Public Forum for Seniors Scheduled for April 15

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A public forum will be held on Friday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m. at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center, 200 Schauber Road, Chestertown. The Center is located off Route 291 (Morgnec Road), behind the Upper Shore Aging building.

The event is sponsored by the Kent County Commission on Aging.

State Senator Stephen S. Hershey, who represents this district in the General Assembly, will open the forum and discuss the results of the latest session, with an emphasis on issues of particular interest to seniors.

Santo Grande, President and CEO of Delmarva Community Services, will speak about the recently completed transportation plan.

Headquartered in Dorchester County, Delmarva Community Services manages the Delmarva Community Transit, which is the public transportation provider for Talbot, Kent and Caroline Counties.

The event is an opportunity to learn about recent legislative activities as well as to provide feedback and to express Kent County’s present and anticipated needs in the area of public transportation.

Plethora of Information Available at Healthy Aging Symposium

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Over thirty exhibitors were on hand offering information and advice at the HomePorts Healthy Aging symposium Wednesday, April 4, at Washington College. The event, co-hosted by the Chester River Health System and Upper Shore Aging, also included break-out groups, a buffet lunch, followed by a keynote address by Patrick Shanahan, M.D.[slideshow id=112]

Exhibitors in the Underwood Lobby of the Decker Theatre  included  healthcare providers and assistance, natural foods, home modifications, real estate, end of life planning and financial services.  Drs. Helen Noble and William Trainor, along with Mary King, Nutrition Services Coordinator for the Chester River Hospital, discussed health issues; emotional, sleep, and diet, respectively. A second panel consisting of Steve Gurney; Frances Rodney, occupational therapist; and Joanna Blackburn, co-owner of Chestertown Physical Therapy, reviewed retirement living options, housing modifications and joint replacement.  The third break-out group, entitle “Taking Charge of Your Financial and Legal Affairs” offered information on legal must-haves, with Eugenia Wooten, of Raisin & Wooten; life sustaining medical orders, Dave Rive of KC Emergency Medical Services; and possible changes in Medicare, by Michele Holzer, MD Dept. of Aging.

The event concluded with Dr. Patrick Shanahan, physician and Medical Director of  Chester River Home Care and Hospice speaking on, “The Life Well-Lived.”

Second Annual Symposium on Aging Planned

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To educate the community and to promote successful aging in Kent County, HomePorts will hold its 2nd annual symposium on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at the Gibson Center for the Arts, Washington College, in Chestertown. Co-sponsors include the local Area

Patrick Shanahan, Medical Director, Chester River Home Care and Hospice, speaking at the 2011 Healthy Aging Symposium

Agency on Aging (Upper Shore Aging, Inc.), Washington College, Kent County Health Department, and the Chester River Health System.

The theme will be ““Developing an action plan for smart aging”. The opening session will be followed by discussions facilitated by local specialists, and a keynote speaker. Discussion topics, in the form of workshops to be completed by each attendee, will be:

*Taking Charge: Your Health
*Taking Charge: Where you Live
*Taking Charge: Your Financial and Legal Affairs

During the session, each attendee will develop a personal aging plan in order to better self-manage health and safety issues to prolong independent living. Emphasis will be placed on implementation of the plan, i.e., follow-through on actions to ensure success of the plan.

A number of exhibitors are expected, with information on health care, recreation, assistive equipment, and other products and services available.

Attendees will gain knowledge to ultimately reduce the demands on the healthcare and social services systems. All will leave the symposium better equipped with tools to help themselves, their more elderly parents, or aging relatives and friends.
The event has been organized by HomePorts, Inc., the local non-profit aging-in-place organization for older adults. For those 55 or older, HomePorts members have access to a cadre of volunteers, as well as referrals to reliable local service providers for transportation; interior and exterior home maintenance; grocery and meal services; personal assistance and troubleshooting; and health and wellness activities.

For more information, call 443-480-0940, visit www.homeports.org, or e-mail info@homeports.org.

Upper Shore Aging, Social Services Give Yearly Reports

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After last week’s meeting which started off with a protest against the proposed rubble fill north of Massey it was back to the same old routine for the commissioners this week.

Representatives from Upper Shore Aging Inc. and the Department of Social Services presented yearly reports required for both agencies to receive continued funding from the state.

According to Gary Gunther, executive director of Upper Shore Aging, 29 percent of the county’s population is over the age of 60, which is the required age to be classified as an “older American” by both the state and federal government.

Because of the county’s large senior population Kent may receive extra funding next year for senior care programs.
“We have had confirmation verbally, but haven’t had anything in writing yet,” said Gunther.

The commissioners cautioned Gunther that until it was in writing, not to count on any extra money from the state or federal government.

Upper Shore Aging is the designated Area Agency on Aging for Kent, Talbot, and Caroline counties. It develops and manages programs focused on allowing elders to remain and live well in their homes as long as possible. It also provides activities and services through the Amy Lynn Ferris Activity Center and the Department of Social Services.

Linda Webb, director of the Department of Social Services, came to the meeting to discuss food. Specifically food donated to the Community Food Pantry through the federal government’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides food and funding for the pantry.

In 2010 more than $55,000 worth of food was donated to the food pantry, the majority of which came from the USDA, Webb said. There were more than 2,000 visits to the pantry in 2010, averaging out to about 200 families a month. Most of the families that are served by the food pantry are referred by the Department of Social Services.
The amount of food and funding the pantry receives each year is based on the poverty and unemployment level in the county, said Webb. For this upcoming year the food pantry is expected to receive the same funding amount as last year, $1,500, which is used to cover storage and distribution costs.

Commissioner William Pickrum asked if social services receives word from the USDA when “bonus packages are available?” He was told that the agency receives an email from the state letting them know when extra food and funds are available.

The commissioners approved the reports from Upper Shore Aging Inc. and the Department of Social Services, allowing both agencies to move forward with the funding process.

Healthy Aging Symposium Great Success

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HomePorts, Inc., the local non-profit aging-in-place organization for older adults, led a symposium at Washington College on Wednesday, March 30. “Healthy Aging: A Community Perspective” was co-sponsored by the local Area Agency on Aging (Upper Shore Aging, Inc.), the Center for Environment and Society of Washington College, and the Chester River Health System. The session combined nationally-known speakers with panelists of local practitioners.

A crowd of over 150 registrants confirmed local interest in becoming better educated about growing older. Noting that the Chester River Health System has “intellectual capital” as part of the University of Maryland Medical System, Jim Ross, CEO of Chester River Health System, introduced Dr. Steven Gambert, Director of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“It’s not too late to start paying attention,” he said, in a one-hour slide presentation titled Successful Aging, Medically Speaking. Confirming that normal aging is “universal, progressive, and irreversible,” he described ways to prevent the acceleration of normal aging through proper nutrition, exercise, and avoidance of environmental hazards. He pointed out the need for periodic medical screening, with those at highest risk being over 70, recently bereaved, disabled by a locomotor disorder, living alone, or recently discharged from a hospital.

Next, Dr. Allan Anderson, President of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, gave an Update on Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s disease is increasing in prevalence with no current curative treatment.

Dr. Steven Gambert

“Unfortunately, despite the aging of our population, medical students are not choosing careers in geriatric specialties, as indicated on the following slide. This might reach a crisis in delivery of medical care to the elderly and we need to find some solution to reverse this trend,” he cautioned. The audience was especially troubled by this situation.

An opening session was followed by discussion groups, and the keynote speaker, Joanne Grossi, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussing “Prevention: Improving Health Care for Seniors.” The audience expressed their concern about the lack of incentives for students to study geriatrics.

Speaking at the opening, Muriel Cole, President of the Board of Directors of HomePorts, emphasized that the topic of Healthy Aging is compelling and timely. “This is the first time that Washington College, Upper Shore Aging, and the Chester River Health System have partnered on an activity. Although these are very different organizations, the task of educating the community about growing older is a project that they all have in common,” she noted.

For those 55 or older, HomePorts members have access to a cadre of volunteers, as well as referrals to reliable local service providers for transportation, interior and exterior home maintenance, grocery and meal services, personal assistance and troubleshooting, and health and wellness activities. HomePorts also promotes awareness of complementary community services, encouraging access to social, educational, and cultural activities. For more information, call 443-480-0940, visit www.homeports.org, or e-mail info@homeports.org.

Upper Shore Aging to Partner with HomePorts

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HomePorts, the non-profit membership alliance for older residents in the greater Kent County area, signed a memorandum of understanding with Upper Shore Aging, on November 16, 2010. Upper Shore Aging, Inc., is the designated Area Agency on Aging and manages many local public services for older adults to help them remain active in the community.

According to Muriel Cole, President of the Board of Directors for HomePorts, “Our organizations share a commitment to meet the needs of local residents, and our missions complement each other very well. Both groups are stronger as a result of this agreement.”

Upper Shore Aging Highlights Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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According to best estimates, between one and two million Americans over 65 have been the injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care and protection. June 15 marks the fifth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Broadly defined, elder abuse is any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder. Victims may experience:

*Physical Abuse – Inflicting, or threatening to inflict physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need

*Emotional Abuse – Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts

*Sexual Abuse – Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind

*Exploitation – Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder

*Neglect – Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.

*Abandonment – The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

Elder abuse is an under-reported problem. For every case reported, the U.S. Administration on Aging estimates that five cases go unreported. It can occur anywhere and affects all socio-economic groups. The older you are, the more likely you will be abused. About 40% of cases involve financial abuse. Most perpetrators are family members. Unfortunately our locality is not immune to this problem.

Upper Shore Aging, Inc., reports that the incidence of complaints is increasing. “Some people think that preying on the elderly is the solution to their financial dilemma,” says Ed Sadler, Ombudsman for Kent, Talbot, and Caroline Counties.

The federally-mandated Ombudsman Program operates in every community, acting as an advocate for long-term care residents, which include those in assisted living and in nursing home facilities. The Ombudsman helps maintain residents’ legal rights, control over their own lives, and their personal dignity. Anyone may call to report a problem and may do so anonymously. County departments of social services handle complaints affecting those who are in the home or a hospital. In both cases, an investigation will be done.

Several recent cases on the Eastern Shore have resulted in criminal prosecution.

“Our initial investigation focuses on mediation, but I do not hesitate to get the police or the State Attorney General involved if warranted,” Sadler says. “Some people have the impression that their actions will never be discovered, but they’re in for a surprise. We take every call seriously.”

The Ombudsman can be reached at 410-778-6000 or 1-800-721-6651.