Aging gracefully with as much independence as possible was on the minds of many who attended the recent Senior Health and Living Seminar hosted by the Weaverville Lions Club. Healthy living is a reason for residing in Trinity County where one can enjoy beautiful scenery, the four seasons and quaint towns. Seniors living here stay in their own homes by choice and also by necessity as the county has one skilled nursing facility.
Attentiveness to community needs is a Weaverville Lions Club specialty. This club provides walkers, wheelchairs and other devices, as well as occasional deliveries to seniors and veterans. The seminar sought to expand the Lions’ role by connecting people serving seniors. The Senior Health and Living Seminar inspired participants to improve their lives through current services and to identify service needs. Networking was lively. Opportunities for collaborations to enhance current services were encouraged by Weaverville Lions President Scott Muir and by audience members.
In Trinity County where 30 percent of the population is over 65, it is important to know what services are available before the need is dire. The directors of Trinity Hospital and Redding Rancheria were scheduled presenters, and at a booth Noelle and Heidi Freer of Trinity Hospital’s Physical Therapy Department shared exercises and habits to prevent falls and strategies to maintain physical strength. Knowing the roles of administrators, therapists and other medical staff help one navigate the system both for health and for recovery.
At other booths, attendees learned about a soon-to-be-offered CHP driving school for seniors, the CalFresh program which is the California implementation of the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (electronic benefit transfer cards, hotline, food preparation training, educational materials), Medi-Cal health care services and eligibility, and CalCare (California Guaranteed Health Care for All) program goals with the opportunity to sign a petition to state of California legislators.
Veterans Services Officer Jennifer Dobbs encouraged veterans to meet with her individually and explore the benefits available (530-623-3975). Dobbs has assisted a significant number of Trinity County veterans in obtaining additional benefits based on new VA funding as it relates to their individual qualifications and needs. Due to legislators hearing veteran, caregiver and service provider pleas, funding has expanded for caregiver programs, mental health and other valued services.
Sheriff Tim Saxon fielded questions including how to report elder abuse and financial scams. If people suspect a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, call either Trinity County Adult Protective Services or the Sheriff’s Office and talk to an investigator who can discuss what is suspected. APS would follow up with a social worker visit or contact with the elder or dependent adult. Elder abuse can be physical, financial, neglect or exploitation. Regarding financial scams perpetrated on the elderly, Sheriff Saxon shared that the Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement, and a number of other agencies will never ask for personal identification information over the phone. No one should ever share a Social Security number, banking information or passwords over the phone and to someone they don’t know. If a scam is suspected, call the Sheriff’s Office and report as much information as possible so staff can follow up. Many of us know of someone who has been taken in by a scam. The key to catching a scammer is reporting. If you suspect it’s a scam call, hang up. If it really is law enforcement, they’ll soon come out to your house in person.
The state of California In-Home Support Services Department screens workers for eligibility to work for seniors in their homes. Seminar participants voiced desire for increased eligibility requirements, and this requires advocacy at the state level. Increased eligibility requirements are likely best achieved through legislation.
Philip Simi of the Trinity County Office of Emergency Services shared disaster preparedness for seniors and all county residents. A resident can prepare by reading the county’s Emergency Operations Plan which provides the roles and responsibilities of agencies and departments as they work together to prepare, prevent and manage threats and disasters. A disaster and emergency preparedness guide is available (ready.gov). “Code Red” is the early warning system used by the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office for Evacuation Warnings, Orders and Shelter-in-Place alerts. Register for “Code Red” to receive alerts. The appropriate Evacuation Zone corresponding to each P.O. Box was mailed July-August 2022. The Emergency Operations Plan, registration for “Code Red” and finding the Evacuation Zone for your home or location is on the website (trinitycounty.org/oes).
At a break, one attendee described the whole thing as a “knowing day.” “I’ve met people I want to know and I’ve learned things I need to know.”
Annie Nugent, director of the Golden Age Center, emphasized they keep track of their seniors and will respond if a senior has an emergency need that they can fulfill or provide a referral. Tuesday luncheons are served at the Golden Age Center. The GAC bus is a highly valued service by seniors needing transportation. The current board is exploring how the bus can be used to further the Golden Age Center’s mission to provide social activities for seniors.
A request for collaboration and for blending goals to the benefit of seniors was made by Judy Walkner and Lynn Hartley of the Trinity Alps Village Project. A “village project” is created by a group of seniors who wish to age-in-place rather than move to senior housing or assisted living.
The Planning and Service Area 2 Area Agency on Aging seeks to preserve senior independence, dignity and choice while aging at home. PSA2 channels federal and state funding through contracts with local nonprofit organizations, and PSA2 monitors programs funded with monies it administers. PSA2 is a joint powers agency and through its Advisory Council works identifying the needs of seniors, and planning and coordinating senior services for each county in its area: Trinity, Lassen, Modoc and Siskiyou counties. The Advisory Council for Trinity includes Michael Cottone, Melanie Miller, Benjamin Sarkisian and Vonnie Westbrook. A current Weaverville project funded and monitored by PSA2 is senior meals delivered by the Nazarene Church and Dignity Health.
Dawn Hospice volunteers Michael McAlister and Mary Whitmore presented information about available services for "End of Life" needs. Their non-medical services include respite for the primary caregiver, support of family, education and reading materials, help with household chores, errands, companionship and resource information. People usually don't think too much about the how, where and with whom issues of their last days until they are faced with them. Dawn Hospice can help people to navigate through this sometimes challenging, but inevitable time with dignity and respect.
Those who gathered for the seminar reminded those present how many truly good and talented people are in Trinity County and why it is wonderful to live here. Presenters voiced learning from other speakers and from those staffing booths. All are looking forward to participating next year. The success of the Senior Health and Living Seminar has prompted the Lions Club to make this an annual event.
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