Thank you to the Riverview Pilot Club of Titusville who recently held a “Roast, Boast ‘n’ Toast Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher” to benefit Aging Matters in Brevard.
Making a difference in Brevard County
More than 60 FLORIDA TODAY employees, friends and families fanned out across Brevard County Saturday, October 25, 2014 in conjunction with Aging Matters in Brevard, to deliver meals to about 270 clients as part of Make a Difference Day.
by Britt Kennerly, October 29, 2014
One woman introduced me to her tiny dog, Jojo, who kissed me on the nose.
My husband fixed the blinds on the back of a door at one house in Cocoa, while at another home, a bubbly lady gave me a fresh serving of her sweet potato pie.
It was Make a Difference Day. I hope that in some small way we did, as Doug and I joined other FLORIDA TODAY employees and families in support of Meals on Wheels. Employees had overwhelmingly voted to deliver meals to homebound seniors in conjunction with United Way and Aging Matters of Brevard.
It was a first-time volunteer experience for many, especially children. Eye-opening for adults, those who seldom see homes of those outside their worlds or how some seniors struggle to maintain their independence.
Best, 275 people who don’t normally get meals on a Saturday — and might not have a visitor besides their Meals on Wheels delivery person during the week — got not only food, but affirmation that they matter.
“Based on my experience, and the feedback I’ve received from our staff, seeing firsthand the appreciation from the seniors receiving the meals made the day extremely rewarding,” said Jeff Kiel, FLORIDA TODAY publisher.
It served as a reminder that you can make a difference every day. Thousands of Brevard residents do just that in every aspect of life — at schools. Hospitals. Community centers, libraries and so many other places.
If you’re up for a worthwhile challenge:
• Volunteer. 2-1-1 Brevard can help you match your skills to an opportunity. Or contact United Way for opportunities to pitch in.
• Donate to one of United Way’s partner agencies, whose services range from advocacy for children to housing for the homeless.
• Speak up. Let elected officials know if you’re unhappy with the direction they take.
Last year, federal budget cuts sliced $122,000 from the Aging Matters budget. The agency had to shutter two Seniors at Lunch sites, part of the program that feeds locals older than 60. And for a brief time, no new clients could sign up for Meals on Wheels, through which volunteers deliver between 700 and 800 meals five days a week. What kind of message does that send about priorities? The wrong one.
• Reach out if you’re in need yourself: Friends and relatives can learn from your example.
For example, getting a hot lunch through Meals on Wheels, or at one of Brevard’s 11 Seniors at Lunch sites, is not a handout. Too often, seniors won’t ask for help, especially those who are fiercely independent and view any assistance as welfare.
• Reach out through social media and spread the word about how we live here on the Space Coast. If you haven’t started using Facebook or Twitter and can do it, consider it. Share messages about what’s important to you. Be persistent.
Most importantly? If you want to reach out, reach within first.
Take a good look at where you are in life. Make a few phone calls. Discover how your skills and passions can change someone else’s life: They can.
You’ll find any day is the right day to start.
When Cindy Flachmeier, the president and CEO of Aging Matters, learned that Fisher was doing this for her organization, she was thrilled not only for the money it will raise but also for the publicity it will spread about the organization. “I often think that the people in Titusville, myself being one of them, don’t realize how many services are going into the Titusville area,” she said. “We, as an organization, want to make sure that people in different communities know that we are there, that we have a presence.”
Marcia Newell talks about sold out event Roast, Boast ‘n Toast to roast Commissioner Robin Fisher. This is the first such fundraiser sponsored by the Riverview Pilot Club in Titusville, benefiting Aging Matters. Video by Tim Shortt. Posted 9/24/14.
Aging Matters celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It began as a planning organization through United Way and is now the largest-funded United Way agency in the area. The organization has an annual budget of $6 million, employs 130 people and serves about 5,400 people a year. Money comes from federal, state and county grants and from direct donations. Its services include Meals on Wheels, which serves about 800 people every day. It also offers senior lunches at 11 sites throughout Brevard. The seniors are given door-to-door bus transportation through SCAT. The lunches also provide a hot meal, exercise, bingo and other socialization opportunities. Aging Matters’ in-home services include installing grab bars, minor repairs, bathing, cleaning and more. It is all part of the organization’s goal of letting seniors remaining in their homes.
Friday’s event is the first fundraiser for the relatively new Pilot Club chapter, said president, Marcia Newell. “We were trying to think of ideas,” she said. Members came up with “roasting” Robin Fisher because he is a “star of the county,” Newell said. It also helped that Newell is Fisher’s legislative aide.
While he supports many causes, Aging Matters is especially meaningful to Fisher,because his grandmother has Alzheimer’s, she said. Parrish Medical Center is the title sponsor of “Roast, Boast ‘n’ Toast.” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey will be the master of ceremonies and many speakers will share funny stories about Fisher.
Once the event was announced, tickets began selling faster than they expected. The event is sold out. “It grew bigger than us,” Newell said. “We are squeezing people in and people are still trying to get tickets. We knew it would be a good fundraiser. I don’t think we realized how large it would get.”
Contact Harbaugh at 321-242-3717, email@example.com or www.twitter.com/pharb.
Grandparents Day is wonderful opportunity to honor the special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. This day was set aside as a National holiday in 1979 for the purpose of honoring all grandparents, allowing grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help grandchildren become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer. Grandparents are children’s connection to family culture, family traditions, and historical events during their lifetime.
“Grandparents help save taxpayers an estimated $6.5 Billion by raising their grandchildren and keeping them out of foster homes.”
Excerpt from Generations United GU.org
GRANDParenting Again, a service of Aging Matters in Brevard, supports grandparents 55 or older who have given up their retirement or their own plans in order to take on everything that comes along with raising their minor grandchildren by offering support groups, enrichment opportunities, parenting guidance, care management, referrals to available community resources, educational presentations, and counseling.
On Saturday, September 6, 2014, Aging Matters in Brevard celebrated Grandparents Day by honoring these special grandparents with a dinner and recognition awards for their continued service to the next generation!
Aging Matters in Brevard celebrated their most recent “Centenarian,” Rita Anderson on August 27. Rita’s three daughters, Rita, Roberta, and Patricia, joined the festivities where she enjoyed a lunch provided by Seniors At Lunch (a service of Aging Matters in Brevard), live music, birthday cake, a special dedication, being serenaded by a friend, and much more. Fun was had by all!!
Parrish Medical Center employees and their families delivered almost 100 meals to home bound seniors on Saturday, August 9, 2014 in North Brevard County. Aging Matters in Brevard says, “THANK YOU” Parrish Medical Center!
Congratulations to Aging Matters in Brevard employee and Gold Medalist, Michael Walker! Michael’s softball team claimed the gold medal on Thursday, June 19, at the 2014 Special Olympics, held in Princeton, New Jersey.
North Brevard Article: Aging Matters feeds, fuels senior independence
By Katie Parsons, May 21, 2014
Aging Matters in Brevard offers a variety of services with one goal in mind: allowing senior citizens the chance to age in place and avoid assisted living services.
“Our mission is to keep seniors in their homes and avoid premature nursing home placement,” said Cindy Flachmeier, president and CEO of Aging Matters in Brevard. “It is less expensive for seniors to stay in their homes, and it is a comfort to them, too.”
A large component of that goal is ensuring county senior citizens have healthy, consistent meals. For homebound seniors, Aging Matters offers a Meals on Wheels program that delivered nearly 200,000 hot meals in Brevard in 2013. The meals are delivered by more than 700 volunteers who also perform safety checks in the homes.
“Sometimes, the Meals on Wheels volunteer is the only person that the senior will see that day,” said Heather Dimmig, vice president of operations for Aging Matters and the programs coordinator. “It’s a very important service that we are providing beyond bringing food.”
For seniors who are able to get out of the home at lunchtime, Aging Matters has 11 countywide dining locations for its Seniors at Lunch program. Three are in North Brevard. In 2013, more than 67,000 hot meals were served through the Seniors at Lunch program.
The food that serves these seniors comes from the Brevard Community Kitchen in Cocoa.
While no meals are actually served on the premises, this arm of Aging Matters extends beyond the 60-and-older crowd. The kitchen also takes regular lunch orders from adult day cares, child care programs, charter schools and summer lunch programs through Brevard County Parks and Recreation.
In 2013, the kitchen served upwards of 25,000 summer meals to low-income children at county parks. Corporations and private functions also rely on the kitchen to prepare catered food. The money raised from these orders supplements the cost of operating the food outreach programs.
In addition, the nutrition program of Aging Matters plays an integral role in disaster planning for the county when it comes to food.
“We attend meetings year-round to plan for all types of disasters,” said Flachmeier.
Aging Matters also offers caregiver support services, senior transportation options, a veterans-driving-veterans program, senior housing improvement, in-home personal care services and a retiree volunteer matching program.
Aside from its staff of 125 employees, Aging Matters relies on a network of about 1,200 volunteers. In 2013, those volunteers donated time valued at more than $1.3 million.
“Our volunteers really are the hearts of our programs, and we couldn’t do anything that we do without them,” said Dimmig.
Aging Matters in Brevard
North Brevard Seniors at Lunch locations:
• Culyer Park Community Center, 2329 Harry T. Moore Ave., Mims: Lunch from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 321-26-6491 to make a reservation.
• St. James A.M.E. Church, 625 Dummitt Ave., Titusville: Lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 321-536-8851 to make a reservation.
• Port St. John Community Center, 6650 Corto Road, Cocoa: Lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 321-638-4499 to make a reservation.
Visit agingmattersbrevard.org for more information on all the programs offered or to become a volunteer.
Central Brevard Article: Sunflower House offers resources to serve seniors
By Katie Parsons, May 21, 2014
The aging process is never easy on anyone, caregivers included.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unpaid caregivers provide 90 percent of long-term care for aging, ill or disabled family members.
The CDC also reports that caregivers often have difficulty finding time for themselves, managing stress and balancing their own work and family responsibilities with their caregiving duties.
Aging Matters in Brevard stands guard for the seniors of the county. Through nearly a dozen programs, the agency provides nutrition, safety and advocacy services. An integral part of Aging Matters’ mission is also extending a helping hand to caregivers, who can easily feel isolated or overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for their aging loved ones.
Programs through the Sunflower House, located inside Merritt Square Mall, aim to connect caregivers with a support system and the resources needed to safely allow their family members to stay in the comfort of home, avoiding assisted living or nursing home care. The concept of “aging in place” is a core value of all of Aging Matters’ programs and benefits more than just the families directly seeking services.
“Our goal is to allow senior citizens the opportunity to age in place and stay in the comforts of their homes,” said Aging Matters president and CEO Cindy Flachmeier. “What we offer reduces health care costs that we all absorb for programs like Medicare.”
Brevard County families can visit the center to learn more about in-home or in-facility services and take advantage of other support systems. Some programs are at Sunflower House, while others are spread throughout the county.
Through specific programming, Sunflower House addresses the needs of the aging community and their caregivers.
The GrandParenting Again program was developed to provide education and support for grandparents 55 or older who are raising their grandchildren, or filling in the role of primary guardians for a time. Many of these grandparents have given up their own retirement plans, or are trying to balance work life with the responsibilities of parenting once again. The group meets four times a month at a variety of times and in various locations throughout the county.
“Things have changed since these grandparents raised their own children, and a lot of time has gone by, too,” said Flachmeier. “Sometimes, we even see children taking over the caregiver’s role with their grandparents, and it’s a scary prospect. This program gives grandparents the resources to revisit their roles as parents and a place to share their concerns.”
When a loved one passes away, caregivers experience a specific type of grief that often includes some feelings of emptiness as their daily routine changes. The Caregiver Life Transitions program through Aging Matters provides caregivers who have experienced loss a place to socialize and learn about how to move forward with their own lives.
Educational programs on financial issues, health subjects and even self-esteem building are part of the Caregiver Life Transitions resources. The group meets from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at Sunflower House.
For people in the first stages of the grieving process, Hospice of Health First Survivor Support Services hosts a “Suddenly Alone” bereavement support group at Sunflower House on the first Thursday of the month during a morning and afternoon session. There is also a Dementia Support Group facilitated by the East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic that meets at 10:30 a.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Sunflower House also hosts a Friday Afternoon at the Movies series at 1 p.m. that features a variety of films for free.
“We offer more than just basic caregiver resources,” said Heather Dimmig, vice president of operations for Aging Matters and the program’s coordinator.
In addition to its consistent programming, Sunflower House also offers seminars and classes on specific topics that impact seniors and their caregivers. On May 28, June 11 and June 25, the Slonim Law Firm will host free estate planning workshops and will sit down with attendees and talk about their own specific plans.
East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic will offer two summer programs that will give seniors a memory check and tips on how to keep it sharp. The Total Memory Workout program will be conducted six times in June and July. It will give attendees insight into how their minds work as they age.
Seniors will be taught “memorcises” that will help build their memories. There will also be brief memory screenings June 14 and July 26 at the East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic.
Beyond Sunflower House
Aging Matters continues to add to its list of resources for seniors and caregivers as the needs of the community expand. The Meals on Wheels and Seniors at Lunch programs served nearly 2,000 seniors in 2013, amounting to more than 380,000 meals.
Through its Senior TranServe and Vets Driving Vets programs, Aging Matters volunteers safely transported Brevard seniors and military veterans to medical appointments, grocery stores and other social engagements, accounting for more than 65,000 miles in 2013.
Aging Matters’ senior housing improvement teams and legal aid services helped 1,800 seniors stay safely in their homes last year. Aging Matters also matches seniors who want to volunteer with local opportunities through its Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Aging Matters is going through the accreditation process to provide private in-home care and services. The acknowledgement through the Community Health Accreditation Program is expected to be complete this year.
Once accredited, the Home Care Program staff will provide nonmedical assistance for things like laundry, meal preparation, personal care or light housekeeping. County residents will be able to contact Aging Matters directly to access the services.
In all its offerings, Aging Matters strives to make the lives of seniors safer and fuller.
“Health issues are addressed through companionship, victim advocacy, transportation, meal delivery, exercise and education,” said Flachmeier.
Aging Matters in Brevard
Sunflower House is a resource center for seniors and caregivers located at Merritt Square Mall, near J.C. Penney. Visit agingmattersbrevard.org/service/sunflower-house for more information.
Coming up at Sunflower House:
• Free Estate Planning Workshop, 10:30 a.m. to noon May 28, June 11 and June 25, presented by Slonim Law Firm.
• Total Memory Workout, 10:30 a.m. to noon, June 3, 10, 17 and 24; July 1 and 8, presented by East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic.
• Brief Memory Screenings, 10 a.m. to noon June 14 and July 26, presented by East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic.
Call 321-452-4341 to make reservations.
South Brevard Article: Seniors who don’t drive have access to free rides
By Katie Parsons, May 21, 2014
Limitations on independence can be one of the more difficult things about aging.
An estimated 6 million Americans older than 65 suffer from depression, often caused by a lack of ability to do the things they once could with ease. The loss of driving privileges or the inability to drive because of physical challenges can lead to depression but also can be an unsafe scenario for homebound seniors who cannot get to the grocery, medical appointments or other engagements.
Aging Matters of Brevard strives to keep seniors safe and happy with its Senior TranServe program that connects driving volunteers 21 and older with homebound seniors who need transportation. The program is completely free to seniors, and they are encouraged to call one week in advance to make their ride requests.
Some seniors even request transportation to their own volunteer engagements. The TranServe program runs completely on volunteers who use their own vehicles and gas to shuttle the seniors to the places they need to go.
There are many positives to this program, such as socialization, getting out of the house for a few hours, getting fresh air and getting dressed up, said Cindy Flachmeier, president and CEO of Aging Matters in Brevard.
The destination is also important.
“We often provide transportation for a senior to visit a spouse or other loved one in a hospital, rehabilitation center or a nursing home,” she said.
A separate transportation service run by Aging Matters is the Vets Driving Vets program. This service connects low-income Brevard County veterans with health care access through door-to-door volunteer transportation provided by other veterans. A common destination is the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Viera. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans has found that the most effective programs for at-risk veterans are ones that are community-based and use other veterans as volunteers.
The Vets Driving Vets program is an initiative of the Corporation for National & Community Service, a group that aims to connect volunteers through community-first programs. The goal of the organization is to strengthen public-private partnerships.
Between both programs, a lot of miles have been logged throughout the county. In 2013, Senior TranServe volunteers drove more than 44,600 miles, and Vets Driving Vets drove nearly 19,000 miles, serving 240 seniors and veterans in the county. Of those drivers, 25 received a free Carfit evaluation to ensure safe driving procedures.
Aging Matters in Brevard provides many services to seniors. Hundreds of lunches are served daily through Meals on Wheels and community senior dining locations. Caregiver support programs are offered through Sunflower House at Merritt Square Mall, and assistance is offered to Brevard seniors who need modifications made to their homes. Each service builds on the next and works toward keeping seniors safe, healthy and in their homes.
“I can’t imagine being a few miles away from my husband and not being able to visit him when he is sick because I can’t afford the transportation cost,” said Flachmeier. “Volunteerism is the heart of this program and what makes it work.”
Visit agingmattersbrevard.org for information on programs or to volunteer.
Aging Matters transportation
• Senior TranServe Program: For seniors 60 or older; free rides donated by volunteers to medical appointments, grocery stores and other county locations.
• Vets Driving Vets: For veterans of any age who need a ride to medical appointments. Free rides are donated by other military veteran volunteers.
Call 321-806-3729 to make a ride reservation, seven days’ notice is requested for both services.
The Cocoa Community Women’s Club hosted a “Downton Abbey” themed tea on Saturday, May 10 in their clubhouse to benefit Aging Matters in Brevard.