addictive—miracle painkiller.”
Opioids have reached into so many families across the nation; the addictions know no barriers. Young and old; male and female; black and white … the stories of people who have, and continue, to struggle with addiction abound.
Click on the above graphic to read more about chronic pain and opioids. “The rapid growth in opioid overdoses has put a spotlight on opioid prescribing patterns, with increased pressure on clinicians to reduce opioid prescribing, especially for long-term management of chronic, noncancer pain.”
Because many older persons contend with debilitating pain and in some cases addiciton, the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources is collaborating with the Office of the Attorney General to hold free presentations: “Opioids & Dangerous Drugs | A FREE presentation about controlling the opioid epidemic in our aging and disabled populations” in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in August.
Each of these presentations is open to all and FREE to attend. Click on the links below for more information and RSVP specifics.
- Lebanon County – Tuesday, August 27 – 10:00 to Noon
- Lancaster County – Wednesday, August 28 – 10:00 to Noon
- Berks County – Thursday, August 29 – 10:00 to Noon