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.
Thank you to our sponsors for supporting the 7th Annual Passport to Wines Around the World, Aging Matters in Brevard’s signature fundraiser! Your sponsorship helped raise significant funds to support the programming we deliver to seniors throughout Brevard County. More than 400 guest, volunteers, and staff attended this year’s event, which was held on April 12 at the Space Coast Convention Center. Guests enjoyed select wines, hors d’oeuvres, a live auction, balloon pops, live music, a raffle drawing, and a special appearance by the “Cuyler Singers.” It was a fun filled evening and helped not only to raise money, but to raise agency visibility and make more people aware of the work we do.
Carroll Distributing Company
SILVER CERTIFIED SOMMELIER
Brandt Ronat + Company, CarePlus Health Plans, Community Bank of the South, Crest Cleaners, Florida Power & Light, Dr. Pat Manning & Dr. Penny Storm, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Vitas Innovative Hospice
Actell Elderly Care, All One Family Senior Day Program & Assisted Living Facilities, Artemis, Arty Pagan Insurance Agency, Inc., Bluewater Creative Group, The Broome Law Firm, P.A., Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Cindy and Don Flachmeier, Community Credit Union, Courtenay Springs Village , Craig Technologies, Florida Eye Associates , Florida Wine & Spirits, Gatto’s Tires & Auto Service, Island Lincoln, Thomas J. Kasica CPA P.A., Kuykendall Gardner Risk and Insurance Brokers, Lassiter Ware Insurance, The Lay Family, Pat and Mary Grace Murphy, Mutual of America, Bob Sukolsky, CLU Northwestern Mutual, Phillips Development and Design, Pike Products, Inc. “Space Shirts,” Precision Fabrication, River’s Edge Adult Day Care, Inc., Ron Norris Buick GMC, SCB Marketing, Spearman Management, Inc., Taylor & Lockard, P.A.
Twenty-two teams of Rockwell Collins employees and their families delivered 150 meals to home bound seniors on Saturday, April 27, 2014 in South Brevard County. Aging Matters in Brevard says, “THANK YOU” Rockwell Collins!
Forty-five FPL employees delivered 153 meals to home bound seniors on Saturday, March 8, 2014 in South Brevard County. Spokesperson, Sandy Sanderson said FPL employees were deployed throughout Brevard County at various charities. Aging Matters in Brevard says, “THANK YOU” FPL!
The Florida Council on Aging (FCOA) is committed to serving Florida’s diverse aging interests through education, information-sharing and advocacy. Click the link below to see:
Founded in 1955, the Florida Council on Aging is Florida’s only statewide association representing virtually all aging interests and many different disciplines.
Thank you for voting during Bright House Networks 12 Days of Giving! Your votes made this gift to Aging Matters in Brevard a reality.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season!
Proceeds from this event will support the Meals on Wheels Program, Seniors at Lunch, In-home personal care, the Sunflower House, Caregiver Support and Respite Care, Transportation, and volunteer recruitment; All services help seniors remain living in their own homes, thus avoiding long-term care placement.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” –Winston Churchill
The Rockledge Police Department announces two new events to assist in deterring crime and keep our citizens safe:
- National Prescription Pill Take Back Initiative will be held in October (click here for details)
- Operation Shred Event will be held in November (click here for details)
Please be vigilant, be involved and be safe; report the suspicious activity of others in a timely manner. Remember, No call is too small.
Rockledge Police Department
“Serving the Citizens of the City of Rockledge”
Thank you Boeing Corporation! Boeing employees gathered and delivered meals in North Brevard to the homebound through the Saturday Meals on Wheels program on July 13 (shown here) and again in Central Brevard on July 20.
Boeing’s participation was a part of their Global Month of Service designed to engage their employees to volunteer as One Boeing for the month. The annual observance also serves as a focal point for the many activities that Boeing employees engage in year-round by volunteering as part of company efforts and in their personal lives to build better communities.
“Boeing welcomes the opportunity to partner with the dedicated and passionate staff of Aging Matters in Brevard to help those in our community who need special assistance,” said Mark Jager, Boeing Florida Operations Site Director. “Our annual Global Month of Service serves as a great reminder for all of us on how important it is to give back to the communities where we are fortunate to work and live.”
Aging Matters in Brevard Hosts CarFit Vehicle Checks and Supply Drive Drop off Point for Homeless Vets
COCOA, FL – Senior TranServe, a program of Aging Matters in Brevard, in partnership with Volunteers in Motion (Space Coast Area Transit) will conduct a CarFit Event from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM, Wednesday, September 11 at Martin Andersen Senior Center, 1025 Florida Ave., Rockledge, FL 32955.
CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles fit them. A team of trained technicians work with each participant to ensure that the vehicle is fitted for maximum comfort and safety. The check takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Interested drivers may join in on the day of the event without an appointment; however, appointments may be scheduled by calling (321) 806-3729. All participants receive a gift bag with information on community resources available to them.
During the event, and until 3:00 PM, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Aging Matters in Brevard will be collecting supplies for homeless veterans. Items being collected include: towels, wash cloths, socks, underwear, t-shirts, hygiene items, canned goods, backpacks, bike patch kits, bike locks, tents, and tarps. Items will be distributed at the upcoming Stand Down.
One of their primary programs, Senior TranServe, provides transportation to over 200 non-driving seniors and Vets Driving Vets provides transportation to low-income, non-driving veterans of all ages.
For additional information, please call (321) 806-3729.