Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
Whew! We are nearing another beginning to a work week…or, as those 36/7/365/6 caregivers call it…uhhh…I got nothin’. They just work every day. I thank you for your dedication and your love for your loved one. You matter!
This is going to be a slightly atypical piece. No, I am not pulling an obscure term out of thin air or comparing dementia to a turkey fryer or a paperclip (Come to think of it, though, now noting these silently as future articles….). Today I just want to explain why I split my Longest Day proceeds between the amazing and super-helpful Alzheimer’s Association and our local Area Agency on Aging (SeniorAge). You likely know the wonderful things that the Alzheimer’s Association does…and I write every post about them, rightly so. 🙂 But SeniorAge…you need to know more. 🙂
First, if you are unfamiliar with my event, here are the details:
On June 20th, I will be running (as best I can) from Bolivar, Mo. to Springfield, Mo. on the beautiful Frisco Highline Trail. It is either 35 or 37 miles in length depending on whether you play Frogger and cross a couple of highways or run around them and under the overpasses. I am not fond of running across the highway, so I will run around. I mean, what is an extra two miles when you are slogging 35 miles anyway?!?!?! I did this exact event last year and raised over $6000 split between the Alzheimer’s Association and SeniorAge, so this is something of a rerun. Here is some of the coverage: LINK. Then, on the next morning (June 21st), after staying in the hotel at the trailhead, I will job back the same way I came. 🙂
It is easy to understand why an Alzheimer’s blogger would raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, the best advocacy/research/support/etc…entity for the disease. But what may not be as obvious is just how critical the Area Agency on Aging is in te process of caregiving. Consider the following services provided either at zero cost or with a suggested, but not required donation:
- Information and Assistance– SeniorAge (and, presumably, nearly every Area Agency on Aging), staff a support line not unlike the wonderful Alzheimer’s Support Line (Alz: 1-800-272-3900), that, instead of being focused on the disease is focused on senior needs as a whole. They help with accessing services (SeniorAge or otherwise), help with Medicare/Medicaid, elder abuse issues, fraud concerns, and 1000 other topics.
- Meals– Think of SeniorAge as Meals on Wheels and/or like Meals on Wheels. We deliver, literally, not figuratively, MILLIONS of meals to seniors. No exaggeration. Our AAA (Area Agency on Aging:SeniorAge) not only serves our 10k square miles in SW Missouri, we also deliver our frozen meals to other AAAs in the state who, because of the supply chain and out of a preference to our meal program, procure our meals to be delivered to their seniors. We make these meals primarily at a large-scale facility in SW Missouri and at some of our bigger senior centers.
- Senior Centers– Centers, and our employees at them, are the hand that fills the glove of what SeniorAge does. We operate over 30 senior centers throughout the Ozarks. In these centers, we serve hot meals, offer a bevy of wellness programs, provide enrichment opportunities, and give seniors a safe and fun place to hang out with peers. These services, like the rest, are generally free or by a suggested donation, and available to anyone 60+ regardless of other factors.
- Counseling– We provide free tax preparation, free and unbiased Medicare enrollment, free benefits enrollment, and a bunch of other advice not neatly fitting in the above information and assistance mention.
- Aging in place– Fancy term, I suppose…almost jargon-ish. What it means is we do our best to hep seniors stay in their home We help where we can in home modifications, in advice, in services, and the like to keep people in their home and out of a nursing home. This is HUGE in Alzheimer’s-related situations!
- Other Dementia-related programs– Past, present, and future…lots. We have offered stress busting programs for caregivers. We work with the always amazing Alzheimer’s Association to house our Alzheimer’s Caregiver support group (that I am honored to lead). We offer a dementia-friendly dining experience called The Happy Lemon Memory Cafe and are hoping to expand these multiple places. We work with the Alzheimer’s Association and Dementia Friends to provide education on dementia wherever we can. Frankly, nearly everything we do, indirectly or directly, helps folks with dementia and their caregivers!
- Friendship– Perhaps the most under-noticed thing we do is call on many, many, many seniors living alone every single day and check in on them. We see if they need anything, offer a phone shoulder to cry on some days, and just be friends in a seemingly unfriendly world.
- More and more and more: We assist with a wonderful Farmer’s Market voucher program to get fresh produce in the hands of seniors. We help folks without insurance sign up to the Affordable Care Act. We work with AARP to assist with driving classes for seniors. We do all sorts of amazing things at Christmas time to brighten the lives of seniors, especially those struggling. We operate an Alert program that sends texts or voice messages to advise seniors of potential disasters, of services after a disaster, of time-sensitive fraud cases, and similar important messages. We are piloting a Patient Companion program to help with the challenges of doctor’s appointments. We assist, where possible, with various transportation issues. We help/helped with a host of COVID-related services and never stopped getting meals through the whole pandemic (actually, we did exponentially MORE). We are a hub for AmeriCorps volunteers for our half of the state and help volunteers in this amazing group find non-profits to help.The list goes on and on and on and on.
But, Blog Boy, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”, you might rightly say. You aren’t the government…you can’t print your own money! You are just a non-profit like the United Way or Red Cross! Someone has to pay for this. How is that done? Here is how:
- The Older American’s Act– This program is already baked into every federal budget pie and the AAAs get some funding for their services through it.
- State Government– SeniorAge and the other AAAs get varying levels of funding from state budgets too. We do a lot, states appreciate what we do, and we get funding to do it and more.
- County Tax Boards– Many counties, including a handful of amazing ones in SW Missouri, have a county senior tax board through which we get additional funding for that county’s services. They are wonderful partner and we only wish every county had one.
- Grants– We have a few employees and volunteers work magic and find us many, many grants to fill in budget holes and, in many cases, actually expand services.
- Donations– We love and appreciate donations ranging from a few bucks donation for a well-cooked meal to a million dollars in planned giving or tax sheltered programs. What is uniquely helpful about donations is they allow us to expand into many programs that would be harder to get funded or have other obstacles. They also help because many other funding streams are set aside for a very specific purpose. They pass through us and help seniors in great ways, but are almost an unfunded mandate that we have to provide labor for without corresponding money. Donations free us up to staff enough for everything that comes our way. We get donations from people, from organizations, from businesses, and from others like people watching some goober run 74 miles over two days with a body closer to John Candy’s than a runner….and are blessed greatly by each of them.
I work for SeniorAge. I do. Guilty as charged. I am Director of Systems Alignment, which is a fancy way of saying I am IT director, disaster preparedness/recovery director, security director, and I help with the Alzheimer’s-related programs. I don’t get paid to fundraise…I get paid to fix broken things and to help people with broken things be unbroken… I am not doing this to suck up and get a bigger raise or a nicer parking spot. I just believe in our little non-profit and that is why I want half of the fundraiser to come to our SeniorAge folks. Make sense?
So, when I Run Til I’m Purple this June, I want these two wonderful non-profits to benefit because I know what they have meant for me.
If you want to toss in a coin…or a lot of them, here is my link:
This week will be a hard week for blogging deeply. I am going Wednesday and Thursday to participate in 2 clinical studies. Therefore, I will get five days worth of work done in three. 🙂 Thank you for putting up with what seems like me groveling for money. That is not the intent here. I hope you better understand why my fundraiser is what it is. 🙂
I seek to:
These two groups will get us there and will make things better as we go.
Update- Mom is about the same except she has a sore patch below and almost in her left nostril. It appears to be something akin to Staph or similar. She has had the shingles vaccine, but who knows… Bottom line: it hurts her and we are all over the medical team to advocate for whatever meds we can get her to help. We have our hospice nurse doing the same. Infections of any sort are not only made worse by a compromised brain, but very dangerous…and we will monitor it closely.
Running update: I ran over 30 miles from Thursday through Sunday. Trying hard to ramp up the miles…This June will kick my butt even if I am ready. I am trying hard. 🙂
Note: If you are NOT in SW Missouri, there is good news: You, too, have many of these services available at YOUR Area Agency on Aging. Here is the link to find it. 🙂