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January 26, 2015 - 8:37pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in volunteer, Catholic Charities, senior citizens.

Many older adults live alone, can't get out of the house, and have no family nearby. This can cause frustration, anxiety and just plain loneliness.

And that's where the “Volunteer Home Visitors Program” comes in.

Run by Catholic Charities of Western New York, this outreach program has been in place for several years in Genesee County and, according to coordinator Jim Morasco, is now getting started in Orleans County after three years of existing in the form of the “Friendly Phones Program” (which has volunteers check in on seniors by phone rather than by visitation).

The program is run through the Office for the Aging in both counties; it is funded by the Muriel Marshall Fund in Genesee County and by a private funder in Orleans County. Available to adults 60 and older, it matches each senior participant with a volunteer who will come into his or her home to provide company and to socialize.

"It's generally for an hour," Morasco said. "When people sign up, they give us times that are convenient for them. We try to match them up with volunteers who have that time frame open."

Coordinators attempt to look not only for time frames convenient for both volunteers and seniors, but also for hobbies and interests that they might share.

Morasco stressed that the program does not entail hospice work -- bathing, driving to appointments, or similar responsibilities – although referrals can be provided for such things.

“(We work in conjunction with) just about anybody that works with people -- anyone with a connection to the elderly,” Morasco said. “So for example, say we go into someone’s home and they need something fixed. We can call Community Action or the Office for the Aging, both of whom have a handyman program. Not long ago, we helped a woman whose furnace stopped working at the beginning of winter get a new one through the Veterans Association.”

The main purpose of the “Volunteer Home Visitors Program” is to foster friendships.

"It's to break up the monotony of being alone," Morasco said. "I always say to people, 'Think about how busy you are when you're younger. You always have something to do, and you probably have a family. And then when you get older, sometimes they move away. People pass away. And all of a sudden you're frail, you can't go out, you can't drive, and nobody's around anymore.' That's where a lot of folks find themselves."

He described these home visitations as "socialization, and also wellness."

"You get to know people, and sometimes they start to look like maybe they need some help. I went into the home of a person I was visiting once and found her lying on the floor. Who knows how long she would have been there if she hadn't had that visit?"

In Genesee County, 52 seniors are signed up for the program at this time. There are 41 volunteers, and six people are on a waiting list. Orleans County currently has around 20 volunteers, about evenly matched with senior participants.

Morasco said he sees both seniors and volunteers benefitting from the home visits.

"A lot of (senior participants) say they look forward to their visitor or their caller," he said. "And the volunteers tell me that they get just as much out of this, if not more, than the seniors. When you give, you receive."

For more information, call Catholic Charities at 343-0614, ext 23.

Photo courtesy of Danette Weaver.

November 12, 2012 - 11:44am

One elderly person commits suicide every 90 seconds, according to a statistic provided by the Genesee County Mental Health Association.

That's why they are helping the Genesee County Suicide Prevention Coalition to host an upcoming pair of workshops featuring Eric Weaver (pictured). He's the executive director of "Overcoming the Darkness," a Victor-based organization dedicated to providing education about and help for people with mental illnesses.

"Suicide Prevention in the Elderly" is the title of the workshops, which will take place Tuesday at ARC's Community Center, at 38 Woodrow Road in Batavia. There will be a workshop for providers from 12:30 until 4:30 p.m. and another one for friends and family members from 6 until 8 p.m.

Both are free and open to the public.

Caregivers, family and community members who attend either workshop will be equipped to help elderly individuals in danger of suicide by learning how to:

  • Understand risk factors;
  • Recognize warning signs;
  • Learn how to have a discussion with the person if they suspect suicidal thoughts; and
  • Learn about local resources available to help with prevention, managing risk factors and coping in the wake of a suicide.

According to Sue Gagne, of Genesee County Mental Health, people age 65 and older have a higher suicide rate than any other age group.

She believes the main contributing factors to be "financial concerns, concerns about managing the aging process, health concerns and loss of independence."

Millie Tomidy, also of Genesee County Mental Health, described the Genesee County Suicide Prevention Coalition as "a group of people from various professional backgrounds as well as individual community members who are alarmed by the prevalence of suicide and want to do something about it."

"The ripple effect from one death can devastate the entire community," Tomidy said. "The goal of the coalition is to educate in order to prevent future suicides, but also to have a unified response plan in place if (a suicide) should occur."

Weaver, a survivor of a mental illness himself, is widely recognized for his educational talks and training seminars for professionals, family members, churches, workplaces, community groups, schools, hospitals and other audiences.

The mission of his business, "Overcoming the Darkness," is to "reduce stigma, increase understanding surrounding the many challenges of mental health related issues, create a culture that openly discusses the topic of mental illness, suicide and suicide related behavior, and above all proclaim that there is hope and that a level of recovery is available to everyone, so that individuals and families will no longer need to suffer in silence" (from the Web site).

For more information or to reserve a space, call 344-2611.

Photo from www.overcomingthedarkness.com

August 13, 2010 - 1:14pm

This entry concludes Sunday's article on the comments of Victor DeSa, M.D., who spoke to senior citizens at Batavia's First United Methodist Church last week.

Please remember, this is a summary of DeSa's presentation and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Batavian:

Medicare, Medicaid and senior services

By requiring insurance companies to expand coverage, the new health care law will drive costs up, according to DeSa. The government has told consumers that these costs will be offset by subsidies for people making less than $80,000 per year.

These subsidies will be coming, in part, from a $500 billion cut from Medicare -- and that's where senior citizens and others eligible for Medicare should be concerned.

But this is not the only problem. Both Medicare and Medicaid, which DeSa called "the original two public options," have met with disaster. Medicaid has already failed, and Medicare is on the brink of failure.

"The government has no idea how to handle the rising costs. Their idea of handling the costs is to take a machete to (the programs) and cut."

August 8, 2010 - 12:33pm

Dr. Victor DeSa talked with seniors Friday about the federal government's new health care legislation. This followed his hour-long presentation, sponsored by the "Older Adult Ministries" program of Batavia's First United Methodist Church.

DeSa is a retired surgeon who had a private practice in Batavia for many years and currently serves on the United Memorial Medical Center Board of Directors. He is well renowned and respected in the community and very knowledgeable about how the health care field works -- including the role of legislation and the relationship between health care and the government.

There is a lot of misinformation about the new health care law and how it could affect  people -- especially Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

The doctor expressed disappointment in the mainstream media's handling of the topic.

"The people in the media are not doing their job," DeSa said. "The media used to look out for the common man, but now they have a bias and a preference. (Consequently), the news we get is filtered and we don't have all the information we need in order to make informed decisions."

For those who could not be there, here's the gist of DeSa's presentation (it will be divided into two parts for the reader's convenience) -- it reflects the arguments he made based on careful and meticulous research, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Batavian.

August 3, 2010 - 1:07pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, driving, senior citizens.

Watch out for the little old man hobbling along with his walker the next time you're at the store -- he could be dangerous.

Dangerous on the road, that is.

Batavia resident Catherine Roth said she has seen a number of people out in public -- most of them senior citizens -- who drive even though they shouldn't.

"I once saw this man who could barely walk, and he's got an SUV!" Roth said.

Roth is well-known in Batavia for voicing her concerns about elderly drivers. This started with the death of her 30-year-old son almost 20 years ago.

Jim Roth was killed in October 1991 by an 81-year-old man driving the wrong way on Route 481 in Syracuse.

Catherine and her husband, who died two years ago, both worked hard to toughen the rules regarding elderly citizens on the road. Roth defends her position by citing laws in other states -- including "Katie's Law" in Texas, and a New Hampshire law requiring drivers over 65 to be tested every five years -- that regulate and limit senior drivers.

She has caught wind of some resistance to her efforts among Batavia's older population, but she sticks to her guns nonetheless.

"We have all these laws for young drivers," Roth said, "but when we talk about laws for elderly drivers, forget it!"

The trouble is, Roth has come to the point where she herself might have to surrender her place behind the wheel. She will be 90 years old soon, and has concerns about whether or not she should still be driving.

"I've been thinking about giving up driving for the past several years," she said. "When I realized I would be turning 90 and that my license was going to expire (this month), I realized I had to decide whether to renew the license or quit driving."

Roth said she doesn't have any specific problems that compromise her ability to drive safely, but she worries that "reaction time" might slow with age.

"Right now I drive as little as possible," she said. "I drive to Stafford three or four times a week to work at the museum. Everone who's rode with me has said I'm a good driver. But I've already begun to explore different ways of getting around (like taking a taxi)."

Roth actually asked to be re-tested to see if her driving skills were up to par -- her request was denied.

At this point in time, New York State has no system set up for that sort of thing. Re-taking the driver's test is only possible for those who have been reported.

This is an important issue for Roth, because better testing for senior drivers is one of the reforms she and her husband pushed for over the years.

"A lot of times, all it seems to depend on is eyesight," she said. "If someone's eyesight is good, he can mail in his license and get it renewed. That's just wrong!"

She then pointed out that the person in question could have very good eyesight, but at the same time barely have the ability to walk.

Sometimes, according to Roth, even a doctor's caution is unhelpful.

"If their doctor tells them they shouldn't drive, they'll go to a different doctor."

Roth understands seniors' reluctance to give up their licenses and, by extension, their independence.

"I've been without a car for the past week, and it's been driving me nuts!" she said.

Most of Roth's friends are in their 80s and in the same boat. She is far from unsympathetic to the tough decision facing older drivers.

"I know you want your independence -- but darn it, don't kill my son or anyone else."

She shared some recommendations for seniors who would like to continue driving, but not be a danger to other drivers: don't drive at night; avoid streets near schools around the end of the school day; and avoid big cities.

In addition, she listed some decent alternatives to driving for seniors who still need to get around.

"The Office for the Aging has some good programs," she said. "And you can take a taxi in Batavia for about $5. And then there's always the option of turning to friends, but you try not to bother people for little things.

"It's best to do all of your errands in one trip (so you don't have to call your friends whenever, for instance, you need some milk). You try to keep your independence, even if you have to be dependent in some ways."


Roth is on the Board of Trustees for the Stafford Historical Society, and just finished -- after nine years -- serving on the Board of Trustees for Batavia's First Presbyterian Church. She is also a volunteer at the Batavia Cemetery.

A most interesting fact about her is that she is a triplet. She and her two sisters will be celebrating their 90th birthday very shortly.

"As far as we know, we're the oldest living triplets in the United States," Roth said.

June 14, 2010 - 7:36am
posted by Bea McManis in Sports, Wii Bowling, senior citizens.

Dennis Meyers posted his 5th 300 game in Wii Bowling at 400 Towers, Sunday night.  Dennis also has two hole in one shots in Wii Golf.


 Senior citizens, at the Towers, appreciate the low impact excercise when playing the Wii.


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