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


Four educational events set in coming weeks at SOWEGA Council on Aging


A recent change in policy called the Standard Medical Deduction could mean more food stamps for seniors & people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.


12th annual Comedy Night fundraiser /10 @ 6:30pm



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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


Date Posted: November 02, 2017
Four educational events set in coming weeks at SOWEGA CoA

It is a busy season coming up for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, including four educational events taking place through the end of the year.

The Council on Aging will be hosting a free smartphone education class for Android users from 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday. This class is free and open to the public and will be provided by the city of Albany Technology and Communication Department.

Participants are asked to bring their own smartphones.

The Council on Aging will later host the annual caregiver lunch and learn at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. The guest speaker will be Babs Hall, family caregiver and corporate compliance officer at Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services.

November is National Caregiver Month and the Regional Caregiver of the Year Award winners will be announced during the event. The lunch and learn is open to all family caregivers and there is a registration fee of $15.

The registration deadline for the event is Nov. 6.

There is also a chronic disease self-management course taking place from 9:30-noon every Wednesday from Nov. 8-Dec. 13. Officials said the program is appropriate for any adults experiencing chronic health conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and diabetes. Their family members, friends and caregivers can also participate.

The program provides information through the Living Well Workshops, which teach practical skills on managing chronic health problems. It is meant to give people the confidence and motivation they need to manage the challenges of living with a chronic condition.

The registration fee for the six-week course is $10.

Docs and Dinners is set for 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Nov. 14. Dr. Marla Morgan, neurologist with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, will discuss dementia and then take questions from the audience. It is free, but reservations will be required.

It is being sponsored by the SOWEGA Council on Aging, the Alzheimer's Outreach Center and Phoebe Physicians Group. Registration is required by Nov. 10.

All the events are taking place at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center, located at 335 W. Society Ave.

The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people 60 years of age and older in a 14-county, 6,000-square-mile area of Southwest Georgia. The administrative offices are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday-Friday at the enrichment center, and can be reached at (229) 432-1124.

Those seeking reservations for the lunch and learn and Docs and Dinners should call (229) 435-6789.

Albany Herald article


Date Posted: August 01, 2017
Public Benefits: Food Stamps

A recent change in policy called the Standard Medical Deduction, or SMED, could mean more food stamps for seniors and people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.

Under the old policy, only 15% of the seniors and people who get SS/SSI disability benefits who receive food stamps in Georgia actually received a medical expense deduction under the old policy even when they were eligible. SMED, the new policy, makes a one-time application for standard medical expense deduction possible, and the monthly deduction can increase food stamp eligibility significantly.

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Date Posted: July 19, 2017
12th annual Comedy Night fundraiser

Coordinators for the annual Comedy Night being conducted by the SOWEGA Council on Aging said they still have tickets, and silent auction donation and sponsorship opportunities, available for an event that has generated strong enthusiasm in the weeks leading up to it.

"Right now, we are still looking for sponsors (through the end of this week)," Council on Aging Associate Director Izzie Sadler said. "We are really looking for items for silent auction."

The Council on Aging's 12th annual Comedy Night, featuring David Crowe, has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center.

This year's event will include a silent auction, followed by a dinner and Crowe's performance at 6:30 p.m. It is meant to deliver clean humor appropriate for all ages while supporting the Meals on Wheels program throughout 14 counties in Southwest Georgia.

The silent auction is beneficial in that it is another way to raise money while giving attendees something to do while they are waiting for the program to start. That time also allows for an opportunity to educate people about what the Council on Aging does.

The event typically brings in $35,000-$40,000. Doug Lorber, a frequent contributor to the fundraiser, will serve as the master of ceremonies this year.

Crowe is described as "a brilliant combination of socially relevant, issue-fired intellectualism and physical buffoonery." He takes on topical subjects, historical events and personal experiences, and has won both the Seattle International Comedy and the San Francisco International Comedy competitions.

Crowe opened for President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Committee's Saxophone Club fundraiser. He has been featured on Showtime with his own comedy special, "Crooked Finger," along with appearances on Comedy Central, Bob & Tom Radio, SiriusXM and Pandora.

"We are excited about Crowe's performance, because he is different from the other comedians we've had," Sadler said.

Meals on Wheels provides warm, nutritious meals to homebound individuals. Food insecurity is a concern nationally, and Meals on Wheels in Southwest Georgia serves more than 185,000 meals annually to 650 people.

"Now more than ever, there are more cuts coming down the road with Meals on Wheels," Sadler said. "There are more seniors than there is funding. There is a growing need, and there are more frail seniors in a rural area."

While serving as a source of nutrition, the program also serves as a safety check.

"We have had volunteers go out to the house and find someone is ill," Sadler said.

Counties that benefit from the Council on Aging's program are Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.

Tickets are $40 and can be bought by coming to the Council on Aging at 335 W. Society Ave. Apart from individual tickets, five sponsorship levels are available, ranging from "Listing" for $100-$249 for inclusion in the program to the $2,500 or more "Gold Level," which includes a full-page advertisement in the event program.

Online purchases have been closed, and it is not anticipated that tickets will be sold at the door.

The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people 60 years of age and older in a 14-county area. The administrative offices can be reached at (229)-432-1124.

Jennifer Parks - Albany Herald





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