Finding Happiness in Community

linda-jackson-headshot

From AAI Program Director Linda Jackson:

For many of us, summer is the season of visiting new and favorite places, and seeing old friends and distant family. It’s also the time we head out to open spaces, enjoying the fresh air and green and gold vistas. I’m accompanied by my summer reading, all about happiness.

My research into ‘happiness’ has several roots. As one of the indicators influencing mental health, isolation affects the ability of older people to age successfully in their community. As we get older, many of us will lose someone closest to us: our spouse or partner, friends and neighbors, work colleagues, and family members. People who live in suburban homes find that when they stop driving, it is much more challenging to do necessary outings for food and time with family and friends. Being “in community,” however we individually define that, is essential for our mental health and our happiness.

A second factor is the understanding that community is a privilege not all of us are fortunate enough to have. The news about families arriving to ask for asylum only to be locked up in separate facilities moves one to despair, the opposite of happiness. In Marin, we stand concerned about our immigrant neighbors. Some of Marin’s immigrants are the clients of AAI partners. They are grandparents, worried about their own citizenship and the precarious situations of their family members. Many AAI partners employ immigrants for administrative and professional support in healthcare and care-giving. One of our partners recently contracted with an immigration attorney to provide consultations for their employees. What a benefit to help their workers have information needed for some peace of mind.

The last source of this deep summer dive into ‘happiness’ is from my own roots: my mother’s parents were from Sweden. I have long been intrigued by the comfortable and happy lives of my cousins and others living in northern Europe. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the greatest life satisfaction is in Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and Finland. Other northern European countries are close behind. (The U.S. ranks #15.)

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (yes, there is such a place!), identifies six components to happiness: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness. Our work in AAI aligns well with these components. We value collaboration, compassion, and respect. We advocate for aging-in-community and economic security. We innovate to improve communication across sectors and address inequities.

This month we highlight a facet of life in northern Europe that we enjoy here in Marin, with our abundant open space. As Dr. Lisa Santora explains this month, “a walk outside” is therapy. Even better is a walk in the woods. To be in nature, in natural habitat, breathing fresh air and experiencing a different setting — together this creates well-being, and yes, happiness.

Check out our greatly-expanded Resource webpage this month. You’ll find research done in Marin and beyond about older adults, and about organizations working with diverse populations. For example, and in honor of being outside, see what the County is planning for its parks in its “Inclusive Action Plan”. Bookmark this site, and use it to find pertinent facts for your grant applications and announcements.

I recently was on a unique walk, on a hunt for a grave marker in the enormous and lovely Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. It was just me and three maps (two from the hand-drawn era), wandering the lanes and gravestones, searching in the heat and shade, hiking over the rises and vales of the landscape, for an elusive stone. With what must have been a dozen restarts, and a pursuit that involved crawling under a bush the size of an elephant and brushing off the pine needles to uncover a granite marker in perfect condition after 83 years, I reached a serendipitous ending. There was my Swedish grandfather’s marker.

John Young

I sat there in the silent shade under the branches for a while, sitting with the memories of stories about this man who died ten years before I was born. With some fruit and water and rest, I was ready for the hike back to the entryway, ready to rejoin the vibrancy of urban Chicago. And, yes, I was happy!

Wishing you the same, and hope to see you on the trails ~

 

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

Our Families with Memory Loss

Senior Access

By Dana Pepp and Jim Ward

Everyone knows someone with dementia. It is estimated that up to 8,000 adults in Marin County are currently diagnosed with memory loss, and that number is growing rapidly as our population ages.

Luckily, Marin has various supports for families with memory loss: two high-quality adult day programs — Marin Adult Day Health Center and Senior Access — as well as many home care providers, including JFCS, that provide dementia care.

We say “families with memory loss,” because this journey really does affect the whole family, including friends and neighbors. In a recent survey, we asked respondents how many people are affected by their loved one’s memory loss. One caregiver responded: 24. Twenty-four people directly affected by one person’s diagnosis and journey into memory loss!

This journey is really challenging! There are lots of unknowns: daily ups and downs, plenty of stress and loss, but also plenty of laughs. At Senior Access, we support the caregivers by providing daily respite and support groups. We support clients by creating a loving, fun, engaging, social, and stimulating environment. We have created a program and a culture in which love, respect, compassion, and fun are valued.

Senior Access’ day programs as well as other family support services help loved ones age in place for as long as possible. The challenge we often face is that many families wait a long time — too long — to connect with respite and support services. Denial, resistance, and feeling that a loved one isn’t “old enough” or “ready enough” are common refrains. But the sooner families can connect with support services, the better for all involved.

The community-based programs and medical providers in Marin strive to work collaboratively to provide families with a menu of opportunities for loved ones. We meet quarterly to share best practices, build relationships, and streamline referrals. Through the Family Caregiver Support Program, administered by the Alzheimer’s Association, clients are provided free opportunities to try various support services throughout Marin. There are also currently researchers in Marin, including Drs. Bredesen and Ornish, working on lifestyle protocols to prevent and reduce symptoms of dementia.

Next time you speak with a friend, neighbor, or family member who is concerned about memory loss, please encourage them to visit their doctor for a neurological exam. And know that there are plenty of supports in Marin County for families with dementia.

Senior Access is celebrating 45 years supporting families with memory loss in Marin County. Please check out our video and website at www.senioraccess.org.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

INFORM & CONNECT: ADVANCED RESOURCES

Woman on phone

Wednesday November 1, 2017 | 9 am – 4 pm | FREE Workshop |

A free, daylong interactive training about information and resources specific to older adults 85+ and those who need more resources.

Inform and Connect Logo

This training is designed for help-desk, information hotline, and other front-line volunteers or staff who provide clients with information about programs and services available throughout the county for people who are 85 and older or need more advanced resources. Specialists on the following topics will share their knowledge, expertise and resources through short panel presentations and audience Q&A:

  • Vision
  • Senior Peer Counseling
  • Home Maintenance
  • Pets
  • Meals
  • Telephone Reassurance
  • Care-Giving
  • Dementia
  • Aging-in-Place
  • Residential Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Hospice Care

Attendees will make connections with professional colleagues, build professional expertise, and enhance their service to the community. CEUs available.

Who Should Attend

Front line volunteers and others who support the resource referral needs of people 85 and older and those that need more advanced resources.

REGISTER HERE

Registration problems? Call 415-492-9444

To view/download the flier, click here.


About Aging Action Initiative

The purpose of the Aging Action Initiative is to promote a county-wide age-friendly environment, especially for those in need, collectively created by a strong network of aging service providers through education, policy advocacy, and service coordination. The initiative is a collective effort of over 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commissions and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin, and coordinated by MARINSPACE.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

INFORM & CONNECT: A Workshop for Front Line Information Assistance and Resource Referral Staff

Woman on phone

Thursday September 21, 2017 | 9 am – 4 pm | FREE Workshop |

A free, daylong interactive training designed to support those who help older adults access resource referral information.

This training is designed for help-desk, information hotline, and other front-line volunteers or staff specifically tasked to provide clients with information about programs and services available throughout the county. Specialists on the following topics will share their knowledge, expertise and resources through short panel presentations and audience Q&A.

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Financial Abuse
  • Attendant Care
  • Mental Health
  • Nutrition
  • Staying Connected

Attendees will make connections with professional colleagues, build professional expertise, and enhance their service to the community.

Who Should Attend

Front line volunteers and staff who support the resource referral needs of older adults. Up to three people may register per agency or organization for the workshop.

7 Free CEUs provided courtesy of NASW-CA are offered for this workshop.

To register, click here or call 415-492-9444.

For a copy of the event flyer, click here.

About Aging Action Initiative

The purpose of the Aging Action Initiative is to promote a county-wide age-friendly environment, especially for those in need, collectively created by a strong network of aging service providers through education, policy advocacy, and service coordination. The initiative is a collective effort of over 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commissions and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin, and coordinated by MARINSPACE.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

So many abbreviations! What do they all mean?

acroynm-image-R1

Government is famous for using too many abbreviations. Do you know what organizations each abbreviation represents, and how these agencies are related or differ? Read on to brush up your knowledge.

CSL: California Senior Legislature

The California Senior Legislature is a volunteer body whose mission is to propose and advocate for legislation at the state and federal levels. The body holds a four-day model legislative session each October in Sacramento during which legislative proposals are prioritized. It is composed of 40 Senior Senators and 80 Senior Assembly Members who are selected in elections supervised by advisory councils in the 33 Planning and Services Areas in California that were established by the federal 1965 Older Americans Act.

CDA: California Department of Aging

The California Department of Aging administers programs that serve older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities throughout the state. The Department administers funds allocated under the federal Older Americans Act, the Older Californians Act, and through the Medi-Cal program.

The Department contracts with and provides leadership and direction to the network of Area Agencies on Aging that coordinate a wide array of services to seniors and adults with disabilities at the community level and serve as the focal point for local aging concerns.

CDA also contracts directly with agencies that operate the Multipurpose Senior Services Program through the Medi-Cal home and community-based waiver for the elderly, and certifies Adult Day Health Care centers for the Medi-Cal program.

AAA: Area Agencies on Aging

Area Agencies on Aging is a network of approximately 620 organizations nationwide that serve the elderly populations (60+) of their local areas. Most agencies serve a specific geographic area of several neighboring counties, although a few offer services statewide. This is especially true in smaller or less densely populated states.

All AAAs receive federal funding under the Older American Act and most supplement that funding with additional state and local revenues. The Older Americans Act requires AAAs to submit an Area Plan every four years, with subsequent annual updates, which reflect strategies and activities to best serve the needs of older adults and family caregivers in their designated Planning and Service Area.

Marin County Aging and Adult Services (AAS) acts as the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for Marin County. View the 2018-29 area plan.

AAS: Aging and Adult Services

The Marin County Aging and Adult Services acts as the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for Marin County. AAA is the leading planner, administrator, and funder of services for persons over 60 and family caregivers in Marin County.

To create a well-coordinated, community-based system of care in Marin, the AAA provides services directly from its offices as well as contracts with a network of private and non-profit agencies. The AAA receives approximately $1,000,000 annually in Older Americans Act monies to fund critical services for older adults, family caregivers, and adults with disabilities in Marin. More than two-thirds of these funds are contracted to community-based agencies. Aging Action Initiative (AAI) is one of the recipients of this funding.

COA: Commission on Aging

The Marin County Commission on Aging is a federally mandated advisory council to the Board of Supervisors. The COA works closely with Aging and Adult Services on behalf of Marin’s older adults. The mission of the Commission is to promote the dignity, independence and quality of life of older persons through advocacy, information, programs, and services.

Commissioners are appointed to three-year terms by the Board of Supervisors: one from each of the incorporated cities, two elected from Marin County to the California Senior Legislature (CSL), and, if applicable, one Marin County resident appointed by the Governor to the State Commission on Aging. In addition, Marin County’s Senior Assembly Member and Senior Senator, representatives of the California Senior Legislature (CSL), also serve as ex-officio members for a four-year term.


Aging Action Initiative (AAI) is a collective effort of over 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commission and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin, collaborating for an age-friendly environment. For more information visit agingactioninitiative.org or connect with us on Facebook.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected: