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GCOA Outlines the Wins and Losses for Older Georgians

Aging Advocates Tirelessly Fought For Wins

Atlanta, GA – March 30, 2017 – “We are excited to report to the 1.3 million Georgia seniors that your advocates, your governor, and your legislative supporters worked hard at the capitol this year to help improve your lives,” declared Georgia Council on Aging Chair Vicki Johnson. Georgia's senior population gained more than $13 million in new funds for increased services and protections for Older Georgians. These wins come after tireless work by advocates. The Governor added $4.2 million to reduce waiting lists for in-home care, $750,000 in funding for senior meal programs and $250,000 for a rate increase for meals providers.  The Governor also added $766,000 for additional Adult Protective Service workers who investigate the abuse of the elderly and disabled.

The House and Senate added funding in two key areas: to fight elder abuse and to aid those living with Alzheimer's. Over $2 million was added to increase the salaries of those who monitor nursing homes in the state and over $100,000 was added for a prosecutor to help put abusers in jail. After education and advocacy by the Alzheimer's Association and Emory University, the House and Senate added $1 million to the Medicaid home care program for Alzheimer's patients and $4.12 million to create the Georgia Alzheimer's Project. According to Ginny Helms with the Alzheimer's Association, “we hope that this will provide an accessible means of early, accurate diagnosis, especially for those in rural and other under-served communities.”

The last hours of the session on March 30 saw the passage of House Bill 154, a bill to improve access to dental care sponsored by Rep Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta). Last year this bill received plenty of attention after the Georgia Dental Association disagreed with the Georgia Dental Hygienists Association about the bill. This year Cooper and Rep Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) brokered a compromise that both groups could support. House Bill 154 will allow dentists to send their hygienists to clean teeth in nursing homes and other safety-net settings without the dentist being on site. This will improve access to oral health care for residents.

The Family Care Act, another key bill for Georgia's seniors, passed after six years of work on the issue. SB 201, sponsored by Sen Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), will allow employees with accrued sick leave to use up to five days to care for a parent, grandparent, or grandchild. The Family Care Act will help caregivers maintain their employment while still caring for their loved ones who are ill.

The legislature also passed HB 221 sponsored by Rep Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) which spells out the boundaries, expectations and duties for those granted a power of attorney.  It would also define when breakdowns in that agreement constitute a crime. This legislation was prompted by cases of abuse in Georgia.

Last year aging advocates added abuse, neglect, and exploitation to the Certified Nurses Aide registry to help combat elder abuse. This year advocates proposed a more comprehensive abuser registry. This registry would list caregivers who have committed elder abuse and include those who do not show up on official background check. Aging advocates are working with their partners from the state and private industry to create a solution for next session.   

Transportation is ranked by seniors as one of their biggest challenges. Aging advocates asked for funding to test innovative programs that help seniors solve the transportation problem. Funding would have allowed communities to tailor programs to meet their specific needs. In some areas of the state model programs partner with companies like Uber and Lyft. In more rural communities have offered vouchers to family members or friends who were able to offer transportation to seniors. Aging advocates were unable to secure additional transportation funding this year but will continue to find ways to address the need. 

GGS Lunch & Learn Series - Evidence-Based Programming for Older Adults to Prevent and Manage Falls
May 9, 2017

7th International Conference on Aging and Spirituality
June 4-7, 2017

Executive Director
Adult Day of Dunwoody
Dunwoody, GA

Client Administration and Communications Coordinator
Personal Care, Inc.
Decatur, GA

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Community support vital for Meals on Wheels program

By Desirae Duncan
March 31, 2017

A popular program that provides meals to seniors could take a hit under President Trump's proposed 2018 budget, and now its creating a renewed push for community support to keep the Meals on Wheels program going in southwest Georgia. The SOWEGA Council on Aging hosts several fundraisers a year to fund the Meals on Wheels program, but directors said a small portion of the program is federally funded with most of the support coming from others in the community. Read More...

Kay Hind leaving behind a legacy at SOWEGA Council on Aging

By Jennifer Parks
March 18, 2017

Kay Hind got into her position as executive director of the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging after landing a job in Albany working with senior citizens, which led to a passion on issues relevant to the elderly. Nearly 50 years later, she is preparing to clean out her office at the Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. that bears her name and say good-bye. She said the decision to retire was one she made on impulse, but that it was the right one. Read More...

B. Smith's husband, Dan Gasby, speaks about living with wife's Alzheimer's

By David Rolfe
March 15, 2017

B. Smith doesn't know the day, or the month or the year. Early-onset Alzheimer's disease has robbed the former restaurateur, model, author and TV host of such luxuries. But her devastating 2013 diagnosis has created a national platform to address the disease that plagues an estimated 5.5 million Americans. “The brain is the most important thing in the body, the least understood and the most taken for granted,” said Smith's husband, Dan Gasby. “You can replace corneas, you can modify arteries, but the thing above your eyebrows you can't change.” Smith remained quiet throughout the interview Wednesday, while her husband spoke on her behalf about her condition. Read More...

Why 'dementia villages' might be the future of care for people with Alzheimer's

By Erika Stark
March 14, 2017

The future of Alzheimer's care might soon look less like a sterile hospital environment, and more like a cozy little neighbourhood. The concept, known as a dementia village, is already being tested in Holland. There, patients with varying stages of dementia live in homes of five or six residents. There's a grocery store, gardens and community gathering spaces. But behind the scenes, the village still operates as a nursing home, with trained practitioners there to take care of residents. Read More...



New study gives clues to aging in LGBT Americans

By Amy Wallace
February 9, 2017

Researchers from the University of Washington used data from the first national survey on aging and health in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, adults. The study examined data from the first national study of more than 2,400 LGBT adults ages 50 to 100 in 2014. Read More...

Fit older adults more likely to remain independent longer

By SPARC Athens
February 7, 2017

There can be no argument when it comes to discussing the benefits of exercise for adults, especially seniors. Put simply, its a must. A National Bioethics Committee in Iceland study indicated that older adults who follow a fitness regimen are more likely to remain independent (and out of institutions, like hospitals and personal-care facilities) and enjoy a better quality of life. Read More...

Bill targets ‘license to steal' from elderly, disabled adults

By Maggie Lee
February 7, 2017

The director of the GBI says a legal maneuver is being used as a “license to steal” from vulnerable Georgians, and he's looking for passage of a bill in the state Legislature to change that. “We want to stop the elderly and disabled adults having their assets stolen by family members and others who get that power of attorney,” Vernon Keenan said at the state Capitol on Tuesday. “When … they steal all the assets and they're confronted by law enforcement, they pull out that power of attorney and wave it around like it's their defense.” Read More...


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Georgia Gerontology Society, Inc.
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