Amy Pfister - Community Engagement Coordinator
Disasters and emergencies can hit at any time, and as we learned from the recent hurricanes, floods, and fires, they wait for no one. In preparation for September’s National Emergency Preparedness Month, let’s talk about some specific ways that you can be prepared.
First, make a plan! Know which disasters could strike your area, and work through scenarios to prepare yourself in case of evacuation, or shelter in place. This way, you know what to do in either case. Colorado weather can be unpredictable- be sure to be prepared for hot summer months, a dry fall season, and heavy snow in both the winter and spring months. Wildfires, tornados, and flooding are not uncommon here in Colorado, so be sure to think through all of these types of emergencies.
Determine how and who you will communicate with if you have a specific need. We suggest developing a detailed emergency communication plan for you and your family. No longer drive? Determine who you can call for transportation help if it is necessary that you evacuate. It’s crucial to plan for your daily needs and to know what to do if they become limited or unavailable.
Another must-have… Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit. A great resource to start with is available via the link here. They even have a printable list to take with you to the grocery store. Must-have items include water, non-perishable food, radios, flashlights, first aid kits, and individual needs such as medicines, medical supplies, and essentials for pets and service animals. Don’t forget mobility devices, and to store important documents and like items together. An even better step would be to place them in a flood-safe place or in water-tight plastic bags. Include things like passports, birth certificates, insurance documents, and medical information. Remember, being organized is a great way to prevent panic during the time of an emergency or disaster.
Sign up for CodeRED & Access and Functional Needs Registry. Our friends at Douglas County’s Office of Emergency Management have great information listed on their website and two programs to help you stay safe in the event of a disaster or emergency. CodeRED is a service in which you are alerted by phone, email, and text about emergencies in your area. It also will provide you with instructions on what to do to protect life and property. Head over to their website here to sign up today!
Additionally, the Access and Function Needs Registry (AFN) is a database containing information about individuals in Douglas County who may require assistance in the event of a disaster. If you have special medical needs or physical disabilities that would make it difficult to follow public safety directions, please sign up today here!
As always, we’d be happy to help any older adult here in Douglas County create a plan that will keep them safe in the event of a disaster. Give us a call at (303) 814-4300 if this would be something that would benefit you or an older adult you know!
Kelsey Thiessen, Director of Operations at Aging Resources
As our parents age, it becomes increasingly important for us to provide them with the care and support they need. However, juggling the responsibilities of caring for aging parents while maintaining your own mental and physical well-being can be a challenging task. Here, we will explore the challenges, strategies, and rewards of caregiving and provide you with practical tips and advice to navigate this journey.
Understanding the Challenges:
Prioritizing Your Well-being:
The Rewards of Caregiving:
Don’t forget Aging Resources is here to help you navigate this very important journey! Caring for yourself is not selfish but a prerequisite for providing the best possible care for your loved ones. Embrace the rewards of caregiving and cherish the opportunity to create lasting memories with your aging parents and know that you are making a difference in their lives.
Barbara Prince, Aging Resources Office Coordinator
It’s National Safety Month and let’s talk about staying safe in your own home. Older adults face a variety of risks from falls to fires, so taking the right safety precautions is key in keeping safe while having the freedom to continue living independently.
It’s an important reminder to review what can be done to make sure your home is well-maintained and free of hazards. This includes making sure the floors are free of clutter, carpets are tacked down, cords are tucked away, steps are free of items, no loose rugs, and the outdoor areas are well-lit. Additionally, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested regularly, and smoke detectors should be changed every ten years. Other safety features to consider include stair railings, grab bars in the shower and near the toilet, and handrails on both sides of the stairs.
Do you have a plan for emergency situations? In the event of a fire, will you need extra assistance in leaving your residence? The Douglas County Access and Functional Needs Registry (AFN) is a database containing information about Douglas County residents who may require assistance in the event of a disaster.
The Douglas County AFN Registry should be considered for all people who have special medical needs (e.g., oxygen or life support systems that are dependent upon electrical power) or have physical disabilities that would make it difficult to independently follow public safety directions, such as evacuation if the need arose. For more information about this program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A medical alert system can provide further peace of mind, especially for those who live alone or who may have a fear of falling. These systems connect directly to a monitoring center in the event of an emergency. They typically come with a base unit that connects to a home telephone line and a wearable device, such as a pendant that can be worn around the neck or wrist. If the wearer has a medical emergency, they can press a button on the pendant and be instantly connected to a monitoring center and have help dispatched within minutes.
In a Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by One Poll, 54% of U.S. adults say they or the adult they care for use a medical alert system. Of those who use a medical alert system for themselves or the adult they care for, 86% say the device has saved them (or the person they care for) from an incident.
Aging Resources wants everyone to feel safe in their surroundings and we recently partnered with ADT, the #1 home security provider in the U.S., to provide a discount on the ADT Medical Alert System. For more information, go to adt.com/health and use Promo Code: ARDC1 for free shipping, free activation, and $6.00 off monthly monitoring.
Did you know May is Older Americans Month?
Established in 1963, Older Americans Month (OAM) is celebrated every May. Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), OAM is a time for us to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of older Americans, highlight important trends, and strengthen our commitment to honoring our older citizens. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.
This year's theme for OAM, Aging Unbound, offers an opportunity to explore a wide range of aging experiences and to promote the importance of enjoying independence and fulfillment by paving our own paths as we age. Here are some ways we can all participate in Aging Unbound:
Here in Douglas County, we have one of the country's fastest-growing older adult populations in the country! By 2030, 1 in 4 residents will be over 60, and we will add 81,000 seniors in the next 18 years right here in our county.
If you are an older adult, you know firsthand we are living longer, healthier lives due to advances in medicine, technology, communication, and research. And living in Douglas County, among the nation's healthiest counties, is an added bonus!
Need help to decide what to do for Older Americans Month? Connect with Aging Resources of Douglas County to volunteer, reach out to the local community college or library to find programs in your community, and, most importantly, celebrate the older Americans in your life!
Sarah Piquard - ARDC Volunteer Coordinator
What is a “File of Life” you might ask? A “File of Life” is a refrigerator magnet with a pocket to hold a form that contains very important information. The important information includes your name and address, emergency contacts, and all kinds of medical information such as medications, recent surgeries, medical conditions, allergies and your insurance information. It also contains information about if you have a living will, health care proxy, and/or a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) form and where these forms can be found.
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel nationwide know to look at the refrigerator for this important information when they are called to provide emergency medical care. Sometimes the person needing the emergency care is unable to speak for him/herself, so having a File of Life readily available in emergency situations is incredibly helpful to ensure that he/she receives prompt, quality medical care.
If you would like a File of Life, we would be happy to get one to you, just give our office a call at 303-814-4300. Once you receive your File of Life, take some time to complete it, ideally with your closest family member(s). It can trigger discussions about topics that are not that easy to talk about but are extremely important to share with those closest to you, to help ensure your wishes are honored. If you already have a File of Life, take a few minutes to review it and confirm the information is up to date. Another friendly safety reminder especially for all our wonderful volunteers, please make sure you are current with your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and periodically review the basic steps. CPR Steps | Perform CPR | Red Cross
Client Specialist, Aging Resources of Douglas County
SNAP UPDATES ARE COMING IN MARCH, 2023
You may have heard about some upcoming changes to SNAP benefits. Let's take a quick look at what SNAP benefits are, what's changing, and how that may impact you.
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It's part of a federal nutrition program to help low-income households purchase food. SNAP provides a monthly benefit that helps families and individuals buy the groceries they need to eat and stay healthy. The benefit is based on income, resources, and the number of individuals in the household.
Since the pandemic's start in March 2020, Colorado SNAP households have been getting extra monthly benefits. These additional benefits are called "emergency allotments." Most households have been getting this on top of their regular SNAP benefits. Congress authorized these emergency allotments, but they are temporary and will end in March. February will be the last month that households will receive an emergency allotment.
This change may have a significant impact on some households. Here are some common tips on how to prepare for the upcoming reduction:
Aging Resources plans to help offset these additional costs to Douglas County older residents in the following ways:
If you have further questions about any of our programs or want to receive information on food resources, give us a call and speak to one of our aging experts.
Here in Douglas County, and indeed across all of Colorado, we're so lucky to enjoy truly unparalleled natural resources. It might seem like common sense that being in nature improves our mood and reduces stress, but did you know that study after study has demonstrated that engaging with the outdoors seriously improves older adults’ physical and mental health?
In one study, older adults who had spent 120 minutes in nature over the previous week were significantly more likely to report feelings of good health and well-being than those who had no nature exposure. Another found that one hour in a natural environment improved folks’ attention span and memory by 20 percent, and more time resulted in even greater gains in both memory and creativity, and that regular exposure to green and blue spaces (like parks and ponds) significantly reduced old adults’ levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress. A third found that exposure to greenspace reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death. Those are some serious health benefits!
The same studies provide us with some good general tips on how to get the most out of the time we spend outside. They recommend trying, as much as you can, to experience nature without the pressure of a set amount of time or other preconceived goals. They suggest that you keep your phone use to a minimum and focus on attending to the feedback from each of your senses when you’re immersed in a green or blue space. These suggestions can help you to really be present in the moment, which can lessen anxiety and improve your overall mental health.
In addition to these general guidelines, there are some best practices to consider when planning to spend time outside at Colorado’s high elevation. Remember to always stay hydrated and be aware that both alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate dehydration. Wear and reapply plenty of sunscreen, and most of all, take things slow! Pace yourself and be on the look out shortness of breath, nausea, or headache – these are signs that you need to rest. If these symptoms persist, you’ll want to seek medical attention.
There are plenty of ways to safely enjoy the outdoors. Gardening is one great way to interact with nature and get some exercise at the same time – it’s an excellent activity for older adults to maintain strength and make light aerobic activity part of their daily lives. If you’ve already got a green thumb, consider leveling up by creating a natural area with native species that can become a route for butterfly and bird migrations. Speaking of birds, birdwatching is another fantastic way to get outside and connect with nature. Here in Douglas County, guided birdwatching walks are offered at Roxborough State Park several times per month. Finally, consider going out for a walk. The hiking opportunities here are truly endless – there’s something for everyone, no matter if it’s your first time out or you have decades of trail experience. As a starting place, consider Larkspur’s own Sandstone Ranch Open Space. With over 12 miles of trail, it’s one of the premier outdoors spaces in all the county.
No matter the activity, simply being outside and enjoying nature can provide a variety of benefits for your energy, creativity, and mental and physical well-being. If you or someone you know could use some more recommendations on how to stay active and engaged with nature or needs a hand with any other part of the aging process, please do reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you – it’s what we’re here for.
Aging with Pride:
Older Adults and LGBTQ Issues
Happy Pride Month! In previous posts, we’ve highlighted the ways in which America’s older adult population is changing and growing. One of those changes involves diversity: older adults today are more diverse than ever before. That includes LGBTQ adults, of whom there are nearly 3 million living all across the country. This month, we want to acknowledge the strength of these members of our communities and to examine some of the unique structural challenges they have faced. While we’ll be talking in broad demographic terms, it’s important to remember that there’s an individual story behind every number - each older LGBTQ adult carries their own story of pride, silence, struggle, hope, and love.
In many respects, LGBTQ elders show remarkable resilience given that many of their experiences as young people occurred in a context wherein being LGBTQ was less accepted, or worse, actively criminalized. They may have experienced family rejection, employment discrimination, violence, and more. And yet, surveys have demonstrated that this cohort often reports greater feelings of happiness, in comparison to those aged 50 and under. Nevertheless, LGBTQ older adults face some specific challenges. The lack of social and legal acceptance, both historically and currently, of LGBTQ people has had a profound impact on LGBTQ older adults. Among the keys to successful aging are good health and competent healthcare; economic stability and security; and strong social and family support. Unfortunately, these are the exact areas where LGBTQ elders report disparities when compared with their non-LGBTQ peers.
Economically, discrimination and lack of equality under the law has historically led to lower earning power for many LGBTQ adults. Among respondents to a National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, 27% of respondents reported not being hired, 26% not being promoted, and 18% being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, while marriage equality has now been enshrined in the law, its long-time absence meant that older same-sex couples were denied many of the financial and family protections afforded different-sex couples.
In the healthcare space, LGBTQ adults, in general, report poorer physical health outcomes as well as higher rates of psychological distress. They face additional difficulties navigating programs across the healthcare landscape, from insurance and Medicaid (same-sex couples could not jointly apply for the latter until recently) to long term care. Moreover, 40% of LGBTQ respondents to a survey in their 60s and 70s reported that their healthcare provider didn’t know about their sexual orientation.
Finally, many LGBTQ older adults grew up in a time and place in which family rejection was rampant, and they sadly could not consider the proposition of raising children with a partner of the same gender. As a result, they tend to have built strong networks of friends and chosen family, but sometimes do not have the familial networks of support that many non-LGBTQ folks rely on as they age. While these networks are strong, a lack of legal family ties can be challenging as friend networks don’t have the legal recognition to take time away from work, share health insurance plans, or make medical decisions for one another. This lack of legal recognition, reliance on chosen family, and the absence of funding for LGBTQ-specific aging resources mean that LGBTQ elders are susceptible to isolation. Studies show that LGBTQ older adults are much more likely to live alone than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, and are also less likely to access necessary services than the general aging population.
Experts offer some suggestions to redress these disparities. They suggest that local, state, and federal government entities should pass comprehensive employment and housing protections that prohibit discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. They also advocate for the recognition of relationships, so that federal and state programs that confer benefits to married couples honor the relationships of same-sex couples, specifically in instances in which a partner may have passed away before the freedom to marry became available. To respond to the increased risk of social isolation, traditional community centers for older adults should provide space and support for LGBTQ specific programming, and LGBTQ community centers should reciprocally provide space and support for elder-specific programming. Medical service providers and facilities, including long term care facilities, hospitals, and doctors’ offices should train staff on competently serving LGBTQ older adults.
LGBTQ older adults have been on the forefront of the fight for equality and fairness – they are change-makers who are responsible for tremendous progress in this country. At Aging Resources, we honor the individuals who comprise this community, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure that they can age on their own terms. We believe that everyone has a right to empowerment and support as they age.
Blogs are written by ARDC staff members