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29 January 2016
Signs Help is Needed to Manage Money
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Money management can stymie the best and brightest among us. Even money managers have people to manage their money. Sometimes we need help, even if our finances are not complicated.

As we age, managing the day-to-day tasks that involve our money, from paying the bills and balancing the checkbook to giving to charity, filing insurance claims, managing Medicare and/or Medicaid paperwork, and more can become too much to handle. There are a number of age-related issues that can make managing one’s own money difficult:

  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Arthritis or other conditions that limit a person’s ability to write.
  • Visual impairment.
  • Vulnerability to pressure or undue influence.
  • The loss of a spouse, family member, or friend who previously handed a person’s finances.

If you or a loved one is having trouble paying bills and managing life’s paperwork, finding a trustworthy money manager might help maintain independence. SeniorCare administers the Massachusetts Money Management Program and provides services to residents of nine towns, which include Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.

SeniorCare’s money managers are trained, supervised volunteers who help with routine household finances, such as sorting and prioritizing mail, preparing checks for signature, balancing the checkbook with bank statements, developing a budget, and filling out forms and other paperwork.According to a brief released by the National Center on Elder Abuse, money management programs can protect vulnerable seniors against financial exploitation. It has been estimated that 5-10 percent of all elders living in the community could benefit from some form of money management. Serious concerns have surfaced in the past decade over the financial exploitation of frail and vulnerable older adults.

According to a study by the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity, the most common characteristics associated with being a victim of financial abuse are being white, female, and over the age of 80. Other characteristics include elders residing alone in their own home, poor health status, the loss of a life partner, and social isolation. Furthermore, having family members who are unemployed or who have substance-abuse problems was also identified as placing an older person at risk of financial abuse.

The study states that the money management programs that step in to help after financial abuse is discovered are often able to lessen the impact of the abuse.

There are common criteria or indicators that are used to assess the need for money management services:

  • Not paying bills, insurance premiums, taxes and other expenses that result in the risk or actuality of eviction, foreclosure, discontinued utilities, late fees and penalties.
  • Paying the same bill multiple times.
  • Not keeping track of checks or cash.
  • Forgetting to collect rent from tenants.
  • Not carrying out routine tasks, such as opening and paying bills.
  • Excessive spending.

Exploitation by others as evidenced by:

  • Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts.
  • Sudden changes in the elder’s financial status.
  • Changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies that the elder cannot explain.
  • Numerous transfers from saving to checking accounts.
  • Change in patterns of banking.

You can reach SeniorCare’s Money Management Program by calling 978-281-1750 and asking to speak to the Money Management Program manager.

If you suspect a person age 60 or over is being financially exploited, please call SeniorCare at 978-281-1750 and ask for a protective service worker.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Financial Wellness | Link
22 January 2016
Loss related to aging
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Loss is inevitable and occurs throughout our lifetime. Losses associated with aging can be particularly difficult. As we get older the losses we experience may eventually begin to affect our ability to function independently. Our freedom from relying on others can be a cause of great emotional pain and confusion. Independence is often a fiercely protected attribute, especially for Americans, and I would venture to say it is even truer if you grew up in the Northeast. The extent to which we accept and adapt to aging related losses, however, will directly affect the quality of life we achieve and maintain.

There are various types of loss that may require a need for help — physical, social and/or emotional.

Changes in physical abilities may include not remembering appointments, having difficulty climbing stairs, opening jars, or walking long distances.

Social losses may begin as physical loss, for example, a person may experience hearing loss and begin to avoid social situations for fear of missing conversation or having to ask others to repeat themselves.

Emotional changes as we age are common. You might experience vision problems, which limit your driving to daylight hours. If you are used to going out in the evenings, this may cause frustration. If your eyesight worsens, limiting driving altogether, you may feel a loss of control. Loss of independence may create feelings of uselessness and sadness.

As losses occur and the need for assistance increases, each person will respond differently. Understanding how you might react to an increased need for support could be very helpful.

Some people are naturally comfortable with having others help them. The level of support you accepted throughout your younger life will inform the ease with which you accept help as you experience independence-limiting losses.

Others have received great pleasure caring for others most of their life, but have never been comfortable receiving help. These people will struggle much more as decisions are made about accepting support.

If you are concerned about someone experiencing losses related to aging, communication and openness is important to finding the best path to support.

Regardless of how we adjust to the need for support as we age, balance is important to keep in mind. You don’t want to readily hand over the controls if you are apt to do so, nor do you want to completely shut down the idea of help. Both polar approaches will not lead to the best quality of life you can achieve. There is a balance where you are free and able to do what you can, and accept help as needed. Recognizing and experiencing the balance between independence and support may provide a more peaceful path down the road of aging.

If you or a loved one are concerned with or experiencing losses associated with aging, you can call SeniorCare at 978-281-1750 to learn about the many different options available.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
15 January 2016
People come alive when they dance
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Dancing can bring about delight and laughter and is almost an automatic response to music. Whatever the type of dancing, there are great benefits. Dance helps:

  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Tone your entire body
  • Improve your posture and balance, which can prevent falls
  • Increase your stamina and flexibility
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Build confidence
  • Provide social interaction

Challenge your system, from your hearing, vision, mental alertness to coordination and your cardiovascular system
A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who took part in ballroom dancing at least twice a week had a lower incidence of dementia. The study looked at cognitive activities, such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework. The ONLY physical activity to offer protection against dementia was dancing. Of all the activities studied, dancing frequently was the greatest risk reduction, showing a whopping 76 percent reduced risk of dementia! While the exact reasons for this finding are not known, speculation is that in addition to being an aerobic activity, dancing uses “brain power” to memorize steps and also has a social component, which may contribute to the benefit for the brain by boosting mood.

Another study done at the Washington University in St. Louis in 2007 showed that patients with Parkinson’s disease who took part in regular tango dance classes for 20 sessions showed significant improvements in balance and mobility when compared to patients who did conventional exercise.

At the 2006 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, scientists reported that waltzing improves ability to function in heart failure patients equally the same as other exercises. What the scientists found surprising is that the study participants that waltzed for exercise, rather than those who participated in other forms of exercise, showed a significantly higher improvement in quality of life measurements.

Ballroom dancing is a safe, interactive way to exercise.

Beverly Council on Aging is offering Ballroom Dance lessons on Thursday, Jan. 21 and 28, from 4 to 5 p.m. The cost is $8 per person, per class. Checks should be made out to the instructor Megan Brennan. You don’t need a partner to sign up. Singles are encouraged to attend. If you’d like further information, call the Beverly Council on Aging at 978-921-6017.

“People come alive when they dance,” said Brennan.

One woman in Brennan’s class danced as a young woman but hadn’t done any dancing for 40 years. She comes to class by herself and Brennan has witnessed joy come alive for her.

“Dance has so much joy,” Brennan added. “I always tell my class to not worry about doing it perfectly — a happy spirit is priceless.”

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
08 January 2016
Mitigate the impact of food commercials
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

I don’t watch much television. It had been years since I watched TV with any regularity. Then, a few months ago, I joined the Cape Ann YMCA. Each treadmill and elliptical machine has a screen that you can watch TV on. When I first started exercising at the Y, I didn’t watch TV. Then, one day, I decided to bring in my headphones and turn on the screen. I enjoyed the distraction. I used commercials as a time to check in with myself, my body, my breath. I didn’t pay any attention to the commercials. Or so I thought.

I eat very simply, mostly healthy. It’s a habit. It’s not often I crave fast food or junk food. When I do though, many times I’ll give into the craving and call it a treat. I noticed recently that the cravings have become more frequent and my giving in became less of a treat and more of a response to compulsion. I didn’t understand why I was wanting french fries, burgers, chips, dip, or why I kept wondering why there wasn’t a Taco Bell in Gloucester. Then one day at the Y, while watching a silly sitcom as I walked to nowhere on a treadmill, I understood the change in my thinking about food. While exercising I found myself craving a hot biscuit doused with butter. Then I realized I was watching a commercial for Pillsbury biscuits. So much for thinking I wasn’t paying attention to commercials. The next commercial was for Burger King. I had an “aha” moment. I went home and Googled “TV commercials and poor eating habits.” It returned 1.5 million hits.

Most of the studies I found focused on children and obesity. Many studies discovered there is a significant link between watching TV food commercials and child obesity. I did find a study that looked at adult behavior after being exposed to commercials for food. According to a 2009 National Institutes of Health study, adults consume more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising.

Here are eight tips to help mitigate the impact of food commercials:

  1. Watch TV consciously — Eckhart Tolle suggests becoming aware of your breathing from time to time as you watch.
  2. Use the mute button during commercials.
  3. Don’t watch TV just before you go to sleep.
  4. Don’t eat while watching TV.
  5. Instead of network shows, watch commercial-free shows such as DVDs, movie rentals or Netflix shows.
  6. Make a grocery list to use when you shop.
  7. Don’t keep junk food in the house.
  8. Of course you can always turn off the TV.

Since I’ve become aware of the subliminal messaging in commercials and the affect they have on my mind and behavior, I’ve made a conscious effort to watch TV more actively. I thought that not paying attention to the commercials was a way to ignore them. But I actually believe that the less I pay attention, the more affect the commercials have on my subconscious. I don’t plan on turning off the TV, I enjoy it too much. But I am going to pay more attention.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
01 January 2016
Winter preparedness is crucial
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

I went to the Gloucester Lobster Trap Tree lighting a few Saturdays ago. I wore my winter coat. I didn’t need it. It was almost 60 degrees. I had joked during the day that it felt like I was in Florida. This weather is a bit bonkers; if you are from New England, it should not be 60 degrees during a Christmas tree lighting, even if that tree is made out of lobster traps. Eventually the chill of winter will catch up with us though. Are you prepared?

When winter temperatures drop below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Wind with cold air intensifies the potential dangers — heat can leave your body more rapidly and leave you at risk of health problems.

Extreme cold temperatures are often accompanied by winter storms, so you may also have to cope with power failures and icy roads. Staying indoors during winter storms can reduce the risks of car crashes and falls on the ice, but you may face indoor hazards. Some homes will be too cold, due to a power failure, an inadequate heating system, or perhaps you can’t afford the cost of sufficient heat. When people use space heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of household fires increases, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The American Red Cross offers 10 tips for staying safe during the cold winter months:

  1. Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
  2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  3. Remember the 3 feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away — things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
  4. Requires supervision. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  5. Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  7. Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
  8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  10. Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
30 December 2015
SeniorCare Hosts Brain Injury Support Group

SeniorCare Inc. hosts a monthly Brain Injury Survivor Support Group at its Beverly offices at 100 Cummings Center, Suite 106-H, in Beverly, MA, at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. The group is facilitated by Tress Ricker, the Central Regional Manager of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA).

Brain injury can have a traumatic effect on both survivors and their families. BIA-MA sponsors support groups across the state that provide survivors and their loved ones a forum for sharing information about brain injury as well as a compassionate and understanding peer group and an opportunity to socialize and make new friends with others through recreational activities and outings.

Prior to attending the support group session, please contact Tress Ricker at 508-475-0032. For more information about the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, call 800-242-0030 or go online to

Posted by senior care blog at 2:47 PM in Health | Link
18 December 2015
It's not too late to vaccinate: Get your flu vaccine today
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

After November when you see signs that advertise, “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?” As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

“Flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May,” says Dr. Dan Jernigan, deputy director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.” 

For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. You may not realize, however, that each flu season, the flu also causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths.

But there is a vaccine that can prevent the flu. While how well the vaccine works can vary, the benefits of vaccination are well documented. Studies show that flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

This is why the CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. The flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray. According to Dr. Jernigan, however, “the most important thing is that you get vaccinated, not necessarily which vaccine you get.” Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccine is best for you and your family.

Some people are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization and even death. This includes young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. For those at high risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone at high risk, including babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine. To learn more about high risk conditions, visit

Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. If a child has not received his or her first dose, get him or her vaccinated now. For children who are 6 months through 8 years of age and who have been vaccinated with one dose, parents should check with the child’s doctor or other health care professional to see if a second dose is needed.

“Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” says Dr. Jernigan. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. They also are offered by many employers, and are even available in some schools. So next time you see a sign that says, “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” stop in and get one and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at to find the nearest location where you and your family can get vaccinated. As long as the flu is spreading, you can still benefit from a flu vaccine.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines. Check with your insurance provider for details of coverage. If you do not currently have health insurance, visit to learn more about affordable health coverage options. For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
16 December 2015
SeniorCare's End of Year Appeal
Please support SeniorCare's ongoing mission

Meals on Wheels is one of many programs at SeniorCare Inc. that helps people who are aging to remain in their homes and communities. 

“We count on the meals,” says John of himself and his wife, Toby, who live in Beverly.

Last winter snow was up over their windows. Soon their only car was trapped under snow. They were unable to get to the grocery store. Despite the record breaking snowfall, meals were delivered. “The driver fought his way to the door,” says John.

The Meals on Wheels Program is so much more than just the meal. Hot, nutritious meals are delivered Monday through Friday by a dedicated corps of SeniorCare volunteers and staff drivers. Our drivers provide daily social interaction – often the only outside connection every day. The drivers are also able to provide an informal check for potential concerns, falls, and accidents.

In SeniorCare’s nine North Shore and Cape Ann communities, more than 1,000 elders received a total of 136,216 home delivered Meals on Wheels last year.

“Meals on Wheels helps me to be healthy, I don’t eat a lot of the junk I used to eat,” said George in Manchester. George credits Meals on Wheels with losing 15 pounds he had gained after his wife died.

When a senior signs up for Meals on Wheels, he/she is made aware of other programs operated by SeniorCare: Home Care Services, Money Management, Care Giver Respite Program, and Transportation, to name a few. Often an older person who is unable to prepare his/her own meal will need additional supports. SeniorCare’s Care Managers can help determine the level of support needed.

Your support helps to cover direct costs of providing programs and services that enable people to live in their homes and communities of choice.


Scott Trenti
Executive Director

P.S. SeniorCare provides support to over 4,000 Older Adults and people living with disabilities on the North Shore and in Cape Ann. Please take a moment to make a donation now to help us help our neighbors in need.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Fundraiser | Link
15 December 2015
ABC Home Healthcare founder Jeannette Sheehan Honored by Commonwealth

Jeannette Sheehan Receives Two Major Board Appointments-- ABC Home Healthcare founder Jeannette Sheehan will use her extensive experience in home care and nursing to help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Jeannette Sheehan MS, RN, CS, CCM is a Board certified family nurse practitioner and founder of ABC Home Healthcare Professionals. Governor Charles D. Baker appointed Ms. Sheehan to the Board of Registration of Nursing Home Administrators.  She will hold this public office until September 2018. The principal mission of the Board of Registration of Nursing Home Administrators is to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents by ensuring that nursing home administrators are competent and perform their responsibilities properly. Nursing Home Administrators provide subacute and long-term care services to residents of facilities in Massachusetts, as defined by the statutes and described in the regulations.

Ms. Sheehan took the oath of office from Ed Palleschi, Director of Boards and Commissions at the Office of Governor Charles D. Baker, and in the presence of David D'Archangelo, Director of the Massachusetts Office On Disability, Nicholas Butts, Legislative Intern at Massachusetts State House, her daughter and ABC Home Healthcare CFO Joan Lepore, and her daughter-in-law and ABC Home Healthcare Marketing Manager Christine Sheehan.

Additionally, Ms. Sheehan was appointed to the Massachusetts Hospital Association's (MHA) Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Task Force in September 2015.

The goal of the MHA APRN Task Force is to advance an informed position regarding the ability of APRNs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to practice to the full extent of their education, training, and competences.  In order to fulfill this mission, the work of the multi-stakeholder task force will focus on identifying and examining critical APRN-related issues.   The task force will make recommendations to the MHA Board of Trustees on the issues examined.  Furthermore, the discussion and work product of the task force will help MHA develop formal positions on any particular APRN legislation that is proposed.

Ms. Sheehan has an extensive career in the healthcare field with substantial experience in healthcare administration, community health, and home care. Prior to founding ABC Home Healthcare Professionals, Ms. Sheehan held positions with The VNA of Middlesex East & Visiting Nurse Hospice, Visiting Nurse Association of Boston, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, HMO Blue Health Center, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Laboure College, and Lynn Community Health Center.  She holds degrees from Beth Israel Hospital, Northeastern University, and Boston College.

Jeannette Sheehan has grown ABC Home Healthcare from a single office in Wakefield, MA providing the local community with personalized home care services, to a multi-office agency services with expanded services throughout Metro Boston, North Shore, Cape Ann, and the Merrimack Valley.  Jeannette and her team offer 24/7 Care Management, Certified Geriatric Case Managers, no cost nursing assessments, and are a contracted agency for Elder Service Agencies, Long Term Care Insurers, PACE, the VA, and Workers Compensation.

Caption: Jeannette Sheehan, Family Nurse Practitioner and founder of ABC Home Healthcare and Ed Palleschi, Director of Boards and Commissions at the Office of Governor Charles D. Baker

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Legistlation | Link
14 December 2015
Greater North Shore Organization Renamed "Greater North Shore Link”

Executive Director Teresa Arnold revealed the new name of the ADRC of the Greater North Shore on November 18, 2015. Ms. Arnold states, “The new name, Greater North Shore Link, is succinct and more clearly describes the Mission of the organization, which is to promote a single, coordinated system of information and access for all persons seeking long term services and supports, regardless of age, disability or income.” Announcement of the new name was made at the November Partners Meeting, the group which meets every other month, attended by over 60 Partner organizations.

The rebranding process was led by Valerie Parker Callahan, Director of Planning at Greater Lynn Senior Services. The process included focus groups that assembled to vet suggested names, terms, colors and designs. An outside firm was also engaged to help with the process. Along with help from the Board of Directors and the Partners group, and expertise from Margaret Gilligan, Greater Lynn Senior Services Director of Marketing, the new name and design were decided upon.

Teresa Arnold explains that the Aging and Disability Research Consortium of the Greater North Shore (ADRCGNS) started in 2003, spearheaded by Mary Margaret Moore, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann and Carol Suleski, then Executive Director of Elder Service Plan of the North Shore, now Element Care, and Paul Lanzikos, Executive Director of North Shore Elder Services. As the ADRC evolved, other Aging Service Access Points became interested and the interest broadened to the North Shore Career Center.

The ADRCGNS incorporated three years ago. The organization is now a collaboration of Individuals and Agencies of the 19 Communities of the North Shore & Cape Ann. The Board comprises seven agencies:

Element Care
Greater Lynn Senior Services
Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann
Northeast Arc
North Shore Career Center
North Shore Elder Services

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Home Care | Link
11 December 2015
Trio sews gifts for seniors, Meals on Wheels
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Giving of yourself — time, energy, or money — undoubtedly helps those in need. It also is a big happiness boost for the person who is giving. Studies show that generosity and service to others improves psychological, physical and mental wellbeing. When people help others, they themselves are helped and tend to end up happier and healthier. Contribution and service to others have long been considered essential elements of a life well lived. They can also be considered essential elements of a healthy life.

Jeanne Riddle of Middleton, and Patti Wallis and Bev Wiley, both of Beverly, are amazing artisans and generous philanthropists. Last winter, they were given a massive amount of beautiful fabrics. They decided to do something amazing with this cloth. Starting in April 2015, they met weekly to assemble and sew. By June they had created 275 stunning pot holders and 45 exquisite pillowcases.

Twenty-five of the pot holders have been donated to the Middleton Council on Aging. The remaining pot holders and pillowcases will be distributed by SeniorCare Inc. to its Meals on Wheels recipients on Cape Ann and around the North Shore.

A friend of Riddle’s, Kate Farrell, had an aunt who was a master at making doll clothes. When Farrell’s aunt Hannah Rundlett passed away, there was a substantial amount of fabric in her home. Farrell donated the fabric to Riddle, knowing it would be put to good use.

The fabric found its way to Riddle’s home, piled on a table in her craft room. After consulting with Wallis and Wiley, they decided to turn the mound into pot holders and pillow cases. Riddle’s sister, Tynne Sweeney, was then consulted because of her eye for color. Sweeney started the process of making sense of the mountain of fabric by sorting it into color coordinated piles.

For one full day every week, for two months, Riddle, Wallis and Wiley met to cut, assemble and sew. “It was great fun,” said Riddle. “We had an assembly line going and a couple sewing machines.” They talked, laughed, and shared their creative passion.

The collaborative effort of Riddle, Wallis and Wiley changed a pile of mishmash fabric into stunning usable art. Their generous nature will bring great joy to many people in our communities this holiday season.

About 10 years ago, Wiley’s parents passed away within a month of each other. She knew it was going to be a difficult time. She decided to make quilted casserole carriers for each of her friends. “It was the most healing process, to know I was doing something for someone else when I had nowhere else to turn with my feelings,” said Wiley about how she dealt with her grief.

Around that same time, Wiley called SeniorCare, prompted by her brother who used to work there, to see if they would be interested in helping her distribute her knitted works to people in need. Her enthusiasm inspired others to knit and give. She has been involved with SeniorCare's RSVP Volunteers of the North Shore program ever since.

“It’s wonderful to be able knit and sew,” Wiley said. “It’s also wonderful to know it is going to someone who needs or wants it.”

Photo caption: Jeanne Riddle, left, Patti Wallis, center, and Bev Wiley, right

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Volunteer | Link
04 December 2015
Make self-care a top priority
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Our health and well-being are more susceptible to challenges at this time of year. It is cold and flu season. It is also a time of year where feeling down, depressed, and/or anxious can become a wellness issue. On top of these seasonal concerns, you may already be living with a chronic illness. The benefits of self-care are key to restoring wellness, yet not feeling well can make caring for oneself a challenge. Whether you have a cold, the flu, depression, anxiety and/or a chronic illness, it can be tempting to not put effort into caring for yourself. After all, whatever the ailment might be, your energy level is low. But the very act of self-care can lessen the length of time you feel under the weather.

A good place to start is to define what taking care of yourself means. You may need to redefine it for the time you are not feeling well. If you have a chronic illness, you may have to permanently change your definition of self-care. If taking care of yourself includes hitting the streets for a 3-mile run every day, or having an active social life, you may find yourself frustrated that you cannot do those things. This can lead to self-blame and a sense that you do not deserve to feel better. It can become a self-defeating cycle.

Any choice you make that positively impacts your physical, emotional, and mental health is good self-care. Not feeling up to fixing yourself a healthy meal? Eat a healthy snack, maybe a handful of nuts or a banana — that is self-care. Maybe it is noon and you are still laying in bed. Muster the energy to take a hot shower and put clean pajamas on, then get back in bed. You have successfully taken care of yourself. Count the small successes as you nurse yourself back to health. Keep track of your self-care achievements, either mentally or in a journal, regardless of how small they may seem. Just the act of acknowledging our self-care choices can lift our mood.

Another great way to take care of ourselves is to let others take care of us. If you live with others, and you are used to being the caregiver, let your loved ones care for you. Let your partner make you a healthy lunch. Ask your daughter to bring in the mail. Have your son walk the dog. If you live alone, call a relative or friend and ask if they will visit. People love to help; give them the opportunity.

Here are a few other suggestions of self-care when caring for yourself seems challenging:

  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Write in a journal
  • Call a loved one
  • Go for a walk if you are able, even if it is to the other side of the house
  • Eat something healthy
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Take a nap
  • If you are a pet owner, play or cuddle with your pet

Being sick can lead to a sense of powerlessness. Noting the many gentle ways you care for yourself when you are not feeling well can provide a sense of control and lead to a quicker recovery. 

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
03 December 2015
Project Warm Friends Makes a Difference
Knitting, Crocheting & Quilting for Others

Yesterday, I walked into the Myra Herrick Conference Room at SeniorCare, and it looked like a yarn factory had exploded.  At second glance, I realized that it wasn’t a yarn disaster, but it was a knitted miracle.

Throughout 2015, more than 30 volunteer knitters—members of SeniorCare’s Project Warm Friends—created thousands of beautiful hand-made gifts to be given to people in need through out the North Shore and Cape Ann areas.  Over the next week, we will distribute 2,500 items to hospital patients, veterans, seniors, teens, young children and newborns.

SeniorCare’s Project Warm Friends began in 1997 as Project Warm Child to provide warm knitted and crocheted baby clothing and blankets to needy newborns. In 2004, the program expanded to include larger items for children at Pathways for Children in Gloucester. In 2005 lap robes were added for nursing home residents and the name was changed to Project Warm Friends.

This year’s list of donated items includes

876 infant hats 
277 child hats 
240 potholders  
172 infant sweaters 
130 adult hats 
111 child sweaters 
98 knit afghan blankets
94 child mittens 
82 pillows  
80 lap blankets 
75 scarves  
56 fleece baby blankets
55 knit baby blankets
44 pillow cases 
41 teddy bears 
38 changing pads 
27 adult mittens 
24 pairs of baby booties
14 quilts  
13 infant mittens  

Photo caption (left to right): Bev Wiley, Jackie Dort, Elizabeth Caron, Ruth Lindsay, Jeanne Riddle, Connie Wayman, Bea Robbins, Patty Colbert and Patti Wallis

See more pictures on our Facebook page

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Volunteer | Link
01 December 2015
Tell legislators about home care this season

By Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care

If you think you’re seeing more elderly people at the grocery store, the bank, and the movies — you are.

In the period 2010 to 2030, the 65+ population in Massachusetts will increase by approximately 60 percent, while the under 65 population will decrease by approximately 4.5 percent. In the first two decades of this century, the Commonwealth will add around 585,000 more people over the age of 65.

Al Norman photo 9   14As our older population grows, so does the cost of caring for them. According to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, an estimated 61,200 elders, or 6 percent of the 65 and older population in Massachusetts, are qualified for either a nursing facility or home care services. As the elder population grows, there will be 7,400 additional elders requiring nursing facility level services in the next five years, and a total of 87,100 elder residents needing these services by 2030.

The average nursing facility cost to Medicaid monthly is $5,995, compared to the average monthly cost of home care supports at $1,858. By diverting individuals from nursing facilities to home settings, the distribution of costs would change and overall long-term service spending (LTSS) costs would be reduced.

Since the year 2000, we have cut the number of Medicaid-paid patient days in nursing homes by 34 percent. But the number of people in nursing facilities in the Commonwealth is still above the national average. If we could lower our nursing facility use, which is now 40.6 beds per 1,000 elders, to the national average of 28.1 beds per 1,000 elders, we could save taxpayers $6.3 billion by the year 2030.

So given the greying of our population, and the cost savings from keeping people at home — you would think that policymakers would be doing everything in their power to shrink the number of people in nursing facilities, and expand our capacity to keep elders at home.

In fact, we have been making some progress in “rebalancing” how we spend our tax dollars between institutional care and home care. As of 2013, Massachusetts ranked 9th in the country for the percentage of its long-term services spending on community care (59 percent).

Eight other states spend a higher percentage of their long-term services spending on community care: Oregon, Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Arizona, Washington, California and Wisconsin. Oregon ranks first at 77 percent of LTSS spending on home and community based services (HCBS).

Things have been slowly changing over time. In 2009, Massachusetts ranked 22nd in the nation for its percentage of community care spending. By 2014, the Commonwealth reported that 45 percent of its long-term services dollars were being spent on community.

But if Massachusetts were to spend for community care services at the same rate as Oregon (77 percent), our state would see a shift of $765 million into community care services. Our state’s total long-term services spending in 2013 was $4.463 billion, of which community care was $2.671 billion. An Oregon percentage shift would increase community care to $3.436 billion.

State Legislature Bills

Our state likes to boast that it has a “community first” policy for elders, but here are a few bills that did not pass in the State Legislature this last year that would improve home care:

 S361, to raise the income eligibility limit for home care from $27,000 to $35,000 a year.

 H534, a “small home” housing program for up to 4 unrelated individuals as a way to bring people out of nursing facilities.

 H70, to allow spouses to be paid as caregivers by Medicaid.

 H113, to allow people who need cueing/supervision to get personal care attendants.

 H1022, to end age discrimination in the Medicaid program by making the income and asset rules for seniors the same as more generous rules for people under 65.

We don’t have a lot of time to set the table for our aging population expansion. We know our elders want to live at home, and we know it’s less expensive to care for them at home. If we do nothing, we will have long waiting lists for care, and rationing of services.

The state legislature is in recess now until the New Year. Cut this article out, and send it to your State Representative and State Senator at this address: State House, Boston, MA 02133. You can find all their names and room numbers or call 617-722-2000 and ask for your legislators by name.

Al Norman is the Executive Director of Mass Home Care. He can be reached at 978-502-3794, or at

SeniorCare's Legislators:

State Representative Jerry Parisella
Sate House Room 123
Boston, MA 02133
Serving: Beverly

State Senator Joan Lovely
State House Room 173
Boston, MA 02133
Serving: Beverly, Topsfield

State Representative Anne Margarite Ferrante
State House Room 36
Boston, MA 02133
Serving: Essex, Gloucester

State Senator Bruce Tarr
State House Room 308
Boston, MA 02133
Serving: Essex, Gloucester, Rockport,Wenham

State Representative Bradford Hill
State House Room 128
Boston, MA 02133
Serving: Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Topsfield, Wenham

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Home Care | Link
27 November 2015
Feeling lonely this time of year? You're not alone
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

There are many emotions that are not on the top of my list of what I want to experience. But if I am going to be honest, and why not, loneliness is one of the more difficult states to tolerate. Connecting with others can bring us a sense of joy and love, and those feelings often provide energy and hope. The lack of connection with others can lead to anxiety and depression, which can lead to more isolation.

If you lack social connections, the holidays can be particularly difficult as it is a time of year most of us equate to spending time with family and friends. There are many reasons loneliness can besiege us: a change in living environment, children moving away, loss of network of friends, the death of a loved one, a change in health (cancer, Alzheimer’s disease) — any number of reasons can lead to isolation, which can lead to loneliness, which fosters more isolation.

What can be done about this cycle of isolation and loneliness? If you are experiencing it, how can you best help yourself?

Kathleen Knoble, a licensed mental health counselor with a specialization in art therapy, and a care manager at SeniorCare, believes that being creative with others is a fun and engaging way out of the despair of loneliness and isolation. “Connecting to that part of you that is a creative person is very powerful,” says Knoble. “When you create with others you open up new and engaging ways of communicating.”

Studies show that creative activities, such as painting, writing, knitting, and arts and crafts, encourage a sense of competence, purpose and growth. The key to combatting loneliness is engaging in these activities with others.

Lois, a 78-year-old woman in Gloucester, discovered the healing powers of creating with others. Lois, who says she has no artistic background, began going to the Rose Baker Center more than 10 years ago to participate in the art classes, which are currently taught by Juni VanDyke from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Lois began with painting but now focuses on fabric art. Lois learned to sew as a child from her mother. She is known for the dolls she makes.

People at the center became enamored with her dolls and wanted to learn how to make them. Lois helps others as they learn to make the dolls. “I never thought about it as teaching, I see it more as guiding,” says Lois, who believes everyone has creative abilities. “With a little encouragement, people can create this amazing piece of art,” she adds.

“Being around others who are being creative stimulates your mind,” says Knoble. According to recent findings in a Journal of the American Medical Association study, exercising the brain is as important to keeping the brain alert and strong, as physical exercise is important to keeping the body strong and able.

Knoble runs a class for people ages 60 and over at The Hive in downtown Gloucester on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The class is free. Lois goes to The Hive on Fridays and loves it. She is learning to make jewelry and enjoys talking about different art projects with others.

A bonus to creating art projects, especially this time of year, is giving. “It’s a pleasure to give them away,” says Lois of her dolls. She has given them as gifts to newborns, as well as in-mass to nursing homes and hospitals.

If you are experiencing loneliness, consider visiting the Rose Baker Center to enjoy their art program or participating in classes at The Hive. You may just experience a sense of accomplishment, shared camaraderie, and a renewed sense of joy.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
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