1 elderaffairs.state.fl.us ELDER UPDATE Anniversary Governor Rick Scott January/February 2012 News brought to you by the Florida department of elder affairs Volume 23, Number 1 Secretary's Message Secretary Chuck Corley Department of Elder Affairs As we approach the Department of Elder Affairs 12th Annual Ambassadors for Aging Day at the Capitol, I want to make sure you have all of the information you need about this great event. The mission of Ambassadors for Aging Day is to honor the achievements of Florida s more than 4.45 million seniors, while displaying their vitality and zeal for life to both state and local officials. At last year s event, Governor Rick Scott addressed the more than 1,000 seniors and caregivers in attendance on the importance of their contributions to communities across Florida. January/February 2012 The Governor was also joined by several legislators who were instrumental in supporting senior services and programs statewide. This year more than 1,000 seniors and their caregivers are expected to attend the event on Thursday, March 8, Festivities at this free event include exhibitors, performing groups, and speakers. There will also be an awards ceremony to honor the Florida Senior Games Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Participants are also invited to receive various screenings, such as vision, memory, and blood pressure readings. Ambassadors for Aging Day is a great way for seniors to learn more about available services and programs while filling their event bags with lots of give-a-ways. After the morning s activities, participants are treated to a complimentary barbeque luncheon. One organization that makes this event possible is our sponsor and co-host, Florida Sports, which hosts many sporting events including the State Senior Games. Since 2007, Florida Sports has been instrumental in securing funds so that seniors are able to have a day of their own at the Capitol. I encourage you to attend this wonderful event. Get your local senior center involved or come alone or in a group of your own choosing. There is no cost for attendees, so make sure to join us for a wonderful day of celebration and recognition. Ambassadors for Aging Day is a fun way to learn more continued on page 2 Message from Governor Rick Scott Honest Floridians pay the price for PIP fraud. That s the takeaway from meetings I attended around the state recently where PIP auto insurance fraud was the topic of discussion. PIP, or personal injury protection, is insurance coverage added to your overall auto policy that is intended to pay for medical, and other expenses associated with a car crash, regardless of fault. In Florida, a minimum of $10,000 PIP coverage is required with each policy. We pay the highest auto liability insurance premiums in the nation 56 percent more than other states. Unfortunately, Florida also leads the nation in staged accidents and questionable claims, which is why the number of crashes is going down, while the number of PIP claims and the cost of those claims is going up. After receiving a PIP fraud update during the Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee, Florida s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and I participated in listening meetings with Floridians in Tallahassee, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Miami to hear their concerns about PIP fraud and ideas for a solution. We learned that, if we do nothing, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation predicts a 29 percent PIP pure premium increase each year. While the pure premium increase directly impacts the insurer, the costs get passed down to consumers through rate hikes since insurers must raise rates to close the gap created by rapidly increasing fraud costs. In a time when we re working every day to get Florida s economy back on its feet, the last thing we need is fraudsters to cause auto insurance premiums to skyrocket and raise the cost of living in this state, something I have vowed to prevent as Governor. After listening to constituents affected by PIP fraud and their solutions to the problem, I announced four pillars that must be addressed to fix PIP: fraud prevention, litigation reform, utilization and provider reform, and continued on page 2 Like us on Facebook Announcements Upcoming Events, Special Thanks... 2 Budget Special Message from Governor Rick Scott... 3 Veterans' Affairs Agent Orange, Veterans' Benefits Guide Holiday Recycling, Safe Driving... 6 Health & Wellness Diabetes, Mesothelioma, Hospice Care Consumer Awareness Ask Deputy Joe, Do-Not-Call List, Fraud & Elders Intergenerational Programs Celebrating Florida's Intergenerational Week Meals on Wheels Aging True Community Senior Services SHINE Ask Lynne, BenefitsCheckUp, Caring Voices Coalition, Medicare Advantage Communities for a Lifetime Aging in Place, Community Resources Long-Term Care Ombudsman Annual Report Elder Resources Communities, Statewide Public Guardianship, Senior Center Recognition Falls Prevention Falls Prevention Program Wins Award Page 12 FEATURE
2 2 (USPS /ISSN ) is a bimonthly publication mailed in state to Florida residents at no cost to recipients. Out of state, Elder Update can be accessed at Rick Scott Governor Jennifer Carroll Lieutenant Governor Charles T. Corley Secretary Ashley Marshall Communications Director Shannon Knowles Editor-in-Chief Liz Jameson Editor Haven Capone Layout & Graphic Design welcomes submissions from readers. However, due to the volume of submissions, acknowledgements cannot be mailed. Articles selected for publication must provide accurate information to Florida s elders about aging-related programs and services and complement the Department s mission. The editor reserves the right to edit submitted material. Department of Elder Affairs 4040 Esplanade Way Tallahassee, Florida Phone: TDD: Postmaster: Send address changes to: Department of Elder Affairs 4040 Esplanade Way Tallahassee, Florida Periodicals postage paid at Tallahassee, Florida, and additional offices. Announcements Subscription Announcement In order to comply with the United States Postal Service regulations guiding periodicals, we must regularly update our subscription list and provide proof of your request for our newspaper. To prevent an interruption in your subscription, please send us a new subscription request with your complete and current address. The form can be found on page 17. Don t forget to sign and date it! We look forward to continuing to serve you through. Senior Center Recognition Think your senior center is simply the best? Tell us why. is looking to recognize senior centers across the state in each issue. Does your senior center have the coolest staff, the best programs, or the highest participation in your region? Write us a short article about why your senior center stands above the rest. You may also us at with this information. For any photos submitted, please express rights to print the photo, as well as the names and places of the photographed. See page 23 for this editions' featured senior center. Special Thanks staff is deeply gratified by the many generous donations given recently by our readers. Your generosity and kindness are truly appreciated and will be used to ensure the continued production of. Mr. Anthony Garcia Mrs. Mildred M. Lanzendorf Mr. Benjamin Cruz Mr. W.E. Staral Secretary's Message (Continued from page 1) about the programs and services available to Florida s seniors. For more information on Ambassadors for Aging Day, please visit afad.php or call You may also us at We look forward to seeing you there! january/february 2012 Ambassadors for Aging Day Join us March 8, 2012, at the 12th Annual Ambassadors for Aging Day at the Capitol. The event serves as an opportunity for Florida s leaders to celebrate the many accomplishments of our seniors, while allowing seniors to learn more about the programs and services available to them. Visit english/afad.php for more information. Spring Fling Plan on coming to this year s Ambassadors for Aging Day on March 8, 2012? We hope so! If you are, please join us at a very special event the night before. The Florida Association of Senior Centers and the Tallahassee Senior Center invite you to the Ambassadors for Aging Spring Fling. Where: Tallahassee Senior Center When: March 7, 2012, from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. What: Dance the night away; enjoy food and fun! How much: Single Ticket: $10 Group Tickets (when you buy 8 or more): $8 each For more information, contact Ashley Webb at or Governor's Message (Continued from page 1) accountability. My expectation is that we will provide significant PIP reform this legislative session. Florida consumers have already paid over $800 million for PIP fraud over the last several years and enough is enough. Florida needs better protections for consumers, and I am committed to holding the line on runaway premiums in order to fulfill my promise to keep the cost of living low and get our state back to work. I encourage all Floridians with ideas for fixing PIP to me at or call your House and Senate members and let them know that you expect them to support PIP reform so we can reduce the cost of auto insurance in Florida.
3 january/february 2012 Special Message 3 Budget Message from Governor Rick Scott: Education and Jobs Are Top Budget Priorities Governor Rick Scott State of Florida After months of traveling the state and listening to teachers, parents, students, small businesses owners, and families, in December, I unveiled my budget recommendations which reflect the issues and solutions most important to Floridians funding education and helping Floridians create jobs. The dollars in this budget belong to all Floridians, and I have listened to the things they believe are important to spend these dollars on. I have heard loud and clear that Floridians want their money spent on education and jobs, without additional burdens on families and businesses, and this budget accomplishes that. Highlights of my $66.4 billion proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) include: Over $1 billion in new state K-12 funding. New tax relief measures totaling nearly $35 million in taxpayer savings next year, and over $86 million in FY Injecting $300 million in the Florida Retirement System pension fund. Reducing state spending by 4.6 percent - close to FY levels. Adjusting Medicaid reimbursement methodologies to control soaring costs. Efficiencies and savings for Florida taxpayers as a result of 40 year low crime rates. This budget year, Florida faced significant education funding challenges. Florida gained 30,000 more students that require almost $200 million The dollars in this budget belong to all Floridians, and I have listened to the things they believe are important to spend these dollars on. I have heard loud and clear that Floridians want their money spent on education and jobs, without additional burdens on families and businesses, and this budget accomplishes that. more in state funding. Florida also faces a $400 million reduction in ad valorem taxes, due to declining property values, and one-time state education funding. Despite these challenges, the budget I submitted to the Legislature includes: Over $1 billion in new state K-12 funding. Raises per student funding to $6,372, including 30,000+ addition children in the public school system and less local funding due to declining property values. The 3rd largest amount of state K-12 funding in Florida history at $9.5 billion. I will not sign any budget into law that doesn t contain more state dollars for education than we have this year. I am absolutely committed to acting on what I have heard and prioritizing education funding in this budget. Because education and jobs are inextricably linked, a number of small business tax reform measures are also included in my budget which gives Florida businesses the competitive advantage needed to create the jobs. These tax reform measures include increasing the business tax exemption again this year from $25,000 to $50,000 - eliminating tax liability for more than 25 percent of those who pay it and reducing taxes by about $25 million for all taxpayers. I also propose increasing the tangible personal property (TPP) tax exemption for those with less than $50,000 of TPP, providing an overall tax relief of about $22 million, if approved by the voters, and also broadening the sales tax exemption for manufacturing by lowering the percentage expanding businesses must increase output from 10 to five percent in order to make sure manufacturing can grow. This budget also places approximately $300 million into the Florida Retirement System pension fund: $180 million of new state funds to fully fund the normal cost, plus an additional $120 million toward the unfunded actuarial liability. We must be serious about fixing Florida s pension fund in order to protect our ability to fund important priorities like education and jobs. The pension as it is now is a major liability for the state that will threaten other priorities if we do not talk honestly about its status with state employees. Florida is heading in the right direction. We have gained 106,900 net new jobs since January with a total of 118,000 jobs in the private sector. In addition, Florida s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in 28 months at 10.3 percent. Florida is doing the right things to keep the cost of living low, get the state back to work, and create a world-class education system that prepares students for a job. I would like to thank all of the Floridians small business owners, job creators, parents, teachers and students that took the time to talk with me over the past few months. It has been an important and meaningful dialogue and I hope they will continue to let me know what they think. Please visit to view my full budget proposal.
4 4 Veterans' Affairs january/february 2012 Diseases Related to Agent Orange Exposure Colonel Mike Prendergast, U.S. Army (Ret.) Executive Director Florida Department of Veterans Affairs The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assumes that certain diseases are related to qualifying military service. These are called "presumptive diseases." Specifically, VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Also, VA presumes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) diagnosed in all veterans with 90 days or more continuous active military service is related to their service. Veterans' Diseases Related to Agent Orange Exposure Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits for diseases that VA has recognized as related to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides. Surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died as the result of diseases related to Agent Orange exposure may be eligible for survivors' benefits. Veterans Newsletter Available Electronically Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides and resolve within two years after the date it began. AL Amyloidosis A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs. Chloracne (or Similar Acneform Disease) A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA's rating regulations, chloracne (or other acneform disease similar to chloracne) must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides. Chronic B-cell Leukemias A type of cancer which affects white blood cells. Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin. Hodgkin s Disease A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia. Ischemic Heart Disease A disease characterized by chest pain caused by a reduced supply of blood to the heart. Multiple Myeloma A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow. Non-Hodgkin s Lymphoma A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue. Parkinson s Disease A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement. Porphyria Cutanea Tarda A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides. Prostate Cancer Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men. Respiratory Cancers Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus. Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma) A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues. For additional information or assistance in submitting a claim to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact the Benefits and Assistance Division of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) at The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs publishes a monthly electronic newsletter called efloridavetsnews. This informative newsletter is distributed to more than 40,000 subscribers, who receive it via as a PDF file attachment. If you would like to subscribe to the efloridavetsnews or wish to view archived issues, visit the Department's website at and click on the News tab. Support Help support this valuable and informative publication for Florida s seniors! If you would like to make a donation, please mail a check made payable to the Department of Elder Affairs to: Department of Elder Affairs c/o Grants and Donations Trust Fund 4040 Esplanade Way Tallahassee, FL Donations go to the Department of Elder Affairs Grants and Donations Trust Fund and the donations are irrevocable. This donation may be tax-deductible; please consult with a tax professional. The aforementioned donor has voluntarily made this donation and has not been solicited by any individual for the gain or profit of that individual. Nor has the aforementioned donor made this donation in exchange for any promise, action or inaction by the Department regarding an issue regulated or overseen by the Department.
5 january/february 2012 Veterans' Affairs Veterans' Affairs Benefit Guide The 2012 edition of the Florida Veterans Benefits Guide is now available on the web at Hard copies of the guide may be available at your local county veteran service office. What is VA Pension for veterans? Pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and who are 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These are benefits that are paid in addition to the basic pension rate. Who is eligible? Generally, you may be eligible if: You were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable, AND You served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was during a war time period. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (there are exceptions to this rule), AND Your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (the yearly limit on income is set by Congress), AND You are age 65 or older, OR, you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct. As you can see, there are a number of criteria that may affect your eligibility to pension benefits. If you are unsure whether you meet all criteria, we encourage you to go ahead and file an application, particularly if your countable income appears to be near the maximum. VA will determine whether you are eligible and notify you. If you do not initially qualify, you may reapply if you have un-reimbursed medical expenses during the 12-month period after VA receives your claim that bring your countable income below the yearly income limit. (These are expenses you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance.) Note: You may contact a Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs office or a County Veterans Service Office closest to your home, which can provide assistance in filing a claim for non-service connected pension: where.asp#medical. Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a benefit paid in addition to monthly pension. This benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for A&A when: 1. The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR, 2. The veteran is bedridden, in that his/ her disability or disabilities requires that he/ she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR, 3. The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR, 4. The veteran is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less. Housebound is paid in addition to monthly pension. Like A&A, Housebound benefits may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when: 1. The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to such disability, he/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, OR, 2. The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling. A veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time. How to apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound: You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the VA regional office having jurisdiction of the claim. That would be the office where you filed a claim for pension benefits. If the regional office of jurisdiction is not known, you may file the request with any VA regional office. You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care. The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable. In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises. Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day. Note: You may contact a Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs office or a County Veterans Service Office closest to your home, which can provide assistance in filing a claim for non-service connected pension You may also refer to page 16 of the guide for FDVA locations and points of contact for assistance. Para obtener informacion y ayuda sobre beneficios de veteranos, favor de llamar el Sr. Edwin Ortiz, al
6 6 january/february 2012 Recycling After the Holidays Kathalyn Gaither Florida Department of Environmental Protection The New Year is upon us, and for many of us, that means tackling a New Year s resolution to get more organized. Whether you re looking to clear out some clutter or make room for holiday gifts, it is important to keep in mind that your unwanted stuff has somewhere to go besides the trash. Just like the phrase made popular by the iphone, There s an app for that, nowadays there is a place for that when it comes to recycling. From electronics to clothing, appliances, aluminum, paint, glass, or paper there is little reason to send much of anything to the landfill. Check out the list below for some common items that are often thrown away, but that can easily be recycled instead. Glass: It does not matter whether the glass is brown, green, or clear; many local waste collection centers will take it all. Just rinse it out and drop it off. Paint: Have some paint or stain left over? Your local hazardous waste collection center will take the partially used cans of color off your hands. Plastics: Recycling plastics and paper is so easy now that in most places, you just need to take them out to the curb, in the right container, on trash day (if you have curbside recycling in your community). And recently, plastic containers that have a #5 on the bottom were added to the recyclable list, making it even easier to recycle curbside. Check your plastics such as yogurt, butter, and dairy containers, along with medicine bottles and caps, to see if you can recycle them. Clothing: Goodwill, yard sales, and consignment shops are just a few ways to pass on your gently used clothing for someone else to appreciate. Batteries: It can be confusing to figure out which ones can or cannot be safely recycled. Alkaline and lantern batteries can be tossed in the trash along with lithium batteries after applying tape over the terminals; nickel-cadmium and button cell batteries should be taken to a household hazardous waste center. If there s any doubt, just take them all to your local Household Hazardous Waste center. Recycling is just one way to help conserve Florida s resources and protect the environment. Learn other easy ways to protect our air and water quality, conserve water and energy, and save money by visiting DEP s website, Go to to find local drop sites for hundreds of unwanted items. H i g h w a y S a f e t y R e q u i r e s G o o d V i s i o n f o r e v e r y o n e Highway Safety Requires Good Vision Henry Cabbage Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Florida drivers, age 80 or older, need to furnish confirmation that they have adequate vision to operate a motor vehicle safely when they apply for a driver license or a license renewal. They can renew their license and take the vision exam in person at a driver license office or a tax collector s office that offers driver license services. An alternative is to have their Florida eye-care professional submit a completed Mature Driver Vision Test Form electronically to the state if they want to renew the license online at www. GoRenew.com. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not require senior drivers to submit to any testing other than the vision exam unless the examiner has cause for concern about the driver s ability to drive safely. Drivers age 80 or older may renew their licenses for six years. Persons under 80 may renew them for eight years. The cost for a noncommercial driver license is now $48. An additional $6.25 service fee applies for drivers who obtain or renew their licenses at tax collectors offices. The DHSMV suggests making an appointment, (although most offices don t require them) to renew licenses. To find the closest office location, visit www. flhsmv.gov and choose Office Locations on the left side of the page. To make an appointment, visit www. flhsmv.gov/oasis and click on one of the two options in the drop box. This will help you to avoid lengthy waiting times. All Floridians should be aware that Florida now requires certain documents for a driver license or identification card. provides information to prepare Floridians for their next trip to the driver license office. Customers who do not use the internet may call DHSMV at for assistance.
7 january/february 2012 Health & Wellness 7 Guiding a Patient s End-of-Life Journey With Hospice Vicki Arant, RN, BSN Hospice of the Comforter, Altamonte Springs, FL When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, where do they and their loved ones turn for support? A hospice cares for patients and families on their end-of-life journey by providing medical, emotional, spiritual, and physical support wherever the patient calls home. Care is provided by a team that includes a physician, nurse, social worker, nondenominational chaplain, certified nursing assistant, and trained volunteers. Hospice care focuses on improving quality of life with pain control and symptom management so that patients can maximize the quality of their time. Each patient and his or her caregivers receive individualized care that meets their unique physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Hospice is not a single place or organization. Some hospices are independent and others are part of a large company. Hospices are not all connected together. Both for-profit and non-profit hospices provide care. Hospices care for patients with many different diseases such as Alzheimer s/dementia, ALS (Lou Gehrig s Disease), cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema, liver disease, Multiple Sclerosis, renal disease, stroke, or failure to thrive. A patient is immediately entitled to hospice care once he or she is diagnosed with an end-stage illness that has a prognosis of six months or less. It is most ideal for patients in the last six months of life. Selecting hospice care early lets patients achieve control of their environment and symptoms. A 2004 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management article, "Medicare Cost in Matched Hospice and Non- Hospice Cohorts," showed that patients enrolled in hospice cost Medicare less. The research also showed that hospice patients lived longer on the average than similar patients who did not choose hospice care. Hospice care eases caregiver burdens and provides cost savings for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. Hospice care also decreases costly hospitalizations. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients not enrolled in hospice care spend 23 of their last days in the hospital, while patients enrolled in hospice spend only eight days in acute care settings. Choosing hospice care shifts the focus of treatment from aggressive medical curative measures to medical comfort measures. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process, but accepts death as a natural and inevitable event. Although some mistakenly see hospice care as giving up all hope, studies have demonstrated that hospice patients improve physically and emotionally, because their home and family situations have stabilized, their economic worries are reduced, and lastly, and most significantly, their pain is better controlled. Hospice care is most beneficial for patients who enroll early rather than in the last days and weeks of life. With earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival," wrote the authors of a 2010 New England Journal of Medicine study. The study reported patients were happier, more mobile, in less pain, and lived nearly three months longer. Seniors and Mesothelioma Ben Leer Mesothelioma Center Annually, around 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Of those diagnosed, a large percentage of mesothelioma patients are seniors. This is due to the relatively long latency period of mesothelioma. It often takes years for symptoms to occur. Mesothelioma is a unique cancer that affects the lining of the organs. The main cause is from exposure to asbestos. Since asbestos was heavily used in manufacturing, occupational exposure to asbestos was common. A large portion of the manufacturing workforce was male, causing 75 percent of mesothelioma cases to occur in men age 55 or older. Some of the most common occupations that came in contact with asbestos were auto plant workers, electricians, engineers, firefighters, industrial workers, plumbers, shipyard workers, boiler workers, mill workers, and veterans. The dangers of asbestos have been noted by the medical community since the early 1900s, correlating the presence of asbestos with respiratory issues. Asbestos has since then been proven to be the main cause of mesthelioma. In the late 1980s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began restricting the use of asbestos. Since asbestos abatement is so costly, it took a lengthy period of time for many facilities to begin removing the product. Currently, asbestos is not entirely banned, and many older buildings may still contain it. Cases of secondary exposure to asbestos often result in family members of workers developing mesothelioma. This can be caused by airborne asbestos to travel on a worker s hair, skin, or clothes. Due to the wide use of asbestos in the military, veterans comprise 30 percent of mesothelioma cases. Veterans who served from World War II to Vietnam are most likely to have the highest risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos was used in every branch of the military for a wide range of purposes. Engine, boiler room, shipyard, demolition, and construction workers had widespread application of asbestos. Mesothelioma is listed as a compassionate allowance by the Social Security Administration. If you have contributed to the Social Security program, you may be eligible to use Social Security s disability program. This allows mesothelioma patients to be expedited in the claim process. The application process may complicated and take several weeks to process. If you have questions regarding mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases, please feel free to visit or call us at Our patient advocates have experience answering common questions regarding mesothelioma, Social Security benefits, and veteran claims.
8 8 Health & Wellness january/february 2012 Diabetes Numbers Are Growing: What You Need to Know to Address It Christie Goss and Erica Chicola Florida Department of Health Diabetes is a growing national epidemic, but the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has good news the commitment to address and stem the tide of this disease is growing as well. Though the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) showed a 50.7 percent increase in diabetes among adult Floridians over the past decade, the global movement that honored World Diabetes Day on November 14 is committed to making sure these numbers don t stay elevated for long. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body doesn t produce or properly use the hormone insulin to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy. There are two major types of diabetes type 1, an autoimmune disease, in which the body does not produce insulin, and type 2, a metabolic disorder, in which the cells cannot use the insulin produced by the body or the body no longer produces insulin. The causes of type 1 diabetes appear to be much different than those for type 2 diabetes, though the exact mechanisms for developing both diseases are unknown. The appearance of type 1 diabetes is suspected to follow exposure to an "environmental trigger," such as an unidentified virus, stimulating an immune attack against the beta cells. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. The BRFSS reports that the prevalence of diabetes increases as age increases, affecting 19.2 percent of adults aged 65 and older. Because individuals with diabetes are at higher risk for other health issues, those diagnosed must not only be concerned with watching their blood sugar levels, but also with the potential complications that can arise from mismanaging this disease. Diabetes-related complications can include stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and other serious ailments that underscore the need for proper self-management. Those with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than people without diabetes. Those diagnosed aren t the only individuals who should be mindful of the consequences of diabetes. Recent BRFSS data shows that, in addition to the 1.5 million Floridians currently diagnosed with diabetes, another 500,000 citizens likely have diabetes and don t know it. Individuals experiencing frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, fatigue, and irritability may be suffering side effects of Type 1 diabetes. Warning signs for Type 2 include the above symptoms, as well as frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, and recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections. Often, people with Type 2 diabetes don t experience symptoms at all, so individuals must take an active interest in their health and stay fit. Early identification is vital, so Floridians are encouraged to visit a physician regularly. Those who are overweight or age 45 years or older should be especially vigilant in getting tested for diabetes. Those who have pre-diabetes are encouraged to start moving more and eating less. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large prevention study of people at high risk for diabetes, showed that a lifestyle intervention to lose weight and increase physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The reduction was even greater, 71 percent, among adults age 60 or older. For those diagnosed with diabetes, proper management can provide relief in everyday life. State Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer highlights the importance of lifestyle changes, saying, Despite the fact that diabetes is a prevalent disease that can be difficult to live with, there is good news for those who are diagnosed with diabetes. Commitments such as losing weight, exercising, and watching your diet can have a tremendous impact upon the effects of the disease. Complications of this disease can be controlled, delayed or prevented by adhering to these factors. Diabetes self-management classes are instrumental in bringing help to those living with this disease. These courses teach skills crucial to staying healthy and encourage preventative exams that can help control the disease and avoid related complications. Diabetes self-management education is covered by insurance and Medicare. Co-pays and deductibles may vary by plan. Diabetes is challenging to manage, so World Diabetes Day acknowledges the struggles of individuals with diabetes. This year, Florida s Historic Capitol joined the Empire State Building, Sydney s Opera House, Niagara Falls, the Pyramids, and thousands of other iconic landmarks worldwide in honoring the battle against this disease by lighting up in blue, the universal color for diabetes. State Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer of DOH, Kathy Mulcahy of the Florida Alliance for Diabetes Prevention and Care, Chet Evans of the Diabetes Advisory Council, and local teen diabetes advocate, Haley May, spoke at a press conference prior to the lighting of the Capitol, touching on their personal experiences and thoughts on the worldwide importance of this disease and insight moving forward on mitigating its effects. The blue lights that illuminated Tallahassee and the world on November 14 were a blue beacon of hope, reminding Floridians and people everywhere that through attentiveness, preventive measures, commitment to lifestyle changes, and unwavering unity among those who have diabetes or know someone who does, the life-altering landscape of diabetes can be modified for a healthier state, country, and world. For more information on diabetes and to find a diabetes self-management education program, visit DOH s page at
9 january/february 2012 Consumer awareness 9 Ask Deputy Joe: Crime Prevention for Seniors Dear Deputy Joe: Recently my husband and I just came back from a trip up North to visit the grandchildren. While we were there the media was discussing the return of heroin. Is this drug also making a comeback here in the State of Florida? Signed, Curious Dear Curious: Heroin didn t go away; it has been around for a long time here in the United States. In the 17th century, the people of China began to smoke opium (a product that produces morphine & heroin) for pleasure. This practice spread to Europe and America, along with serious addiction. The Germans, in the early 1800s, discovered that opium converted to morphine could be used as a pain reliever, and the medical profession used morphine on a regular basis. In the United States during the Civil War, many soldiers on both sides were given morphine for pain, injuries, and surgeries. People soon realized that morphine was highly addictive, both physically and mentally. In the 1870s, another drug was introduced called heroin, also produced from the opium plant, and it was marketed as a safe substitute for morphine. Heroin was even more addicting than morphine, and by the 1920s, heroin addiction became a huge problem. Laws were passed barring its manufacture, sale, and use. Heroin abuse still continues to be widespread all over the world. Here in Florida, heroin poses a threat the same as in any other state. The drug is readily available, frequently abused, and distributed in all states. Miami and, to a lesser extent, Orlando are among the primary transportation hubs and transshipment points for South American heroin smuggled into the United States (according to National Drug Intelligence Center South American heroin is the most prevalent in this state). In Florida, heroin is administered in a variety of methods depending upon the user s preference. Heroin injections are mostly used by hardcore addicts who often share their needles which also spreads AIDS. First time abusers will snort or smoke this dangerous drug. Tolerance to heroin develops quickly, meaning that more and more must be used to achieve the same effect. Withdrawal symptoms appear when the addict goes without his drug. The symptoms are acute and painful they include severe headaches, muscle pain, and vomiting. I have seen addicts going through withdrawal one can only imagine just how sick and tormented they feel. I was told to multiply by 10 the sickest you ve ever been and that would be what heroin withdrawal feels like. It s no wonder that addicts will do almost anything to get more of the drug to avoid withdrawal. According to the Florida Drug Treatment Assessment, the percentage of Florida high school students who report having abused heroin at least once in their lifetime is statistically comparable to the national percentage; data shows 3.7 percent compared to 3.1 percent nationwide. If you know of someone who is abusing this drug or any other type of drug, please encourage him/her to get help through a physician or the county health department. If you have a question for Deputy Joe Bowen, please send it by to or by regular mail to : Ask Deputy Joe, 4040 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL St. Johns County Sheriff s Deputy Joe Bowen is a 44-year law enforcement veteran with experience in patrol, detective work, general investigations, juvenile offenses, sexual battery cases, undercover stings, bicycle patrol and crime prevention. In 2002, Deputy Bowen was certified by the Florida Attorney General s Office as a Crime Prevention Practitioner. As the St. John s County Sheriff s Office Crime Prevention Officer, Deputy Bowen helps educate the community, especially seniors, about crime prevention techniques. Did you know that is available in braille or on cassette tape for persons with reading disabilities? Contact the Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services toll-free at for more information
10 10 Consumer awareness january/february 2012 Applying for the Do-Not-Call List Liz Compton Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services With the rise in gas prices and consumer goods, complaints about sales calls consistently rank at the top of the list of consumer grievances, based on calls to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services consumer hotline: HELP FLA. violated the Do-Not-Call statute. The department takes these violations seriously, issuing cease and desist orders and fines of up to $10,000 per violation, a strong deterrent to companies that would otherwise choose to ignore the law. Legal action has also been taken against dozens of telemarketers over the years, resulting in injunctions against future calls to consumers on the list and fines totaling more than $1.5 million against violators. Boiler rooms full of telemarketers often target the elderly, using high-pressure tactics to get them to buy unwanted products, services, travel, and more. Fortunately, help is available. The department oversees the Florida Do-Not-Call list, which prohibits most telemarketers from calling the residential and cell phone numbers of Floridians who have registered their numbers with the department. During 2010, more than 16,200 complaints were filed with the department against businesses that Florida residents can apply for the Do-Not-Call list by calling HELP-FLA or by visiting Joining the list costs $10 for the initial registration and requires a $5 annual renewal fee. All fees collected are used to cover expenses related to the cost of the program and enforcement of the law. If you receive a call that violates the Do-Not- Call statute, call HELP-FLA or visit to report the call to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Try to obtain as much information as possible from the caller, such as the name of the company, the name of the person making the call, the telephone number, the types of products or services offered, and the date and time the call was received. Consumer Fraud and Elders Carlos J. Morales Orange County Consumer Fraud Unit Consumer fraud issues are a growing concern of our elders. Local communities, like Orange County Government, have responded by establishing consumer fraud offices to help local residents and visitors to their communities with these consumer concerns. These offices investigate and mediate consumer complaints, and some have the capacity to file criminal cases with their local State Attorney s Office. Other offices, including those that regulate vehicles for hire, towing, construction, etc. go even further and help enforce local ordinances designed to protect consumers,. These consumer fraud offices also work very closely with state agencies, law enforcement, and volunteer groups so that the needs of local elders can be addressed in a comprehensive fashion. Our sole purpose is to reduce the victimization of elders, residents, and visitors. In today s economic environment and with limited resources, the local consumer protection agencies are a great resource that seniors can go to for assistance. Florida County Consumer Protection Offices Broward County Permitting, Licensing, and Consumer Protection Division 1 N. University Drive, Box 302 Plantation, FL Phone: Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency 1101 E. 139th Ave. Tampa, FL Phone: consumerprotection Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department Services Department 140 W. Flagler St. Suites Miami, FL Phone: Orange County Consumer Fraud Unit P.O. Box N. Orange Ave. Orlando, FL Phone: Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs Division 50 South Military Trail West Palm Beach, FL (561) Toll-Free: (Boca/Delray/Glades) Pinellas County Office of Consumer Protection 631 Chestnut St. Clearwater, FL Phone: TTY:
11 january/february 2012 INTERGENERATIONAL PROGRAMS 11 Florida's Intergenerational Week Page Merkison Communities for a Lifetime Florida Department of Elder Affairs The Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) recognized December 4-10, 2011, as Florida s Intergenerational Week by encouraging all Floridians to become more cognizant of volunteer opportunities that unite youth and elders within their communities. In 2003, the Florida Legislature designated the first week of December as Florida s Intergenerational Week. This initiative raises awareness and creates partnerships between elders and youth populations, including seniors in long-term care facilities and youth in foster care. Activities held during intergenerational week help bridge the experiences and wisdom of elders with the unbridled curiosity of youth. This year the Department honored three organizations that are committed to participating in intergenerational activities and volunteering within their communities throughout the year. The first honor, the 2011 Legacy Award, is a new award that was presented to Florida s Intergenerational Orchestra of America from Boca Raton on December 8, 2011, during an open rehearsal for an upcoming concert. The audience was filled with many local dignitaries, DOEA staff, and community supporters. The orchestra is under the baton of its founder and conductor, Lorraine Marks, and its purpose is to bridge the gap between generations. The orchestra consists of players ranging in age from 9 to 92, who mentor each other by providing encouragement to the young and meaning to the lives of our senior citizens who have so much to offer in the way of knowledge and experience. The young musicians provide enormous incentive to the older players to teach and to remain active. The 50-piece full orchestra and the 15-piece chamber orchestra never turn people away who want to take part in the universal language of music. Ms. Marks weaves the abilities of the players into a delicate tapestry. Operating exclusively out of Palm Beach County, the orchestra has averaged eight concerts a season. Through this orchestra, Ms. Marks continues the tradition she started when she founded the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra of America. She conducted it at Lincoln Center and in Madrid, Spain, on behalf of the United Nations convention on Aging Gracefully Through Music. The second honor, the 2011 Intergenerational Volunteer Award, was presented to the GrandKids and Close2Heart programs from Safety Harbor, Florida, on December 10, 2011, during a ceremony at Manor Care Assisted Living Facility in Palm Harbor. The children presented their adopted grandparents with the memorable journals from their weekly visits. The reactions of each recipient were indescribable. A mayor s reception followed the presentation ceremonies. It was such an honor to share this moment with the residents, their family members, program members, ALF staff, local dignitaries, DOEA staff, and the many other attendees. The Mandani Family formed the Grand-Kids and Close2Heart programs. The Grand-Kids program adopts individual seniors at Accordia Woods Assisted Living home in Palm Harbor and visits them each week for 10 weeks. Having volunteered and assisted hospice patients for years, the Mandanis didn t want to leave out residents who are terminally ill, but understood that many might not live to complete the full 10-week program. Therefore, Close2Heart was created to allow youth to volunteer in a condensed version of the program with hospice residents. The children who participate in the Grand-Kids and Close2Heart programs attend Elder Sensitivity training workshops. The workshops have proven to be effective in teaching participants to experience the effect of sensory losses that are common to the process of aging. Nisha Mandani sought the aid and experience of the local hospice and the Red Cross to design a training manual to bring community awareness by instilling competencies among youths to interact with diverse groups of elders. Boy and Girl Scouts assisted in Sudoku There is only one valid solution to each Sudoku puzzle. When you start a game of Sudoku, some blocks will be pre-filled for you. You cannot change these numbers in the course of the game. Each column must contain all of the numbers 1 through 9 and no two numbers in the same column of a Sudoku puzzle can be the same. Each row must contain all of the numbers 1 through 9 and no two numbers in the same row of a Sudoku puzzle can be the same. Each block must contain all of the numbers 1 through 9 and no two numbers in the same block of a Sudoku puzzle can be the same. Good luck! Solution found on page 22. Sudoku Kevin Stone [Protected Puzzle] Sudoku Ref: designing 10 to 20 weeks of knowledge exchange activities to integrate interests between generations. Hospice residents may not be able to participate in all of the activities, so they capture their memorable moments of life and other life achievements in a journal, which they give to the family. At the end of both programs, the children make journals for the seniors to document their lives and their experiences in the program. The programs were honored by the Dunedin City Commission and have been approved by Pinellas County Schools to use as volunteer hours toward Bright Futures Scholarships. continued on page 22
12 12 meals on wheels january/february 2012 Aging True: A Meals on Wheels Volunteer Story Susan Evans Aging True - Community Senior Services Meals on Wheels is one of those iconic programs that immediately evoke a feeling of familiarity and goodness. Almost everyone has heard of Meals on Wheels and knows that it means an older, frail, and housebound person is getting a hot nutritious meal brought to them. Those receiving it know it means a certain measure of care, independence, and security is provided so that they may continue to live safely and with dignity in their own homes. To those volunteers who serve the meals, it means much more than that. Aging True, formerly Urban Jacksonville, Inc, has been providing meals for over 35 years throughout Duval County and into some of the beaches. Once a small, single-truck program that delivered meals from a cooler strapped into a flatbed, Aging True s Meals on Wheels now serves nearly 1,000 nutritious meals each day. A fleet of seven modified vehicles, six active routes, 13 staff, and over 600 volunteers work seamlessly together to make Meals on Wheels happen every Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. It takes a lot of coordination, talent, and energy to make a program like this grow and have it span the width and breadth of one of our nation s largest counties for over three decades. Part of what makes the Aging True Meals on Wheels so successful is the overwhelming commitment of its volunteers who work from drop sites all over the county. Responsible for 18 percent of the over 255,000 delivered meals in 2010, Meals on Wheels volunteers utilize not only their time but their own vehicles and fuel to make certain the folks on their route get the hot meal they so desperately need. This defines dedication and compassion, and All Saints Episcopal Church knows all about that. All Saints Episcopal Church has been an active partner in the Meals on Wheels program for over 25 years. In its two-plus decade history of coordinating and delivering hot and frozen meals, this small but powerfully devoted team of volunteers has learned a lot about their community, their neighbors, and themselves. Hal Wills is the coordinator of meal delivery for All Saints Episcopal Church and orchestrates more than 20 volunteers. He averages 12 hours per week and serves as a backup deliverer as needed. Hal has volunteered for Meals on Wheels for nearly 19 years and says, "It's one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. The people we serve really appreciate you, they appreciate that meal, and they appreciate what that meals means. It says they are cared for and can stay in their home as they want. I see their eyes light up when they see me, and it does my heart good." Mr. Wills got his start in Meals on Wheels through his friend, Mr. Dick Suddath. "We both attend All Saints, and I told him I was looking for a good opportunity to serve, and he told me exactly what I needed to do volunteer for Meals on Wheels. So here I am." Mr. Suddath is 92 years old and just recently stopped delivering meals six months ago, I got sick and had to stop. I want to start back but I am still a little wobbly. He has volunteered since the early eighties with Mr. Wills joining him a few years later. When I met with them, they were meeting again for the first time in a few months, and they greeted each other with hugs, handshakes, and laughter. Mr. Suddath claps a hand on Mr. Wills back. This fellow was good to work with. He wanted to know a good way to make a difference around here, and I dragged him along. I honestly got started in this because I had retired continued on page 13 Meals on Wheels isn t an outside job. It puts you inside people s homes, and you can see how they are living. So you might think all the big fancy things are really important, but they are not. Life is, or a good life is, about the little things and making them happen. That s what Meals on Wheels gave to me.
13 January/February 2012 meals on wheels 13 and was bored. I wanted to do something worthwhile with all this extra time. So I heard about Meals on Wheels through my church, and it just got the ball rolling from there. We delivered way back when the meals were brought to us in this little truck. We d get the meals and get the list, and then off we d go. Hal Wills coordinates all of the deliveries throughout the week and has some very dedicated help to make it happen. Dwayne and Carol Alsobrooke are known as the Meals on Wheels power couple, as they have handled most of the deliveries for over a decade now. They work as a team, a well-oiled meal-delivery machine, and they know the importance of their work and how much it matters to those who are often alone and overlooked. Hal also has help on Friday from the wonderful, hard-working team at Lakewood United Methodist Church. Led by Ann Crenshaw who has 25 years of volunteering with Meals on Wheels under her belt, the church has five teams of two that know how to take care of business. People always want to know how this program works and how the people respond to it, Ann explains. What they don t understand is how much it impacts you as the deliverer. You come into their homes and get to really know these people; they become friends and you establish real relationships with them. You see them struggle to make ends meet, you see how alone they are and how they want to just matter to someone again. They simply want to have a happy life. You know that this meal and your connection with them is a reason for their happiness. They still feel like they matter, like they are connected to something that is important. The gang at All Saints has delivered on average 25 meals a day for over 25 years. At 252 serving days a year, that s approximately 157,500 (and counting) hot nutritious meals delivered to our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors. That s a record to be proud of and a reason to feel good about delivering a meal with a message. (Continued from page 12) Mr. Suddath cannot tell you who first told him about Meals on Wheels, but he can tell you very clearly how it makes him feel. I have a great life; I have everything I want or need. Meals on Wheels makes you realize that life is not about the big stuff, it s all about the little things. Whenever we (he and Hal) would deliver a meal, we got to know the person. And sometimes they would tell you things or you would just notice things like the trash needing to be bagged up and put out, or light bulbs needing to be replaced. It doesn t sound like much, but it really meant a lot to them to have someone care enough to do it for them. Hal Wills told me later that there were many times when, after they delivered a meal and noticed a need, Dick Suddath would go back later and quietly fix it or help out in some way. He didn t toot his own horn; he just did it because he cared about them. Once long, long ago, we delivered meals to this elderly gentleman who had no family so he just lived for his TV shows. Each day he couldn t wait for us to get there to tell us all about what he watched the night before. One day we came in to deliver his meal and noticed the sound was on but the TV screen was black. The gentlemen explained it had gone out but that he was OK because he could still hear it, but you could tell he was devastated. That day Dick went out and had a brand new TV delivered and installed at that man s house. I didn t know about it until we walked in the next day to deliver his meal and there he was waiting at the door, thrilled to death about this new TV. He was overwhelmed with joy. That is how it is with Meals on Wheels. You get a chance to really make a difference to people; you get a chance to see it and feel it. Dick Suddath explains it this way, Meals on Wheels isn t an outside job. It puts you inside people s homes, and you can see how they are living. So you might think all the big fancy things are really important, but they are not. Life is, or a good life is, about the little things and making them happen. That s what Meals on Wheels gave to me. Meals on Wheels: One Man s Story Susan Evans Aging True- Community Senior Services Mr. Henry Fletcher is age 82 and has received Meals on Wheels services for eight years due to a series of strokes that left him paralyzed on his left side from the shoulder down. He is in a wheelchair and requires assistance to eat. I have lived here for 45 years, and I know it s because of my friends and Meals on Wheels that I am still here. I sit here now and see a lot of good around me. I lost my daughter; she was a school teacher in Texas, and she had a stroke like me. And I lost Elian, my wife; we were married 52 years, and I know I am here because God wants me here. He has a plan for me." But Mr. Fletcher didn't know that right away. "I wasn't that sure at first. It's hard on a man, you know, after working hard all his life to keep his family safe and fed right and educated. It was hard at first to accept the fact that I needed help. But I am glad I did, as I was close to losing my house because I wasn't taking the right care of myself. I guess you can say, I was stubborn, Mr. Fletcher says with a laugh. Now I know how lucky I am to still be here and have what I do have. And what I have that counts the most is my friends. Mr. Fletcher points out the pictures of his family and friends that adorn every wall in his house. This place is all I have left. I keep their pictures up because it is their home too. I like to look at them. I know they are looking after me just like my neighbor does and just like Meals on Wheels does (he points to Shalinda, his Meals on Wheels deliverer). Every day I wait to see Meals on Wheels come driving up my driveway. These good-hearted people check on me, bring me some food, and help me do the things I can t do by myself anymore. They are a big part of my day, more than you know. I mean, the meals are good and I eat it all, but what I really look forward to is the paper. I love reading the Times Union. Back when I was working, I started every day that way. Me and my wife would have breakfast together and share the paper. Those memories seem like just yesterday to me. Now the Meals on Wheels ladies bring it to me and help me open it up so I can see what s happening around the world. I can t get around like I used to so having the paper here makes me feel like I am still a part of life outside. Mr. Fletcher has the kind of smile that starts on his face and ends up on yours. He is in a wheelchair, completely paralyzed on his left side, has outlived his children and the love of his life, but he still counts himself as one of the lucky ones. I know I am lucky, he says with a grin. I have no complaints. I know better than that. When you re all busy living your life, it seems like it s gonna last forever. But it doesn t. Everybody grows old if you re lucky. And if you re lucky enough to have friends like this, then growing old ain t so bad.
14 14 shine january/february 2012 SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is an award-winning volunteer-based program at the Department of Elder Affairs that provides information and free, unbiased counseling for people on Medicare, their families, and their caregivers. Trained counselors provide personal and confidential assistance over the phone or at local counseling sites. To speak with a SHINE counselor, call our Elder Helpline toll-free at ELDER ( ). Ask Lynne: Your Questions Answered by a SHINE Counselor Dear Lynne: I am 62 years old and have not been able to find affordable health insurance since I was laid off last year. I am not very healthy so I really need some health insurance to tide me over until I am eligible for Medicare. Is there any help for me? Uninsured in Indian Creek Dear Uninsured: Yes, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was created under the Affordable Care Act to assist uninsured people with a preexisting condition to get healthcare at lower rates. In order to be eligible, you must be a citizen or living in the United States legally. Additionally, you must have been uninsured for at least six months and have had a problem getting insurance due to a preexisting condition. Based on your age, you could enroll in the Standard Plan for $376 a month. Benefits would include preventative care paid at 100 percent with no deductible when you use an in-network doctor. This care could include an annual physical, flu vaccination, routine adult mammograms and cancer screenings. Some lab tests are also included when a preventative diagnosis is used. For other care, you would pay a $2,500 deductible in-network/$3,000 out-of-network deductible before PCIP pays for your health care and prescriptions. Once the deductible is met, you will pay 20 percent of in-network medical expenses. The maximum you will pay out-of-pocket for covered services in a calendar year is $5,950 in-network. Additional benefits you could receive include hospital care, physician office visits, outpatient surgery, emergency room care, durable medical equipment, etc. Prescriptions would also be covered with a co-payment. In Florida, there are presently approximately 38,000 physicians, 4,800 pharmacies and 312 hospitals in-network. And now, it is easier than ever to apply. You will need to supply a letter from your doctor, physician assistant or nurse practioner that is dated within the last 12 months and states that you have had a medical condition, disability or illness. If you are ready to apply or want more information on PCIP, you can call directly to the PCIP Call Center toll free at from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST or locate more detailed information on PCIP at gov and click on Find Your State. If you are not able to afford the new PCIP, there may be some other options through state health programs for lower income individuals. The SHINE program can help you learn more about these options and more, like how you could save on prescriptions. Dear Lynne: I just received information about my health benefits from the company where I worked before retirement. While the benefits are excellent, we (my wife and I) just cannot afford the monthly premium anymore. What options do we have if we drop this coverage? Confused Couple in Cocoa Dear Confused Couple: First, please note that once you decide to drop your retirement health benefits, you will not be able to go back to them again at any time. For this reason, you and your wife need to thoroughly research any decision you might make to change from your present coverage. If you are not retired military and eligible for Tricare for Life, your options include either a Medicare Advantage Plan (MA) or Original Medicare. Let s examine the difference between the two. With the MA plan, you would probably be limited to using a network of providers in addition to co-pays whenever you see a doctor or enter the hospital, etc. However, there are some plans that allow you to go out of network with higher co-pay. It s important to review what these charges are so that there aren t any surprises should you need a test, or be hospitalized, etc. The plans also may include a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Check to see if your medications are included in the plan formulary, what your co-payments would be and if or when you would enter the gap. When in the gap, you are responsible for 50 percent of the cost of your drugs in Another important question is whether or not you can continue using the same doctors you have been using. Some of these plans have no monthly premium, and some also will pay all or part of your Part B premium. Original Medicare is sometimes called fee-for-service Medicare. If Lynne Meagher Area SHINE Coordinator Lynne Meagher is the Brevard County area coordinator and a volunteer trainer for the Department of Elder Affairs SHINE program. In 2006, Lynne was honored with the Department s Arnie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with Brevard County seniors. you use this option, you can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare patients. You usually pay a deductible and part of the cost of the services you receive. Medicare determines how much health care providers can charge for the services covered by the plan. If you are in Original Medicare, you would also need to join a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) to get drug coverage through Medicare. Additionally, with Original Medicare you have the option to enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. Medigap insurance allows you the freedom to use any provider in the United States and their territories that you want. Depending on which continued on page 17
15 january/february shine Check out BenefitsCheckUp Hilary Dalin National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment Many seniors struggle to pay for their prescription drugs, food, health care, household utilities, and other needs. Yet 81 percent of Floridians with Medicare are missing out on key public benefits that can help them meet these costs and remain healthy and independent in their communities. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers two free online tools that can help connect Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers with public and private benefits. BenefitsCheckUp (www.benefitscheckup.org) is a free, confidential online benefits screening and enrollment tool that contains information on over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private benefits programs. Anyone can use the site and conduct a screening on behalf of themselves or a loved one and in some cases, even apply for programs online where applications are available. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers two free online tools that can help connect Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers with public and private benefits. Here is just a sample of the types of assistance included in BenefitsCheckUp: Prescription savings. Through Benefits- CheckUp, users can find out whether they potentially qualify for Extra Help, the government s Part D savings program, and apply directly online. But the screening tool can also help users see if they qualify for a wide range of other prescription benefits, such as rebates offered directly from drug manufacturers. Nutrition assistance tools. In Florida, half of seniors eligible to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or Food Stamps) do not get that assistance. BenefitsCheckUp s SNAP Map helps consumers find state-specific SNAP program information, websites, and application forms. Three additional nutrition benefits programs also are now included in every BenefitsCheckUp screening: the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. Adult day care and respite programs. Caregivers face burnout if they aren t able to get a break from their responsibilities. Fortunately, many areas offer adult day service programs and respite care, particularly for those with Alzheimer s. BenefitsCheckUp will help identify eligibility to receive waivers or financial assistance to utilize these services. Property tax relief. Many states offer tax rebates, deductions, or deferrals for low-income elderly or disabled homeowners (and sometimes renters). By answering a few brief questions about home ownership/rental status and income, BenefitsCheckUp can help determine whether a senior or caregiver may qualify for property tax assistance. These are only a few of the types of assistance that may be available. At the end of every screening, users receive a printout listing all programs for which they may qualify, and details on how to apply. To date, more than 3 million people have used BenefitsCheckUp to find out whether they are likely eligible for more than $10 billion in public and private benefits. Another useful online tool is My Medicare Matters (www.mymedicarematters.org). Sponsored by NCOA and supported by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, the site helps people with Medicare and their families better understand Medicare and related health assistance programs. The site features information about: How to enroll. The site s Just For You section helps those new to Medicare understand the specifics of enrollment, including information for those who continue to work past the age of 65, early retirees or those who are unemployed, and younger adults with disabilities who qualify for Medicare. Staying healthy. My Medicare Matters offers information about Medicare s array of preventive services, as well as specific details of Medicare coverage related to Alzheimer s, cancer, and diabetes. Consumers can learn how Medicare can help them stay healthy, but also how they can play a role in improving their health by participating in community-based and online chronic disease self-management programs. Getting prescription drug coverage. Each year during Medicare s Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec.7), My Medicare Matters offers beneficiaries objective assistance on selecting the coverage that works best for them. The site includes easy-to-follow instructions on how to use Medicare s online Plan Finder Tool, which can help them sort through and review their prescription drug plan options and what best meets their needs in the coming year. Of course, these aren t the only resources for people with Medicare to receive unbiased assistance about their coverage and available benefits. The SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program, operated by the Department of Elder Affairs and your local Area Agency on Aging, provides free, unbiased counseling about Medicare. To speak to a SHINE volunteer counselor, call the Florida Elder Helpline toll-free at NCOA also funds ElderSource, the Northeast Florida Area Agency on Aging, as a Benefits Enrollment Center, which offers a one-stop shop for people in seven counties in northeast Florida to receive help in applying for benefits. Together, these resources can help Floridians with Medicare and those who care for them obtain the guidance and supports needed to keep older adults safe, healthy, and independent.
16 16 shine january/february 2012 Achievers, Calling All Problem Solvers, and Leaders: Join the SHINE Team! Do you know of elders or disabled individuals who have a hard time understanding their health coverage and could benefit from having free, unbiased counseling? You can help. Join the more than 400 SHINE volunteers who: Explain options to help clients make informed decisions; Provide enrollment and prescription assistance counseling; Participate in community events; Speak to community groups about Medicare, long-term care, and prescription drugs; and Gain rewarding experiences by helping clients save money on their insurance. SHINE is a statewide volunteer program that helps guide seniors and the disabled through their health insurance options. All services are free and unbiased. To learn how you can join SHINE, contact LaVonia Sampson-Jones, SHINE Recruitment Specialist, by calling , or write to A Caring Counselor Finds Caring Voice Coalition Zachary Scott SHINE Program Florida Department of Elder Affairs Plenty O Cents recently called the SHINE program last week with a simple question, Can you help me lower my drug cost? This question is asked hundreds of times each day throughout the SHINE network, but Plenty s request was a bit different, and it would take more than Medicare s Plan Finder to meet his needs. Plenty was already in a very inexpensive Medicare Advantage plan that covered most of his needs. He was very happy with the plan, and even boasted that, They cover my Gold s Gym membership and fix my glasses when I sit on them. His only complaint was that his one and only prescription drug, Xyrem, cost him almost $ each month. The Caring Voices Coalition is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to those who suffer from rare diseases and disorders. When Plenty told me about this expensive drug, I thought that this would be an easy case. I would just go to the Plan Finder tool, run a comparison, and find him a new Medicare Advantage plan that covered his drug at a lower cost, and that would be that. However, once I opened the Plan Finder tool, I discovered that $ a month was actually the least expensive price for Xyrem. Plenty was already in the best plan. Disappointed by the lackluster Plan Finder results, I then turned to an online information resource devoted to helping people in need find assistance programs to help with medication costs. Surely this drug would have coupons and several Patient Assistance Programs (PAP) that would help Plenty with this high drug cost, but I was wrong. The only PAP listed was not available to Plenty since he already had insurance. a drug that is prescribed exclusively to treat narcolepsy, and it is very, very effective. It treats narcolepsy without giving its users the jitters, it is non-habit forming, and it has very few side effects. Because of its effectiveness, it is also very expensive. I learned that the average cost of a month supply of Xyrem is about $2, so $ really was a good deal after all! As I searched through the Google results page, I grew more discouraged there is no generic alternative, there are no coupons, and the other narcolepsy drugs available are just as expensive and not nearly as effective. Then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I saw a link and a hotline number for a narcolepsy support group. I called the number that was listed in a last-ditch effort to help Plenty lower his cost. Even if the support group couldn t help, I could at least put Plenty in touch with a support group who would share in his struggles. After three rings a woman with a very thick southern accent answered the phone and asked me how she could help. When I was finished with my story about the SHINE program and Plenty s expensive medication, she said Caring Voices Coalition would be able to help. I thanked her for her help, hung up the phone, and immediately typed in the web address for the Caring Voices Coalition, Once the page for the CVC loaded, I knew right away it was the answer Plenty and I were looking for. The CVC is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to what is known as the orphan disease population those who suffer from rare diseases and disorders, including narcolepsy. It seemed like I finally had some good news! I called the Caring Voices Coalition hotline to see if they would be able to help Plenty, but I feared that I had overlooked some detail that would exempt Plenty from this program. The phone was answered by a CVC representative. I told him about SHINE and Plenty, and I asked for help. The answer they gave made me dance for joy in my cubicle. The representative said, As long as Plenty s doctor fills out our form confirming that he has narcolepsy, we will pay about $ each month toward his Xyrem. That is a 75 percent savings for Plenty! FLORIDA SHIP Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders Florida Department of Elder Affairs Things were not looking good for Plenty. The two biggest and best cost-saving tools available to the SHINE network offered no help whatsoever. Before calling Plenty back to give him the bad news, I went to to look up the drug that was causing all of this trouble. Xyrem is After thanking the representative, I called Plenty and told him the good news. He was ecstatic! After I gave him the number to the CVC hotline, he said that he would call back if there were any issues or problem. I have not heard from Plenty since, so I can only assume that his needs were met, and his prescription drug cost was lowered.
17 january/february 2012 SHINE 17 When Your Medicare Advantage Plan Doesn t Fit Switch! Patty Shaffer SHINE Program Florida Department of Elder Affairs Not seeing the desired advantage in your Medicare Advantage plan? Medicare beneficiaries who find that the Medicare Advantage plan they have kept or chose during the Annual Enrollment Period does not meet their needs may leave that plan and return to Original Medicare using the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), which runs from January 1 through February 14. Keep in mind that you cannot switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, nor can those in Original Medicare use this period to join a Medicare Advantage plan. Beneficiaries also may not join, switch, or drop a Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan. You can only use the MADP to switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare. This may include joining but not switching a Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. There are a few situations to keep in mind when disenrolling from a Medicare Advantage Plan. Regardless of whether the advantage plan included Part D drug coverage or not, enrollees are eligible for a Part D Special Enrollment Period to enroll in a prescription drug plan. Individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage-Only (MA-only) Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plan, must request disenrollment from the MAonly plan in order to be eligible for the Part D Special Enrollment Period. If you are thinking about using the MADP to go back to Original Medicare, it is also important that you consider the various ways you can otherwise cover the costs associated with Original Medicare, such as deductibles, co-insurance, or copayments. Some options include applying for a Medicare Savings Program or purchasing a Medicare Supplement. However, disenrollment from your Medicare Advantage plan will not alone qualify you for Guaranteed Issue to purchase a Medicare Supplement ( Medigap ) policy, and there are specific income and asset requirements for each Medicare Savings Program. To disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan during the MADP, you must notify your plan in writing that you wish to disenroll. You may also enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug plan, which will automatically disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage plan and switch you to Original Medicare with the selected stand-alone drug plan. Once your choices have been made, coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form and the selected health care and prescription drug coverage will be with you until the end of the year. You may change coverage again, if needed, during the Annual Election Period which runs from October 15 December 7 each year. January 1 March 31 is the Medicare General Enrollment Period available each year to individuals who didn t sign up for Part A or Part B when they were first eligible for Medicare. This is the annual opportunity to apply with coverage which becomes effective July 1, ELDER UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION FORM Mail this to: Department of Elder Affairs 4040 Esplanade Way Tallahassee, Florida or visit us at to subscribe. First Name is distributed at no cost to elder Floridians. Last Name Ask Lynne (Continued from page 14) of the 10 standardized plans you might choose, you would have no additional co-payments. In Florida, these plans are age-rated. This means that your premium would be based on your age when you first enroll in the plan. There also would be a medical questionnaire, as well as a waiting period for preexisting conditions, if there is a gap in coverage. The Medigap plans do not include prescription coverage so you would need to pick a Prescription Drug Plan too. SHINE counselors, like Lynne, have received in-depth training so they can provide unbiased assistance as you make important decisions; decisions that will affect all your health care expenses for 2012 and beyond. A SHINE counselor will not determine what you should do, but will guide you through the comparison process so you can make an educated choice. To reach a SHINE counselor, call the Elder Helpline toll-free at ELDER ( ). If you have a question you would like the Ask Lynne column to answer, please write or Lynne at Senior Life and look for a response in one of the next issues. Please send your question via to elderaffairs.org or by regular mail to : Ask Lynne, at 4040 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL Business/Organization Street Address or P.O. Box No. Year of Birth City State Zip Code County Number of readers in household? What topics would you like to see in future articles? Signature Date Postal regulations require that the person receiving the subscription be the one requesting the subscription.
18 18 Communities for a Lifetime january/february 2012 Developing Age-Friendly Communities to Support Aging in Place Gail Matillo Communities for a Lifetime Florida Department of Elder Affairs Tremendous advances in health care, economic security, and the delivery of supportive services have significantly enhanced the lives of seniors in the past 50 years. Seniors are enjoying longer and healthier lives, while preferring to age in place in their own homes and communities. AARP defines aging in place as simply a matter of preserving the ability for people to remain in their home or Defining Generations The Greatest Generation The Silent Generation Baby Boom Generation Generation X Generation Y Generation Z neighborhood for as long as possible. This year, Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, begin turning 65 at the rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years. By the year 2030, 9.74 million baby boomers will call Florida home. Housing officials, transportation planners, planning and zoning specialists, parks and recreation officials, and economic development leaders are making decisions each day that affect the ability of older adults to successfully age in place. Early recognition of the impact that an aging population has on a community will enable them to hone their planning efforts and implement solutions to adapt to a maturing population. Some cities and counties are creating age-friendly communities that provide a broad range of services determined by a well-planned public health model. According to Josefina Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, three key components to age-friendly communities are: (1) partnership and collaborations; (2) aging services networks; and (3) determining what resources can be brought to the aging population. In addition, age-friendly communities include appropriate housing choices and an adequate transportation infrastructure to provide independent mobility. By using existing resources to meet the challenges of a growing senior population, cities and counties can implement age-friendly communities by: Encouraging collaboration between stakeholders from diverse fields; Identifying opportunities to integrate aging in place issues with existing plans, programs, and initiatives; Empowering staff to support and adopt strategies to promote aging in place communities; Identifying sustainable funding streams from private and public sources to support community-wide partnerships; Encourage public support for creative new approaches that will enable communities to remain livable for all residents; and Provide a forum for seniors to share their concerns, needs, and talents for social interaction and volunteer efforts. Baby boomers will play a major role in the development of age-friendly communities to support their quality of life, ensure that their basic health care needs are met, and to stay connected to friends and social networks. Preventive health care, including information about wellness, nutrition, and exercise will be important, as well as community services and lifelong learning, job, and volunteer opportunities; intergenerational programs; civic engagement; and new opportunities to enhance personal fulfillment to optimize mental health, well-being, and independence. Another approach cities and counties can take to develop age-friendly communities is to utilize asset mapping or geographic information system (GIS) technology. These systems focus on the physical characteristics of a community to facilitate strategies and comprehensive planning efforts and to identify a community s strengths and weaknesses. Asset mapping or GIS technology has become a popular way to leverage integrated supports to plan for smart growth and economic development initiatives. Once community strengths are inventoried and depicted in a map, cities and counties can more easily think about how to build on these assets to address community needs and improve infrastructure. At its most basic level, asset mapping promotes community involvement, ownership, and empowerment. On a more comprehensive level, asset mapping provides a deeper understanding of the key networks that shape the regional economy, housing, transpor- continued on page 23
19 january/february 2012 Communities for a Lifetime 19 Community Resources Janine Harris Communities for a Lifetime Florida Department of Elder Affairs Establishing partnerships and accessing resources is vital to the success of programs and services for the Communities for a Lifetime participants statewide. Below is an update of programs, services, etc., that communities can benefit from or engage in. Smart Growth America s Implementation Toolkit Smart Growth America offers communities the Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit, which provides detailed guidelines for community leaders to examine zoning, policies, incentives, and other regulations that influence development. The toolkit is free and can be used to help communities develop their own assessments and strategic plans related to growth. For additional information, access leadership-institute/implementation-tools. Establishing partnerships and accessing resources is vital to the success of programs and services for the Communities for a Lifetime participants statewide. Experts Rank Non-Profits Working in Aging In a recent survey Philanthropedia identified 13 agencies as High-Impact Nonprofits Working in Aging. Philanthropedia was founded in The survey evaluated national and local agencies and focused on the following: Health Care, Care- Giving, Long-Term Support Services, Housing, Economic Security, and other services, including transportation, civic engagement, socialization, and prevention of elderly abuse. To learn more about the survey, the evaluators, and the agencies that participated in the survey, please go to www. myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/national/ aging. Philanthropedia s mission is to improve non-profit effectiveness by directing money to and facilitating discussion about expert-recommended non-profits. Health and Wellness Go4Life is an exercise campaign that was instituted by the United States Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. It is designed to motivate older adults to become physically active every day. According to the National Institute on Aging, only 30 percent of older adults ages 45 to 64 report daily physical activity, and only 25 percent of those who are age 65 to 74. For additional information or to order the video and activity guide, access The website site features specific exercises, success stories, and free materials. Spanish materials are also available. Transportation The American Public Health Association recently released a fact sheet on Complete Streets and Public Health that focuses on the health and safety benefits of Complete Streets. The Complete Streets Coalition encourages accessibility and safety for all ages and abilities bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians. For additional information, access Volunteerism The Civic Life in America website offers tools, statistics, demographics, trends, resources, and a wealth of information on the civic engagement of Americans across the nation. For the last two years, 62.7 million Americans volunteered either through or for an organization. In Florida, the average volunteer rate is 21.3 percent with 3.1 million volunteers serving million total hours per year. Intergenerational Did you know that Marian McQuade was the founder of National Grandparents Day? She served on the West Virginia Commission on Aging and the Nursing Home Licensing Board. It was her desire to educate youth about the importance of the contributions that seniors make to society. She urged young people to adopt a grandparent for a lifetime. In 1977, Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day, and on August 3, 1978, former President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. Housing A new study, America s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities, explores the challenges and opportunities of rental housing in America. Although rental housing is a choice for a number of Americans, it is a necessity for millions of low-income households. According to the study, which was sponsored by Harvard University s Joint Center for Housing Studies and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, elderly households account for 13 percent of renters. Forty-six percent of renters age 36 to 64 account for renter households. To read the study, access Preparing for Tomorrow - Today Can your community benefit from technical assistance and resources in housing transportation health and wellness employment volunteerism or intergenerational programs? Communities for a Lifetime helps Florida communities plan and implement locally defined initiatives that benefit all residents, from youthful to elder. Join more than 100 communities statewide that: Plan for seniors who want to be actively engaged in their community Recognize that before long, one-third of Florida s population will be age 60 or older Seek strategies to engage youth and seniors through multi-generational opportunities Understand the benefits seniors provide for overall future growth and development Seek strategies to develop additional local partnerships To learn how you can join other Florida communities with a (senior) plan for the future, contact Janine Harris, Community Relations Manager, Communities for a Lifetime, 4040 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, Florida , or call or CommunitiesforaLifetime.org
20 20 january/february 2012 Ombudsman Program Releases Annual Report Erica Wilson Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Florida Department of Elder Affairs Because of the early convening of the Legislative session, the Ombudsman Program has released its state-mandated annual report ahead of schedule. Each year, the report is distributed to providers, policy makers, and concerned citizens. This year s report showcases the work of its dedicated volunteer ombudsmen, the program s accomplishments, and recommendations for changes in the long-term care industry. No one knows the resident better than the ombudsman, said State Ombudsman Jim Crochet. Our volunteers go into long-term care facilities for each complaint investigation and administrative assessment, working to protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of the state s most vulnerable population. So just how much time was spent in these facilities? Typically, volunteers are asked to give 20 hours of service to the program each month. Many volunteers give much more, selflessly donating their time and energy to resolve complaints to the resident s satisfaction. Through case investigations alone, volunteers gave over 18,000 hours of unpaid service this past fiscal year, investigating This is the best job I never got paid for. Volunteer Ombudsman VOLUNTEER Long-term care residents need your help! Become an advocate today. over 7,500 complaints. This number does not include hours spent on other volunteer duties, such as administrative assessments, legislative visits, resident visits, attending local council meetings, and speaking at local libraries or at other special events to recruit additional volunteers. Making a difference in someone s life this is the reward that I seek from any volunteer work that I do, said long-time volunteer ombudsman and current program State Chair, Carol Weideman. Many times ombudsmen work with residents who truly have no one else to help them, and it is extremely rewarding to know that you have helped someone. One way volunteer ombudsmen help residents is by responding to a variety of complaints. This past year, complaints describing lack of dignity, respect, and poor staff attitudes totaled 225 as the second top complaint received in nursing homes, just behind complaints regarding discharge and eviction at 318. Complaints may be made by any person or group concerned for the health, safety, welfare, or rights of long-term care facility residents. Relatives and residents were the top complainants, representing over 70 percent of complaints reported concerning nursing home residents. The most frequent complaint found in assisted living facilities and adult family-care homes was medication administration and organization, totaling 289, followed by 281 complaints about the menus offered. Although percent of the concerns were reported by residents, concerns were also reported from relatives and ombudsmen. With the program s focus on recruiting and retaining volunteers to better serve Florida s elders, the program revamped its training materials with the goal to decrease classroom training and increase time spent in the field. New forms of training materials include interactive presentations, online and self administered training videos, and comprehensive quizzes. We want to provide the most effective and easiest form of training to better equip and serve our volunteers so they can better serve residents of long-term care facilities, said State Ombudsman Training Administrator James McFatter. The new trainings will be available on our website in a variety of formats such as Prezi, PowerPoint, Google quizzes, and comprehensive PDF packets. We re even hoping to get a CD or MP3 format so volunteers will have the option of listening to lessons in their cars. The Ombudsman Program officially rolled out its training during a workshop at the end of October, where staff members from the program s 17 district offices met face to face for the first time in over two years. The intensive two-and-a-half day training reviewed the new training material. The training workshop also covered another program milestone, a new resident- centered administrative assessment form. Ombudsmen staff gathered in teams and blanketed the town of Altamonte Springs, Florida, visiting the area s nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult family-care homes to pilot the new form and meet with facility residents. The new form is designed to give ombudsmen the opportunity to record their observations and work with residents and staff to make sure the needs of residents are being met. The new assessment form is a guideline for a conversation with the residents. The questions are there to help you cover all the different areas we want to check as ombudsmen, said District Manager, Kevin McKeown. Besides descriptions of the program s new training and administrative assessment form, this year s annual report also includes quotes from residents served, statistics on the top five complaints in assisted living facilities, adult family-care homes, and nursing homes for the past five years, and the program s legislative recommendations. With the release ombudsman.myflorida.com Toll-Free: continued on page 23
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