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Healthy Aging Task Force MV- Winter News
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Matter of Balance
8-week Program 

Sign Up! Begins Feb. 3rd
at the YMCA MV
Join MOB master trainer Kathleen Samways and coach Ray Whitaker for professional instruction on how to reduce your fear of falling and increase your activity level.  
 
Fee: Free for all members 55+, $35 for the 8-week session for non-members.

Dates and times: Tuesdays, February 3 to March 24 (8 Weeks), from 12:30-2:30pm.
Check your local Council on Aging for other Matter of Balance training programs or call the YMCA at (508) 696-7171.
 

Important stuff!
Matter of Balance is not only exercise and a balance class. It’s a program that could save your life! We strongly recommend that folks attend all 8 sessions – each class builds toward providing you with the necessary skills you need to change your behavior and to keep you safe and mobile into your aging years.  


Read more HERE.
On our minds…
 
This year is the 50th anniversary of three of the nation’s most important programs for seniors – Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act (OAA). Five Ways Congress Can Support Seniors in 2015.

Changing the Ugly Face of Ageism Starts With You and Me.
Did you know…
 
…that we are all volunteers!
The Healthy Aging Task Force (HATF) has over 70 members, both individuals and including representatives of 37 non-profits and municipal organizations that serve Island elders and their families. ALL ARE VOLUNTEERS.  Kudos to all of you!
 
that in 2010, one in six Islanders was 65+. In 2030, that number will be one in three.
…that your voice ages as well. Learn more HERE.
Stay tuned for a HATF special event of "Still Alice" starring Julianne Moore. Find out more about the national campaign to fight Alzheimer's HERE
HATF Incubation Projects
 

Do you know where to find information on doctors, wheelchairs, financial resources, employment, volunteer opportunities or caregiver support? It can be very confusing. But what if all of the information you need was located in just one place?
 
Welcome to First Stop, a soon-to-be-launched Island-wide, centralized web-based information and critical resource directory with a live staff member available via phone to help you get the info that you need.
 
First Stop is a project developed over the past year by the HATF “Information and Referral” Workgroup. Also involved are Selectman, representatives from the Edgartown and Tisbury Councils on Aging, Center for Living, Elder Services, other community volunteers and providers.
 
First Stop was identified as a priority for the Island in three reports from participants in the 2014 Rural Scholars Program from the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine and its Graduate School of Nursing.
 
First Stop will feature web content that runs the gamut from elder abuse to wheelchair availability and needs. Its intent is to serve seniors, caregivers (on and off Island), and providers. Links will make it easy to find on-Island and off-Island resources, as well as other national information sites, such as the AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, and more.
 
How will First Stop benefit you?
 
The First Stop website will feature an easy-access, easily searchable, up-to-date online database (by keyword or by topic) that will help you locate everything from doctors and medical devices to mental health information and exercise programs for you and/or your loved ones.
 
An actual human being will be available to help you maneuver the website, to connect you to the services that match your needs or requests.
 
When will First Stop be launched?

HATF has secured a grant for the first stage of the website build. The completion of the project will depend on approval of HATF for funding from all six towns and positive support from the Island communities at the Spring Town Meetings. With supportive votes at town meeting, First Stop will be up-and-running by this summer.
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Affordable Housing for Elders and Workforce
We are working on finding solutions to this major problem.
 
Given the Vineyard’s high cost of living/housing and the fact that many elders have low incomes, we have a tremendous need for affordable housing for 65+, as well as for the workforce personnel who take care of them.
 
As many of the Island’s elderly want to stay in their homes/community as long as possible, the HATF sees housing as a top priority. The statistics are cause for concern:
Almost 950 (60%) of elder Island households earn less than $50,000 a year, which is the Housing Authority’s qualifying guideline for “affordable housing.”
• Approximately 24% of elder Island households spend more than 50% of their income on housing, and are considered “heavily burdened.”
• Many Island homes are bigger/more expensive than aging boomers need/can afford, and many were not designed for frail elders, posing high risk for falls.
• For elders who cannot drive, transportation is a challenge. As a result, these elders are much less likely to stay actively engaged in the community, and this can lead to extreme loneliness. Studies have shown that loneliness increases an older person's risk of early death by 14%.
 

Changes to Town Zoning
The HATF Affordable Housing Workgroup is working with JAHG (Joint Affordable Housing Group) representatives from each town’s affordable housing committee to develop strategies that address this pressing issue.
 
The team has been on the road presenting to all Town Planning Boards and Affordable Housing Committees, asking them to consider changes to town zoning – to facilitate the creation of more affordable housing (e.g. accessory units, multi-family homes, density bonuses, etc.).

And to help elders in Chilmark, the town's planning board will be proposing an accessory unit bylaw at the annual town meeting in April.
 
Visitability
The group is also asking all Towns to make the rest of their housing stock more elder-friendly by adopting “Visitability” standards for new construction. At a minimum, Visitability means having at least one no-step entrance, 32” interior doorways (for wheelchairs and strollers for younger families), a half bath accessible for wheelchairs and no-threshold interior doors to accommodate elderly visitors.

Find out more HERE.
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Important Mortal Decisions: MOLST

In December of 2014, Ellen McCabe, a HATF Challenges Working Group member and Director of Professional Education at Hope Hospice, presented Grand Rounds to the MV Medical Staff – bringing them up-to-date on new DPH requirements for the Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).
 
The state law requires doctors to have these conversations. HATF's intent was to educate doctors on the requirements of MOLST -- and how best to have conversations with patients regarding end-of-life issues that should be addressed before they become critical.
 
The form is targeted to patients who have serious advanced illness or medical frailty; it becomes part of the patient's personal medical files and used across all their health care settings. Ask your doctor if this is a conversation that you or your loved one should begin, before a need or crisis occurs.

To find out more information visit HERE.

A good read: Being Mortal: Dr. Atul Gawande on How U.S. Healthcare Fails to Handle the End of Life

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