Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to opportunities ahead.

Region IV Area Agency on Aging
44th Anniversary
Annual Meeting and Celebration

Thursday, November 9 

3:00-5:00 PM

The Inn at Harbor Shores
800 Whitwam Drive, St. Joseph

Hors-d'oeuvres served at 3:00

Cost: $20

RSVP by October 30th. 

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Register by clicking the "Pay Now" button below to use your credit card or Paypal account or register by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and send your check to Area Agency on Aging 2900 Lakeview Ave., St. Joseph, MI 49085 

 

"The Area Agency on Aging was the first ray of hope in a very dark time for my family." 

~ Custom Care Client

 

The Area Agency on Aging serves more than 10,000 individuals each year with information, advocacy, education, volunteer, care management, planning and development, and access services.

Below are just a few examples of the many people impacted by Area Agency on Aging services each year.


cane handsEmily (not her real name) is 80 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease. Emily lives in her own home with her husband who is also in his 80's.

The Area Agency on Aging is able to provide some personal care for Emily each week. But just as importantly, her husband has the support and guidance of a professional Care Manager.

Their Care Manager provides assistance to Emily's husband to help him as he deals with her illness. She only requires 2 hours of care per week which is funded by Region IV Area Agency on Aging. However, the support and guidance of a professional Care Manager provides assistance for her husband and will guide this elderly couple seamlessly to other programs and services to meet her current care needs as well as other needs as her disease progresses.

The AAA Care Manager also provides comfort to Emily's husband knowing if something happens to him, a local professional is already involved and ready to act to help keep his wife safe. 

Emily receives in-home care funded by Region IV Area Agency on Aging Care Coordination. Care Coordination helps people that are age 60 and older; there are no income qualifications for this program.


"Thank you! Without your help, I could not have helped my father make a right choice for his Medicare Part D plan.

Your counselors were well informed and understood the various plans in ways that I did not... You've saved him hundreds of dollars and me hours of frustration"        

~Son of MMAP Counselor Client


younger disabledBob (not his real name) is a younger gentleman in his 40’s. He receives in-home care funded through the Region IV Area Agency on Aging MI-Choice program. He is on Michigan Medicaid and has substantial physical needs as well as advanced dementia.

Bob has been a Mi Choice waiver client since 2000. He lives with his elderly father. The Area Agency on Aging provides Adult Day Services to give his father some respite from his caregiving responsibilities as well as other in-home care for Bob. 

Bob's elderly father is very appreciative of this extra assistance. Without the assistance Bob's father's own heath would undoubtedly decline.


Claire (not her real name) is 92- years old and lives with her son.  He cooks for and supports his mom, and together they manage along. But Claire needs more care than her son can provide.

The Area Agency on Aging provides in-home care for Claire including some personal care and in-home assistance. The family pays for additional in-home care for Claire as their finances allow.

Were it not for this array of care, both the formal care paid for by Region IV, private pay care, and family support, Claire would be living in a nursing home.

This in-home care is provided by Region IV Area Agency on Aging Care Management funding which provides in-home assistance to people age 60 or older that have substantial physical needs; there are no income qualifications for this program. 


"I don't know what you've done to my mother, but it's such a wonderful improvement. She's been getting out of the house for the first time in years. If it weren't for her Senior Companion, my mother would definitely be in a nursing home."

- Daughter of a Senior Companion Client


100 3825Elmer (not his real name) is 80 years old and has been living in a Berrien County Nursing Home since January 2008. Prior to that time he was living at home with his wife, but he needed too much care and the family decided that nursing home placement was necessary.

Elmer had received some in-home care at his home prior to the nursing home placement so he and his family knew they could ask for help and guidance. Thankfully his son called Region IV Area Agency on Aging to see if anything else could be provided to help his mom so his dad could move back home.

An Area Agency on Aging Care Manager met with the Elmer, his wife, and his son. The wife requested a special lift to help her care for her husband. It is now October 2008 and the equipment has been ordered, thanks to creative funding solutions found by diligenct Area Agency staff people, Elmer is wife will soon be back home together -- to live in the setting of their choice... their own home.


NOTE: To protect our clients' privacy, the photos above are representations, not photos of the actual clients described.

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) recently honored Lynn Kellogg with the 2014 President’s Award for her significant contributions and leadership to further the mission of the Aging Services Network. “Lynn is a paragon of the region and the people of the State of Michigan and indeed the entire nation,” said Barb Farris, Region IV Area Agency on Aging, board chair. “Her foresight, initiative, and persistence have paved the way for independence of senior citizens not only in Southwest Michigan but as an example nationally. I applaud n4a President Nick Beamer in his recognition of this outstanding public servant,” said Farris.

 Healthy Seniors at Home

(St. Joseph, MI)  Region IV Area Agency on Aging announces that two of its initiatives recently received recognition from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) with an Aging Innovations Award, the highest honor presented by n4a to member agencies. The awards program is sponsored by CST your Link to Life (CST-LTL). Healthy Seniors at Home and 2900 Lakeview – Service Expansion & Coordination were among the top 13 of 45 local aging programs to receive honors during the n4a Annual Conference & Tradeshow held July 12-16, 2014, in Dallas, TX. The Healthy Seniors at Home program took third place overall in the national competition.

The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in St. Joseph is the recipient of a 2009 Aging Innovations and Achievement Award. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) announced the recipients...http://bit.ly/AAAnews  

Dolsen honored as senior advocate

dolsen2ST. JOSEPH - Bob Dolsen, the former executive director of the Region IV Area Agency on Aging, has gained a statewide honor for his work to improve health conditions for older people.

The Michigan Society of Gerontology at a ceremony this month in East Lansing gave him its V.K. Volk award.

Dolsen, a St. Joseph resident, has testified at the national and state level numerous times and is particularly known for his advocacy work on behalf of people needing long-term services and support.

Since his retirement in 2000, he has been awarded the Friend of Public Health Award from the Berrien County Health Department and the Claude Pepper Award for excellence in advocacy from the Senior Advisory Council of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Confident CaregiverAre you caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or memory loss?

Creating Confident Caregivers (CCC)™ is an educational training program for family members who are caring for a person with a dementia related illness, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. The CCC™  program has been proven to reduce caregiver stress by providing caregivers with useful tools and information.

Creating Confident Caregivers™ is not a support group, but an opportunity to learn new information and strategies that will make the job of caregiving easier and more rewarding. Caregivers will learn about the progression of the disease, how it impacts their loved one, learn strategies to manage difficult behaviours and the importance of taking care of themselves.  

Caregivers will learn how to:  

Matter of BalanceMany seniors experience fear of falling and restrict their activities. A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls  emphasizes practical strategies to reduce this fear and increase activity levels.  Participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable; set realistic goals to increase activity; change their environment to reduce fall risk factors; how to get up properly after a fall; and exercise to increase strength and balance.

senior-mom-daughter1Caregiving is a great responsibility that can sometimes take a toll on spouses, parents, children, and friends. Through this series of classes, caregivers develop coping strategies and tools needed to manage the difficult days of caregiving. Designed to empower caregivers with new skills for managing challenging situations, some of the topics may include: preventing burnout, stress reduction, reducing feelings of guilt and frustration, and coping with role reversal.  

SeniorNet provides education and access to computsenior computerer technology and the Internet for people ages 50 and up. If you are looking for some help to learn new or enhance existing computer skills, you have found the right place. Welcome. Come on in and make yourself at home.

Read more ...

PATH ClassPATH, which stands for Personal Action Toward Health, is a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program that was developed and tested by Stanford University to help people learn techniques and strategies for day to day management of chronic or long term health conditions.  Having a chronic illness is not a choice, but how you deal with it can be, and that is what PATH is all about.

Will you soon be eligible for Medicare?  If so, attend the New-to-Medicare class.  In this class, you will learn:

Read more ...

Questions and Answers about Long Term Care

  1. What are some good resources to learn about the skilled nursing facilities in the area?  It seems as though you can get great care in some places and not in other places. 

 

  1. One of the best places you can find information about nursing homes is on Medicare’s website.  There you can compare reports on nursing homes within a zip code range, or look for information by name of facility.  Included in the report is information on how nursing homes have performed on health and fire safety inspections, how the nursing home is staffed with nurses and other healthcare providers, and how well the nursing home cares for their residents.  This information comes, primarily, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) health inspection database, a national database of resident clinical data known as the Minimum Data Set (MDS), and Medicare claims’ data.

Another great resource for information about nursing homes, and long term care options in general, is the Michigan Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.  This program is authorized in the Older Americans Act and the Older Michiganians Act and works to address the quality of care and quality of life for residents who live in licensed long term care facilities.  If you have questions about long term care options in general, or concerns about a specific facility, the local Long Term Care Ombudsman is a great resource and an advocate for nursing facility residents. Learn more about the program at  www.MLTCOP.org or by calling 866-485-9393.

My father was an aeronautical visionary. In WWII, when a small plane was needed to fly supplies into and wounded persons out of remote areas with hardly any landing space, a design competition was held. When engineering teams presented their creations to see which could land and take off in the shortest strip of runway, my father’s team landed the runway crossways. His Stinson L5, “the Flying Jeep”, hangs in the Smithsonian today. I didn’t inherit that gene.

Dereck Thompson, a writer for The Atlantic, recently wrote of interviews conducted within Google’s “Moonshot Industry”. This portion of the company is devoted to what they call radical creativity, exploring breakthrough technology to address huge societal problems.

A good friend of ours who lost her husband a few years ago told us, “Death itself is hard enough. But it’s the process of dying that is so difficult.”

She had had to assist him in most of the activities of daily living for years, including the negotiation of procedures through the medical community.

Another friend of ours suffered from a fast-spreading cancer. She had endured more than one extensive procedures, including radical surgery. But up until a few days before she died, a doctor told her family that just one more procedure would have her up and functioning normally.

My husband has decided we should go camping. We camped for many years when our kids were young, and have great memories of those times. We camped in tents, on the hard ground, and as the years went on we were able to borrow Grandpa’s trailer. Caught in a moment of sweet nostalgia, I thought it sounded fun, so I said, “yes!”

Now, I’m thinking it through. We’re renting a camper, so that’s on the pro side of the list. It has a bathroom in it, so I think that’s on the pro side as well. I don’t know how it works though, so it may end up on the other list. We used to just walk over to the campground bathroom with our flip-flops on. But now bathroom trips occur more often than they used to, and I feel a little different about using bathrooms in the woods where critters may surprise me.

Supposedly we can park the trailer at the campground, and in “five easy minutes” have it all set up. I wonder if that time frame is for 30-year-olds, or if it applies to 60-somethings? While we’re fairly fit, we have had a few new parts installed – three hips, a couple knee surgeries…you know, the usual. And so what if it takes us a half hour. That’s part of the adventure, right?

I expect we’ll take walks around the park. We did a lot of that in those early camping days. We may not go quite as far, but that’s okay. We’re also taking our dog with us, and she won’t let us just sit around. That’s a good thing.

And now I’m thinking about the dog. She’ll probably hear the move of every raccoon, squirrel and cricket, and will be forced to protect us with her ferocious bark. And I suppose there will be children around the grounds to annoy her as well. Do campers still play loud music at night? I do not want to be one of those grumpy seniors who complains about such things. Maybe we’ll go out and dance to their music until they retreat.

Jeff describes feeling like he walked into the doctor’s office one person and walked out someone entirely different. He says he went in a 56-year-old self-employed businessman, husband and father and he came out an Alzheimer’s patient.

“We sat in the car for almost an hour. We cried some, but mostly we just sat,” Jeff’s wife Cindy says. “It was like all our plans, our life, came to a crashing halt with that one word. Alzheimer’s.”

When Jeff first started exhibiting signs of memory impairment, Cindy says they shrugged it off to stress and an unwelcome but natural part of getting older.

While memory can change as you grow older, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are not a part of normal aging. Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's, but diseases also include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick's disease and more.

Alzheimer's slowly destroys an individual's memory, judgment, cognition, learning, and eventually ability to function. Prevalence of the disease is on the rise. An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease according to a 2017 Alzheimer’s Association report.

Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared diagnosis among adults age 55 and older, second only to cancer, according to a MetLife Foundation study. In a similar study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, almost two-thirds (62%) of people surveyed felt a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia would mean their life was over.

Dementia Friends is a global initiative working to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

Developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends was launched to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding that often results in people with the condition experiencing unnecessary levels of loneliness and social exclusion. It’s an effort spreading around the world.

Dementia Friends America, co-chaired by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, was launched in early 2017 and is being spearheaded in Michigan through Region 8 Area Agency on Aging in Grand Rapids.

Dementia Friends America works to raise awareness about the disease and help people understand how they can take small steps to support people living with dementia.  The effort aims to reduce fear and avoidance, and ensure people living with dementia are included and supported. The program accomplishes this via an online training that involves watching a series of short videos and committing to take action.

The videos are short vignettes illustrating how you can be supportive of people with dementia you encounter throughout the community. Some examples include the grocery store, bank, restaurants, the library and pharmacy. There’s also information for first responders and other professionals. The videos provide quick takeaways that are easy to put into practice in your everyday life.

You can help people in our community who are living with dementia and their families by becoming a Dementia Friend. Visit dementiafriendsusa.org/become-friend to learn simple actions you can take to make your community one where people living with dementia are valued and supported in helpful ways. After watching at least three of the videos and committing to take action, you’ll receive a certificate indicating your commitment to being a “Dementia Friend”.

Jeff describes feeling like he walked into the doctor’s office one person and walked out someone entirely different. He says he went in a 56-year-old self-employed businessman, husband and father and he came out an Alzheimer’s patient.

“We sat in the car for almost an hour. We cried some, but mostly we just sat,” Jeff’s wife Cindy says. “It was like all our plans, our life, came to a crashing halt with that one word. Alzheimer’s.”

When Jeff first started exhibiting signs of memory impairment, Cindy says they shrugged it off to stress and an unwelcome but natural part of getting older.

While memory can change as you grow older, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are not a part of normal aging. Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's, but diseases also include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick's disease and more.

Alzheimer's slowly destroys an individual's memory, judgment, cognition, learning, and eventually ability to function. Prevalence of the disease is on the rise. An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease according to a 2017 Alzheimer’s Association report.

Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared diagnosis among adults age 55 and older, second only to cancer, according to a MetLife Foundation study. In a similar study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, almost two-thirds (62%) of people surveyed felt a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia would mean their life was over.

Dementia Friends is a global initiative working to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

Developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends was launched to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding that often results in people with the condition experiencing unnecessary levels of loneliness and social exclusion. It’s an effort spreading around the world.

Dementia Friends America, co-chaired by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, was launched in early 2017 and is being spearheaded in Michigan through Region 8 Area Agency on Aging in Grand Rapids.

Dementia Friends America works to raise awareness about the disease and help people understand how they can take small steps to support people living with dementia.  The effort aims to reduce fear and avoidance, and ensure people living with dementia are included and supported. The program accomplishes this via an online training that involves watching a series of short videos and committing to take action.

The videos are short vignettes illustrating how you can be supportive of people with dementia you encounter throughout the community. Some examples include the grocery store, bank, restaurants, the library and pharmacy. There’s also information for first responders and other professionals. The videos provide quick takeaways that are easy to put into practice in your everyday life.

You can help people in our community who are living with dementia and their families by becoming a Dementia Friend. Visit dementiafriendsusa.org/become-friend to learn simple actions you can take to make your community one where people living with dementia are valued and supported in helpful ways. After watching at least three of the videos and committing to take action, you’ll receive a certificate indicating your commitment to being a “Dementia Friend”.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is Medicare giving everyone a new random number or just the people turning 65 after this year? 

 

  1. Yes, everyone who currently has Medicare will be getting a new number and card.  This is being done to remove people’s Social Security numbers from the cards to better protect against identity theft.  The randomly assigned numbers will be a combination of numerals and upper case letters.  The new cards will begin rolling out in April 2018 through April 2019.  It will take a while for so many cards to be distributed nationwide, so don’t be worried if your friend or relative gets their card before you do.  Your current Medicare card will remain your active card until your new one arrives. 

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