AOASCC News & Notes
Spotlight on Volunteering

Offering your time to someone else has no age limit!

Please meet Dorothy and Shirley. Dorothy has been an RSVP Volunteer since 2016, participating in the Branford Pen Pal Project. Dorothy is a VERY active 94-year-old. Just ask Nancy Cohen from the Canoebrook Center. Dorothy is a member of the Center’s Readers Theater and SALT Council (Seniors-and-Law-Enforcement-Together), participates in painting classes and has hiked ½ way up Sleeping Giant Mountain, among other things. When Dorothy saw in the RSVP newsletter that a 96-year-old woman was looking for a friendly visitor, she called and asked if she could be that visitor. Of course, the coordinator said YES!
Find out how to join Dorothy as an RSVP volunteer.
Shirley, a WWII Veteran who served in the Marine Corps, lives with her daughter Lauri and son-in law. Lauri referred her mother to the program in hopes of finding someone willing to spend some time with her and to offer some stimulating conversation, as her days can be quite long with no social circle.

Now Shirley and Dorothy meet each Wednesday to talk, share experiences, color, paint and do word searches. This is just the beginning. They have found some common interests that have sparked memories and allowed both to laugh.

What could be better than spending time with someone who really wants to be with you, to see you smile or remember a long-stored memory? Thank you, Dorothy and Shirley, for reminding us of what is really important, TIME. 
Did You Know?
Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965 in response to concern by policymakers about a lack of community social services for older persons. The OAA remains an important resource for nutrition, family caregiver support, in-home assistance, preventive health services, transportation, job training, protection from abuse, and other supportive services.

The impact for the 11.3 million receiving services? Here are a few:
  • Transportation - Transportation remains the primary issue of concern for older adults in our area. Without it, healthcare and other needs can go unmet and older adults can become socially isolated. Nationally, 24 million rides were provided to places like doctors' offices in 2016.
  • In-home support - Many older adults just need a bit of help to remain safely in their home, but, with the average cost for in-home assistance over $20, options are limited. 40 million hours of personal-care aides was provided in 2016.
  • Adult Day Centers - For many families, ADC's are an integral part of helping their older relatives live at home longer. In 2016, 10.6 million hours of adult day care was provided.
  • Nutrition - 42 percent of congregate meal participants and 61 percent of home-delivered meal participants would skip meals or eat less in the absence of these programs.
  • Disease Prevention & Health Promotion - 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition. OAA funds support health programs that are proven effective with the older adult population. One of these funded in our area (Live Well) is strongly correlated to show decreases in pain and depression and increased energy among other benefits.
  • Family Caregiver Support - About 40 million family caregivers provide $470 billion in unpaid care. The most recent study of the OAA funded program (2014) found that nearly 62 percent of caregivers indicated that without the services they received the care recipient would be living in a nursing home.
The Older Americans Act is set to expire on September 30. Your voice is needed. Support the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act through outreach to your legislators’ offices, and those of key House and Senate Committee members, by September 30. Read the action alert from ASA .

Find your representative. . Contact information for Connecticut's senators.
 TEARS Elder Abuse Conference 2019
The Intersection Between Mental Health and Aging
Registration is now open!
Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 pm
Toyota Oakdale Theater, Wallingford

We are delighted that Dr. Harry Morgan will set the stage for our topic, providing an overview of how mental health and elder abuse intersect. As a geriatric psychiatrist, consultant, teacher and lecturer, he speaks from the front-line of the challenges faced by older adults and their families. Visit our website for information on Dr. Morgan, as well as our other speakers.
Don't forget to sign up as a vendor and/or
to advertise in the program guide.
Caregiver Corner

Depression following a stroke is a common experience. Depression often occurs in the individual who had the stroke and the caregiver. Research shows that depression has a negative impact on recovery from a stroke. Conventional wisdom says “it’s not uncommon to feel bad after a stroke…look at all the individual has lost in personal functioning”.  This is true, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it should be ignored or treated lightly. Untreated depression can have devastating consequences. Most people who are depressed following a stroke, both patient and caregiver, are not properly diagnosed and do not get the help they need to feel better.

Following a stroke, it’s very common to feel sad. People have emotional reactions to any life changing event. This combines with chemical reactions in the brain associated with strokes. However, depression is more than feeling sad. Individuals who are depressed have symptoms that persist over time; they feel helpless, hopeless; frequently very tired all the time; have no appetite; and may have lost interest in things that they usually enjoy; in some cases they may talk of suicide. These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. Although most people who are depressed won’t attempt suicide, all will have a more difficult time recovering from a stroke. Recovery from a stroke requires the individual’s full participation in their rehabilitation. Depression limits their participation. Caregivers who are depressed have less energy available to assist the person with the stroke in their rehab process.

There are many treatment options available for persons with depression ranging from medication to counseling to physical exercise. The important factor to remember is that stroke related depression is very common. It needs to be accurately diagnosed and treated if the person with the stroke is to have optimal recovery. Whether it’s the caregiver or the care recipient who is depressed, treatment is needed. Discuss the symptoms with your care provider and select the treatment option that works best in your situation.
CHOICES- Genetic Screening

SMP programs have been receiving reports about presentations given at senior centers where representatives advertise and offer free genetic tests to screen for cancer. Because the odds of getting cancer is very high, people are motivated to get screened for cancer risks as part of a cancer prevention strategy. However, the risk of inheriting a gene that leads to cancer is relatively low. Genetic changes, or mutations, play a part in cancer’s development, but only five to 10 percent of all cancers are strongly linked to an inherited gene mutation. The American Cancer Society notes that, “Most cancers start because of acquired gene mutations that happen during a person’s lifetime,” caused, for example, by tobacco use or exposure to sunlight.

SMPs have become concerned about genetic screening presentations because they frequently leave Medicare beneficiaries with the false impression that Medicare will pay for the screening. At some presentations, the actual screening is conducted. It is only after the fact that the person discovers Medicare didn’t cover the test. There is only one screening test that Medicare covers and that is screening for colon cancer. 
The confusion among beneficiaries may derive from the fact that Medicare does pay for genetic testing to diagnose and treat many cancers.  Medicare makes clear that current signs or symptoms of cancer must be present for Medicare to cover genetic testing for a known inherited mutation in a family. As with other Medicare-covered screening tests, Part B pays 100 percent of the approved amount. Medicare also covers some genetic tests that assess an individual’s ability to metabolize certain drugs such as Warfarin, a widely used blood thinning medication. With Warfarin, Medicare pays to test two genes as long as the test is part of a clinical study.   A federal regulation stresses that a treating physician must order genetic tests . Tests not ordered by the physician who is treating the beneficiary are not reasonable and necessary and are not covered by Medicare.
If you experience a situation where you are being encouraged to have genetic screening by someone other than your treating physician contact your SMP coordinator at the Agency on Aging: Joan Kayser, by calling CHOICES at 800-994-9422.
Help with Groceries

Ricardo, 62, was self-employed and successful, but had to stop working after he was diagnosed with end stage renal disease. After being hospitalized and losing his steady source of income, he found out he was eligible for SNAP benefits that helped stretch his food budget.

Apply today at  BenefitsCheckUp.org/getSNAP or for more information, visit our website.
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