Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dear Therapist Writes to Herself in Her Grief

My father died, there’s a pandemic, and I’m overcome by my feeling of loss.

Bianca Bagnarelli
Dear Therapist,

I know that everyone is going through loss during the coronavirus pandemic, but in the midst of all this, my beloved father died two weeks ago, and I’m reeling.

He was 85 years old and in great pain from complications due to congestive heart failure. After years of invasive procedures and frequent hospitalizations, he decided to go into home hospice to live out the rest of his life surrounded by family. We didn’t know whether it would be weeks or months, but we expected his death, and had prepared for it in the time leading up to it. We had the conversations we wanted to have, and the day he died, I was there to kiss his cheeks and massage his forehead, to hold his hand and say goodbye. I was at his bedside when he took his last breath.

And yet, nothing prepared me for this loss. Can you help me understand my grief?

Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Readers,

This week, I decided to submit my own “Dear Therapist” letter following my father’s death. As a therapist, I’m no stranger to grief, and I’ve written about its varied manifestations in this column many times.

Even so, I wanted to write about the grief I’m now experiencing personally, because I know this is something that affects everyone. You can’t get through life without experiencing loss. The question is, how do we live with loss?

In the months before my father died, I asked him a version of that question: How will I live without you? If this sounds strange—asking a person you love to give you tips on how to grieve his death—let me offer some context.

My dad was a phenomenal father, grandfather, husband, and loyal friend to many. He had a dry sense of humor, a hearty laugh, boundless compassion, an uncanny ability to fix anything around the house, and a deep knowledge of the world (he was my Siri before there was a Siri). Mostly, though, he was known for his emotional generosity. He cared deeply about others; when we returned to my mom’s house after his burial, we were greeted by a gigantic box of paper towels on her doorstep, ordered by my father the day before he died so that she wouldn’t have to worry about going out during the pandemic.

His greatest act of emotional generosity, though, was talking me through my grief. He said many comforting things in recent months—how I’ll carry him inside me, how my memories of him will live forever, how he believes in my resilience. A few years earlier, he had taken me aside after one of my son’s basketball games and said that he’d just been to a friend’s funeral, told the friend’s adult daughter how proud her father had been of her, and was heartbroken when she said her father had never said that to her.

“So,” my father said outside the gym, “I want to make sure that I’ve told you how proud of you I am. I want to make sure you know.” It was the first time we’d had a conversation like that, and the subtext was clear: I’m going to die sooner rather than later. We stood there, the two of us, hugging and crying as people passing by tried not to stare, because we both knew that this was the beginning of my father’s goodbye.

But of all the ways my father tried to prepare me for his loss, what has stayed with me most was when he talked about what he learned from grieving his own parents’ deaths: that grief was unavoidable, and that I would grieve this loss forever.

“I can’t make this less painful for you,” he said one night when I started crying over the idea—still so theoretical to me—of his death. “But when you feel the pain, remember that it comes from a place of having loved and been loved deeply.” Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “Beyond that—you’re the therapist. Think about how you’ve helped other people with their grief.”

So I have. Five days before he died, I developed a cough that would wake me from sleep. I didn’t have the other symptoms of COVID-19—fever, fatigue—but still, I thought: I’d better not go near Dad. I spoke with him every day, as usual, except for Saturday, when time got away from me. I called the next day—the day when suddenly he could barely talk and all we could say was “I love you” to each other before he lost consciousness. He never said another word; our family sat vigil until he died the next afternoon.

Afterward, I was racked with guilt. While I’d told myself that I hadn’t seen him in his last days because of my cough, and that I hadn’t called Saturday because of the upheaval of getting supplies for the lockdown, maybe I wasn’t there and didn’t call because I was in denial—I couldn’t tolerate the idea of him dying, so I found a way to avoid confronting it.

Soon this became all I thought about—how I wished I’d gone over with my cough and a mask; how I wished I’d called on Saturday when he was still cogent—until I remembered something I wrote in this column to a woman who felt guilty about the way she had treated her dying husband in his last week. “One way to deal with intense grief is to focus the pain elsewhere,” I had written then. “It might be easier to distract yourself from the pain of missing your husband by turning the pain inward and beating yourself up over what you did or didn’t do for him.”

Like my father, her husband had suffered for a long time, and like her, I felt I had failed him in his final days.

I wrote to her:
Grief doesn’t begin the day a person dies. We experience the loss while the person is alive, and because our energy is focused on doctor appointments and tests and treatments—and because the person is still here—we might not be aware that we’ve already begun grieving the loss of someone we love … So what happens to their feelings of helplessness, sadness, fear, or rage? It’s not uncommon for people with a terminally ill partner to push their partner away in order to protect themselves from the pain of the loss they’re already experiencing and the bigger one they’re about to endure. They might pick fights with their partner. They might avoid their partner, and busy themselves with other interests or people. They might not be as helpful as they had imagined they would be, not only because of the exhaustion that sets in during these situations, but also because of the resentment: How dare you show me so much love, even in your suffering, and then leave me.
Another “Dear Therapist” letter came to mind this week, this one from a man grieving the loss of his wife of 47 years. He wanted to know how long this would go on. I replied:
Many people don’t know that Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’s well-known stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—were conceived in the context of terminally ill patients coming to terms with their own deaths. It’s one thing to “accept” the end of your own life. But for those who keep on living, the idea that they should reach “acceptance” might make them feel worse (“I should be past this by now”; “I don’t know why I still cry at random times, all these years later”). The grief psychologist William Worden looks at grieving in this light, replacing “stages” with “tasks” of mourning. In the fourth of his tasks, the goal is to integrate the loss into our lives and create an ongoing connection with the person who died—while also finding a way to continue living.
Just like my father suggested, these columns helped. And so did my own therapist, the person I called Wendell in my recent book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. He sat with me (from a coronavirus-safe distance, of course) as I tried to minimize my grief—look at all of these relatively young people dying from the coronavirus when my father got to live to 85; look at the all the people who weren’t lucky enough to have a father like mine—and he reminded me that I always tell others that there’s no hierarchy of pain, that pain is pain and not a contest.

And so I stopped apologizing for my pain and shared it with Wendell. I told him how, after my father died and we were waiting for his body to be taken to the mortuary, I kissed my father’s cheek, knowing that it would be the last time I would ever kiss him, and I noticed how soft and warm his cheek still was, and I tried to remember what he felt like, because I knew I would never feel my father’s skin again. I told Wendell how I stared at my father’s face and tried to memorize every detail, knowing it would be the last time I’d ever see the face I’d looked at my entire life. I told him how gutted I was by the physical markers that jolted me out of denial and made this goodbye so horribly real—seeing my father’s lifeless body being wrapped in a sheet and placed in a van (Wait, where are you taking my dad? I silently screamed), carrying the casket to the hearse, shoveling dirt into his grave, watching the shiva candle melt for seven days until the flame was jarringly gone. Mostly, though, I cried, deep and guttural, the way my patients do when they’re in the throes of grief.

Since leaving Wendell’s office, I have cried and also laughed. I’ve felt pain and joy; I’ve felt numb and alive. I’ve lost track of the days, and found purpose in helping people through our global pandemic. I’ve hugged my son, also reeling from the loss of his grandfather, tighter than usual, and let him share his pain with me. I’ve spent some days FaceTiming with friends and family, and other days choosing not to engage.

But the thing that has helped me the most is what my father did for me and also what Wendell did for me. They couldn’t take away my pain, but they sat with me in my loss in a way that said: I see you, I hear you, I’m with you. This is exactly what we need in grief, and what we can do for one another—now more than ever.

Dear Therapist is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let The Atlantic use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.

Full Article & Source:
Dear Therapist Writes to Herself in Her Grief

Port St. Lucie man accused of posing as licensed plumber, stealing $5,000 from Martin County woman

MARTIN COUNTY — A man previously convicted of exploiting others and stealing in Florida, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania has been accused of stealing $5,000 from a woman in Martin County.

On Feb. 11, Martin County Sheriff's Office detectives responded to a call from the woman's daughter about a possible fraudulent incident, according to a complaint affidavit.

The daughter told detectives Robert Hibbert, 57, of the 300 block of Northwest Concord Drive in Port St. Lucie, had exploited and stole from her mother while he was working on her plumbing in Martin County.

The woman's daughter said on Jan. 28 she looked for a plumber online and contacted Hibbert about fixing her washing machine.

Hibbert told the daughter he was a licensed plumber, but records detectives obtained showed he doesn't have the license. 

After the work was done, the woman paid Hibbert $145 for the job. The woman's mother then asked Hibbert to look at a clogged drain in her home, detectives said.

The mother told detectives Hibbert asked her for $240 for the job he had previously completed and had been paid for by her daughter. She said Hibbert told her the plumbing work she needed was extensive and "she would have toilet paper leaking into the front yard and home" if she didn't get it fixed soon.

Detectives said Hibbert charged the mother $9,100 for the second plumbing job. 

Detectives said the daughter asked a plumbing company to look at the invoice Hibbert gave her mother for the $9,100 job. The company told the daughter the job should have only cost about $1,000.

The women said she looked through her emergency cash fund and found $5,000 missing. She told detectives the only person that had access to that room was Hibbert while he was doing the plumbing work. 

The mother called Hibbert and demanded $8,100 back. Hibbert apologized and sent back $5,000 and asked the woman not to call 911.

Hibbert was arrested on charges of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult, grand theft, contracting without a license, and depositing with intent to defraud.

He was taken to the St. Lucie County Jail. Bond was set at $85,000.

Martin County sheriff's Detective Jennifer Jaques, who investigated the case, said Friday Hibbert was convicted in 1995 and 2000 in New Jersey on charges of theft by deception; and in 2011 and 2013 in Pennsylvania and Delaware, respectively, on charges of home improvement fraud.  

In 2017, Hibbert had an address in Vero Beach when a Palm Bay couple paid him more than $9,000 for home repairs that were not completed, according to an article in Florida Today. He identified himself as a licensed plumber. He was jailed in Indian River County on 10 charges related to work done on the Palm Bay home.

Jaques said there's a strong likelihood Hibbert took advantage of other people in Martin County. 

Full Article & Source:
Port St. Lucie man accused of posing as licensed plumber, stealing $5,000 from Martin County woman

$8,000 Rolex watch listed among St. Lucie County exploitation case purchases

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A man accused of stealing more than $11,700 from a man with Alzheimer’s disease was jailed on a host of charges, according to records obtained Thursday.

Joseph Fernandez, 56, of the 200 block of Brazilian Circle in Port St. Lucie, was arrested Wednesday on charges including exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult, grand theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit card and organized fraud after a Port St. Lucie police investigation.

Police began investigating in January, after family members learned from the state Department of Children and Families that their relative was “possibly being exploited” by Fernandez, records show.

Family members noted at least eight automated teller machine withdrawals in June and July 2019, along with an $8,000 purchase at a jewelry business in Palm Beach County.

A detective spoke with the man, who said Fernandez helped him by driving him around for errands. He agreed to pay Fernandez $157 weekly and let Fernandez use his vehicle.

Police asked the man about documents, including one in which he was supposed to give $85,000 and his pet to Fernandez upon his death, with his signature. The victim said he never signed them.

A representative of the Palm Beach County jewelry business said a Rolex watch was purchased in July for $8,000. The invoice said it was sold to Fernandez. It was purchased with the man's debit card.

Police also accused Fernandez of forging the man's signature on the title to his vehicle to “gift” himself the man's vehicle.

Only after a detective spoke to Fernandez’s lawyer and told him of possible criminal charges did Fernandez transfer the title back and return the vehicle, records show.

Family members told police the man died Feb. 9.

Records provided to police showed the man was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

A booking photo of Fernandez was not available Thursday.

Fernandez also was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest without violence after sheriff’s deputies reported he tried to hide before they forced their way into his home to arrest him on warrants related to the case.

Fernandez was held Thursday in the St. Lucie County Jail on $28,250 bond, a jail official said.

Full Article & Source:
$8,000 Rolex watch listed among St. Lucie County exploitation case purchases

Monday, March 30, 2020

1 dead after dozens of nursing home residents test positive for coronavirus

A man who was among dozens of nursing home residents in Carroll County who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state's first outbreak has died.

State and county health officials said there's an outbreak of coronavirus at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where 66 residents have tested positive, with 11 hospitalized at Carroll Hospital Center and Frederick Memorial Hospital.

One of the residents, a man in his 90s, died Saturday evening. Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said the man had underlying health conditions.

Singer said the facility is a comprehensive care facility with 104 beds.

"We're trying to isolate folks who are at the property. There are quite a few people who are sick," Singer said Sunday afternoon.

Singer said there are no patients going in or out of the facility as of Sunday.

County health officials said Pleasant View Mount Airy had previously implemented multiple prevention measures according to state and federal guidance, including restricting visitation and communal dining, suspending group activities, implementing extra cleaning measures and conducting daily checks for both staff and residents for symptoms.

"The facility was doing everything it was supposed to be doing up front," Singer said.

Carroll County Board of Commissioners President Stephen Wantz said officials are doing everything they can to ensure everyone is protected the most way that they can.

"This has been something that's really taxing our resources in Carroll. We never thought we would be in a position like this with an incident of this magnitude," Wantz said.

Hospital officials stress that people should follow social-distancing guidelines and stay home as they provide care.

"We have been providing staff support, supplies, anything necessary to help them provide the care," Carroll Hospital Center President Leslie Simmons said. "Our goal absolutely without a doubt is to stop the spread of the virus."

"You have got to make sure that you are doing your social distancing," Wantz said. "I'm not sure what people are not understanding about this deadly pandemic."

Simmons said people who have underlying health conditions should call their health care provider, but others should stay home.

"If you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested. If you have mild symptoms, you should stay home and monitor your symptoms. You do not need to be tested," Simmons said.

Mount Airy Mayor Pat Rockinberg said the municipality is following emergency operations plans.

Police said they are ensuring the safety of the facility and ensuring the public is not interfering.

"We will enforce Gov. Hogan's executive order. We're asking everybody to calm down and realize this is a private property and anybody trespassing will be arrested," Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack commander Lt. Rebecca Bosley said.

The Carroll County Health Department is able to answer general questions about coronavirus at 410-876-4848.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued the following update to Marylanders:

"It took nearly three weeks for the national capital region to go from 0 to 1,000 cases of COVID-19. It took three days for the region to go from 1,000 to 2,000 cases in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. This is a rapidly evolving and escalating emergency which is now surrounding the nation's capital.

"The number of deaths in our state as a result of COVID-19 has doubled. We have lost 10 of our fellow Marylanders, and we mourn each and every one of them.

"Tonight, Maryland has experienced a tragic coronavirus outbreak at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy. Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department and the facility as they take urgent steps to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed.

"I want to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and first responders all across our state who are working around the clock to respond to this pandemic.

"As we have been warning for weeks, older Marylanders and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable and at a significantly higher risk of contracting this disease.

"We continue to call for Marylanders to stay at home, except for essential reasons, in order to help stop the spread of this virus.

"We are leveraging the full arsenal of public health and government, but defeating this invisible enemy will require a unity of effort and spirit like nothing we have ever faced."

Full Article & Source:
1 dead after dozens of nursing home residents test positive for coronavirus

Collins’ Alzheimer’s bill signed into law as part of Supporting Older Americans Act

Bipartisan legislation to fight Alzheimer’s disease sponsored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) became law on March 25 as part of a larger, sweeping bill to improve services for America’s elderly population.

Sen. Collins in March 2019 introduced the Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act, S. 901, with original cosponsors U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to support American citizens under the age of 60 who experience the early onset of the disease by ensuring the availability of and access to certain programs and services.

Her measure became part of the Supporting Older Americans Act (OAA) of 2020, H.R. 4334, which will establish, reauthorize and revise several programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor related to care for the elderly. President Donald Trump signed H.R. 4334 into law on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill will reauthorize the Older Americans Act for five years and includes a 7 percent increase in the initial year, and 6 percent increase annually for the remainder of the authorization.

“As chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, it was one of my highest priorities to get this bill across the finish line to strengthen the OAA’s programs while providing more flexibility for states to meet local needs,” said Sen. Collins.

Among numerous provisions, H.R. 4334 ensures that those living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key OAA services, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ office.

“For more than half a century, the Older Americans Act has served as a lifeline for millions of seniors by enriching their lives and improving their overall health,” Sen. Collins said. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect, and community.”

Administered by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, the OAA authorizes an array of services through a network of 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging across the country.

Full Article & Source:
Collins’ Alzheimer’s bill signed into law as part of Supporting Older Americans Act

Agency Impersonation Scams, Other Fraud a $3 Billion Problem

Fraud against older persons, including scams in which federal agencies are impersonated, costs victims nearly $3 billion a year, says a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

A Social Security impersonation scam is the most common one reported to the committee’s fraud hotline, it said, and an IRS impersonation scam came in seventh. That “involves scammers posing as employees of the Social Security Administration in order to fraudulently take money or obtain personally identifiable information (PII) from victims. In one common version of this scam, victims are told that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime and the situation can only be resolved by sending payment or PII,” it said.

An IRS scam had been at the top for years; in it, impersonators often accuse victims of owing back taxes that must be paid immediately and after an initial “payment” is made, con artists often convince victims to make additional payments to prevent arrest or other actions.

However, there has been a decrease in that scam as enforcement efforts by the IRS and the Justice Department have stepped up. Meanwhile the Social Security scam has been growing in frequency—complaints to the FTC more than doubled over 2018-2019—and recently expanded to include not just fake emails and phone calls but also official-looking documents purporting to be from the agency. The SSA and its inspector general’s office recently launched a new campaign against that scam, as well.

Also high on the list:

* robocalls and other unsolicited calls, some of which involve spoofing to make it appear that the call is coming from a federal agency;
* sweepstakes scams which aim to convince victims that they have won a large sum of money through the lottery, but must make up front payments for taxes and fees before collecting their prize;
* computer tech support scams in which callers claim to represent a well-known technology company in an attempt to convince victims to provide them with access to their computers; and
* the “grandparent scam” in which one of a pair of callers pretends to be a family member, often a grandchild, and claims to be in urgent need of money to cover an emergency and another impersonates an authority figure, such as a police officer pretending to confirm the story or defense attorney to make the request for money.

Full Article & Source:
Agency Impersonation Scams, Other Fraud a $3 Billion Problem

Sunday, March 29, 2020


The “Dirty Money “ documentary episode titled “Guardians, Inc.” (trailer below) is raising awareness of guardianship abuse all over the world.

People who had never heard of adult guardianship are both shocked and outraged that this abuse could and does happen in America to our elderly and adults with disabilities.

This excellent film documents that John Savanovich was targeted because of his age and because he was alone. People are reaching out to NASGA and wanting to help him.

We suggest the best way to help John is to show him that people care about what happened to him --- and that he is not alone. So, we ask anyone who would like to help him to send him a card. A deluge of cards will brighten and strengthen his spirit and surely give him an ear-to-ear smile too!

The address of the ALF where he now lives is: John Savanovich
c/o Traditions of Dedham
735 Washington St.
Dedham, MA 02026

If anyone would also be interested in writing the Gov. and Lt. Gov. of MA to inform them of the Dirty Money episode, (just in case they missed it!), here's the address:
Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karen Polito
MA State House
24 Beacon St.
Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor
Rm 280
Boston, MA 02133

Watch "Dirty Money," Season Two, Episode 5: GUARDIANS, INC.

Walt Disney’s Grandson Sues Judge Claiming He Has Down Syndrome Without Evidence, Blocking $200 Million Inheritance

Credit: Disney/Whosay
by Sean Sposato

In a national telephonic press conference today by attorney Lanny Davis, a legal representative for Walt Disney’s grandson Bradford D. Lund, the announcement was made of another count added to their previously filed U.S. Civil Rights Act complaint against Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan and the entire Los Angeles County Superior Court.

For those who have not been following along with this story, Judge Cowan recently claimed Lund had Down Syndrome from the bench, even after being presented with DNA evidence proving the opposite. The judge also ruled Lund to be “unfit” to receive his $200 million inheritance from Walt Disney and appointed him a temporary guardian to make all of his legal decisions, all without a hearing, and now Davis and his team of lawyers are trying to fight back against the rogue rulings of the legal authority.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: Bradford Lund (R), Bob Wilson (C), AFP PHOTO John T. BARR/mn (JOHN T. BARR/AFP via Getty Images)
In the complaint, attorney Lanny Davis alleges that the probate court’s action is “all too reminiscent of a perspective where facts do not matter but alternative facts do, where the constitution does not matter…”

The alternative facts Davis is referencing come from a 2016 court decision by Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig, from a 10-day trial brought on by “disgruntled relatives” against Lund. The trial came after 7 years of litigation concerning whether Lund needed a limited guardianship–during which, Lund was examined by two court-appointed physicians, one court-appointed expert, and by the judge himself in open court.

From the investigation, Judge Oberbillig rejected the family’s claims that Lund needed guardianship and ruled that Lund was “not incapacitated.” However, Judge Cowan looked beyond this court ruling and DNA evidence, proving Lund does not have Down Syndrome, and instead stated from the bench: “Do I want to give 200 million dollars, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down syndrome? The answer is no.”

Source: NBC News
From this statement, Lund’s legal team announced the new Count 6, which alleges that Judge Cowan and the LA Court violated an anti-discrimination law when Judge Cowan made this “indisputably false” statement and “perception.” They claim this resulted in discrimination against Lund and his loss of freedom regarding the right to counsel and property rights without due process of law.
Additionally, the complaint also alleges Judge Cowan and the Los Angeles Superior Court violated the rights of Brad Lund by violating the US Civil Rights Act, due process rights, and anti-discrimination law.

During today’s press conference call, the legal team would not discuss specifically what damages they are seeking in the case. However, Sandra Slaton, the lead counsel of Lund’s legal team, revealed this is not so much about the damages but the fact that constitutional rights of many citizens, just like Lund’s, are violated quite often in probate court. Ultimately, at this time, their team hopes to challenge the power of not only Cowan but all judges in probate court. All of which, who are given tremendous discretion in the handling of inheritance and will and testament in the court system.

For those wondering, the fight isn’t completely over for Lund’s $200 million inheritance. However, more legal battles are ahead for the grandson of Walt Disney, who should have received his portion of his mother’s trust fund when he was 35, which was 15 years ago. Lund is now 50-years-old.

Full Article & Source:
Walt Disney’s Grandson Sues Judge Claiming He Has Down Syndrome Without Evidence, Blocking $200 Million Inheritance

Older Americans Act reauthorization signed into law

by Lois A. Bowers

H.R. 4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020, was written by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), pictured here.
President Trump reauthorized the Older Americans Act for five years on Wednesday, signing into law H.R. 4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020. The OAA was last reauthorized in 2016 under President Obama.

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect and community,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who authored the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

Since 1965, the OAA has supported older adults through programs designed to prevent abuse and neglect, support caregivers, offer employment and community service opportunities, promote nutrition (for instance, through Meals on Wheels) and improve transportation options. The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 includes a 7% increase in funding in the initial year and a 6% increase annually for the remainder of the authorization.

The OAA serves more than 10 million older Americans annually, said Casey, ranking member of the Aging Committee. “It represents our commitment to the generations who made us who we are today and lifts up the seniors who need our help the most,” he said.

Services are provided through 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging.

Debra Whitman, chair of Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition that includes LeadingAge and AMDA-Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, said the group “welcomes the unanimous reauthorization of the Older Americans Act like a fresh breath of spring.”

Elder advocacy group SAGE said the act is the first bipartisan piece of LGBT-inclusive legislation to become law during the Trump administration. The reauthorization will hold state and local departments of aging accountable for undertaking outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults who need services in their communities, according to the organization. “It also will hold them responsible for engaging in both data collection and reporting on the needs of LGBT older people and whether they are meeting those needs,” SAGE said.

The legislation, according to the senators, ensures that those living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key OAA services; improves elder abuse prevention activities through increased outreach and education activities; increases the focus on addressing detrimental impacts of social isolation; promotes multigenerational programming; advances support for age-friendly communities; improves the availability of transportation resources to seniors; extends the RAISE Family Caregivers Act for an additional year, extends the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Council for one year; enhances flexibility for states to better address the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren; increases transparency of home-modification opportunities for eligible older adults; upgrades data collection methods to understand unmet need in nutrition programs; and bolsters innovation in the OAA through evaluation of demonstrations and existing programs.

Full Article & Source:
Older Americans Act reauthorization signed into law