SENIOR SERVICES & STORIES

September 2020

COMMUNITY LIVING SERVICES:
You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New

[September 2020 | By Eva Veitch, Region 10 Community Living Services Program Director]

“You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New”

By Eva Veitch

We have all heard it a thousand times; learning keeps you engaged, staying engaged keeps you young and relevant. In today’s tech world there are a million opportunities to learn new things. I had been thinking about getting an “Alexa” device, but I couldn’t make myself spend the money,  so a friend made the purchase for me and gave it to me for my 61st birthday this year. It stayed in the box for over a week; I was afraid I couldn’t figure out how to set it up. Finally, one evening I decided to be brave and see if I could do it all by myself. I did it, and it was easy, and now several weeks later Alexa and I have become friends-kind of.

Learning new things can be somewhat intimidating especially when things like technology are involved. I discovered many years ago that when I become too comfortable, I need to change things up and move out of my comfort zone, learn something new and stretch my boundaries so I can continue to grow. The older I get the harder it is, but I also realize that it is more important than ever if I want to maintain relationships with the younger people in my life. I want to understand what is important to my children and grandchildren and I want to be able to communicate with them. That requires keeping up on technology, so I am on Facebook, Instagram and duo.

COVID-19 has further increased the need to improve our tech skills to stay connected, but it has also improved the number of platforms for staying engaged and opportunities for learning new things. You can “Google” anything to find recipes, fix a sink, download photos or a plethora of things you may want or need to learn about. Long before YouTube was “a thing” I took a sink apart to clean the trap and couldn’t get it back together, so I got on my old desktop computer and asked “Jeeves’ how to put it back together. [Jeeves has since been replaced by Ask.com]  Today it is so much easier to watch a You Tube video or podcast. There are even discounts for some learning opportunities like AARP Safe Driver online classes that save you money on car insurance!

Course teaches evidence-based strategies to keep you safe behind the wheel. AND saves you money on auto insurance.
AARP illustration.

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Endless Possibilities

Here are just a few of the things I found in a quick search. Google “Seniors and technology” or whatever topic that needs exploring.

AARP Smart Driver Course. When you take the AARP Smart Driver™ online course, you could be eligible for a multi-year discount on your auto insurance.* Plus safer driving can save you more than just money. The course teaches proven driving techniques to help keep you and your loved ones safe on the road. You’ll also learn about age-related physical changes and how to adjust your driving to compensate.

Stitcher-free podcasts The Spoken Word. Listen anytime, anywhere to over 100,000+ podcasts on your iPhone, Android, tablet, PC, Amazon Echo device or in your car – on demand. Stitcher organizes and delivers the world of spoken audio fresh daily.

OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) Play Video explaining technology and aging.

Senior Planet. Aging With Attitude. Online events hosted by Senior Planet are open to anyone 60 and older. (Fitness and wellness. Technology, and more.) “We’re a distinctive, diverse collection of people aged 60 and older who are busy changing the way we age by embracing opportunities to reshape our lives, connect with and help one another, and change the world for the better —all while learning, growing, and having fun!”  Powered by OATS.

Mystrength.com. Hope, Health, and Happiness. From resiliency to well-being, myStrength’s digital behavioral health solutions empower individuals with engaging, clinically-proven resources. Grounded in Science and Uniquely Engaging myStrength combines the broadest range of evidence-based models with the most contemporary user design to offer a unique consumer experience. Highly interactive, individually-tailored applications empower myStrength users to address depression, anxiety, stress, substance use, chronic pain and sleep challenges, while also supporting the physical and spiritual aspects of whole-person health.


GRIT. Greater Resilience Information Toolkit. (UCCS) Resiliency Support Coach Training. As a GRIT Coach, you can help spread support and education to your community members. This free 5-hour training provides information and skills on general and COVID-19 stress, resilience, disaster recovery, skills, support and small interventions to enable a GRIT Coach to educate, support and motivate individuals and communities to be as resilient as they can be in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent challenges.

As we’re trying to keep safe during these difficult times by social distancing, it’s necessary that you, and the seniors in your life, rely on modern methods of #communication. Teach the seniors in your life to try these easy-to-use communication apps, like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and Skype. Image, SeniorLiving.com

Senior Living. Technology for Seniors and the Elderly. Seniors did not grow up during the era of computers and the internet, yet this age group now depends on this technology. As a result, seniors are learning more and using technologies for the first time. In general, technology is helping to give senior citizens an improved quality of life through increased connectivity and a sense of community.

Happy learning!


COMMUNITY LIVING SERVICES: 

Your Vote Counts

[September 2020 | By Eva Veitch, Region 10 Community Living Services Program Director]

This is an excerpt from AARP “Immense Power of the Older Voter” April 30, 2018. By Dena Bunis.

Beyond senior issues

Veteran pollster, Ed Goeas (1) says older people are more likely to view voting as a responsibility and to care about a broad range of issues, not just those commonly associated with aging. They are more connected to their communities, which also makes them more likely to vote.

Celinda Lake (2) agrees and adds that the agenda for senior voters has been expanding. For example, older voters have started to pay more attention to student debt as they try to help grandchildren who have record amounts of student loans. Lake believes concerns over whether Medicare will be restructured or Social Security will be cut will still be on older voters’ minds this election.

To make sure they are heard on all the issues they care about, older people need to be more active during this election season, Lake says. “If there was ever a year where their activity should pay off, it’s this year.”

“In today’s world, it’s really hard to be clear about where the candidates stand on the issues,” Lake says. “It’s so chaotic. There’s so much news, so much fake news, that activism is important. One-third of senior women say they rely on friends and family for political information.”


The combined percentage of older adults in Montrose, Delta, and Ouray counties is over 78%.

The percentage of people over the age of 65 in Montrose is 24.1%, Delta 26.8%, Ouray 27.3%. When we look just at the impact of the votes in these three counties it is huge, why wouldn’t you want to be heard? The decisions made in the upcoming election will impact all of us for many years to come at every level of government, National, state and local. The outcome has the potential to impact Medicare and other health insurance programs, prescription drug prices, social security benefits and other important issues that those who we give power to will be given the authority to address.  Be informed, watch the debates, do your homework about the issues, fact check, be aware of fake news.

Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote, it has never been truer that if you don’t vote you don’t get to complain about the outcome.   VOTE! YOU NEED TO BE HEARD!!!!!


(1) Ed Goeas, veteran Republican pollster who produces the George Washington University (GWU) Battleground poll with
(2) Democratic consultant Celinda Lake.

SENIOR SERVICES: 
Kinship Connection

[September 2020 | By Amy Rowan, Tri-County Health Network.]

Traditionally, grandparents were supposed to be fun and would take the grandkids to the zoo, out for ice cream, have one-night fun sleepovers or have the grandkids for a week in the summer. I know I always loved going to my grandparents’ house. Parents were supposed to worry about providing for their children’s medical care, nutrition, discipline, educations and well-being.

Presently, with the lack of parents receiving benefits like paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid family leave, and affordable daycare, coupled with low wages and part-time positions this leaves many families turning to grandparents for help.

This shift is leaving grandparents to provide more exhaustive financial and custodial help with  50% of grandparents providing financial assistance to their adult children and grandchildren, 39% providing grandchild care, and 31% help with errands, housework, and home repairs.

In 2016, 2.7 million grandparents provided custodial care their grandchildren, today one in ten children lives with a grandparent, and a third of these households do not have a parent living in the home, leaving the grandparent to solely raise the child—this is often called the “Skipped Generation.” Many of the grandparents raising a grandchild do not have legal custody or guardianship over the child(ren), which is putting grandparents in emotional, financial and legal binds.

Depending on the situation, parents may leave children with grandparents for extended periods of time and the grandparent gradually takes on more responsibility. This can occur when the parents are incarcerated, have mental health or substance abuse issues or the children are abandoned. Grandparents may get an unexpected call from social services stating their grandchild needs a place to live because of the death of a parent(s), physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Interesting enough, poverty is the most common underlying reason. Generally, grandparents providing custodial care have lower incomes and do not access public benefits. For example, only 12% of custodial grandparents and other kinship families access Temporary Assistance to Needy Families TANF and most would probably be eligible for the benefit.

Grandparents/Kin needs to be aware of the different custody forms.

  • Grandparents as Foster Parents, Grandparents may serve as foster parents or kinship care. When the state removes children from their parents’ care.
  • Physical Custody with Power of Attorney, when grandparents take care of their grandchild for an extended period.
  • Legal and Physical Custody A grandparent who wants more control over the grandchild can go to court and ask for legal custody as well as physical custody, both being established through a court order.
  • Guardianship has a wide variation in the meaning of all the forms of grandparent custody.
  • Adoption is the most permanent arrangement that can be made between a parenting grandparent and their grandchild.

There are many programs that support grandparents and kin caring for children. If you are newly designated grandparent or kin caring for a child or have been in the role for a while, it is ok to reach out for support you are not alone. I sit on six Individual Services and Support Team (ISST) committees throughout San Miguel, Ouray, and Montrose Counties sponsored by at Hilltop Family Resource Center and the Uncompahgre Board of Cooperative Educational Services UnBOCES, I am amazed at how multiple agencies and school districts come together to wrap services and support around the child(ren) and the grandparent or kin to help the family in adapting to their new lifestyle.

Family Resources

  • UnBOCES Board of Cooperative Educational Services in the Uncompahgre Valley of Western Colorado provides a variety of services for families and children, unboces.org, (970)-626-2977
  • Hilltop Family Resource Center has a program for Grandparent support through Region 10 and supports ISST, htop.org, (970) 252-7445
  • Uncompahgre Volunteer Legal Aid, can help with custody forms, https://uvlamontrose.org/, 970-249-7202
  • Tri-County Health Network provides Medicaid Care Coordination and is engaged in multiple community organizations, tchnetwork.org, (Amy Rowan, Care Coordinator Supervisor 970-614-7311)
  • Colorado Kinship Care and Kinship Family and our local Child Protective Services in San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose Counties work hard to support children and youth in our communities. To access all Child Welfare Programs in Colorado go to https://co4kids.org or call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437)