SOUTH ALABAMA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION

Area Agency on Aging


MOBILE * BALDWIN * ESCAMBIA


January 2024

Aging Disability and Resource Center

AGING HOTLINE:251-706-4680 or 800-243-5463

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FROM THE AAA DIRECTOR

JULIE MCGEE

IT’S A NEW YEAR…AND A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL HEALTH


Happy New Year to all of our community’s Seniors, disabled and their caregivers!  We are bombarded with so much information about so many things, that key programs can get lost in the information overload. We thought the new year would be a good time to remind you of the programs that can support your ability to age in place with dignity.


Our Agency is working in partnership with the AARP Foundation to raise awareness of critical programs that can improve your financial well-being. For example, did you know that if you are a homeowner, you may qualify for a property tax exemption? Or, that the average person saves more than $2,000 per year through our Medicare Savings Program? How would you like to receive a three-month supply of your prescriptions free or at reduced cost? And, one of the most popular programs – the Farmers Market benefit card – gives you $50 benefit card to purchase fresh produce.


You owe it to yourself to explore these core benefit programs:

  • Homeowner property tax exemptions
  • Medicare Saving Program
  • Farmers Market Nutrition Program
  • SenioRX
  • Inflation fighting food assistance
  • Medicaid Waiver home and community-based services


The great news is it is EASY to apply. You simply call our Aging Hotline at 251-706-4680 or email aginginfo@sarpc.org and one of our counselors will assess you for all of these earned benefits. 


Let this year be the year you reach out for respite and resources if you are a caregiver; save money on your Medicare and prescription drug costs; get your legal affairs in order; add to your grocery budget; have a meal with friends at your local Senior Nutrition Center; and find some help in your home.


Wishing You the Best In the New Year,

Julie McGee


IT'S TAX TIME! FREE RSVP TAX PREPARATION PROGRAM FOR BALDWIN AND ESCAMBIA COUNTIES

Last Year's Tax Program Saved Clients $448,000 in Tax Preparation Fees


The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Tax Counselling for the Elderly (TCE) service has begun processing returns. This program is geared toward modest income seniors 60+, veterans and their families, and the disabled, and is particularly for seniors with questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. Appointments are required (see below).


Mobile County residents can contact 211/United Way of Southwest Alabama at 251-219-0606 for appointments regarding tax services.


We are always looking for volunteers. Retirees, college students and those working part-time a great fit. The program offers a daily stipend, friendships and meaningful work, and volunteers are needed January - April for 1-2 days per week. RSVP provides training and continual support and provides easy-to-use tax software requiring only basic data entry skills. A Volunteer Information Meeting will be held on January 31 at 10:00 a.m. at the United Way of Baldwin County.


Contact Kim Tate at 251-361-0837 or ktate@sarpc.org if you have any questions.

Email for Volunteer Information

UPCOMING EVENTS

JANUARY


*** FREE TAX PREPARATION PROGRAM BEGINS ***

Click Here for Details


Tax Preparation Program Volunteer Meeting

January 31

United Way of Baldwin County

10:00 a.m.

Click Here for Details


Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

January 1 - March 31

Plan members can make changes to their existing plan or disenroll from their current plan and return to Original Medicare.



FEBRUARY


New to Medicare/Medicare Counselling

February 6

SARPC-AAA Office (Beauregard Street)

9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Click Here for Details


Matter of Balance Falls Prevention (Fairhope)

February 1 - March 14

First Fairhope Church

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Click Here for Details


Grandparents as Parents Support Group (Brewton)

February 15

East Brewton Center Escambia County

10:00 a.m.

Click Here for Details



LOOKING AHEAD...


MAY IS OLDER AMERICAN MONTH! Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month (OAM). The 2024 theme is Powered by Connection, which recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being. Older Americans celebrations are held in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia Counties. Stay tuned for details!

SAVE YOUR DATES!

2024 SENIOR LIFESTYLE EXPOS


Mobile County

Thursday, October 3

The Grounds

9 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Baldwin County

Thursday, October 10

Baldwin County Coliseum

9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS: ALABAMA CARES UPDATE


The Alabama Cares program provides resources and support for family caregivers.


New Quick Read Monthly Bulletin

Our new quick read e-newsletter, Caregiver Connection, will be distributed monthly. Each newsletter will focus on a topic specifically targeting caregivers, providing easy access to information and resources caregivers need. The first issue of Caregiver Connection, distributed in December 2023, was received by more than 500 caregivers.


Striving to Better Support Our Caregivers

We conducted a Caregiver College Survey in December 2023, and received responses from about 100 past Caregiver College attendees. The feedback will be used to plan Caregiver Colleges in the Spring and Summer of 2024. Dates and locations will be announced soon for these popular events.

View January Caregiver Connection

ENJOY ALABAMA GROWN FRESH PRODUCE

2024 Farmers Market Benefit Cards


The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is a federally funded program administered by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ Farmers Market Authority Section. The SFMNP provides eligible seniors with a $50 benefit card to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from certified farmers at farmers markets and farm stands in the state of Alabama. An online application must be completed.


If you need assistance completing the application, please contact our Aging Hotline at 251-706-4680 (MOBILE, BALDWIN, ESCAMBIA COUNTY). More information is located in the Program Announcements and Upcoming Events section.


Online Application Link


NEW TREATMENT FOR EARLY ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

In Alabama, 96,000 people 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's. Caregivers devote 225 million hours each year to caring for loved ones with the disease. Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life according to health officials.


A new drug, Lecanemab, is an antibody therapy that targets and removes beta-amyloid from the brain. It received traditional approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat early Alzheimer's disease, including people living with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia who have confirmation of plaques in the brain. The drug lowers beta-amyloid in the brain and reduces cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer's. Our Agency provides resources and support programs for those caring for loved ones with dementia. Contact the Aging Hotline at 251-706-4680 or aginginfo@sarpc.org.

NCOA: CONSIDER A COGNITIVE SCREENING ON YOUR NEXT WELLNESS VISIT


The National Council on Aging (NCOA is encouraging seniors to be proactive with their mental health. Our brains perform different functions like thinking, remembering, learning, communicating, and making decisions, known as cognition. Cognitive evaluations are a way for health care professionals to measure your brain's functioning and cognition to address any issues. 


If you have been enrolled in Medicare Part B for more than 12 months, you are eligible for an Annual Wellness Visit with your primary care provider. Cognitive screenings are beneficial for many people, especially if you or your loved ones are concerned about any recent changes in your memory or even if you just want a baseline evaluation. Your cognitive health can also be impacted by treatable health conditions like a vitamin deficiency, which a cognitive screening can help to identify.

ANOTHER NEW YEAR… ANOTHER RESOLUTION TO EAT HEALTHIER


You’re cutting calories and fat, so anything with carbs, sweetened with sugar or deep fried is not an option. Complete bummer. But, certain produce is so light in calories and fat – the Fabulous 15 - that you can pump up your portions. The Fabulous 15: Celery; Lettuce; Watermelon; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Grapefruit; Mushrooms; Strawberries; Blackberries; Raspberries; Blueberries; Kiwi; Carrots; Spinach and Kale.


A Few Tips:

  • Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi and grapefruit are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index — which means they won’t boost your blood sugar too much.   Be careful with other fruits – many are high in natural sugar – and keep your portions to about a cup.
  • Adding fiber keeps your blood sugar levels stable, which helps you avoid sudden attacks of the munchies that might otherwise make you crave junk foods.
  • Ways to make veggies taste better: spray with olive oil, roast in the oven and add spices; serve with salsa; or blend a ranch flavor packet with plain Greek yogurt (not the same as mayonnaise and sour cream, but good).

HELP PURCHASING THE FABULOUS 15


At the grocery store, prices have risen by more than 10% over a year ago. Retail analysts don’t expect this trend to change anytime soon. Make sure you apply for your Farmers Market benefit card, and 60+ can sign up for SNAP inflation fighting food assistance. It’s confidential, easy and more than you think: simplified application (renewed every 3 years); certain medical deductions can increase benefits; average benefit is $104 per month; and you will receive a debit card for tax free groceries. Call our Aging Hotline at 251-706-4680 or email aginginfo@sarpc.org to apply.

SENIORS! YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE WITH MEDICARE COSTS IN 2024


Two income-based programs can help you reduce your out-of-pocket medical costs. To determine if you qualify, contact our Aging Hotline at 251-706-4680 or aginginfo@sarpc.orgLIS Extra Help will pay for all - or most - of your premiums, annual deductibles and lower the co-payments for Medicare part D prescription drug program. The Medicare Saving Program can assist with Medicare part A (hospital insurance) and part B (medical insurance premiums) and may assist with deductibles and co-insurance.

STATE HEALTH INSURANCE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SHIP)

THE PROGRAM THAT HELPS YOU NAVIGATE MEDICARE


Medicare is complicated! Your regional SHIP Office (Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia Counties) provides unbiased help to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers. Whether you are new to Medicare, reviewing Medicare plan options, or have questions on how to use your Medicare, SHIP can help.


  • Considering making coverage changes during Medicare and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment?
  • Worried about the out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare?
  • Unsure about Medicare’s eligibility criteria?
  • Wondering what Medicare does and doesn’t cover?
  • Confused about who pays first, Medicare or another insurance?
  • Uncertain of yours or your loved one's rights, under Medicare?


Trained SHIP counselors have the answers. Contact your local SHIP program at 251-706-4680

Email for Medicare Assistance

AAA IN THE COMMUNITY

OUTREACH TEAM TALKS PROGRAMS WITH PRICHARD SENIORS

Our Agency visited the Prichard Community Center, asking about Senior needs and talking about caregiving, home repair, low cost internet, prescription drug cost savings programs and legal assistance. The Prichard Center also houses the Senior Nutrition Program, which provides seniors daily meals with friends and education and enrichment programs.

Find Your Senior Center for Meals With Friends

GRANDFAMILIES GET LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN GULF SHORES

Our Alabama Cares Baldwin County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group met at the Gulf Shores United Methodist Church. Our Elder Law Attorney Brittney Bragg answered questions participants had on issues, including custody, visitation, legal documents needed for medical care, school enrollment and public assistance. There are 69,000 Grandfamilies in Alabama. Reach out if YOU need assistance.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Services
Learn More About Our Legal Assistance Program

VOLUNTEERS WHO SAVE SENIORS THOUSANDS!

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) held their Volunteer Training for the free tax preparation program. Last year, volunteers saved clients $448,000 in tax prep fees. RSVP loves their volunteers!

More Information on the Tax Program

TRICKSEY SENIOR CENTER ENRICHMENT

AAA held an outreach event at the Tricksey Senior Center. The group welcomed Mrs. Thomasene Rodgers to their Center. Thomasene is a writer and poet and she shared some of her work.

AVOID BEING A VICTIM OF MEDICARE FRAUD

SHIP Regional Coordinator James Roberson shared information on avoiding Medicare scams at a community fraud event at the GP Thames Senior Center in Robertsdale. The event was hosted by the Better Business Bureau, our Agency, AARP and local law enforcement. James also highlighted the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), a group of seniors who educate the community on Medicare fraud.

Reach Out to Join the Senior Medicare Patrol

AAA SOCKS FOR SENIORS BROUGHT CHRISTMAS TO BREWTON

Ombudsman Frank Willis played Santa at the West Gate Village Nursing in Brewton, as part of our "Socks for Seniors" campaign. Frank is pictured with Administration Kim Williams. AAA staff and partners collected more than 500 pairs of socks in November and December to deliver to area assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

South Alabama Regional Planning Commission

Area Agency on Aging

Serving Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia Counties as a hub for information and services for adults aged 60 and older, their caregivers, and persons with disabilities.

ADRC Aging Hotline: information, counseling & benefits screening * Medicare counseling & Medicare Savings Program * Medicaid Waiver with choice of provider for in-home care * Prescription drug cost savings * Wellness classes * Legal counseling and Ombudsman advocacy for long-term care facilities * Caregiver support, education and respite services * Senior Nutrition Centers for hot lunches and recreation * Home-delivered meals and SNAP food assistance

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South Alabama Regional Planning Commission

Area Agency on Aging

110 Beauregard Street

Mobile, Alabama 36602

251-706-4680

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