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SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers
Hundreds of volunteers contribute to SOWEGA Council on Aging services


Annual Report out now, Annual Meeting 11/16/17



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Date Posted: January 18, 2018
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Date Posted: December 28, 2017
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Date Posted: December 20, 2017
SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers

SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers
Hundreds of volunteers contribute to SOWEGA Council on Aging services

By Jennifer Parks of the Albany Herald
Click for online article

ALBANY — There are roughly 400 volunteers who the SOWEGA Council on Aging depends on to offer a variety of services that its staff and clients have considered to be of significant value.

On Tuesday, they were recognized at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center for their efforts.

"This is a way to say thank you," Debbie Blanton, executive director for the Council on Aging, said. "It's our Christmas party to our volunteers.

"We could not afford to have the staffing to do what these volunteers do. ... How can you put a price (on their contribution)? It is invaluable."

The volunteers take part in services including teaching classes, meal delivery, nursing home visitation, making teddy bears for children at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, building ramps, going into schools to mentor children, assisting seniors in filling out their taxes, participating in neighborhood watches, helping with dementia patients, working in soup kitchens, calling in to check on vulnerable seniors and visiting in with Veterans Affairs patients.

Given the number of activities they are involved in, there is a constant need and constant effort to recruit — and the need keeps growing.

"We have all kinds of opportunities," Blanton said. "Our community would be handicapped severely if it were not for the role these volunteers (fill).

"We can find a place for you."

Marilyn Westbrook, the Council on Aging's Retired Senior Volunteer Program project director, said the volunteers the agency depends on provide critical services to the community that may not otherwise be fulfilled — and they save a good amount of money in doing so.

That is a good reason to make sure volunteers continue to give of their time.

"Volunteers come and some of them go," she said. "We try to get them to stay and keep them engaged."

Westbrook noted the significance of veterans giving of their time and talents. 

"They serve their country," she said. "Now they serve their community."

Peggy Lyons, a wellness volunteer based in East Albany, summed up at the luncheon her reason for volunteering.

"We can be here, but we want to live well," she said.

During the recognition program, Blanton gave similar remarks on the importance of veterans serving, connecting it to the sense of integrity and faith it takes to engage in volunteerism.

"Why does a person serve? Because serving our country is part of serving humanity," she said.


Date Posted: November 15, 2017
Docs and Dinners

Medical experts say the number of South Georgians suffering from dementia is increasing and that makes the importance of caregivers for loved ones with dementia even more vital.

A caregivers support forum was held in Albany Tuesday night.

The Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) Council on Aging held its 1st annual Docs and Dinners event Tuesday night to help answer some of the tough questions associated with dementia.

The event was hosted by SOWEGA Council on Aging and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

"We hear all the time how people don't actually get a chance to ask the questions to their doctor," said SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Debbie Blanton. "We have caregiver programs, the Alzheimer Outreach Center has a daycare center so they will learn about local resources that are available," said Blanton.

Neurologist Dr. Marla Morgan said asking for help is one of the first things she stresses to families dealing with dementia.

"I really encourage family members to do that because that can minimize the stress on the caregiver," said Morgan.

Because one of the biggest concerns doctors see is the caregiver neglecting their own health.

"If they are not in good shape, they can't take care of the patient," said Morgan.

And Although there is no cure for dementia, the best thing to do in this situation is enjoy life day by day.

"So you get comfortable being in their world and I hope that is what comes out of this today," said Blanton.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging said this was their first event held for caregivers and patients with dementia, but they will continue to hold events within the coming months.

Click for video


Date Posted: November 09, 2017
Annual Report 2017

The SOWEGA Council on Aging recently released updated data on the services its offers to its 14-county population via this year's annual report.

Council on Aging officials said there is a total population of 67,369 people aged 60 and older in the organization's coverage area, and each county has its own senior enrichment centers. Its senior centers serve as a base for programs and services in crafts, entertainment, educational activities, exercise programs and outreach activities.

"Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well-being," the annual report said.

The Albany center includes meeting rooms occasionally rented out for special events. At the centers, 883 people were served 113,477 congregate meals, the report said.

The annual report also said senior farmers market nutrition program issued 579 vouchers worth $20 each, and the chronic disease self-management program has 23 participants with two trainers conducting two workshops. Tai Chi for Arthritis had 196 participants with 10 trainers conducting 14 workshops.

"A Matter of Balance," a program addressing concerns related to falls or loss of balance, had 15 participants with two master trainers conducting two workshops, the report said.

The Aging and Disability Resource Connection, meant to help people find information on a wide range of long-term support options, had a total of 7,481 referrals in Fiscal Year 2017. The community care services program, which provides alternatives to nursing homes for people who are Medicaid eligible, had 552 clients and generated $18,453.70 in savings per person, the report said.

The Council on Aging also has representatives in the long-term care ombudsmen program, which monitors issues related to abuse or neglect. The Council's service area includes 82 personal care homes, 22 nursing homes and 37 community living arrangements, and there were 1,245 complaints resolved over the year — while 1,105 consultations were given to facilities, the report said.

"Money Follows the Person," allowing someone who has resided in an institutional setting for at least 90 days with services paid to Medicaid the opportunity to discuss transitioning options, conducted 18 transitions from July 1, 2016-June 30. Georgia Cares, which provides information about Medicare benefits, provided counseling to 1,346 beneficiaries over the year, the report said.

The adult day care and in-home respite care helped 45 families and 25 families, respectively, in Southwest Georgia while also offering support groups for caregivers consisting of 20 members. Georgia's legal services program, meanwhile, closed 243 cases, while the retired senior volunteer program built 80 ramps for disabled people and made 100 teddy bears for children at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the report said.

Meals on Wheels served 917 clients 176,304 meals, and homemaker services served 126 clients and put in 9,862 service hours. Case management services helped 250 clients, putting in 4,291 service hours, the report said.

Incorporated in 1966, the Council on Aging provides, develops and coordinates services for all people aged 60 and older in a 14-county, 600-square-mile area of Southwest Georgia. Its administrative offices are located at 335 W. Society Ave.

- Jennifer Parks, Albany Herald





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