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Latest News

Comments Needed for Annual Plan

5/24/2012 1:30pm

The Draft FY 2013 Area Implementation Plan (AIP) is ready for public comment.   The Plan describes how federal Older Americans Act and state funds will be spent to support community-based services for older adults in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Osceola counties.  Older persons, service providers, elected officials, advocates, and other interested parties are invited to review and comment on the proposed Plan at a public hearing which will be conducted on:

Monday June 4, 2012
1:00 pm

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
1279 Cedar Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
616.456.5664

AAAWM will also accept written comments on the Draft FY 2013 AIP that are received by June 10, 2012.  Written comments may be sent to AAAWM at the above address, submitted at the hearing, or emailed to AAAWM at AIPlan@aaawm.org.

The hearing will include a brief overview and highlights of the FY 13 AIP, with the majority of the time allotted for public review and comment.   We encourage participants to come to the hearing with comments and questions.

Click here to access the Draf FY 2013 Area Implementation Plan

For additional information about the hearing, or provisions of the Plan, contact Sandra Ghoston-Jones at (616) 222-7012.  We look forward to hearing your comments on our proposed Plan to respond to the needs of older adults, adults with disabilities, and their family members residing in Region 8.

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Male Caregiver Cooking Class

5/24/2012 10:15am

A new class for male caregivers will start in Kent County in July. The class will help male caregivers brush up on their kitchen skills, or help them develop new ones.

Participants will also learn how to plan a menu, ways to make meal time less stressful and how to follow a recipe. Additional community resources will also be presented.

"What we have seen in recent male caregiver classes is that many men were not as involved in meal planning or cooking in the past. Now they are taking care of their spouses and trying to learn how to do all of these tasks and it can be overwhelming," says Staci Shell, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Contract Coordinator at AAAWM and instructor for the class. "Our hope is that by helping them conquer the kitchen, we will relieve some of their stress, make meal time a much smoother process and help them meet other male caregivers going through the same struggles."

Respite is available and the class lasts four weeks. A second session is planned in Kent County for September. The goal is to eventually offer more classes and expand into other counties.

For more information on the classes, including how to register, click here.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

5/17/2012 3:30pm

Legislators will be making 2013 budget decisions soon. Please contact them regarding funding for senior programs Right now, there are home and community based programs for older adults that work and save the state and the taxpayers millions of dollars annually – but they are underfunded.

MI Choice: Long-term care at home that saves Medicaid dollars- Medicaid-funded nursing home beds cost taxpayers on average $172/day; MI Choice allows eligible people to remain at home with supports that cost on average $52/day.  There aren't enough MI Choice dollars to meet the needs of all who wish to join; 8,000 people still wait.

MI Choice Nursing Facility Transition Program (NFTI)- NFTI transitions Medicaid clients in nursing homes who want to leave but face barriers such as not having an accessible home, or needing services and supports to stay at home. Last year, over 1,600 people were transitioned; 3,000 people still wait. Proposed funding for 2013 will only fund the program for two months, yet according to Governor Snyder’s 2012 Executive Budget, NFTI has saved the state $65 million since 2008!

In-Home Services help people manage their own resources- Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) programs help older adults stay in their own homes through programs like Meals on Wheels, home and community based services, and volunteer programs.
Money for these programs has been cut 28% ($10 million) over the past few years while demand for these services has grown.

Contact these members of the Conference Committee (listed below) and urge them to fund:


$11 million to reduce the wait list for MI Choice
$23 million for the Nursing Facility Transition Program in the MI Choice budget—to meet the goal of 1,600 transitions in 2013.
$1.1 million to Office of Services to the Aging plus a 5% increase in each of the next three years. This will partially restore the $10 million in funding cuts over the past three years.

 

Conference Committee Members:

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Public Hearing Notice

5/14/2012 4:10pm

The AAAWM Public Hearing will be held on Monday, June 4, 2012 at  1:00 pm at the  Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (1279 Cedar Street NE Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503). The purpose of the hearing is to listen to public comments regarding services for older adults in west Michigan.

 

Agenda

Welcome:  Robert Sundholm, AAAWM Advisory Council Chair

Draft Plan & Hearing Process:  Sandra Ghoston-Jones, Planner

Public Comments: Robert Sundholm

  The Chair will request each member of the public to

  • (1) introduce him or herself and
  • (2) comment as they choose.

 

  Speakers are encouraged to present their opinions concisely.

  Every person will be heard once before any person is invited to comment a second time.

 

Concluding Remarks:  Advisory Council Members

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

5/10/2012 4:45pm

The Nursing Facility Transition (NFT) program is in jeopardy. The Governor’s budget allocates $11 million to serve people on the MI Choice waiting list, but only $3.1 million for NFT, enough to continue the program for only two months.  This would mean over 1,000 people would be forced to remain in nursing homes when they could live in the community at a much lower cost to the state.  An additional $22 million is needed for NFT in fiscal year 2013.    

What You Can Do:

Contact these members of the Conference Committees, thank them for their past support of MI Choice and nursing facility transitions, and ask them to approve $11 million for the MI Choice waiting list and $25 million for nursing facility transitions in the MI Choice budget for FY 2013. 

 

Here are some talking points:

  • The Nursing Facility Transition allows people to live where they choose and is cost effective, costing an average of $60/day compared with a nursing home cost of $172/day.  NFT is part of the MI Choice Medicaid home and community-based waiver.
  • Last year, the transition program helped more than 1,600 people move from a nursing home back to the community with an immediate cost savings to the state.  Each person faced barriers that prevented them from returning home on their own.
  • According to Governor Snyder’s 2012 Executive Budget, NFT has saved the state $65 million since 2008.
  • There are 8,000 people on the MI Choice waiting list.  Individuals are forced to wait many months, even years to enter the program.

Background:

The Nursing Home Transition (NFT) is part of the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program.  NFT is a cutting edge program that has gained national attention for successfully transitioning people in nursing homes who want to leave but face barriers.  Barriers can include losing their home, not having an accessible home, and needing services and supports to stay at home.  Last year, over 1,600 people were transitioned; data suggest that every year about 3,000 people in nursing homes are candidates for NFT.    

NFT saves the state money because it targets people on Medicaid who cost an average of $172/day in a nursing home, compared with an average of $60/day in their own home.  It is estimated that $25 million will be needed next year to transition another 1,600 people. 

Legislators are now crafting the state’s FY 2013 budget, and the final decisions will be made by joint House-Senate Conference Committees.  We need to convince committee members to approve the Governor’s request for $11 million to serve the MI Choice waiting list, and also provide the $25 million in funding necessary to transition 1,600 people from nursing homes next year.

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Hearing Loss Resources

5/10/2012 9:00am

Hearing loss is something that many older adults experience. Most insurance plans do not cover the cost of hearing aids and equipment can range in cost from a couple hundred up to several thousand dollars. The price tag may prevent individuals from getting the help they need to hear, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Katie Prins, Executive Director at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), says advances in technology have increased the options for those who do not have the means to purchase hearing aids.

Prins recommends looking into the following products, if you are unable to afford hearing aids:

  • Pocket talkers. These are readily available and often resemble headphones and a portable speaker. The speaker portion takes sounds and feeds it through to the headphones, often allowing individuals to adjust volume as needed.
  • Amplifiers for phones and televisions. These can be connected to specific devices and increase the volume just for the item it is attached too. This can be helpful for those who have difficulty hearing the phone or television.
  • Modified smoke alarms or doorbells. Safety is a number one concern for those with hearing loss. Many safety devices (like smoke alarms) only use sound. However there are modified versions that use both light and sound to alert individuals of smoke or fire and they can be easily installed.

Hearing aids are still the most common choice for those with hearing concerns. Prins recommends that no matter how much you are spending on these devices, you should always be cautious.

Take the following steps when purchasing hearing aids:

  1. Talk with your doctor. Have a conversation with your doctor first about your hearing concerns. He can recommend you to an audiologist.
  2. Ask questions. This is new territory for many people so the terms used and the results after an audiological test may be confusing. Ask question to make sure you understand the information you are given.
  3. Do your research. Unfortunately (like with many high priced items) there are individuals and companies that have questionable sales tactics or misrepresent the truth when it comes to product features or individual needs. Doing your research (on the company and the product) before you purchase anything can help prevent you from making a costly mistake.
  4. Find out what the price includes. Some companies may offer warranties or fittings in with the cost of the hearing aid while others don’t. Being armed with this information can help you make a decision that’s best for you.
  5. Schedule an appointment with DHHS staff. DHHS staff can meet with individuals one-on-one to help determine hearing changes and identify equipment that best fits an individual’s needs.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) works with individuals of all ages to help with hearing concerns. They offer support groups and one-on-one assistance as well as classes and events for those with a hearing loss.

 “No matter the age, someone dealing with hearing loss often struggles with feelings of isolation or depression while adjusting to these changes. This can be a very difficult time and often just admitting a hearing loss can be a struggle. It is essential that friends and family members are sensitive to this and provide a supportive environment.”

The Kent County Senior Millage provides funding to DHHS for programs such as rehabilitation for activities of daily living (related to hearing loss), group education on adjusting to a hearing loss and lip reading classes. Assistance is also available to help individuals find devices, equipment and other resources to adjust to hearing loss. The services are open to Kent County residents age 60 and over. Depending on income, individuals may be asked to pay part of the cost.

For more information on services for those with hearing loss, contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at (616) 732-7358 or www.deafhhs.org.

For more information on other services for older adults and caregivers, contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664, check out the rest of our website or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AreaAgencyOnAging

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When is there too much stuff-training on hoarding

5/3/2012 11:40am

Hoarding has gotten a lot of attention lately as reality TV shows bring viewers into the homes of people who are hoarding. Often there are deeper issues than a mere attachment to things and it those concerns must be dealt with.

“When is there too much stuff? –Older Adult Hoarders and Safety Issues" brings in local experts to discuss the psychology involved as well as practical steps to take when dealing with an older adult who is hoarding.  Experts from the Health Department, Animal Control, Adult Protective Services and the Grand Rapids Fire Department will educate professionals on how best to handle these situations to get individuals the help they need.

Training will take place Thursday, June 21, 2012 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.  Registration required by June 15, 2012. For more information click here. Email registration@aaawm.org with questions. (Training is complimentary for Kent County Senior Millage Providers; otherwise there is a $5.00 fee for other attendees)

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Seeking Letters of Intent

4/10/2012 11:15am

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is seeking Letters of Intent to provide Long Term Care Ombudsman and Elder Abuse Prevention Education services funded under the Older Americans Act in Region 8. 

Region 8 includes the nine counties of Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Osceola. This Letter of Intent is for one year, Fiscal Year 2013.  The funding awarded will be for October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.

Click Here for the service definitions.

Funding levels available are approximately:

  • Long Term Care Ombudsman            $80,902
  • Elder Abuse Prevention Education     $14,027

 

The Letter of Intent is due Friday, April 20, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. noon to the Area Agency on Aging of Western MI, 1279 Cedar NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or to proposal@aaawm.org.

Letters of Intent will be reviewed and appropriate agencies will be selected to continue in the proposal process.

Questions can be directed to Anne Ellermets, AAAWM Contract Coordinator at 616.222.7014 or Anne@aaawm.org

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Senior Services Input Needed

2/21/2012 3:40pm

"The commission is seeking comments from older adults, their caregivers and social service agencies to help shape programs and target financial resources."  Read the entire article from Mlive.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

2/9/2012 10:45am

Hearing on Elder Abuse Bills Scheduled for February 21

Governor Rick Snyder supports the elder abuse legislation passed by the Senate, and urged the House of Representatives to adopt the bills in his State of the State address this January.  Representative Ken Kurtz (R-Coldwater) is holding a hearing on the 14 elder abuse bills assigned to his Families, Children and Seniors Committee.  The hearing is February 21, 2012, from 10:30 am to 12 noon in the House Office Building, 124 North Capitol Avenue, in Room 327.  We need advocates to pack the room, testify, and show their support for improvements in state laws to prevent elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, and obtain justice for the victims when it occurs.

Because committee hearings are sometimes rescheduled, advocates driving to Lansing should confirm that the hearing will take place before making the trip.  To confirm, call Representative Kurtz’s office at 866-362-8812.   

 

What You Can Do:

You don’t have to testify to attend the hearing and lend quiet support!  If you are in the audience, you can submit a card indicating your support, which will be read by Rep. Kurtz. 

People willing to testify are encouraged to do so, of course, and can use the talking points below, or relate a personal story about elder abuse they or a relative/friend have experienced. 

Advocates who can’t attend are encouraged to call or email Rep. Kurtz (866-362-8812 or  kennethkurtz@house.mi.gov) to indicate support:

 

Talking Points:

  • About 80,000 Michigan elders fall victim to some form of abuse each year.
  • Last year, Adult Protective Services received 19,000 calls reporting abuse, up from 12,000 calls in 2000.
  • 70% of abusers are ‘trusted ones,’ including spouses, children, grandchildren and friends.  Victims come from all walks of life and income classes, as witnessed by Mickey Rooney’s testimony before the Congress.
  • Michigan’s high rate of unemployment is fueling the financial exploitation of the elderly.

 

Background:

Six years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  Bills addressing the problem have been introduced in every session of the Legislature since but died due to inaction by one or both houses.  Last year, a renewed effort to pass the bills started in the Michigan Senate, which passed a package of 18 bills last November. 

Taken from: Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan Advocacy Alert

 

 

Comments

#1 Christin Bradt said:

Thank you for letting us know about this. I hope many people take the opportunity to stand up against this kind of abuse.

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Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
3215 Eaglecrest Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: 616-456-5664 or 888-456-5664 • Fax: 616-456-5692

aaainfo@aaawm.org

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