Engaging Wellness Kick Off Encourages Community and Fitness for Older Adults

We know how critical movement and strengthening classes are for older adults. Studies show that incorporating a balance and exercise program can help prevent falls, leading to maintaining independence. Throughout the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan’s nine-county region (Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, and Osceola counties) evidence-based classes are offered through a number of partners.

Older Americans Act Services Directory Now Available

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is pleased to share the Older Americans Act funding for the fiscal year 2023 (which runs from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023) with funded services amounting to $8,770,512. This funding supports senior services in a nine-county region that includes Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, and Osceola counties.

Home for the Holidays

Many of us take the time spent with family during the holiday season as a given. Houses full of laughter, home-cooked meals, family games, stories, and general merriment. The traditions we have may change over the years, but the setting is often the same…home.

Winter Safety

We've already faced a few extreme snow events this winter with another big storm on the horizon. This cold weather can especially impact older adults. Here are a few things you can do to help.

More Than A Millage: December 2022

You've likely heard of the Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM), but what resources does it provide for older adults? Why should someone care about the millage if they aren't a senior? We work to answer these questions and explain the importance of the millage for seniors and caregivers alike in our "More Than a Millage" series. We also highlight how the KCSM partner network works together to look out for the County's older adults. This month's series will look at senior millage partners Legal Aid of West Michigan, The Rapid, and Renew Mobility.

A Winter of Wellness

Fall is in full swing and with that comes cooler weather. As the seasons change, you are more inclined to stay indoors and pass on events you used to enjoy in the warmer months--it happens to the best of us. Yet this lack of socialization, movement, and engagement in the winter can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. Winter can be an especially difficult season for older adults. You may not have the means to drive or keep up with home maintenance and repairs, and you could start feeling a bit defeated during this time. Trying to combat these things can be overwhelming, but just because you aren’t able to get out as much doesn’t mean there aren’t a variety of things you can do to have a winter of wellness.

Indigenous/Native American Heritage Month

November is Indigenous/Native American Heritage Month, where we pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples. This is also an opportunity to bring awareness to the unique challenges Indigenous people have faced historically and in the present. It is important to recognize the lands we are on today were first inhabited by Native American tribes before being colonized by European settlers and to recognize the poor treatment of Indigenous peoples thereafter. Below are a few tools to help you engage and learn from this meaningful history and how you can be a supporter in the present.

Helpful Tips for Open Enrollment

The world of Medicare/Medicaid can be an extremely confusing one. Each year, open enrollment occurs from October 15-December 7. This process can be overwhelming—how do you know which option is the best fit for you? Here are a few tips for navigating the open enrollment season.

Sally Andreatta Announced as the New Director of Contract Services for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is pleased to announce that Sally Andreatta has joined the AAAWM team as the new Director of Contract Services.

Kendrick Heinlein Announced as the New Executive Director for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is pleased to announce that Kendrick Heinlein, current Director of Contract Services at the agency, will take on the role of Executive Director beginning October 1, 2022.

Staying Active While Aging- Avoiding Falls

September 18-24 was Falls Prevention Week, a nationwide effort to raise awareness that falls are preventable. As we get older the chance of our suffering a fall increases, in fact according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ falls each year*. The key to fall prevention is that because we know which factors contribute to falls we can work to prevent them. The National Council on Aging recommends a number of steps you can take to prevent a fall and build your confidence along the way!

Jackie O’Connor, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan Executive Director, to Retire October 1, 2022

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) Executive Director, Jackie O’Connor, announced her retirement for this coming October 1. Jackie has dedicated 38 years to the agency, older adults, and persons with a disability including spending the last 6 years in the Executive Director role.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan joins the Hispanic community in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 to October 15.

Millage Minder: Fall 2022

Aging in place is a common wish for many people as they age, in fact, according to a national survey by AARP 3 out of 4 adults over 50 hope to do so. What does this mean? It means aging in the setting of their choice and sometimes this could require support to help make this possible. The Kent County Senior Millage provides wrap-around services that support both older adults and their family caregivers. In the issue of Millage Minder below, we’ll hear from KCSM partners Community Food Club, Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, SarahCare Adult Day, and United Methodist Community House, on the positive impact these services make in the lives of older adults, proving it is more than a millage to many seniors who receive services.

Tackling Tech: Tips for Using Technology for Seniors

These past few years of pandemic life have forced many to turn to technology as a means of connection. Doctor’s appointments turned to video visits, typical in-person social engagements became phone calls or text chains, and classes and activities moved to Zoom and other virtual platforms. This large shift, happening almost simultaneously, can be confusing to navigate.

Dementia Friends Michigan

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – members of our family, our friends, and our neighbors. We may not even recognize that these individuals have Dementia, as symptoms present differently from person to person. They may be experiencing challenges in problem-solving, communicating, or making decisions. Some may have withdrawn from their social obligations due to embarrassment or shame. Educating ourselves on the disease can help us better support those living with dementia and their caregivers. Become a Dementia Friend and take a step toward making your community more Dementia Friendly.

Back to School: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

This initiative, supported by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, will provide a $250 Meijer gift card to grandparents for the purchase of back-to-school supplies and clothing for their grandchildren.

June 2022- Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June is World Elder Abuse Awareness month! This month works to not only educate people on the topic of elder abuse but to also increase reporting numbers as elder abuse is under-reported and start discussions on how to recognize and prevent this abuse. You can read about the signs of abuse and how to report it in the article below.

Summer Heat Safety

We're facing extreme temperatures this summer. This heat can especially impact older adults, here are a few resources.

Commemorating Juneteenth

Juneteenth, or June 19th, is celebrated as the true date that slaves were freed in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, the message of freedom was not communicated to many in the South until June 19, 1865 (more than 2 years later). On that day, over 250,000 slaves were freed. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and one that the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan will also observe this year on Monday, June 20th with our office closing for staff to participate. To mark the occasion, we thought it could be helpful to compile a list of resources from media to local events to help provide information on the importance of this day and celebration of African American freedom.

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan: Commitment to Quality Programs

Recently, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan received a NCQA Accreditation of Case Management for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) for our MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program. This three-year accreditation is from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a nonprofit organization that issues Accreditation, Certifications, and Recognition programs based upon measurement, transparency, and accountability to highlight top performers and drive improvement.

Share your feedback on the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan's FY23-25 Annual Implementation Plan

Are you an older adult? Do you care for a loved one who is over 60? Are you a professional in the aging network? Share your feedback on the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan's FY23-25 Annual Implementation Plan.

Take Part in Senior Action Week

It is important to recognize older adults for their contributions, but also for their powerful voices. Michigan’s older adults account for nearly one-quarter of Michigan’s population. Not only do older adults have vast knowledge and experience, but they also vote! For over 20 years, seniors have traveled to Lansing from across the state to advocate and celebrate older adults in an annual event called “Older Michiganian’s Day” (OMD).

Millage Minder: Spring 2022

Since 1999, the Kent County Senior Millage has funded services that help older adults remain in their own homes and communities as they age. The needs of individuals vary, therefore millage services work to fill gaps in care for seniors and come alongside their caregivers. In this issue of the Millage Minder, we’ll take a look at a new service for 2022 to support older adults' mental health through Reliance Integrated Wellness Center and tools from Disability Advocates of Kent County and Elders’ Helpers to help seniors navigate their lives safely at home.

2023-2025 Older Americans Act Proposal

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) has released the 2023-2025 Older Americans Act Proposal. Anyone interested in requesting funds to provide services to older adults in the following nine counties; Allegan, Ionia, Lake, Kent, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, or Osceola, must complete the proposal documents.

Celebrating 50 Years of the Senior Nutrition Program

This March, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Senior Nutrition Program with other organizations across the country! Nutrition is a vital component of our health and well-being, especially as we age. This program has been providing meals for older adults throughout the United States since 1972 through Older Americans Act funding. At the local level, the Senior Nutrition Program covers a nine-county region (Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Osceola, and Newaygo) through partnerships with Commissions on Aging and Meals on Wheels.

A Phone Call Away

It can be overwhelming to navigate the number of resources that exist for older adults and caregivers. At the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM), we work to streamline this process and lead you through your journey. It starts with a phone call to (616) 456-5664, where our Information and Assistance team can help you learn about and understand the resources to fit your needs.

Healthy Aging in the New Year

Are you looking for ways to become or stay active in the new year? Don’t know where to start? Eaglecrest Healthy Aging may be the right fit for you!

Letter of Intent for 2022 Kent County Senior Millage

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) will accept Letters of Intent for 2022 Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) funds. The KCSM Letter of Intent was released on January 10, 2022 and the submission deadline is February 10, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

The Caregiver Journey: Resources Along the Way

For many caregivers, this is a role they were thrust into. Mom experienced a fall and needs some extra help. Your partner has surgery and recovery doesn’t go as planned. Regardless of the reason, you are now responsible for someone else’s well-being on top of your own. Here are a few things that can help:

Millage Minder: December 2021

Cold weather is here whether we like it or not, and winter can be especially difficult for older adults. Ice and snow can increase the likelihood of dangerous falls, cold weather makes it harder to take part in the activities they typically enjoy, and driving can become hazardous. We want older adults to feel safe in their homes and their communities throughout the year, but especially in these vulnerable winter months. In this Millage Minder, we will take a look at three (KCSM) partners, Building Bridges, Senior Neighbors, and Steepletown. Each shares the vital support they provide to older adults through the winter and beyond.

Developing an Aging Plan

Planning for any future endeavor can be overwhelming; a big trip, a long-distance move, making a large purchase or upgrade. Developing an aging plan isn’t any different, it can be difficult to navigate. As with anything, starting to research an aging plan is often the first step. So why do you need an aging plan? It is important to recognize that you may not age exactly how you wish, but having this plan in place before barriers arise, allows you to have a peace of mind that your wishes are carried out how you want.

Over $13 Million In Funding Set To Positively Impact Older Adults Through The 2022 Kent County Senior Millage

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is pleased to announce the Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) partners for 2022 with funded services amounting to $13,309,835. The KCSM has helped fund vital services for older adults in Kent County since 1999 with the goal of enabling them to stay in their homes and communities as they age.

Malnutrition and Older Adults

Nutrition is an important aspect of our health and well-being at all ages. However, as we get older, we may be more susceptible to malnutrition. What is malnutrition? This typically means experiencing an imbalance of protein, calories, and other essential vitamins that we need to stay healthy. Malnutrition Awareness Week*, Oct 4th-8th, was established in 2012 by the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) to educate healthcare professionals and patients on the importance of early detection and treatment. How can you tell if your loved one is experiencing malnutrition and what can be done to prevent it?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Older Adults

On July 26th, 2021 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 31st year. This civil rights law was designed to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to work, education, and their community. As we age our needs likely change. For many, this could lead to a decrease in mobility, vision, and/or hearing. From the ADA National Network*, “More than 30 percent of Americans over age 65 have some kind of disability and over 50 percent of those over age 75. These may range from difficulties seeing and hearing to walking and thinking. Under the ADA, it isn’t the cause of the disability that matters, but what it means in everyday life.” Therefore, many older adults are protected under ADA and can benefit from the support that is available to aid their daily living.

Millage Minder: Summer 2021

We continue to be inspired by our Kent County Senior Millage partners, who have been working tirelessly to continue their programming throughout the pandemic and making sure no older adult is without support. As we transition back to community-based activities, they have been adapting their programming to meet older adults' needs, while also providing a sense of safety through meals, housing support, transportation, and social activities that can help them “age in place”. You can learn more below!

Reconnecting to Your Community

Some older adults are now eager to safely return to their communities. They are ready to engage with others and take part in the activities that they had enjoyed pre-pandemic. If you are a caregiver, you could also be returning to a bit of pre-pandemic “normalcy” and notice that you require a new routine in supporting your loved one. In both cases, there could be some uncertainty in where and how to get started. Help is available from the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) and its network of community partners in making this safe transition. AAAWM and its partners are committed to serving older adults, persons with a disability, and their caregivers through a variety of services. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of the many resources that can help you get reconnected to your community.

What Is a Long Term Care Ombudsman? An Inside Look at the LTCO Program

You’ve likely heard of a Long Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO), but aren’t quite sure what this role does. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program got its start in 1972. Today, there is an ombudsman program operating in every state across the US. These programs work to resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of individuals who live in long term care facilities.

Technology Resources for Older Adults

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it is that connection with others is key to our wellbeing. The way we go about engaging with others has certainly changed, which could have contributed to the increase in social isolation as well. As we slowly return to the community, there will undoubtedly continue to be a large emphasis on taking social interactions online. This can prove to be a bit of a barrier for older adults, and understandably so, there are many websites, devices, and applications to navigate when trying to use technology. We’ve put together a list of some of the top resources that can help.

Building Healthy Habits- Introducing Active Living Every Day

Has the shutdown got you down? Has the pandemic removed all motivation to move? Got you stuck in a rut…or stuck on the couch? Then we have the program for you. Adding to our suite of evidence-based programs, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is offering a new program: Active Living Every Day (ALED).

Navigating Aging- Choices for Independence

A vast majority of older adults live in their own homes and communities and want to continue to do so. This lifestyle choice is called “aging in place.” However, it is a reality of life that everyone ages differently, and sometimes this means exploring various options for support.

Millage Minder: Support That Makes A Difference

During a typical year, the Kent County Senior Millage serves over 23,000 clients. Halting vital services for older adults and their caregivers was simply not an option, especially as new challenges arose for individuals due to COVID-19 precautions. KCSM partners rose to meet this need, coming up with creative ways to safely continue and expand their programming. Below we’ll hear from two Kent County Senior Millage Partners, the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter, and Spectrum Health Visiting Nurse Association’s Friendly Visitor program. Each shares the support that they have been able to continue to provide through the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has made all the difference.

COVID-19 Vaccine 101

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is undoubtedly exciting, but like many, you could also have a bit of confusion. Exactly which vaccines have been approved? How do you qualify and sign-up? Does it cost money? What should you expect after? In this article, we’ll take a look at the commonly asked questions older adults and their family caregivers might have and point you to trusted resources.

All About MI Choice Medicaid Waiver

Aging is obviously something that everyone will experience. Yet everyone ages a little differently, meaning the supports and resources someone might require while getting older could take on a variety of different forms. If you wish to remain living at home, the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program could be a good fit.

Getting Through a Long Winter

By now, you are likely tired of being home. We’ve had an unprecedented year with the COVID-19 pandemic that has left us all spending more time at home than we ever have before. Add in the winter weather we’re now experiencing, forcing us inside for long stretches of time, and we’re probably all feeling a little stir-crazy and drained. So what can we do to make this unique winter a little more bearable? Here are a few tips:

Thank you!

A huge thank you to all those who had a hand in putting COVID-19 Care Kits together for local older adults!

Guest Post: Be Kind to Your Mind

Do you find yourself feeling anxious, sad, or hopeless because of the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, you are not alone.

Over $12 Million in Funding Set to Positively Impact Older Adults through the 2021 Kent County Senior Millage

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is pleased to announce the Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) partners for 2021 with funded services amounting to $12,181,407. The KCSM has helped fund vital services for older adults in Kent County since 1999 with the goal of enabling them to stay in their homes and communities as they age.

Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays

As a caregiver, you likely could be feeling burnt out and stressed about how to make the holiday season special for your loved one while being unable to take part in the usual traditions. Just because the circumstances surrounding the holidays have changed, doesn’t mean we can’t still find joy in the season. Here are some things you can do as a caregiver to take care of yourself, and in turn, your loved one.

Senior and Caregiver Resources During COVID-19

Now more than ever, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is the source for seniors. Below are just a few of the resources available to ease the burden for caregivers and support older adults:

Millage Minder: The Power of Connection

In trying times, the relationships we have with others can often become our anchors. With the current pandemic, this remains true, however, the way in which we connect with our friends, family, and community likely looks very different. In this Millage Minder, we will take a look at two KCSM partners, Life Therapeutic Solutions and St. Alphonsus’ Young at Heart program, who both used the power of connection in new and innovative ways.

Larry Murray Award Recipients

We were pleased to recently announce the recipients of the Larry Murray Award for 2019 and 2020!

Navigating Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is here! For many this process can be confusing and overwhelming--how do you know which option is the best fit for you?

It Starts with a Phone Call…

Our Information and Assistance Department is an essential senior resource for our nine-county region. We work to connect seniors, family caregivers, and adults with disabilities to resources that help them to live independently. Navigating the vast number of resources that exist to aid older adults is no easy task, which is why we try to streamline this process and lead you through the journey.

Caregiving in the Time of Coronavirus

If you are a family caregiver, you could be feeling overwhelmed during this time. Many of your usual forms of support that were in place to help you care for your loved one, such as respite and adult day care services, may be on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. You are also probably spending more time at home than usual as certain stay-home measures are in place, which means spending more time caregiving than you may be used to as well. These things add up, and it is possible you are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, and uncertainly. Yet it is important to remember... these feelings are normal.

A “New Normal” to Serving Older Adults

We want to be sure that all older adults are looked after and cared for during this uncertain time. With coronavirus, we have had to think outside of the box and get a little creative on how to continue to serve older adults while prioritizing their health and safety. What does this look like? Here is a little bit about what we’ve been doing at AAAWM…

Millage Minder: Rising to the Challenge

When the coronavirus pandemic began, there was, as expected, a bit of uncertainty. However, one thing remained paramount: our partners’ commitment to taking care of older adults in need. The KCSM team truly rose to the challenge, thinking outside of the box of how to get seniors the essential support they desperately required to stay healthy and well during this time. Hear from three of our #KCSM partners; Meals on Wheels Western Michigan, Moxie Life Organizing, LLC, and Senior Neighbors, as they share how they have adapted to continue to serve older adults and their family caregivers in the article here:

Guest Post: The gifts and challenges of social distancing varied by age, and stage of life

Laura Kelso, who created the Grand Rapids Savvy Senior Learning Series, shares her insights on current stay-home order..."As the weeks of social isolation dragged on, most of us have found ourselves with increased time on our hands. Time to catch up on unfinished projects, time to organize areas of our home, and above all, time to think."

An Update on Food Resources

An update on food resources for older adults in our region:

We're All in This Together.

What we’ve learned is that the best way for us to support older adults at this time is simple: we must look out for one another.

How to Support Seniors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Around our West Michigan region, extra precautions are being made to keep older adults healthy. However, as the situation is ever-changing, more and more crucial services are being paused. So, what can you do to help those at risk?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources & AAAWM Programming Updates

A few helpful resources in regards to COVID-19 and the latest updates on our programming.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources & AAAWM Programming Updates

A few helpful resources in regards to COVID-19 and the latest updates on our programming cancellations.

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan Joins National Campaign to Raise Awareness of Local Home Modification Programs to Support the Changing Mobility Needs of Older Adults

Many older adults living in Kent County will likely experience changes to their mobility as they age. As a result of these changes, older adults and their caregivers will turn to local organizations for support with updating their homes to meet their evolving mobility needs, which can be a daunting process

Over $12 Million in Funding Set to Positively Impact Older Adults through the 2020 Kent County Senior Millage

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is pleased to announce the Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) partners for 2020 with funded services amounting to $12,033,000. The KCSM has helped fund vital services for older adults in Kent County since 1999 with the goal of enabling them to stay in their homes and communities as they age.

Many Hands Make Light Work

The Many Hands program helps caregivers access the support networks they may not realize they already have.

Getting Help with Medicare

With the Open Enrollment period right around the corner, it might be time to get some help with deciding what plans work best for meeting all of your healthcare needs. The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program, or MMAP for short, is available to do just that.

Announcement: SCSEP Ends

We regret to announce that Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) will no longer be participating in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP/Title V) effective June 25, 2018.

Annual Implementation Plan Draft

The Draft Annual Implementation Plan is available for view

CARF Survey June 18 - June 20, 2018

A survey team from CARF International* will be visiting AAAWM June 18 through June 20, 2018

Announcement: Public Hearing

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is seeking comment on its Draft Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) for fiscal year 2019.

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