Connecticut Respite Care Program Stops Taking Applicants

Normally, the emails I get from AARP annoy me because they are so alarmist. They tell me I have to contact my state legislator, my U.S. congressman or my senator right away because some program is being cut. The program is usually very worthwhile, such as Connecticut's
Statewide Respite Care Program, which is now closed to new applicants due to budget constraints. 
But as a taxpayer, I can also step back and ask myself if this is a legitimate cutback. I mean how many social programs can we fund with taxpayer dollars, especially in this recession? Our state is hurting. It's easy to say, "But this program is really important." Unfortunately, the budget crisis we have means everyone needs to feel pain. 
I know the respite care is can be crucial to the person who is giving the care. Other programs that help people age at home instead of being institutionalized are being cut back. Yet, so are programs to improve education. Yet, a better educated population will create a better workforce, increase the economic base and reduce the prison population. So how do we make these hard trade-offs?
The biggest argument I can make for keeping respite care open is that it will help keep Alzheimer's patients out of nursing homes and off Medicaid. Paying for a nursing home would be far more expensive than paying for respite care.
I hope our state legislators and our governor think through their actions to see what the full economic ramifications are.
In any event, there is a waiting list for the respite care. If you want to be on it, please call 1-800-994-9422 and speak to the Care Manager at your local Area Agency on Aging. They will also screen you for other programs for which you may be eligible.

Health-Care Reform - What It Means for Seniors

My Congressman, Jim Himes, just sent me an email telling me why the new health-care bill is so good for seniors. It will give them all sorts of new benefits. As I read all that it purports to do, I just kept seeing the dollar signs roll by. It was like looking at a hospital, cable TV or cell phone bill getting totaled up. How are we going to pay for all this, especially as the baby boomers come under Medicare? New benefits cost money.

Himes claims the cutting of subsidies for Medicare Advantage plans will pay for most of it. He said those plans waste money. Maybe they do. If that's true, then we're off to a good start because the reform we need is to start cutting costs and cutting fraud. As I read the list, I could only see two things that would cut costs -- not paying hospitals for mistakes and infections and incentives for people to lead healthier lifestyles. (What those incentives are, Himes didn't say.) The problem is that I can't see this really happening. What I can see is costs rising and insurance premiums doubling.

When my daughter moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts, which has a plan/law like the one Congress just passed, her individual health insurance premiums doubled. While she is now in an HMO to hold down her costs, it takes her months to get in to see a doctor. Is this what is going to confront all of us as we enter this brave new world? I fear that without the public option for competition, health insurance premiums will more than double and the scare resource of doctors will become scarcer.

But back to what seniors get. Here is a link to a Web site Congressman Himes posted, as well as his email. Read what he calls the facts for yourself. Make up your own mind.

And here is his email in full:

Dear Friends,
Last week, The House of Representatives passed the most sweeping health care reform in a generation. This reform will improve access to quality, affordable health care for citizens of all ages. It also ensures seniors keep the benefits they currently receive, while strengthening Medicare in the short and long term.
Much confusion has been reported over cuts to Medicare. Let me be clear: reports that this plan cuts Medicare are false. This legislation fully protects Medicare benefits and extends the solvency of the program for almost a decade by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse but never benefits. It does this by targeting subsidies to private insurance companies that are robbing the system to pad their bottom lines instead of improving benefits.
Immediately, the plan begins closing the "donut hole" to lower seniors' prescription drug costs. Medicare beneficiaries who hit the "donut hole" will receive a $250 rebate right away to make life-saving drugs more affordable. People inside the donut hole will also have an immediate 50% discount on brand-name drugs. The plan also requires Medicare and insurance companies to provide important preventive services like immunizations and screenings for diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis free of charge.
The new reform law improves the quality and coordination of care for seniors so individuals don't undergo unnecessary procedures because of poor medical records or a lack of coordination among caregivers. This reform also expands home and community-based services to keep people in their homes instead of nursing homes.
For more information about how health care reform will affect seniors, click here.
If you have appreciated the timely email updates you have received from me over the past few days, please subscribe to my email newsletter. Due to House rules regarding mass communication near elections, I will soon be unable to send information like this unless you have opted into my communications list. You can subscribe in the right-hand corner of this message.
Thank you for time. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or write my office.

Brain Health and Dementia Information

So much of the information in the blogosphere is ridiculous or misleading. But this morning I found a blog that is really useful. It focuses on brain health, including dementia and how to deal with it and how to prevent it. It seems to be science-based and has information about an upcoming conference on dementia sponsored by the National Institute of Health. Here is a link to information on the conference:
NIH State-of-the-Science Conference
Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
and Cognitive Decline

April 26–28, 2010
Bethesda, Maryland

Here's a link to the blog called "Brain Today" --

March 2010 - Events for Seniors in Darien, CT

From Aging in Place in Darien -- a summary of cool presentations and activities for seniors in our area -- and for the people who love them and care for them:

A Sacred Walk:  Dispelling the Fear of Death and Caring for the Dying
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Noroton Presbyterian Church, 2011 Post Road, Darien.
Book signing and presentation featuring Donna Authers, writer and caregiver mentor.
For more information, call 203-655-1451 or e-mail
High Tea and Entertainment with Singer/Pianist Bonny Leitner
Wednesday, March 24th, 1:30 p.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street, Darien
For more information, call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 or e-mail

Making Smart Financial Decisions
Thursday, March 25th, 9:30 a.m. at the Darien Community Association (DCA), 274 Middlesex Road, Darien
Presentation by Julie Jason, author of the AARP Retirement Survival Guide and Stamford Advocate columnist. 
Call the DCA at 203-655-9050 to make a reservation.

AARP Tax Help and Filing
Thursday, March 25th, 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street, Darien
Call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 to make an appointment.

Magical Moments at the Movies
Friday, March 26th, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Lifetime Learners, Norwalk Community College, Pepsico Theater
Film historian Byron Matthews will present a special edition of his popular weekly class.  Bring your lunch or buy it there. 
For more information, call Lifetime Learners at 203-857-3330. 

Need a ride?  Take the Gallivant for only $5.00 or a taxi for half price! Call Darien Social Services at 203-656-7328. 

Want to Subscribe to this bulletin?  Write to

Alyssa Israel, MPH, CHES
Aging In Place Coordinator
P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road
Darien, CT  06820
Tel:  203-202-2912  Fax: 203-655-9416

Practical Assisted Living Structures

Most people want to stay in their homes as they age, but the structure of the home may not be conducive to someone whose mobility or balance has changed. Retrofitting the house with grab bars is one way people can cope. But what about stairs, wheelchair accessibility and other obstacles?

Henry Racki, who owns Rockfall Company, has designed a solution -- Practical Assisted Living Structures. His company has filed for a patent on the design and is now manufacturing and installing the structures at existing homes in Connecticut. A PALS unit is a self-contained living area with bedroom and bathroom. It can be installed as an addition to your home and taken away when no longer needed. The cost is fraction of what it would cost to be in a nursing home. The savings can help pay for home health aides or other assistant to come to your home to help with bathing, cooking, dressing or other needs.

A couple of weeks ago The Record Journal ran an article about a woman in Meriden, CT, who is now living in a PALS -- and staying out of a nursing home. Take a look:

For more information on PALS, visit their website:



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How to Avoid Assisted Living or a Nursing Home

 A friend sent me this missive in an email. I just had to share it.


No nursing  home for us. We are checking into the Holiday Inn
With the average cost for a nursing home care costing $188.00 per day,
there is a better way when we get old & feeble.
We have already checked on reservations at the Holiday Inn. For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it's $49.23 per night.    
That leaves  $138.77 a day for: Breakfast, lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry, gratuities  and special TV movies. Plus, they provide  a swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer-dryer, etc.   Most have free toothpaste and razors, and all have free shampoo and soap.

$5 worth of tips a day will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
They treat you  like a customer, not a patient.
There is a city bus stop out front,  and seniors ride free. The handicap bus will also pick you up (if you fake a decent limp).

To meet other nice people, call a church bus on  Sundays.

For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there.   While you're at the airport, fly somewhere. Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.  

It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Holiday Inn will take your reservation today.   And you are not stuck in one place forever, you can move from Inn to Inn, or even from city to city. Want to see Hawaii ? They have a Holiday Inn there too.
TV broken? Light bulbs need changing? Need a mattress replaced? No problem. They  fix everything, and apologize for the inconvenience.    

The Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks to see if you are ok. If not, they will call the undertaker or an ambulance.   If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip, and Holiday Inn will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.

And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you, and probably check in for a few days mini-vacation.

The grand kids can use the pool.
What more can you ask for?

So, when we reach that golden age,
We'll face it with a grin.

Just forward all our email to:
The Holiday Inn!




Darien Support Group for Senior Caregivers

Did you that there's an Alzheimer's-Dementia Caregiver Support Group that meets at the Darien Senior Center on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 1:00-2:30 pm?
I'm always surprised when I learn about how many services there are to help seniors and their caregivers. 
My mother had dementia. It was a real challenge to converse with her and virtually impossible to reason with her, especially when she would call at 2:00 a.m. to talk. She had no idea it was the middle of the night. This prompted us to get 'round the clock care for her, rather than just daytime care. And I did this pre-internet and before the time of support groups.
For more information on the program at the Darien Senior Center, phone director Beth Paris at 203-656-7455.

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Someone who is starting a new nonprofit to help people age in place asked me for a copy of our Aging in Place in Darien plan. Since the plan has not yet been approved by our board, but since I would like to provide some guidance, I've decided to post a template for a nonprofit business plan. This is how we structured ours. But other organizations can use other formats.

Please keep in mind that the most important part of writing a business plan is the planning itself -- asking the hard questions, thinking about them, discussing them and reaching consensus. Then, you need to find someone who can write clearly to capture the consensus. An outline or template is a good beginning, but it takes a lot of work to fill in the blanks. The process can take up to 60 hours, including the writing, editing and financial projections.

If you need help developing your business plan, I would welcome the opportunity to consult with you. Feel free to contact me at:

Here is the outline/template.


Web site:


Beneficiaries, Value and Competitive Advantage

Opportunity to Make a Difference

Research Results

History and Accomplishments

Standing Committees

Business Model
• Member Benefits :
• Communication –
• Fundraising –

Organization and Operations

Board of Directors

Competitive Analysis


Advisory Board

Source of Funds and Fundraising
Financial Projections

Three Year Budget Projections
Assuming Current Configuration - Prudent Budget
Expenses Assumptions Year 1 Year 2 Year 3