Stay up to date on Spectrum Generations and the latest news on aging in place. For all media inquiries, please contact the Community Engagement Officer Stephanie Hanner at [email protected]
New Medicare Cards coming soon –
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be replacing all Medicare cards in the coming months. CMS has assigned all people with Medicare benefits a new, unique Medicare number, which contains a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. People with Medicare will receive a new Medicare card in the mail, and will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential. Issuance of the new number will not change benefits that people with Medicare receive.
CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019.
“The goal of the initiative to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is to help prevent fraud, combat identify theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
For more information, please visit: www.cms.gov/newcard
Our President & CEO, Gerard Queally, has recently had an Op-Ed published on the topic and we are asking for support from our Advocacy Network to reach out to members of the legislator in support of this bill.
LD 692 – a Resolution to Provide Meals to Homebound Individuals will provide ongoing funding to provide meals to additional homebound individuals and to be used to leverage all federal funds available.
At Spectrum Generations, we believe food is preventative medicine, and access to it provides for better quality health outcomes, reduced health care costs, and improved quality of life. A more sustainable and dependable solution is needed. LD 692 will add $500,000 annually to the State of Maine’s contribution to Meals on Wheels. This would result in more than 65,000 meals delivered to approximately 520 (or more) older and disabled homebound adults having access to healthy food each year.
Please contact your state representative or senator, and urge them to vote yes on LD 692 to help increase access to healthy food for older and disabled adults.
The Greater August AARP chapter 511 donated a check for $1,2000 to Cohen Center's Meals on Wheels program. The money was raised through donations, food sales, a plant sale and an auction.
(Left to right) AARP board member Johan Brown, Cohen Community Center’s Lynda Johnson and Diane Epperly, and Susan Hynson, Augusta AARP President.
Spectrum Generations will be offering free Medicare 101 workshops, twice a week.
In Belfast, workshops will be held on the fourth Monday of every month from 2—4:00 pm, at our 18 Merriam Road location.
In Camden, workshops will be held on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 2—4:00 pm, at our 87 Elm Street, location.
Choosing a Medicare drug and or health plan can be difficult and confusing. Medicare 101 will provide information regarding Medicare, Medicare drug coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplements and tips on how participants may save money and avoid penalties. Both Medicare 101 workshops will be led by Brooke Jansen, LSW; please call Brooke at 930-8081 to register.
September is National Falls Prevention Month
Most people are aware of the health risks associated with heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But often overlooked is another type of serious health risk especially affecting older adults—the risk of injury due to falling.
Falls can lead to injuries, such as bruising, bone fractures, and concussions. Any one of these injuries could require hospitalization, in-home nursing care, or other assisted living arrangements.
Many falls can be avoided. When we are out in public, we instinctively keep watch for uneven or slick surfaces that could catch our loved ones off guard. But the risk of falling can be even higher at home because it is easier to take for granted more familiar spaces. This means it is especially important to make our homes as safe as possible, and here are a few suggestions you may be able to implement in your home:
- Remove tripping hazards: Make all floor surfaces as even as possible: cover wooden door thresholds with aluminum; use a hammer to pound flat any metal that is sticking up. Make sure to remove clutter from the floors, especially before going to bed. Outside, patch or re-pour any cracked cement surfaces and don’t forget to put away the garden hose after watering plants.
- Increase lighting: Recessed lighting and track lighting are easy to install and fairly inexpensive. Nightlights in hallways and bathrooms are an even more affordable alternative to installing permanent lighting. Motion sensors are a great option if you’re worried about keeping energy costs down.
- Make stairs safe: If possible, make sure each step in your home is a uniform height. Check for any loose boards or missing screws and replace them as needed. Install lighting and slip-resistant tread, especially on outside steps. Never place objects like shoes or toys on stairs.
- Install grab bars in key areas: When it comes to falling risks, one of the most hazardous areas in the home is the bathroom. Along with making sure any spills are mopped up ASAP, it is smart to install grab bars in strategic areas, for example, in the shower or tub and near the toilet.
In addition to making structural improvements around the home, regular physical activity and exercise combining weight training, muscle strengthening, and balance improvement will help reduce the risk of falls for older adults. Take a look at what Spectrum Generations Health & Wellness offerings are, and take a Falls Prevention class.
Recently, at the National Adult Protective Services Association conference, ACL released the first consistently, systematically, and nationally collected data on the abuse of older adults and adults with disabilities.
This report is the first of a series based on data from the first year of the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS). NAMRS is a voluntary data reporting system collecting data from state and local Adult Protective Services systems.
Fifty-four of 56 states and territories contributed data to NAMRS in its first year. This high level of voluntary participation reflects the value that leaders in the field of adult maltreatment see in this data.
While NAMRS is still in its infancy, the information it will provide in the years to come will directly inform prevention and intervention practices at all levels of the adult maltreatment field. It will provide a better understanding of the characteristics of those experiencing, and perpetrating, abuse and identify system gaps for responding to maltreatment and preventing repeat maltreatment. As states and territories will continue to improve information systems, add data elements, train staff on new data collection methods, and report additional data, NAMRS data will become an extremely valuable tool.
Data collected by NAMRS includes APS staff and case-load, response and response time, intake and investigation practices, maltreatment type, victim characteristics, and perpetrator characteristics. For example, 44 states and territories reported opening investigations for over 877,000 clients.
Many in the adult maltreatment field, including the federal Elder Justice Coordinating Council, have recognized the need for national data on adult maltreatment. After the passage and funding of the Elder Justice Act, ACL awarded the first-ever federal grants to enhance Adult Protective Services. These grants were used by many states to build data systems and align them with NAMRS.
Spectrum Generations clients who receive services – particularly Meals on Wheels and participate in the USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program – will not experience any delay or disruption in receiving those services. All Spectrum Generations locations will continue operating under normal business hours.
Meals on Wheels is funded primarily through the federal government, with additional assistance provided by generous individual donors, municipalities where we provide services, and through four United Way organizations (Kennebec Valley, Mid Coast Maine, Mid Maine, and Eastern Maine). We also have partnerships with businesses and local farms who supply food to make the meals.
Additional funding is provided through the State of Maine, however we have planned for this situation and are positioned to continue providing all services throughout a long-term state government shutdown, should that be the case.
All USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program recipients will also be able to continue picking up their 30-lb. free food packs at their usual pickup station. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is offered through the USDA who distributes both food and administrative funds through participating states.
If you have any concerns or questions, please call us at 1-800-639-1553 or TTY 1-800-464-8703.
Spectrum Generations is offering a free training opportunity for those who are interested in becoming a coach for A Matter of Balance. The training will be held June 1-2, from
1:00—5:00 p.m. at People Plus, 35 Union Street, Brunswick.
A Matter of Balance is a nationally recognized program designed to encourage physical activity and reduce the fear of falling. Workshops are typically conducted in eight sessions over for weeks, meeting twice a week for two hours each, and led by experienced volunteer coaches, who can now be trained for free by Spectrum Generations.
A Matter of Balance coaches have good communication and interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, dependability, and a willingness to lead small groups of older adults. Coaches also need to be able to lead the low to moderate level exercises, facilitate group discussions and engage in problem-solving strategy sessions.
The eight-hour training for coaches is free and materials are provided. For more information or to register for the training, contact Lyn Neiz at 930-8082 or [email protected]
Spectrum Generations' COO, Kristin Overton to Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson, the members of the Joint Committee on Health & Human Services, and Deputy Commissioner Porteus regarding proposed cuts to Targeted Case Management. .
Hello Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson, and members of the Joint Committee on Health & Human Services and Deputy Commissioner Porteous,
Spectrum Generations attended the presentation by Burns & Associates Tuesday regarding the proposed rates on a number of services, including Targeted Case Management in Section 13. On several occasions we heard the committee ask for a recommendation regarding how to balance the cuts versus the increases without causing harm to current services; enabling capacity to remain in the community and quality TCM services available to consumers. I'd like to propose a solution, taking into account the 10% stop-loss which was recommended by the Department.
Solution: DHHS stated in their testimony that they would be reviewing rates annually; adjusting them as necessary so that the current unbalance is not experienced again. Our suggestion is not to cut the current TCM rate but have a rate freeze placed on it for the next 4 years.
Justification: The average rate of inflation is approximately 2%-3% per annum; freezing the rate at $21.52 for 4 years (through the end of 2022) would allow inflation to serve as the balancing mechanism, not a rate cut. The rate would slowly come into balance with the new model by the end of freeze period. After 2022, the model's suggested annual or bi-annual calculation would then apply to TCM as well. This compromise solves the concern that a rate cut would negatively impact services, threatening the ability for current providers to maintain the level of quality services to those individuals who need it most, including those who are being released from the State. It should also meet the DHHS needs to get all service rates in balance.
I believe this would be a strong compromise which would promote a consistent rate model while bringing the rate into alignment with the model in a manner which would promote continued availability of services for consumers receiving TCM services.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. As always, I am available for further discussion of questions at your convenience.
Today, April 21, our Nutrition Director Karen Wiswell testified before the Health and Human Services Committee. Below is her statement in full, asking for support of LD 692, increasing funding to Meals on Wheels throughout Maine.
Dear Senator Brakey and Representative Hymanson and other members of the Committee on Health and Human Services, my name is Karen Wiswell and I am the Director of Nutrition and Community Center Operations for Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging. I am providing my testimony in support of LD 692, Resolve, To Provide Meals to Homebound Individuals.
For over 44 years, Spectrum Generations has provided Nutrition services such as Meals on Wheels and congregate dining. All meals are made fresh in our 2 commercial kitchens and delivered by volunteers. Our We Sustain Maine program, incorporates up to 32% Maine produced foods into the meals; all of which provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances in each meal. We utilized 410 volunteers who donated 27,703 hours in 2016 to serve and pack meals, to deliver to the local Spectrum Generations community center, and to pick up thermal bags containing all the meals for an entire route. Our programs run very lean and efficiently. Every Area Agency on Aging makes a strong effort to have the recipient pay for a portion of their meal. At Spectrum Generations, it is a recommended donation of $4.00 however our average donation amount is $0.46 per meal.
The meals we deliver to our consumers are a life line – a meal, a check-in, and a friendly visit. We’ve passed you personal notes written on plates from people on our program and in the communities you may represent, in order to show the impact that these meals make to our consumers. 10 years ago, Spectrum Generations delivered 184,394 meals. Since then, the need has continued to rise; by 40,099 meals to be exact. In 2016, 1,665 individuals received at total of 224,493 home delivered meals.
In those 10 years, state and federal funds for Meals on Wheels have remained fairly flat. The annual budget for Spectrum Generations Meals on Wheels program totaled $1.1 million in 2016. Of this, 32.6% was raised individually by Spectrum Generations and its supporters; a total of $362,243.
In order to deliver more meals to meet the surging need, all five of Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging have engaged in more and more fundraising opportunities. In 2016, the sum total was $1,060,263. These efforts include United Way campaigns, municipal funding requests, partnerships with for-profit businesses such as Darling’s Auto Group or Evergreen Subaru, large private fundraising events such as the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees and the Celebrity Chef Dinner, and small events such as baked bean cook-off’s, bake sales, bottle drives, and awareness walks.
There is currently a waitlist for recipients of Meals on Wheels in more than half the state. In order to provide the necessary meals for this vulnerable population, I urge you to pass LD 692.
Thank you for your time,
Spectrum Generations and the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) have recently been awarded $636,500 and $478,779 respectively, from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to build a sustainable network of evidence based health and wellness programs dedicated to older adults and disabled persons. The agencies received two of only 16 grants awarded throughout the country for these initiatives by the US HHS Administration for Community Living.
Gerard Queally, CEO of Spectrum Generations said, “The awarding of these two grants present an enormous opportunity for Maine to develop a sustainable, statewide Evidence Based Health and Wellness network. It speaks to the confidence the Administration on Community Living has in the Area Agencies on Aging in our state and to the collaborative nature in which both grant applications were written. All of Maine’s health systems and many other community-based organizations, like Somerset Public Health, fully supported the application and their older patients and members will now have an increased opportunity to attend classes in or close to the communities in which they live. This is a big win for improving the health culture of Maine.”
Spectrum Generations will focus its program on chronic disease self-management and education, chronic pain self-management, and diabetes self-management, while expanding the delivery infrastructure and geographic reach of educational offerings. Citing CDC statistics that 86% of healthcare costs are attributed to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, anticipated outcomes include increased participant confidence and self-efficacy, decreased emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and incorporation of healthy eating and exercise into daily routines.
The Southern Maine Agency on Aging will use the grant to develop an evidence-based falls prevention program network across the State of Maine. Statewide AAA’s will develop more systematic outreach strategies, build relationships with health providers including MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization, and ultimately embed and sustain falls prevention programs within regional healthcare systems.
Laurence W. Gross, SMAA’s Executive Director stated, “This grant will significantly increase the number of older adults across Maine who are referred to and participate in evidence-based falls prevention programs. SMAA has a strong history of partnership with ACL. In 2014, we were awarded a three-year, $954,457 grant, – The Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative: Specialized Support Services – to improve services for adults living with dementia. We are thrilled for this next opportunity to continue partnering with ACL as we now work to reduce the risk of falls for older Mainers.”
Spectrum Generations and the Southern Maine Agency on Aging expect that by collaborating with other Maine Agencies on Aging, as well as with health systems, state health departments and other community-based health organizations, that the quality of life for older adults and those disabled persons living in Maine will improve. By focusing on improving balance issues and chronic disease and pain management, the ideal outcomes will be increased capacity of targeted population to live healthier lives while maintaining their ability to age in place. In addition, results will show the efficacy of these programs and help determine the structure of future services within the healthcare arena.