Area Agency on Aging: Residents express themselves for Residents’ Rights Month

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    By Kay Kaylor
    PREVIEW Columnist

    I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the regional long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). The many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.

    As noted in an Oct. 1 article, October was the annual Residents’ Rights Month designated by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. To participate, residents of a variety of living settings throughout the United States submitted writings, photos and artwork on the month’s theme, “Connection Matters,” to the Resident’s Voice Challenge.

    In a submission titled “One Small Voice,” Iris Bachman writes of feeling “unconnected from our larger community,” so, at her niece’s suggestion, she took part in an online “get out the vote” campaign by writing reminder postcards to voters. 

    Part of a poem submitted by Sandra W. Felkenes includes the lines, “But she forgets her spirit doesn’t age, isn’t just a flame with a certain end.” 

    In a poem to an administrator in April, Geanene Anderson begins with, “You have given me my life, Amid the coronavirus strife, You have sheltered me, While the virus roamed free.” 

    “The first couple of months wasn’t too bad in our rooms, but as time goes on it feels like we may never return to a normal life,” Jimmy W. writes in an essay. 

    Patty, with the help of someone, states that “She would like people to know that she doesn’t feel locked up.”

    Judi Jindra lists the positives in the “Pandemic Environment,” including community efforts such as giving residents kindness rocks and cards sent from Girl Scouts. 

    A resident from Maryland, Norma Guenterberg, promotes the benefits of telephones that convert phone speech into written text to connect with those who are hard of hearing.

    The artwork, in a variety of media, ranges from scenery to colorful abstracts to drawings with word, and subjects include portraits, animals and children. A mixed media work has the quote “Apart But Never Alone,” showing images of letters and computer devices.

    The submissions can be viewed on the website theconsumervoice.org. Click on Events at the top, then Archived Events in the drop-down menu. Next scroll down and click on the Residents’ Rights Month link. Finally, click on the blue Resident’s Voice Submissions button. Be sure and look at all five pages.

    SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare; see sjbaaa.org. For further information, please call or text 403-2165 or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.