Category Archives: Uncategorized

October 09 – Hope, Healing & Recovery | A virtual Community Mental Health Summit Series

10-09 hope healing recovery

“CARES assistance programs for Pa. renters and homeowners are restarted: People have until Nov. 4 to submit their applications” – news release

HARRISBURG – Governor Tom Wolf today issued an emergency order suspending the statutory deadline provision in the COVID Relief-Mortgage and Rental Assistance Grant Program. The deadline under section 191-C(g)(3) of Act 24 of 2020 originally scheduled for Sept. 30 was stayed by the governor, effective today, for 30 days until Nov. 4, 2020, in order for the program to be able to continue accepting applications. The governor’s order is available at:
https://www.phfa.org/forms/pacares/executiveorder/mortgage-rental-assistance-program-order.pdf.

The CARES assistance programs for Pennsylvania renters and homeowners have been reopened and willbe accepting applications until Nov. 4. All eligibility requirements remain the same as they were when the programs ended on Sept. 30. Work will continue on applications submitted prior to Oct. 1, and new applications will be added to the pool of submissions undergoing review.

Renters and homeowners who were financially impacted by the economic slowdown related to thecoronavirus pandemic can immediately access applications for rent and mortgage relief via the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s website at www.PHFA.org. They should look for the red CARES banner on the PHFA homepage. PHFA is administering both programs.

“We appreciate this extra time to help more Pennsylvanians receive rental and mortgage assistance and maintain their housing,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “Our agency prepared for this contingency, so we were able to immediately relaunch both programs once we received word about the governor’s emergency order.”

CARES Rent Relief Program

The eligibility requirements for renters remain the same as they were previously. For renters to be eligible for financial assistance under the CARES Rent Relief Program (RRP), they will need to document at least a
30% reduction in annual income since March 1 related to COVID-19, or they must have become unemployed after March 1. If unemployed, they must have filed for unemployment compensation with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Their household income cannot exceed the Area Median Income for their county of residence, adjusted for the number of people in their home.

Renters who qualify may receive assistance equal to 100% of their monthly rent up to $750 a month for a maximum of six months of assistance for the time period between March 1 and December 31, 2020.

Payments will be made to their landlord on their behalf. Renters or landlords can apply for rent relief for apartment tenants, but renters are responsible for submitting all the documents needed to ensure their
eligibility.

PHFA will continue to partner with the same organizations in all 67 counties that will process all rent relief applications. As before, people will submit their applications and supporting paperwork to these county organizations for review.

Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program

Homeowners who became unemployed after March 1 or who suffered at least a 30% reduction in annual income due to reduced work hours and wages related to COVID-19 may be eligible for financial assistance
to help with missed mortgage payments. To qualify for the Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program (PMAP), they must be an owner-occupant of their residence, the dwelling must consist of one or two separate units, and the homeowner’s annual household income must not exceed the Area Median Income for their county of residence, adjusted for the number of people in their home. Homeowners should note that their mortgage does not have to be 30 days delinquent for them to qualify for assistance.

The assistance available for homeowners can be up to $1,000 a month for a maximum period of six months. The time period eligible for assistance is for mortgage payments owed from March 2020 through December 2020. As it was handled previously, financial assistance payments through this program will be made directly to the mortgagee. Homeowners or their lenders can apply for mortgage relief, but homeowners are responsible for providing all the documents needed to determine their eligibility.

Helpful Resources

The agency’s call center is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist the public and help with questions about the programs. The toll-free number is 1-855-U-Are-Home (827-3466). Callers should listen for the prompt mentioning CARES assistance for renters and homeowners. The county organizations to which CARES applications are submitted have webpages offering useful information and can also be contacted with questions.

The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March, provided $3.9 billion for Pennsylvania and is intended to help people hurt economically during the pandemic. In late May, the General Assembly directed $175 million of these CARES dollars to PHFA to provide assistance for struggling renters and homeowners. The portion for rent assistance is at least $150 million, and $25 million was set aside for mortgage assistance. The CARES funding for renters and homeowners must be completely distributed by Nov. 30, 2020.

SOURCE: news release, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

“Diabetes, disparities, and Covid-19: Three intertwined ‘epidemics’ raise risk of severe illness and death” – STAT

“It’s clear that if people with diabetes are infected with Covid-19, they have higher odds of worse outcomes: One study suggests that the mortality rate for people with diabetes may be as high as 30%. But it’s not yet figured out why that is — and finding an answer may be complicated. People with diabetes can have a mix of biological and socioeconomic factors that could be making them more vulnerable to Covid-19. Some, for example, might live in households with essential workers or in neighborhoods where it’s harder to be physically active while staying 6 feet away from others.

“And diabetes can damage the same organs that Covid-19 targets, making it ‘incredibly difficult to parse out the cause and effect of what’s going on in these patients,’ one expert says.”

diabetesJOERG SARBACH/AP

by Elizabeth Cooney

“Some of Mary-Elizabeth Patti’s patients with diabetes are in a bind. Careful to practice social distancing, they tell her during telehealth visits they don’t feel safe exercising outdoors in their congested neighborhoods — though they know staying active and maintaining good blood sugar levels may be their best defense against severe Covid-19.

“’I’m always happy when patients say, yes, I’m not going out, I’m wearing a mask, I’m doing as much as I can. But it makes it harder for people to meet their fitness goal, which is such a critical element of overall health and metabolic health,’ said Patti, an adult endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. ‘It underscores the health inequity problem,’ she added: ‘Their exposures may be increased due to living in a densely populated neighborhood with multigenerational families [and] more essential workers who cannot work from home.’

“There are no easy answers to the coronavirus pandemic, but for people with diabetes, it’s dismayingly difficult to untangle the thicket of biological and socioeconomic factors that make them more likely to suffer severe illness and die should they catch the virus that causes Covid-19.”

Continue reading this article at STAT news, click here.

Do you know about Pennsylvania’s “COVID Alert PA App?”

covid alert PA

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released the COVID Alert PA exposure notification application. It is now live in the Google and Apple stores, and you can download it for free at:

Google play store:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.pa.covidtracker

Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/covid-alert-pennsylvania/id1527125511

COVID Alert PA is a free mobile app using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology and the Exposure Notification System developed by Apple and Google. The app offers:

• Interactive COVID-19 symptom checker

• Opt-in for alerts for potential exposures to the virus

• Updates on the latest public health data about COVID-19 in PA

• Advice for what to do if you have a potential exposure to COVID-19

COVID Alert PA protects both privacy and personal information. The app does not use GPS, location services, or any movement or geographical information. It will never collect, transmit, or store personal information. It is completely anonymous.

Existing traditional contact tracing processes rely on a positive individual to remember and name who they have been in contact with recently, and for how long. In many cases, positive COVID-19 individuals may not even know the people they were in close contact with, like if the contact happened on a bus or train, at a check-out line in a grocery store, a restaurant or some other public venue.

The app supplements traditional contact tracing processes by being able to identify strangers a positive app user came in contact with and help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. If the app detects that you have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will receive a push notification on your phone. This is called an exposure alert and will be followed by what you should do to monitor your own health. You can learn more about the app and how it works here.

The Department of Human Services is committed to supporting this effort and helping protect the people we serve encouraging use of COVID Alert PA. This technology only works if others have downloaded the app, which is why we are asking all Pennsylvanians to unite against COVID and download the app. Will you add download and join us in the fight against COVID-19? 

The Department of Health also has an extensive catalog of marketing materials including posters, social media posts, press releases, and other customizable content if you are interested in helping us get the word out.

Thank you in advance for helping to get the word out to your colleagues, clients, family, friends, and neighbors. With your participation, I’m sure we’ll see strong download results. Thank you for your support!

Downloadable Resources

You, too, can join in the fight against COVID. We invite you to spread the word about the COVID Alert PA app with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and employers. You can find downloadable posters about the app, as well as, stickers, postcards, and social media graphics on the Community Resources webpage.

“Helping Those with Hearing Loss During COVID-19” – Clear Living

“People with hearing loss should take extra steps to ease the added social isolation caused by wearing masks, according to one published report.

“In September (Deaf Awareness Month) during the pandemic, these tips (below) from Clearliving.com are particularly relevant.  Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss (according to estimates by the National Institute on Deafness and other Hearing Disorders). Wearing a mask makes lip-reading impossible, can block hearing aids and muffles speaking voices – so it’s important for the hard-of-hearing to overcome any embarrassment and speak up. Their tips can help:

hearing aids and masksWritten by Duncan Lambden. Reviewed by Lindsey Banks, Au.D.

“It’s as all the commercials are saying – these are difficult times for a lot of us. Everyone is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, most of which range from inconvenient to devastating.

“One group of people that have been hard done by during the pandemic and its repercussions is the hearing loss community. With masks and social distancing becoming recommended or even mandatory in many public places, it can be tricky to communicate with a community that relies on context given by lip-reading.

“Some solutions have been developed, like clear face guards or masks with see-through sections inserted into them, but these aren’t always widely available. To help you or a loved one get a firmer grasp on how to help those with hearing loss deal with COVID-19, we’ve compiled a few tips and sources.”

Click here to see Communication Tips for those with Hearing Loss  in the article at Clear Living.

“Nearly Half of Dementia Cases Could Be Prevented or Delayed” – JAMA Network

“International dementia experts have expanded their list of risk factors that, if reduced or eliminated, could prevent or delay 40% of dementia cases worldwide.”

dementia delayedInternational experts have identified 12 modifiable risk factors that could prevent or delay dementia.

by Bridget M. Kuehn, MSJ

“In its 2017 report, The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care identified 9 preventable risk factors for dementia: having little or no education, hypertension, untreated hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact. Since then, the commission has reported that emerging evidence points to 3 more preventable dementia risk factors: head injuries or excessive alcohol consumption in midlife and air pollution exposure in later life.

“To prevent or delay dementia, the commission recommended that countries provide primary and elementary education for all children, take steps to prevent obesity and diabetes, and reduce air pollution and secondhand smoke exposure. They also recommended programs to prevent smoking initiation, hearing loss, and head injuries, and to encourage hearing aid use and smoking cessation. Additional preventive measures include maintaining systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or lower in midlife, limiting alcohol to fewer than 21 servings per week, and maintaining an active lifestyle.

“’Interventions are likely to have the biggest impact on those who are disproportionately affected by dementia risk factors, like those in low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable populations, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities,’ Gill Livingston, MD, chair of the expert panel and professor of psychiatry of older people at University College London, said in a statement. It’s time to ‘begin tackling inequalities to improve the circumstances in which people live their lives,’ she added.”

Click here to read this article at JAMA Network in its entirety.

“Age justice requires disability justice—and vice versa” – Changing Aging

age + disability

by, Ashton Applewhite

“A terrific special section of July 25th’s New York Times was devoted to the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There is no mention of age or ageism. It would be convenient to attribute that omission to the fact that most older people are not disabled (true but complicated). But you sure wouldn’t know it from the way the media and public health advisories turn the vast and varied 60+ population into ‘the [frail/vulnerable/dependent] elderly.’ And it’s not the real reason. The real reason is that we act as though people with disabilities don’t grow old and olders never become disabled—and an ageist and ableist culture gives us cover.

“That has to change. Aging and disability are not the same. But they overlap in ethically and tactically important ways:

“There are a lot of us, and our numbers are growing. As modern medicine saves people who once would have died, more disabled people are reaching adulthood and beyond. One out of four American adults has some type of disabilityDisability rates rise steeply after age 75—the fastest-growing age cohort. Population aging is a permanent, global, demographic trend. Some impairment awaits us all.”

Continue reading this article at Changing Aging, click here.

“How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Challenged Ageism: A role model who defied ageist stereotypes and discrimination.” – Psychology Today

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_SCOTUS_portraitRuth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice

by Sherry Levi, Ph.D,

“We mourn the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was a giant champion of equality and fairness and who fought stereotypes and discrimination. RBG was no stranger to stereotyping and discrimination, as she was often unfairly judged through labels such as woman, working mother, Jew, older adult, and older woman.

“RBG is fondly remembered for her immense accomplishments, including challenging age discrimination and becoming a role model who defied ageism and gendered ageism.

“For over 20 years, RBG faced blatant ageism with persistent public calls to step down as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a position that uniquely has a lifetime appointment. Justice Ginsburg would aptly point out that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retired at 90. Why should an active and leading justice such as RBG be expected to retire before 90?”

Continue reading this article in its entirety at Psychology Today magazine.

Register now for the PA 2020 Community Alliance Summit WEEK

community alliance summit2

Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfI2GS1ROAQm5zH7luA_JKG847a2QxytU2Qm3rc6xJmHSSVlw/viewform

“Report on Financial Exploitation of Older Adults” – PA Department of Aging

Older adults are at an increased risk for financial exploitation due to health changes which occur during the natural aging process, as well as their  steady income, accumulated wealth, and retirement savings over their lifespan.

financial exploitation

“In response to Governor Wolf’s Executive Order on protecting vulnerable populations, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging has released a study on the impact of financial exploitation of older adults in Pennsylvania. 

“The study reviewed financial exploitation cases in 14 Pennsylvania counties during the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 to examine the types of financial exploitation that occurred, the combined amount lost, and the financial impact of these losses on the victims, the economy and the commonwealth. The study also reviewed financial exploitation studies conducted by three other states, as well as academic literature published on the topic.”

Click here to download the complete report, including the Department of Aging’s recommendations for how the commonwealth can strengthen prevention efforts.