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Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) helps create new expectations, norms, and pathways for people aged 50 to 100, to make the most of their gift of longevity.

"The class offering was actually profound for me. I am 70 years old and if I’m ‘lucky’ I may have 10 more ‘good’ years. The classes offered ways to make the years happier, healthier, and more worry free." ~AMP participant

AMP helps older adults and boomers build their own playbook for aging well. It is a fun, innovative, and person-centered education program that empowers participants to embrace their gift of longevity by spending more time each day doing things that are good for themselves and for others.


"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...  

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.

The Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) encourages mastery—developing behaviors across many dimensions that will lead to improved health, stronger financial security and overall well-being.
This 10-week nationally based Aging Mastery Program will offer a fun and engaging education and behavior change curriculum for aging well.

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.  

Computer Learning Center 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.

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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:

  • The difference between original Medicare and Advantage Plans
  • If you qualify for valuable premium savings programs
  • The best time to enroll in Medicare healthcare plans
  • When you can make changes to your coverage
  • How to protect against Medicare fraud

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Transportation experts estimate that 107 million Americans took the annual trek over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. They opted out of the sleigh and jammed the nation’s airports and interstate highway system to join the national quest to retrieve the past.

How did we get so scattered across this land? After all, the institutions of home and family and community are strong and compelling. They are a source of security and identity. They define us as individuals, set out early in life our responsibilities to others and our expectations from them, not just laws and rules, but a familiar culture that shapes us and our neighbors -- for better or worse.

Happy New Year!

You’ve now had one week to think about whether your new year’s resolutions are practical, attainable, a bit lofty, or just ridiculous. Or maybe you decided not to make any, in which case you can’t let yourself down.

I’ve heard it said that it takes three weeks of a new routine in order to make it a habit. So, for those of you still working on it, hang in there. Two weeks to go!

A friend of mine said recently that we should stop making resolutions; they just set us up for failure. Maybe we decide to just make one small change. For example, no eating after 7 p.m.; or, electronics off at 9 p.m., only reading allowed after that; or, simply, fancy takeout coffee only on Wednesdays…

If you’re looking for an object lesson on the value of getting expert guidance when tackling a new adventure, look no further than the annual middle/high school holiday band concert.

Excited sixth graders with shiny new instruments take the stage and, with shuffles and squeaks, tune up for their first concert. Toes tapping deliberately, they methodically plod through a few holiday tunes in unison. With just a few months of instruction, they’ve gone from learning to read music to performing in front of a packed house. It’s fun to watch their pride mixed with relief at getting through the big event.

Questions and Answers

  1. My son wants me to get an advance medical directive.  I already made a living will a few years ago, isn’t that enough?


  1. A Living Will is a document that tells others, your doctors and family, what type of medical care you would like to receive should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.  It can advise whether you do, or do not, want such things as a respirator or feeding tubes to be used, or measures such as surgery, or experimental drugs or treatments to prolong your life.  In Michigan, there is court precedent that a living will is a legally binding document, but there is not a law stating this.

An Advance Medical Directive goes a bit further as a legally binding document in which you appoint who you want to make medical decisions and what your end-of-life wishes are if you become unable to make medical decisions on your own.  This Patient Advocate, or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, has the responsibility to make a reasonable effort to ensure your instructions are followed.  A living will, then, can explain what your wants are, but an advance directive states who will make sure your choices are implemented.  It can be a more flexible document because your patient advocate has the ability to respond to unexpected situations.

Another legal document that can be completed, often in conjunction with a living will or an advance directive, is a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR.)  A DNR indicates that no one take measures to revive you if your heart and breathing stops.  If this is a choice expressed in your living will or advance directive, it might be useful to have a DNR as well, since a person can be competent up to the moment that death occurs, in which case a living will or advance directive would then never take effect.

There are numerous online resources and blank forms for use in completing a living will, advance directive, or DNR.  Area Agency on Aging Region IV’s resource library also has forms available.  Stop by, or call our Info-Line at 800-654-2810 if you would like something sent to you.

  1. My mother-in-law, who lives in another state, is terminally ill, but is hoping to attend our daughter’s wedding two months from now.  She has had a do-not-resuscitate order for quite a while, but says she now has a “physician’s order for scope of treatment” document that can override the DNR order, temporarily.  What exactly is this?


  1. The Physician’s Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) document is a newer legal form, for which laws have just recently passed allowing for its use in Michigan.  Also known as Physician’s Order of Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) these forms originated in Oregon in response to that state’s assisted suicide law, and have been in use in several other states as well.

The National POLST Paradigm Program Task Force states that POST or POLST forms are not advance directives, but rather portable, actionable medical orders.  These orders are for the treatment of a specific condition, which direction could include end-of-life choices.  They have a limited time frame and limited function, designed to be an advance care planning tool for seriously ill individuals whose health care professionals would not be surprised if they died within a year.  These forms are completed after discussions between a health care provider and the patient (and/or the patient advocate) in which the physician details diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options -- including benefits and burdens of each --and the patient shares his/her values, beliefs, religious and ethical concerns, and goals of care, which might include personal life goals based on current circumstances.  After this informed, shared decision-making process, the treatment plan is documented and the POLST form is signed by the physician.

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.

The state of the medical insurance industry in our nation, as it exists right now, seems to make no one in Washington, D.C. happy.

Why can’t they find some middle ground? Well, mostly because the premises of each side are incompatible with those of the other, so there is little common ground on which they can stand to reach an understanding, in spite of the fact that every other advanced industrialized nation, as diverse as Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Singapore, and Japan, has found a way.