Delivering meals, combating loneliness

One of the biggest risks older adults face is loneliness. Often times people who live alone do not feel like making a meal for just themselves. Perhaps poor health makes it too difficult or they are just not up to it. Memories of days around the table with family filled with conversation, laughter, and love can be a source of sadness. Mealtime becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.

Enter Meals on Wheels. SeniorsPlus, western Maine’s agency on aging, provides nearly 100,000 home-delivered meals to older adults and adults with disabilities throughout Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. Each meal provides one-third of the daily nutritional requirement for adults.

But, Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. In addition to the nutritious meal is the companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of our seniors. For those who have trouble getting around, we bring the meal to them. For those who can still venture out into their communities, we offer meals in social gathering places, such as senior and community centers. SeniorsPlus also offers an “Around Town” voucher program that can be used at any of our participating restaurants for a suggested donation of $6. For more information, visit www.seniorsplus.org or call us at 1-800-427-1241.

The proportion of Maine’s population that is 60 and older is growing more rapidly than other age groups. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 31 percent of Maine’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of 41 percent from 2012. Many of these Mainers live in rural areas, adding to the risk of isolation and loneliness. A Meals on Wheels recipient recently told us, “I look forward to my Meals on Wheels driver’s visit because he’s usually the only person I see all week. Oh sure, the food is delicious, but I most enjoy the visit. We joke with each other and he tells me about his family. I feel like I know his children! And best of all, I know he’s going to come and check on me. Being all alone, that gives me peace of mind.”

Getting to the remote rural locations of our catchment area, especially during Maine’s severe winter weather, can be a challenge. On average each month, SeniorsPlus drives 3,500 miles to deliver meals. In the fall of 2017 Subaru of America, Inc. and Meals on Wheels of America donated 50 all-wheel drive 2018 Subaru Outback vehicles to select Meals on Wheels programs throughout the country. We are so grateful to have been chosen to receive one of the two vehicles awarded to Maine.

This generous donation has enabled staff and volunteers of SeniorsPlus to reach 75 more seniors and serve 1,500 more meals each month. Every one of those deliveries combats loneliness and increases the opportunity for our older adults to stay in their homes, where they want to be. Thank you Subaru of America and Meals on Wheels America!

If you know someone who could benefit from receiving meals, please call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241 for more information.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

Benefits of Volunteering

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Giving to others can help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.

Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.

Volunteering combats depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.

Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.

Find the right volunteer opportunity. You’re donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. To make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit:
• Ask questions – you want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills and the time you want to spend.
• Know what’s expected – you should be comfortable with the organization and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t overcommit yourself at first.
• Don’t be afraid to make a change – don’t force yourself into a bad fit or feel compelled to stick with a volunteer role you dislike. Talk to the organization about changing your focus or look for a different organization that’s a better fit.

SeniorsPlus has many volunteer opportunities you might enjoy. Please contact us at 1-800-427-1241.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

Substance Abuse and the Older Adult

Substance abuse among adults over the age of 60, particularly alcohol and prescription drugs, is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States. Addiction among older adults is often underestimated and under-diagnosed, which can prevent them from getting the help they need.

Due to insufficient knowledge, limited research data, and hurried office visits, health care providers often overlook substance abuse in their older patients. This is made worse by the fact older people often have medical or behavioral disorders that mimic symptoms of substance abuse, such as depression, diabetes, or dementia. This makes it easy for doctors with patients who have declining mental or physical health to simply chalk it up to “old age.”

According to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, substance abuse among older adults can be classified into two general forms: the “hardy survivor,” those who have been abusing substances for many years and have reached 65, and the “late onset” group, those who form addictions later in life. Regardless of how old a person is when an addiction starts, there are treatment options available to help get back on a healthy path. There is no shame in asking for help. Reach out to family or friends or tell your health care provider you are concerned you may have an addiction and need their help.

Potential triggers or causes for drug or alcohol addiction include:
• Retirement
• Death of a family member, spouse, pet, or close friend
• Loss of income or financial strains
• Relocation or placement in a nursing home
• Trouble sleeping
• Family conflict
• Mental or physical health decline (memory loss, depression, major surgeries, etc.)

The alarming rate at which individuals 65 years and older are developing addictions to various substances is certainly reason for concern and something that should not be ignored by medical professionals, caregivers, or family members. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction issues later in life and need help resources can be found at addictionresource.com.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

Fall reminders

Hello from Holly…

Fall reminders

After the beautiful Maine summer we had it’s tough to think about winter; but with the chill of these fall mornings we know the weather can turn quicker than the color of the leaves! Here are a few reminders for your fall chores list:

Medicare Open Enrollment (age 65 and older) — It’s time for your annual Medicare Part D prescription drug policy check-up. Make a list of your current drugs, compare them to your insurance company’s list of accepted drugs. Do they still cover all your drugs? Perhaps there’s another insurance company that will cover more of them, or at a lower price. October 15–December 7 is the time you can change from one company to another. You can do this yourself at www.medicare.gov, or you can call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241; we’ll help you.

Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment, Nov. 1–Dec. 15 (shorter time period this year) — Those who are ages 18-64 can switch their insurance to a marketplace plan if they choose, or sign up for the first time. For assistance, go to www.Enroll207.org or call 1-855-806-7333 for an appointment with an Insurance Navigator.

Dispose of Your Old Medications — As you do your fall cleaning, don’t forget to clean out your old medications. Many towns have a special medication collection day. This is the safest disposal method. Do not flush them down the toilet. If you have to put them in the regular trash, take them out of their bottles and mix them with food waste – coffee grinds or kitty litter – to discourage theft and drug abuse.

Fuel Assistance and Weatherization — For those eligible, now is the time to apply for fuel assistance and weatherization. Call Community Concepts 1-800-866-5588 (Androscoggin and Oxford counties) or Western Maine Community Action 1-800-645-9636 (Franklin County).

I’d also like to tell you about a program we offer at SeniorsPlus called Money Minders. The program’s goal is to support independent living for individuals 60 and over who are at risk of losing their independence due to inability to manage their financial affairs. Through this program, SeniorsPlus will match a Volunteer Bill Payer with an older adult who needs some help keeping things in order. This volunteer will visit the client once or twice a month and will provide checkbook balancing and bill paying services. The client will retain control of her/his finances at all times. If you know someone who could benefit from this service, we currently have volunteers available in Lewiston, Bethel, Kingfield, Rangeley, and South Paris. Please call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241.

Announcement! — Our new Oxford County office is now open in Norway at 9 Marston Street. We are open limited hours initially, but you can always make an appointment by calling 1-800-427-1241.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

October 15–December 7 is Medicare Open Enrollment Season

Hello from Holly…

October 15–December 7 is Medicare Open Enrollment Season

October 15 through December 7 is the official Medicare Open Enrollment Season and your chance to make any changes you’d like to your policies. Now is the time to think about your options and make decisions to leave everything the same or make some changes. You can:

• Change from traditional Medicare to one of the Medicare Advantage programs, or vice versa

• Change your prescription drug policy

• Determine if you’re eligible for a Medicare Savings Plan

All of these are important pieces to analyze. Prescription drug plans are particularly important. Each year every insurance company can change the drugs they’ll cover, change the price they charge, and change drugs from one “tier” to another (tiers determine what amount they’ll pay of the total cost). So the policy that worked well for you last year might not work as well this year and could end up costing you more. You may also have added new prescriptions this year, and another plan may cover more of your new drugs or at a lower cost.

You can go to www.medicare.gov and do this all yourself. This website has lots of useful information. You can also call Medicare and ask a representative to help you through the process. SeniorsPlus can help you in this analysis as well, with our certified Medicare Specialists. This service is free of charge. If you live in a county other than Androscoggin, Franklin, or Oxford, you can call 1-877-353-3771 to find the Area Agency on Aging for your location.

SeniorsPlus will have one-on-one appointments for anyone needing assistance with their policy review in Lewiston, Norway, Farmington, Fryeburg, and Bethel. Please call our main office at 1-800-427-1241 to make your appointment.

When you come to your appointment, you will need to bring the information about your current plan, your Medicare card, and a list of all the prescriptions you take.

Mark your calendars now for this very important review of your health insurance. Let us know if we can be of help to you. Call us at 1-800-427-1241.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

What are evidence-based programs?

Hello from Holly…

What are evidence-based programs?

Evidence-based programs are programs that are proven to promote health and prevent disease among adults with chronic health conditions. Examples of these programs are Living Well for Better Health (also known as Chronic Disease Self-Management) and Living Well with Chronic Pain (also known as Chronic Pain Self-Management).

SeniorsPlus has partnered with Spectrum Generations and Aroostook Area Agency on Aging to expand opportunities for Maine’s older people to improve their quality of life through a new initiative called Healthy Living for ME (HL4ME). Healthy Living for ME programs have been developed using rigorous research and demonstrate reliable and consistently positive changes in important health-related outcomes among participants.

So what is Healthy Living for ME? It is the Maine core of evidence-based health management programs. We are a network of local providers and partnerships committed to the health and quality of life of all Mainers.

An ever-increasing number of people are living longer with chronic pain and/or multiple chronic conditions. Research has proven that people with chronic conditions can learn skills to effectively manage their illness and improve health outcomes. Healthy Living for ME offers several evidence-based classes to improve functional abilities and deal more effectively with symptoms.

Living Well for Better Health (Chronic Disease Self-Management Program)
This program is designed to help participants deal with chronic conditions. Topics include: techniques to deal with frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; nutrition; and how to evaluate new treatments.

Living Well with Chronic Pain (Chronic Pain Self-Management Program)
This class is designed for people who have a diagnosis of chronic pain, offering strategies for dealing with their symptoms. Topics include: techniques to deal with frustration, fatigue, isolation, and poor sleep; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; nutrition; pacing activity and rest; and how to evaluate new treatments.

Please talk with your health care provider about these programs. Use the Healthy Living for ME website www.healthylivingforme.org to register for classes and to learn more about the benefits of evidence-based programs, or call 1-800-620-6036 or email info@healthylivingforme.org.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

Do you need Meals on Wheels, or know someone who does?

Hello from Holly…

Do you need Meals on Wheels, or know someone who does?

One of the biggest risks older adults face is loneliness. Oftentimes people who live alone don’t feel like making a meal for just themselves. Perhaps poor health makes it too difficult or they are just not up to it. Memories of days around the table with family filled with conversation, laughter, and love can be a source of sadness. Mealtime becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Enter Meals on Wheels. SeniorsPlus, western Maine’s agency on aging, provides home-delivered meals to nearly 100,000 older adults and adults with disabilities throughout Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. Each meal provides one-third of the daily nutritional requirement for adults. But, Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. In addition to the nutritious meal is the companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of our seniors. For those who have trouble getting around, we bring the meal to them. For those who can still venture out into their communities, we offer meals in social gathering places, such as senior and community centers. SeniorsPlus also offers an “Around Town” voucher program that can be used at any of our participating restaurants for a suggested donation of $6.

We are currently accepting applications for our Meals on Wheels program. This is not an income-based program. For more information, go to www.seniorsplus.org/nutrition-services, or call us at 1-800-427-1241.

The proportion of Maine’s population that is 60 and older is growing more rapidly than other age groups. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 31 percent of Maine’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of 41 percent from 2012. Many of these Mainers live in rural areas, adding to the risk of isolation and loneliness. A Meals on Wheels consumer living in Strong recently told us, “I look forward to my Meals on Wheels driver’s visit because he’s usually the only person I see all week. Oh sure, the food is delicious but I most enjoy the visit. We joke with each other and he tells me about his family. I feel like I know his children! And best of all, I know he’s going to come and check on me. Being all alone, that gives me peace of mind.”

Getting to the remote rural locations of our catchment area, especially during Maine’s severe winter weather, can be a challenge. On average each month, SeniorsPlus drives 3,250 miles to deliver meals. Last fall, Subaru of America, Inc. and Meals on Wheels of America donated 50 all-wheel drive 2018 Subaru Outback vehicles to select Meals on Wheels programs throughout the country. We are so grateful to have been chosen to receive one of the two vehicles awarded to Maine. This generous donation will enable staff and volunteers of SeniorsPlus to reach 75 more seniors and serve 1,500 more meals each month. Every one of those deliveries combats loneliness and increases the opportunity for our seniors to stay in their homes, where they want to be. Thank you Subaru of America and Meals on Wheels America!

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

10th Anniversary – Aging Well Living Well Expo!

Hello from Holly…

10th Anniversary of the Aging Well Living Well Expo!

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner anywhere” – Chinese Proverb

Join us Friday, October 6th at Sunday River in Newry for our 10th annual Aging Well Living Well Expo. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever! You will have the opportunity to explore and try new things, all day, at the beautiful Sunday River Resort amidst the gorgeous fall foliage. Last year over 300 people attended and we expect even more this year.

What can you explore? There will be serious workshops such as Preparing for the Future, Staying Sharp as You Age, Medicare 101, The Opiate Addiction Crisis in Maine, Managing Diabetes, and Self-Defense for Seniors. Or maybe you’ll decide to attend a workshop on Downsizing or Antique Appraising. Have you always wanted to understand how to navigate the long-term care system? We have a workshop dedicated to just that topic.

There will also be fun workshops: try jewelry making or a craft class, learn about essential oils or model railroading. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to know about hypnosis; we’ll have that too!

We have a few surprises for the afternoon you won’t want to miss! Remember, it’s our 10th anniversary of this very popular event, so that calls for fun! We’ll have line-dancing, live musical entertainment, Reiki, aqua fitness classes, and you won’t want to miss the display of special treats provided by the SeniorsPlus Nutrition Team!

All this, and a dynamic Keynote Speaker who will walk us through creating a time capsule. That promises to be interesting and inspiring! Mark your calendars now. Just $25 for the day-long event includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

The full brochure is available online or by calling SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241. Some workshops have limited space. Registration is required, so call today and reserve a spot!

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus.

Spotlight: Franklin County

Hello from Holly…

Spotlight: Franklin County

Aging is thriving in all three of the counties we serve. This month, I’d like to highlight some exciting new things happening in Franklin County.

New social dining site for 60+ and adults with disabilities: We are pleased to announce the opening of the newest SeniorsPlus Lunch Plus Café at the Farmington Community Center, 127 Middle Street in Farmington. A hot meal will be available on Mondays (except holidays) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A suggested donation of $3 is appreciated. Please join us and bring a friend! For more information, contact SeniorsPlus at 795-4010 or toll-free 1-800-427-1241.

New senior center opening in Farmington: Local community partners have joined efforts to open a new senior center on May 1 at the Farmington Community Center, 127 Middle Street. The center will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays (except holidays). Socializing, games, puzzles, and programs will be on the agenda. SeniorsPlus will offer various programs on the first and third Mondays of each month from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Other organizations and residents are encouraged to provide classes and programs on alternate Mondays. On May 15 “My Money Personality” will be presented by Janet Smith of New Ventures Maine. This fun and unique class will identify money management styles and how to become more comfortable managing your money. There is no charge for this class. To register call SeniorsPlus.

Living Well for Better Health workshops offered: A free workshop series for adults with any kind of ongoing health condition will be offered Thursdays through June 1 at Rangeley Family Medicine, 42 Dallas Hill Road, Rangeley. Receive a $10 Hannaford gift card at the end of each completed session. Contact SeniorsPlus to register or for more information.

Save the date: Aging Well Living Well Expo: SeniorsPlus will hold its 10th Aging Well Living Well Expo at Sunday River on Friday, October 6. Mark your calendars now and watch for more information in July.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

TURNING 65? It’s time for Medicare!

 

Hello from Holly…

TURNING 65? It’s time for Medicare! If you are turning 65 and have a Marketplace plan, you need to ACT NOW!

Here are the facts:
• Since you are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you will lose any Marketplace subsidies or tax credits you receive.
• It’s your responsibility to make the switch from your Marketplace plan to Medicare – this does not happen automatically.
• Although Medicare may cost more than your Marketplace plan, Medicare gives you better coverage at a time you’ll need it most.
• If you wait to enroll in Medicare, you will pay a 10% penalty for life on your Part B Medicare premium for every year you delay enrollment.
• On average, people who wait to enroll in Medicare are paying 30% more in premiums than those who enrolled at age 65.

To protect your health and finances – When you Turn 65, Do the Two-Step!
Step One: Enroll in Medicare – You can sign up online at www.ssa.gov or 1-800-772-1213. If you need more information about the Medicare choices that work best for you, call us at SeniorsPlus to schedule a personal one-on-one appointment, toll free 1-800-427-1241. We offer free, unbiased assistance.
Step Two: Dis-enroll from the Marketplace – You can dis-enroll online at www.healthcare.gov or call Consumers for Affordable Healthcare at 1-800-965-7476 for assistance in dis-enrolling from your Marketplace plan.

You don’t have to navigate this alone!
• This process can be complicated
• Every person’s situation is different
• You could lose coverage or face penalties if you do nothing

Contact your local area agency on aging to get free, unbiased advice you can trust! The area agency on aging for western Maine is SeniorsPlus, 1-800-427-1241. To reach area agencies on aging outside of western Maine, call 1-877-353-3771.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus