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 Volume 13, Issue 5  |  January 15, 2021


Local Lisa Wright Jenkins explains a few of the Council on Aging-Southern California programs

By DIANNE RUSSELL 

Navigating the aging journey isn’t always easy. A local nonprofit, the Council on Aging-Southern California (COASC) offers programs that can help seniors remain healthy, connected, and protected during this complex time.

Covering five counties, COASC, a locally-based nonprofit, serves over 200,000 seniors and disabled adults annually, leveraging staff and 400-plus community volunteers. Eighty-eight percent of every dollar spent supports programs and services.

Laguna resident Lisa Wright Jenkins, President and CEO of COASC, expands on three programs that are especially pertinent today: Concierge Care Navigators, the Reconnect Program, and the Senior Protect Program.

Concierge Care Navigators

Funded by the Orange County Community Foundation, in alliance with local family foundations which help nonprofit organizations create socially innovative ideas, Jenkins launched the Concierge Care Navigators Program (CCN) in March of 2020 as the Council’s first social enterprise model. 

Often, when a medical crisis occurs, you are unsure how to navigate the healthcare system which can be complicated and confusing. You may need help making care decisions to ensure a loved one’s safety and well-being. That’s where the expertise of CCN’s Registered Nurses and Gerontologist Team can help. They are specially trained to evaluate, plan, and coordinate care across various healthcare providers while offering guidance and support. 

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Staff prepares to deliver supplies

“After seeing many families struggle with caring for aging parents, I wanted to implement this innovative new program. We think of it as Aging Re-Imagined,” Wright Jenkins says. 

With start-up funding, she was able to purchase an established geriatric care management business to help oversee the complexities of a loved one’s healthcare needs.

“It’s an affordable service that helps to fund our other programs,” she says. CCN’s Registered Nurses conduct assessments in the client’s home and then design an online care plan, or roadmap, that is shared with the family. The plan includes medical and non-medical goals to optimize the client’s health and longevity. The nurses also provide support and follow-up to assist in the plan’s implementation and share updates to the plan via text and email with the family. 

Wright Jenkins emphasizes, “Our nurses also provide caregiving advice, trusted referrals, and support to help mitigate concerns when not all family members agree.” To learn more about this program, CCN offers a free 30-minute consultation.   

ReConnect EISOA Program

COVID-19 has distanced us in more ways than one. Seniors who already experience isolation have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The ReConnect EISOA Program, which was initiated in 2011, offers no-cost short-term, individualized services to Orange County residents aged 60 and above who are experiencing emotional challenges and overall health challenges, especially those appearing later in life. 

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Senior receives food delivery

“Seniors partner with our case manager who assesses their needs and creates an individual service plan to address those needs. If they are suffering from depression, they are referred to the program’s psychiatrist and a therapist. Then they are connected to support groups (now online) related to their interests – art or exercise classes for example – we have all kinds of classes,” says Wright Jenkins. “When necessary, we teach older adults how to use public transportation. During the pandemic, we have also delivered food and additional supplies to keep them safe.”

Once participants complete the program, they have been connected to resources to successfully manage their physical, mental, and social health needs. They can continue participating in groups and activities, while enjoying a new support system and a more meaningful life. Some even become support group leaders.

The ReConnect Program provides up to 12 months of early intervention services at no cost to participants. This includes: Comprehensive screenings, in-home clinical case management services, psychiatric assessments, individual counseling, referrals and linkages to resources, family support services, peer mentoring services, support groups, and educational and social activities.

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Seniors are particularly vulnerable to scams

COVID-19 brings new scams

From the COVID-19 pandemic, new scams are emerging, targeting older adults. Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19 scams. 

Fraudsters are offering COVID-19 tests and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. These services are unapproved and illegitimate. Should you receive a call or need assistance, contact the Council on Aging’s Senior Protection Program. 

Wright Jenkins says, “Seniors need to be vigilant and protect themselves as they are especially vulnerable to financial fraud.” 

According to attorney Kelli Morris who directs the program, “The best defense against fraud is to be aware of the latest scams so you can recognize and avoid them.” 

Financial abuse is the fastest growing and least reported form of abuse. The COASC’s Senior Protection Program provides educational seminars and empowerment strategies to help recognize and guard against financial exploitation.

For more information on these and other COASC programs, visit www.coasc.org or call (714) 479-0107.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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