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Speaking Up Is Important

posted Oct 2, 2017, 2:11 PM by Kim Cobb

If you think that your voice doesn’t matter, think again!  It is only because people were willing to speak up that our state budget includes permanent AND expanded funding to support Dementia Care Specialists in Aging & Disability Resource Centers across the state.  Currently there are 19 positions covering approximately 54% of Wisconsin’s age 60+ population.  This is great, and even though our ADRC secured a grant in 2014 for a Dementia Care Specialist, we believe that every person in Wisconsin should have access to the expertise these positions provide. 

In addition to the expansion of Dementia Care Specialists, the state budget also provides additional funds to support transportation services for persons age 60 or better and those with a disability.  At this point we aren’t sure how much of the additional funding will come to Barron County, but we are optimistic and thankful that the need for an increase was recognized by our legislators.  The budget doesn’t solve the overarching concern of long term sustainable funding of transportation, but at some point compromise has to occur for the greater good.

As with any budget there are disappointments but it doesn’t serve any of us to dwell on those things. It just means we have to step back, celebrate our achievements, roll up our sleeves and find a new approach to solving problems.

In the meantime, it’s important to contact your legislators and say “thank you” for supporting the Dementia Care Specialist and the additional Transportation funds.  In Barron County, your legislators are:

Senator Janet Bewley, (608) 266-3510, Sen.Bewley@legis.wi.gov  Room 126 South, State Capitol, Madison WI  53707

Representative Romaine Quinn (608) 282-3675,  Rep.Quinn@legis.wisconsin.gov  Room 323 North, State Capitol, PO Box 8953, Madison, WI  53708 

 

New Members Needed for Independent Living Council Post

posted Aug 17, 2017, 11:58 AM by Kim Cobb

The Independent Living Council (ILCW) is appointed by Gov. Walker to plan for independent living services for people of all ages with disabilities of all types. ILCW currently seeks people with disabilities who 1) are an adult, Wisconsin resident and 2) do not work for either the State of Wisconsin or one of Wisconsin's 8 Independent Living Centers. Wisconsin's IL Centers and their main office locations are: Access to Independence (Madison), CIL for Western Wisconsin (Menomonie), Independence First (Milwaukee), Independent Living Resources (La Crosse), Midstate Independent Living Consultants (Stevens Point), North Country Independent Living (Superior), Options for Independent Living (Green Bay), and Society’s Assets (Racine).

Learn more about this opportunity or the ILCW. 

House-Passed Health Care Bill Dangerous for Millions of Older Americans

posted Aug 17, 2017, 11:52 AM by Kim Cobb

Statement by Sandy Markwood, CEO, The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)— 

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed this afternoon (5/5/2017) by the House of Representatives represents a grave risk to millions of older adults, caregivers and people with disabilities, as this bill would negatively impact their access to the affordable health care and accessible long-term care they need to maintain their health and independence. Read more here.

Transportation Funding

posted Aug 29, 2016, 7:57 AM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Aug 29, 2016, 8:00 AM ]

How Will Transportation Funding Impact Your Life? Let Your Legislators Know!

In 2013, the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission, appointed by the Governor and Legislature clearly found that if Wisconsin does not adjust its user fees, the condition of both our state and local roads and transit systems will deteriorate significantly over the next decade. Read the report at this link: Keep Wisconsin Moving-Smart Investments Measurable Results. 

Music and Memory

posted Aug 25, 2016, 9:23 AM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Aug 25, 2016, 9:24 AM ]

Music and Memory Grant Supports Partnership to Support Those Living with Dementia in Their Homes.

On July 12th, 2016, Wisconsin’s Interim Secretary of the Department of Health Services, Tom Engels, joined representatives from Mayo Hometown Health, the Boys & Girls Club of Barron County, and the Aging & Disability Resource Center to announce the implementation of a $25,000 grant from the Mayo Clinic Health System to offer the Music & Memory Program in Barron County to people with dementia living in their homes.  The Secretary shared his own journey in caring for a loved one with dementia and expressed his commitment to carrying on the legacy of his predecessor, Kitty Rhoades.  It was quite an honor to have the Secretary here and to have him help us introduce the Memory & Music Program we are starting in Barron County.

The Music & Memory program will connect youth from the Boys and Girls Club with people who have dementia to provide personal music that speaks to them.  Music is profoundly linked with personal memories and, even for people living with advanced dementia; music can tap deep emotional recall. Think about a time when listening to a song that you have been transported back in time –back to your mom singing as she worked around the house, going on a family vacation, or your first dance.

Research has shown that parts of the brain activated when listening to music are some of the last areas affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  In fact, the evidence behind the Music & Memory program reveals benefits for both the person with dementia and their families.  These include increased awareness, engagement, and connection, along with less stress.  Youth from the Boys & Girls Club will receive training in brain health, Alzheimer’s and dementia, music and memory, and receive an interactive simulation of what it may be like to live with dementia.  Then they will be paired with people living in their homes with dementia to help discover and bring back the soundtrack of that person’s life, meeting at their home twice a month to update the music.  This is a unique opportunity to bring generations together, utilizing the tech savvy skills of our youth and introducing them to the wisdom and life experience of our older adults living with dementia.  Through the grant, the ADRC is able to provide an iPod shuffle, headphones, and purchased music to participants.  If you are interested in participating in the Music & Memory program, please contact coordinator, Jan Piltz, 715-537-6225.

Secretary Engels also visited Barron County to learn about the overwhelmingly positive response to the ADRC’s local dementia friendly community initiatives. After the announcement, the Secretary met with Barron County department heads to learn more about the ADRC initiative’s to train ALL county staff on what it means to be Dementia Friendly. Staff reported changes they made in their environment and day-to-day protocols to become more dementia friendly.  In general the increased awareness has generated better customer service and discussion about stigmatized diseases that are often not talked about.  In addition, many county employees concerned about or helping their own family members who have dementia have sought information and resources to help them plan ahead.  Secretary Engels seemed pretty impressed by how county employees have embraced the initiative and in some cases, changed the way in which they do business to make life better for our Barron County residents.  

The dementia friendly training is a ½ hour presentation that is available to all businesses and organizations provided on site.  If interested, please contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center for more information, 715-537-6225.

Music and memory Press Conference
Participants in the Music & Memory press conference included, pictured left to right:
Back row: Tom Engels, Interim Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Health Services; Trisha Bailkey, Dementia Care Specialist and Janet Plitz, Music and Memory Project Coordinator, Aging and Disability Resource Center of Barron Rusk, and Washburn Counties;  Deanna Aubart, Executive Director and Lyndsey Kurtz, Site Manager, Barron Riverview Middle School Extension, Boys & Girls Club of Barron County; Sara Carstens, Director of Community Engagement and Wellness, Community Giving Committee, Mayo Clinic Health System; 
Front Row: Jaqui Erb and Audra Rick, members of the Boys & Girls Club of Barron County in Barron.

Call to Action!

posted Jan 28, 2016, 1:18 PM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Jan 28, 2016, 2:16 PM ]

posted 4 hours ago by Kim Cobb   [ updated 3 minutes ago ]

If you don’t know someone with dementia, you may think the illness doesn’t affect you. But consider this:
  • One of every nine people age 65+ have dementia
  • 90% of people with dementia live at home
  • In 2014, Wisconsin's 191,000 caregivers provided 218,000,000 hours of unpaid care to people with dementia
In just five years, almost 20,000 people living in Barron, Rusk & Washburn Counties will be age 65+. That means:
  • 2216 people with dementia will live in Barron, Rusk & Washburn Counties
  • Almost 2000 of those people will live at home
In late 2015, Governor Walker set up a Speakers Task Force on Dementia.  Many people spoke at public hearings held by the task force around the state. The state Assembly is now looking at the related proposals listed here. Your representatives need to hear what you think about these bills!

Assembly Bill 787: Proposes one million dollars more for the Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Support Program (AFCSP). This program helps family members get a break from caregiving while the person with dementia lives at home.  It also delays or prevents the need for more expensive programs and housing for the person with dementia. 

Assembly Bill 788: Proposes to keep paying for Dementia Care Specialists (DCS) after 2017.  Because the ADRC of Barron, Rusk & Washburn County has a DCS, we have new programs and services for people with dementia and their caregivers.

Assembly Bill 792: Proposes two new requirements to the alert process for missing adults at risk, often called “Silver Alert”.
  • The person asking for the alert must be connected with the local Aging & Disability Resource Center
  • The Department of Transportation must review the driver's license of the person the alert is about. They will decide if it is safe for that person to drive.
Contact your Assembly representative if you have an opinion about how he/she should vote on these bills. (Contact information .pdf file) Find more information about these bills and bills 783, 784, 785, 786, 789, & 790, which also pertain to dementia and related services.

Information based on alz.org/facts/#cost and doa.wi.gov/divisions/intergovernmental-relations/demographic-services-center/projections.

Photo ID for Voting…It’s The Law

posted Jan 28, 2016, 12:51 PM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Jan 28, 2016, 1:09 PM ]

Wisconsin law now states that you need to provide acceptable photo identification card (ID) when voting.  Acceptable ID include:
  • Wisconsin Driver License or receipt
  • Wisconsin State ID card or receipt         
  • U.S. Passport
  • WI College Student ID & proof of enrollment          
  • Tribal ID
  • Military ID
Important things to know:
  • There is no such thing as a "Wisconsin Voter ID Card."  The new Voter Photo ID Law uses existing photo IDs for people to prove their identity before voting.
  • The address on your ID doesn’t have to be current. The name on your ID doesn’t need to be an exact match for your name in the poll book.
  • There are certain requirements. Your ID should look like you even if you’ve colored your hair, shaved your beard or lost some weight, as long as your photo ID reasonably resembles you.
If you do not have one of the above, you can get a free Wisconsin ID card for voting from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)by filling out application MV3004 and bringing proof of name and date of birth, proof of Wisconsin residency and social security number.  Find your local DMV here, and see www.wisconsindot.gov for more details.  You can also contact the ADRC at 1-888-538-3031 for help or to find out about options for transportation to the your local DMV.  

More detailed information on Photo ID can be found at www.bringit.wi.gov. The dates for the 2016 elections are:
  • February 16 - Spring Primary
  • April 5 - Spring Election – Presidential Preference
  • August 9 - Partisan Primary
  • November 8 - General / Presidential Election

Good News-Thank Your Legislators!

posted Dec 29, 2015, 12:34 PM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Jan 28, 2016, 9:16 AM ]

Congress protects and invests in seniors in final Fiscal Year 2016 funding deal
From the National Council on Aging (NCOA)

Advocacy by hundreds of NCOA supporters has paid off. Congress crafted a final FY16 funding package that rejects proposed cuts and even provides some increases for programs and services for older adults. Find your Wisconsin legislators and let them know you appreciate their efforts. Learn more about the budget.

CDSME and Falls Prevention Face Funding Cuts

posted Nov 16, 2015, 7:51 AM by Kim Cobb   [ updated Nov 16, 2015, 7:56 AM ]

Every year, chronic illness and falls among older adults cost thousands of lives and millions in health care costs. But funding for proven Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) and evidence-based Falls Prevention programs are facing 5% cuts in fiscal year 2016. The National Council on Aging (NOCA) has developed this graphic to share the details. 

Before Thanksgiving, Congress will decide on 2016 funding levels for these programs. Contact your Federal Legislators and let them know what you think.

42% Funding Cut Proposed for the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Programs

posted Nov 16, 2015, 7:37 AM by Kim Cobb

In July the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a 42% cut in funding for the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), from $52 million to $30 million. Now, Congressional leaders are deciding whether to retain this cut. This is the largest cut ever proposed in the history of the SHIP program. It would significantly erode the national SHIP network of unbiased, personalized Medicare benefits information counseling.

Wisconsin is home to 1,027,875 Medicare beneficiaries (1.8% of the U.S. total) and the SHIP is responsible for outreach, counseling and assistance these beneficiaries. 
 
With so many new people reaching the Medicare eligible age of 65, our SHIP serves more people every year. The Wisconsin SHIP has seen an average yearly increase of 11% in client contacts since 2011. They conducted 2,200 outreach events and handled 97,832 client contacts in 2014.  That means someone contacts a Wisconsin SHIP counselor every 76 seconds during the average business day. Thirty-six percent (36%) of contacts involved beneficiaries with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level; 19% involved people with disabilities and 8% involved people who have a mental illness or other mental disability and are eligible for Medicaid as well as Medicare.
 
The SHIP is an integral component of the network of services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities with Medicare. The Social Security Administration, CMS, 1-800-MEDICARE, Medicare health and prescription drug plans, local and state agencies, and Congressional representatives regularly refer beneficiaries to the Wisconsin SHIP for information and assistance.  In Wisconsin, 21% of SHIP contacts were initiated as a result of a referral from CMS, Social Security or another agency.
 
Wisconsin received $980,625 in annual federal grant funding to operate this program in 2015. If you can advocate, please email your Senators and Representative now and urge them to reject the proposed Senate cut in SHIP funding, and provide level funding of $52 million, as the House Appropriations Committee has recommended.


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