By Kay Kaylor
I advocate for residents in skilled nursing and assisted living residences as the regional long-term care ombudsman employed at the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). The many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.
This month, two advocacy issues are highlighted by special days: June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and June 20 is the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) event The Longest Day. June is also the month to wear purple and participate in the AA Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
Launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was created to raise awareness and acknowledge elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. It is a call to action for world communities “to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect,” according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
The Colorado AA is offering multiple free “virtual gatherings” online in June for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. These include “COVID-19 and Caregiving,” “Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease,” “Effective Communication Strategies” and “Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body.” To register, visit alz.org/CO or call the 24/7 Helpline, (800) 272-3900 — a number people are encouraged to call for any questions or advice on dementia symptoms and issues or to find a support group.
For The Longest Day, named for the summer solstice, “people from across the world will fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice,” according to the AA website. The AA provides ideas on its act.alz.org website to engage family and friends; examples include knitting teams, bridge club events, hiking and garage sales. A mobile app is available to track what individuals and teams have been doing, and the national leaderboard can be reviewed on the website. The AA offers incentive prizes for 16 hours or more of activity.
Starting June 28, a new trained Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor and a Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) counselor, Christie Schler, will be initiating Medicare Mondays at SJBAAA. Schler is a licensed social worker who also is employed at Mercy Regional Medical Center. She has management-level experience in long-term care facilities and was an intern in a Veterans Administration hospital.
“I have a passion for working with older adults and really look forward to my role with SJBAAA,” Schler said.
To make a telephone appointment, call (970) 264-0501, ext. 4. By the end of the month, call the same number for Medicare Monday appointments, either for in-person visits at the office or by phone.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare; see sjbaaa.org. For further information and assistance, call (970) 264-0501 and listen to the recording to select an extension.