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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
20 November 2015
Healthy Holiday Eating
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy connecting with family and friends. If you are anything like me, it’s also a time of overindulgence.

My sister hosts our family Thanksgiving dinner. She is a wonderful host. The appetizers begin early in the day — I’m usually stuffed by the time dinner is served. That doesn’t stop me from filling my plate though. Turkey and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots coated with brown sugar, stuffing, and other miscellaneous foods artfully placed on the good china. Then the pies, cookies and candy magically appear on the table. I can almost taste the goodness of it all just writing about it. My mind is playing a trick on me though. I’ve eaten myself into a stomachache and all around feeling lousy after almost every Thanksgiving dinner. Every year in the midst of my self-induced pain I swear I’ll never do it again. Then the next year rolls around and the festivities are over, and I’m not feeling well again.

Thanksgiving can be a kick-off to a season of mindless eating. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can account for one or two extra pounds every year. How do we become more mindful of what we consume during the holiday season?

Here are some thoughtful tips on how to avoid holiday heft this year:

  1. Be realistic — Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; strive for maintaining.
  2. Exercise — Grab a few people from the holiday gathering and take a short 15- to 20-minute brisk walk after dinner and before dessert.
  3. Before leaving for a party, eat a healthy snack — a handful of peanuts, some carrot sticks, celery and peanut butter. You won’t show up hungry and will be less likely to eat as much.
  4. Take a deep breath before filling your plate. Choose what you eat thoughtfully and purposefully, include vegetables and fruit, for a more balanced meal.
  5. Be thoughtful about beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
  6. If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next.
  7. Take the focus off food — play a card or board game rather than stand around the appetizers chatting and eating.
  8. 8. Bring your own healthy dish to share with everyone.
  9. Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste and texture of each item. Research shows that mealtime multitasking (whether at home or at a party) can make you pop mindless calories into your mouth. Of course, dinner-party conversation is only natural, but try to set your food down until you’re finished chatting so you’re more aware of what you’re taking in.
  10. Leave the table when you are done eating. Offer to help clear plates and do the dishes. You won’t be tempted to reach for more food and you’ll be getting into the holiday spirit by helping.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in nutrition | Link
13 November 2015
Support that fits your needs
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Sometimes the most difficult part is coming to terms with the reasons help is needed. Finding peace with the aging process falls into this category. Whether you are a caregiver looking for help for an elderly loved one, or you are facing aging challenges yourself, finding support that fits with your comfort level and enables you to remain in your home is key.

Here are a couple opportunities to determine what support is available and what will work best for you.

Local options counseling is available through SeniorCare. Trained options counselors will guide you through the different support available and help you decide what will work best for you. This is a free service for people 60 years or over (or 22 or older with a disability) that keeps your needs, preferences, values and individual circumstances at the core of the planning process. The counseling session can occur in a way that is most convenient to you, such as through face-to-face meetings, over the phone or by email.

An options counselor will assist with the following:

  • Help you identify personal goals, needs, strengths, preferences and resources

  • Help you weigh the pros and cons of each option

  • Identify next steps in the process

  • Provide follow up with you 30 days after options counseling has ended

You can reach an options counselor by calling SeniorCare’s Information and Referral Department at 978-281-1750 or toll-free at 866-927-1050.

There is also a new statewide one-stop information source to determine what supports are available.

MassOptions is a free resource linking elders, family members, caregivers and individuals with disabilities to services that help you or a loved one live independently. MassOptions partners with a strong statewide network of several agencies that provide services and support. Together, they work with you to find and choose the services and support that best fit your needs.

MassOptions is your link to information about a broad range of services, including caregiver support; care management; equipment and supplies; financial assistance; food and nutrition; health and therapeutic services; housing; mental health; substance abuse; personal care; protective services; and transportation.

MassOptions specialists give you fast, personalized attention. All you need to do is tell them about yourself or what you need in order to live independently.

You can reach MassOptions online at or by phone, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., toll-free at 1-844-422-6277.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM | Link
12 November 2015
Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act
SAVE Benefits Act

Two-thirds of retirees depend on Social Security to pay for the basics, to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads – but seniors who usually get a small boost on January 1st won’t see an extra dime next year.

The Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act (SAVE Benefits Act), co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray, Chuck Schumer, Bill Nelson, Debbie Stabenow, Maria Cantwell, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken, Dick Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Baldwin, and Ed Markey, would:

  • Provide seniors & veterans an emergency one-time 3.9% payment in 2016 (approx. $581/person). 3.9% is the average raise that America's top CEOs received last year.
  • Fully cover the cost of increased payments by closing the tax loophole that allows corporations to write off obscene executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.”
  • Extend the life of Social Security by bolstering the Social Security and Disability trust funds.

So let’s do it. Let’s close the loophole and use the money to give seniors and vets the support they need on January 1st. Tell Congress that America supports the SAVE Benefits Act.

Please consider signing a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:

"On January 1st, for just the third time since 1975, seniors who receive Social Security won’t be getting an annual cost of living increase. Neither will millions of other Americans whose veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, and other monthly payments are pegged to Social Security. Please pass the Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act (SAVE Benefits Act) to give seniors and veterans a one-time 3.9% payment in 2016 -- the same raise that America's top CEOs received last year."

Click this link to sign the petition:

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM | Link
10 November 2015
Warren Files Bill to Give Seniors a 3.9% COLA in 2016
On November 5, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and 18 other Senators, including Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), introduced legislation to boost Social Security and other critical benefits for seniors.

WASHINGTON,D.C. On November 5th, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and 18 other Senators, including Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), introduced legislation to boost Social Security and other critical benefits for seniors, veterans and other Americans following last month’s announcement by the Department of Labor that there will be a 0% cost-of-living adjustment in Social Security for 2016. Warren’s bill will give seniors a 3.9% COLA— and pay for it by closing a tax loophole allowing corporations to write off executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.”

Mass Home Care for at least the past two decades has advocated for use of a CPI-E measure to help elders on Social Security, rather that the Consumer Price Index for Urban Workers (CPI-W) which understates the impact of inflation on the elderly.

According to Warren, the cost of core goods and services is projected to rise next year, but millions of Americans will see no increase in the benefits they rely on to make ends meet. At the same time, CEO compensation for the top 350 firms increased by 3.9% last year. The Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act (SAVE Benefits Act) would give about 70 million seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and others an emergency payment equal to 3.9% of the average annual Social Security benefit, about $581 – the same percentage raise as the top CEOs.

A $581 increase could cover almost three months of groceries for seniors or a year’s worth of out-of-pocket costs on critical prescription drugs for the average Medicare beneficiary. The bill would lift more than 1 million Americans out of poverty. The cost of this emergency payment would be covered by closing a tax loophole allowing corporations to write off executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.” The substantial additional revenue saved by closing the CEO compensation loophole would be used to bolster and extend the life of the Social Security and Disability trust funds.

“If we do nothing,” Warren said, “on January 1st, more than 70 million seniors, veterans, and other Americans won’t get an extra dime in much-needed Social Security and other benefits. And while Congress sits on its hands and pretends that there’s nothing we can do, taxpayers will keep right on subsidizing billions of dollars’ worth of bonuses for highly paid CEOs,”

“Giving seniors a little help with their Social Security and stitching up corporate tax write-offs isn’t just about economics,” Warren added. “It’s about our values. Congress should pass the SAVE Benefits Act today to give a boost to millions of Americans who have earned it.

“It is unacceptable that millions of senior citizens and disabled veterans did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment this year to keep up with their rising living expenses. At a time when senior poverty is going up and more than two-thirds of the elderly population rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, our job must be to expand, not cut, Social Security,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “At the very least, we must do everything we can to make sure that every senior citizen and disabled veteran in this country receives a fair cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and health care.”

Original article:

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM | Link
06 November 2015
Celebrate Cape Ann World War II veterans
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Marcella “Marcia“ Ramey, 96, was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. A nurse, Ramey volunteered for the Army because there was a need. She felt it was her patriotic duty.

“It was quite a surprise when they sent me to open a medical unit in Camp Pickett, Virginia,” she recalled about her first assignment.

Ramey, with five other young nurses, worked night and day to prepare the new medical unit for incoming wounded troops.

Used to everyday medical issues as a civilian nurse, Ramey remembers her nursing experience at Fort Pickett as “a whole different environment. We were dealing with people who were wounded, something you wouldn’t see in an ordinary situation,” she said.

“In the service you might think to yourself, ‘I can’t do that,’ but you still have to do it. You can’t be timid in the service, you have to have a positive attitude,” Ramey said. “I think the Army is wonderful.” Ramey believes self-discipline is one of the most important attributes she developed during her time spent in the service.

Upon returning to civilian life, Ramey continued her career in nursing, taking positions that challenged her and furthered her education. She also volunteered for Meals on Wheels.

“When I came back here and settled, I volunteered to get Meals on Wheels established. We started with about 20 people coming in for food and a driver to take food to about 20 additional people,” Ramey said.

Ramey is at ease and accepting of life’s challenges. “I am blessed with a nice family,” she said, crediting her family for making her life easier. She has two children, three grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Ramey has lived at Central Grammar the last 33 years and is a voracious reader. She reads the Gloucester Daily Times each morning, the American Veterans Magazine, the Elks Magazine, and always has a book going. “Newspapers, magazines, and books are my saving grace. I’m not a TV person,” she said.  She also plays bridge and nickel poker. “I won $2 playing poker last week,” she said.

Ramey has been an active member of the American Legion Post No. 3 in Gloucester for many years. “I can’t tell you on a million fingers how many Thanksgiving dinners we served and delivered.”

She is included in a photography exhibit by Jason Grow titled Cape Ann World War II Veterans: Our Greatest Generation. The opening reception is Saturday, Nov. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Kyrouz Auditorium at Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Ave.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Veterans | Link
04 November 2015
Money Management Program
Livin' the Good Life on BevCam

SeniorCare's Sara Wetzel discusses the Money Management program on Livin' The Good Life on BevCam.

The Money Management Program is a free, confidential service provided by volunteers who are carefully selected, trained and supervised to assist low-income elders who have difficulty writing checks, balancing checkbooks, and managing their money.  A Money Management Program Volunteer can help balance a checkbook, prepare checks for signature, sort and prioritize mail, fill out forms and paperwork, develop a budget, and negotiate with creditors on behalf of eligible participants.

The Money Management Program is jointly sponsored by SeniorCare Inc., Mass Home Care, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

Show originally aired on 10/29/2015.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Financial Wellness | Link
30 October 2015
Celebrate National Family Caregivers month
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

November is National Family Caregivers month. Throughout the month of November, let’s all celebrate the hard work, dedication and unwavering devotion provided by an estimated 65.7 million Americans across this country who care for chronically ill loved ones.

Many of you personally know the physical, emotional and spiritual fortitude it takes to care for a loved one with a chronic illness. Being a caregiver of a loved one is not for the faint of heart; it takes love, dedication and often a refueling of energy when you are convinced the refueling station is empty. You are the unsung heroes in the world of health care. Yet you would have it no other way; you are there for the long haul, and sometimes, many times, it is exhausting.

Taking care of yourself when caring for another is not easy, but it’s of great importance. Healthful behaviors will keep you at your best and help stress levels. Here are some helpful tips to keep you feeling well:

  • Keep up with your own medical care. Don’t skip regularly scheduled preventive care, such as flu shots or mammograms.
  • Make sure to get enough rest. Your ability to give care can be lessened by inadequate sleep.
  • Continue or start to get regular physical activity. In addition to a variety of benefits for your physical health, regular physical activity is one of the best stress reducers available.
  • Continue to nurture your own social relationships. A strong social network can help you cope with stress and provide support.
  • Reach out for help when you need it. Get acquainted with your local support services. Most communities have programs for caregivers including respite assistance, support groups, specialized education for specific illnesses and disabilities, and other useful services.

Remember, your ability to continue to be a good caregiver for your loved one depends on maintaining your own health. SeniorCare offers services and programs that help you to help your loved one. Our mission, as a consumer­centered organization, is to provide and coordinate services to elders and others, enabling them to live independently at home or in a setting of their choice while remaining part of their community. Call one of SeniorCare’s Intake Specialists and find out how we might be able to help, whether it is providing a meal, nursing services, options counseling, home care services, speaking with a caregiver 

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Home Care | Link
23 October 2015
Having a Pet May Improve Health
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Caring for a pet helps to reduce stress and blood pressure, increases social interaction and physical activity, and encourages a “live in the moment” mentality.

In a recent study, researchers found that elderly people who own pets visit doctors less often than those without. Pets have been shown to build self-esteem, increase mental alertness, and lift the spirits of people with Alzheimer's disease. Pet owners seemed more apt to cope by themselves, whereas people without pets went to the doctor 16 percent more often when faced with stressful situations.

The very qualities that make us love our pets may make them good for us. Pets give people a sense of purpose, provide nonjudgmental acceptance, and allow people to become attached to something — and feel that something is attached to them.

“I saw the difference in seniors, especially those who live alone, who had an animal companion. They were more content, had a stronger sense of purpose, and in general, seemed happier than seniors without pets” said Sue Arsenault, who has a Master of Divinity degree and worked for hospice for 11 years.

Arsenault and her husband David Arsenault own The Art of David Arsenault gallery in Rockport. They have graciously chosen SeniorCare Inc.’s pet program, Pawsitive Connections, as the recipient of a percentage of the gallery's October proceeds. They are also providing a giclee print of one of David’s works as a raffle prize.

“When I heard about Pawsitive Connections I knew I wanted to support a program that helps seniors to keep and take care of their pets,” Sue said . “It’s a huge quality of life issue for seniors,” she adds.

Programs such as Pawsitive Connections can be helpful for information, referral, and other assistance needs that arise. It is important to consider situations that may arise when owning a pet before you adopt, purchase, or give a pet as a gift.

Here are five things to consider before getting or giving a pet

  1. Having a pet is a commitment throughout its lifetime. A pet can live 15 to 20 years. Prospective pet owners should be prepared and able to provide food, shelter, health care, and other essentials every day for the life of the animal. Unforeseen circumstances can arise. Is there someone to take care of the pet if the pet owner is no longer able?
  2. Can you or the person receiving the gift pet afford it? The American Pet Manufacturers Association estimates that dog owners spend more than $1,000 annually on pet care.
  3. Make sure the apartment building allows pets. Some apartment complexes allow pets, while others prohibit them or have restrictions. Know the residence's guidelines before you get a pet.
  4. Make sure you or the prospective pet recipient does not have allergies.
  5. Do research. Older pets are often easier to assimilate into a home because they are often already housebroken. Make sure your home is suitable to the pet you want.

Talk about the different pet options with loved ones. Having a pet can be very rewarding and have a positive impact on one’s quality of life. However, it is a great responsibility to take care of an animal. Be realistic about the care needs of a pet, and the personal growth and happiness received are limitless.

If you have questions or concerns about your pet or getting a pet, you can call Susan Doughty at SeniorCare Inc., 978-281-1750.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
21 October 2015
Grammas family, Lobsta Land hosting senior breakfast again

The Grammas family has been in the restaurant business a long time. And for as many years, the family has hosted a longtime Cape Ann tradition at their restaurant. But, it’s the story of how one family member came to do so that is at the heart of what makes Cape Ann and the North Shore a very special place.

George Grammas founded The Gull restaurant, and later purchased Lobsta Land, which is now operated by his son, Corey Grammas and his family. Long ago, Corey, was a volunteer for SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels program, which delivers a nutritious meal to frail elders who are homebound.

Corey’s volunteerism showed him firsthand how local nonprofit services affected his neighbors in a positive way. It’s difficult to go into someone’s home, recognizing the difficulty that they might have without those services, and not want to do more.

So, the Grammas family, understanding the need, and being able to “do more,” generously makes their restaurant available each fall to sponsor the annual fundraiser breakfast that benefits SeniorCare Inc. This helps ensure that the services the agency provides to elders and disabled adults in the nine communities it serves – Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham – despite gaps in state or federal funding, can continue. The services help area seniors live more independently at home, and remain a part of each of those communities. In these days of financial uncertainty, this is no small gift from this dedicated family and their staff.

Lobsta Land is a local landmark and is dedicated to community involvement. In addition to SeniorCare, the family restaurant supports other local charities and events, including Gloucester Pride Stride, Gloucester Stage Company, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Fishermen Youth Soccer, Gloucester Little League, and Wellspring House. It all started with a volunteering spirit and a desire to contribute. Maybe – even more than the food, which is excellent – that’s why Lobsta Land is such a beloved part of the Gloucester landscape. It’s really more than just a place to eat, just as the Meals on Wheels that Corey once delivered are “more than just a meal” to the people who receive them. The volunteer spirit delivers more than a product, or a service. It delivers the message that someone cares.

We should all be so grateful for the volunteers who give of their time in the service of others. But even if we can’t find time to volunteer, we can contribute to the welfare of others. Because of people like the Grammas family, it’s as easy as taking a friend to breakfast on October 27 at Lobsta Land (84 Causeway Street, Gloucester), when the Annual SeniorCare Breakfast Fundraiser happens. Breakfast will be served from Breakfast will be served from 7:00 to 10:30 a.m, and tickets are $10 per person, in advance or at the door.

To get tickets, or to volunteer at SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750 or 1-866-927-1050.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Volunteer | Link
19 October 2015
Mass Home Care Testifies Monday on Beacon Hill

Mass Home Care to testify Monday on Beacon Hill regarding the need to create homes for people who could live in a small community setting instead of nursing facilities. 

Massachusetts has a federal waiver that spends around $357 million a year on elderly and disabled people---but one basic service is missing.

Mass Home Care will testify Monday before the Elder Affairs committee that MassHealth should add back in "residential habilitation" as a service in the so-called 1915c waiver--and allow homes for up to 4 unrelated individuals.

H. 534 restores “residential/habilitation” to the MassHealth program for seniors who meet the clinical requirements for nursing facility care. For many years, the state had “res/hab” as a service in the MassHealth 1915c waiver---but as long as  a decade ago it was deleted because the state had no res/hab program to offer. Res/hab is important for elders who require 24/7 supervision with staff present. 

This program has been piloted in 4 homes north of Boston by Mass Home Care members, and shown to be a cost-effective community alternative to nursing facilities. The federal government is encouraging states to provide small group homes for the elderly under the Money Follows the Person initiative. As part of its Money Follows the Person initiative, the federal government allows a residential habilitation program that permits up to 4 unrelated individuals to be receive support services in a community residential setting. 

So the Commonwealth has begun this program----but it is limited only to people who have been in a nursing facility for at least 90 days. And because of the convoluted way that DDS brings on new homes, there have been no new homes for the elderly built in recent years. For everyone placed in these small homes, the cost of care is cheaper than an institutional placement---so the elder wins, and the taxpayers wins. 

As things stand now, EOEA has no elders it places in small homes because there is no residential habilitation service. This is reducing the number of successful MTP programs, and slowing efforts generally to discharge elders from nursing homes who do not need that level of care.

H. 534, offered by Representative Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) would allow individuals to receive this same residential care in order to keep them out of a nursing facility in the first place. This legislation restores res/hab as an elderly service offering.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Legistlation | Link
16 October 2015
Volunteering Benefits Everyone
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Volunteering is an altruistic act that feeds the soul. Lending your time and effort to a cause that you care about has a positive impact on your mental and physical health according to many studies. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends and keep old ones, keeps you physically active, and boosts your social skills.

Jacki Dort knows the benefits of volunteering intimately. Dort worked for SeniorCare’s RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) for 15 years. She began volunteering while she worked. After she retired in 2009 she continued to volunteer for RSVP.

“As a volunteer I get to maintain connections with people I worked with previously,” says Dort who places great value on the friendships and connections she has maintained as a volunteer.

Dort recalls a volunteer she worked with while employed at RSVP. The woman had, had a stroke and could only use one arm. “She was able to stick address labels to an envelope,” says Dort. “Volunteering made her feel useful,” she adds.

Helene Nicholson, an RSVP volunteer says that she found herself changing after she stopped working. “I was getting more and more isolated,” she said. She values volunteering because it gets her out of the house and in contact with others.

According to a 2013 study by United Health Group 76% of people who volunteered over the last 12 months say that it has made them feel better. Of the people interviewed for the study 94% who volunteered within a 12 month period said that it improved their mood.

“Once you volunteer you are out of the house and physically active,” says Dort. Any activity is good activity. Being active reduces depression and increases well-being. Which can explain a 2013 paper that reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years that found volunteering to be associated with these factors.

Ruth Lindsay, the Director of SeniorCare’s RSVP has seen firsthand the positive impact of volunteering. “We have more than 400 volunteers at SeniorCare,” says Lindsay.

“I remember my first volunteer interview after I joined RSVP. Max was 89 and retired when I first interviewed him. He’s been actively and successfully volunteering for the past 5 years. He made me rethink age and volunteering. I believe that volunteering keeps you young, active and connected to the community,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay’s mom volunteered all her life. “I love the idea of volunteering just from growing up with her,” she says. “My mom is 82 and you would never guess it by knowing her,” Lindsay adds.

If you would like to learn about volunteer opportunities on the North Shore and Cape Ann you can call SeniorCare’s RSVP at 978-281-1750.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Volunteer | Link
09 October 2015
Domestic Abuse on Elderly ­
Gloucester Daily Times "Senior Lookout"

“Victims and survivors look just like you and me,” said Nicki Richon­-Schoel, co­-chairwoman of the Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse, during her opening remarks at a gathering Tuesday on the steps of Gloucester City Hall to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

According to the Presidential Proclamation — National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2015, “Domestic violence impacts women, men, and children of every age, background, and belief. Nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Victims are deprived of their autonomy, liberty, and security, and face tremendous threats to their health and safety.”

Domestic violence knows no age and can occur later in life. When two adults have an ongoing relationship, and one uses power and control to inflict physical, sexual, emotional, or financial injury or harm, it is considered domestic violence. Perpetrators can be spouses and former spouses, partners, adult children, extended family, and caregivers.

“We have seen an increase in reports of caregiver neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse among people 60 years and older,” says Steve Corbett, protective services director at SeniorCare Inc.

Older people in domestic abuse situations have more difficulty reaching out for help, said Elaine Fernandes, Cape Ann program coordinator for HAWC (Healing Abuse, Working for Change).

When an older person experiences domestic violence, Fernandes says, it is often reported by an outside source rather than a person seeking help for themselves.

“It’s very hard for people to talk about family violence in general,” says Sunny Robinson, co-chairwoman of the Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse. Reluctance to talk can deepen as we age, adds Robinson. There could be many reasons for deeper silence. If the relationship has been abusive all along, the reasons for not leaving can strengthen as the victim ages. Economic reasons can become stronger, fear of being alone can escalate, and victims may feel resigned to the situation feeling there is nothing they can do at this point in their lives.

Furthermore, age ­related issues can instigate abusive behavior. For example one partner in an elderly couple can become dependent due to physical or cognitive disability, causing great strain. Regardless of the situation, domestic violence is a crime.

The SeniorCare Protective Services Department works closely with HAWC, the Gloucester Police Department, and other community partners, to meet any and all domestic violence issues impacting anyone 60 years or older.

“We have signed on to the zero tolerance model and abusers are on notice that no level of domestic violence is acceptable,” says Corbett.

If you suspect abuse of a person 60 years of age or older you can call SeniorCare weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 978­-281-­1750, or after hours you can call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-­800-­922-­2275. All reported incidents are investigated.

Kelly Knox is the development officer of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-­281-­1750.

Click here for more information about SeniorCare's Protective Services.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Safety | Link
02 October 2015
Acupuncture facts and fallacies
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that is centuries old. The theory of acupuncture is that an energy called qi (pronounced “chee”) radiates through and around your body along pathways called meridians. During acupuncture your practitioner looks for points on your body to access the qi that is blocked or not flowing right. Each point relates to certain health problems or body functions. There are 71 meridians in the body. It is believed that in order to function properly the body needs to be in balance. If the energy flow along the meridians is blocked, it forces the energy in the opposite direction, causing an unbalanced flow of energy. Acupuncture engages the qi by inserting needles at certain points along the meridian. Placing needles along blocked pathways stimulates the meridian at that point, opening the flow.

There are many false beliefs about acupuncture:

1. Acupuncture is painful.

Actually according to Pam Stratton, an acupuncturist who manages the Acupuncture Center of Cape Ann, most people find the placing of the needles comforting and relaxing. It is unusual to feel any discomfort. However if discomfort should occur, it will fade quickly and on its own. The needles are no thicker than a cat’s whisker. You may feel a sensation often described as heaviness, throbbing, or an electrical current once the needle is inserted. This is good as it is your body opening up to the flow of energy.

2. No reasonable healthcare professional would recommend it.

Actually acupuncture is recommended by many medical institutions. Even the U.S. military uses acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds many clinical research trial on acupuncture. Both NIH and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide range of conditions.

3. There is a conflict between medication, physical therapy, and other conventional medical treatments.

There is no conflict, they complement each other. Acupuncture can help improve conditions that you are being treated for.

4. Acupuncture is only helpful in treating pain.

Although acupuncture certainly helps in the treatment of pain, it by no means is the only condition it treats. Acupuncture can help with nausea or vomiting, morning sickness, hypertension, allergies, depression, infertility, addiction, and other conditions.

5. Acupuncture’s effects are psychological. It doesn’t really do anything.

Quite false. Studies show that during acupuncture, our brains begin to release chemicals such as endorphins (natural painkillers). Acupuncture has also proven to have an anti-inflammatory effect and help people’s immune system.

In Massachusetts, an acupuncturist needs to be licensed by the state Board of Medicine. 

Stratton says that she works with many seniors. Acupuncture is helpful with the many aches and pains we experience as we age. It is helpful with arthritis pain, joint difficulties, and other pains. Stratton stresses that acupuncture is not a medicine and should not replace the medicines prescribed by your doctor. Acupuncture acts as a wonderful complement to mainstream medicine.

Many of Stratton’s clients use acupuncture as a maintenance program for their health issues. It helps sustain them between visits with their primary care physician.

If you are interested in learning if acupuncture can be helpful, you can call the Acupuncture Center of Cape Ann at 978-283-0401.

Kelly Knox is the development officer of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
01 October 2015
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
A message from Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo-Theken

Please join me as we proclaim October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  We will come together on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. to acknowledge our awareness of domestic abuse as a critical public health issue that affects our community and to recommit ourselves to the continued work of advancing Gloucester as a Domestic Violence Free Zone.  I sincerely hope you, your neighbors and colleagues will be able to join me and our community partners for this event.

This year we are fortunate to be able to celebrate some significant advances in our work: 

  • The Gloucester Police Department now has one and a half FT officers focused on issues surrounding  domestic abuse;
  • Eliot Human Services has established an intervention program in Gloucester District Court to assist in the process of rehabilitating domestic offenders;
  • Gloucester Men against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault are re-establishing their organization with the goal to especially devote themselves to trying to help boys grow into healthy men;
  • The Gloucester/Cape Ann HAWC Office has stable staffing via Elaine Fernandes (FT) and Allison Langlois  (PT).

While we have much to celebrate this year, we are also aware that we have much work still to do.  Please join me and our regular community partners – HAWC, the Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse, The YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center, and the Gloucester Police Department on October 6th for this important gathering. 

The favor of a reply to Chris Pantano at 978-281- 9700 or will be appreciated.


Sefatia Romeo-Theken

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