Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tuolumne County Commission on Aging: Latest News / Calendar 2012

Welcome to the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging blog: it’s our ongoing effort that we hope will bring information to help and inform seniors in our county. The commissioners, with their extensive and varied experience and expertise, are all volunteers and without exception are primarily concerned with doing whatever they can to improve the lives of our county’s seniors in and around the Motherlode.

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death."
~ Harold Wilson (1916 – 1995), British Prime Minister

Jots & Thoughts
By Roberta R Goodwin ...

Ruling could stop cuts in elderly, disabled care
…by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Tuesday December 20, 2011

(Editor Note: the below is excerpted from the original article.
For the full version, go here:

“States can't cut in-home care for elderly and disabled people if there's a serious risk they'll be forced into nursing homes, a federal appeals court has ruled in a decision that could forestall a 20 percent reduction in services to 372,000 Californians. Friday's ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco did not directly involve California and came instead from Washington State, where officials reduced home-care hours for 45,000 residents by 10 percent in February.

But the issues are similar to those now before a federal judge in Oakland, who has scheduled a Jan. 19 hearing on whether to let California eliminate one-fifth of the care it provides in the in-home supportive services program. The program serves low-income residents who need help with daily tasks, like dressing, bathing and preparing meals. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken issued a restraining order Dec. 1 that blocked the scheduled Jan. 1 implementation date, and said there are "serious questions" about whether the cutback would violate federal disability law.

A lawyer for care recipients in both states said the appeals court ruling, which is binding on federal judges in California, increases the likelihood of stopping the 20 percent rollback. "The Ninth Circuit's conclusion that loss of hours of home care services exacerbates people's risk of involuntary institutionalization is very relevant to the case in California," attorney Stacey Leyton said Monday…

...Lawsuits in both states claim the reductions in home-care hours violate federal laws that require government-funded programs to treat the disabled in the community whenever possible, and forbid measures that needlessly force them into nursing homes and other institutions. The appeals court overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision that restores services only to the 12 plaintiffs because the suit has not yet been certified as a class action on behalf of all 45,000 recipients. The court said the plaintiffs had shown a likelihood that the loss of services would force them into nursing homes, either in the near future or over time as their health declined.”

South County Idea
An exciting idea is afoot with he Commission to visit Groveland and its environs in order to investigate and get local feedback on a variety of senior residents’ needs in that area of the county.  We may call it “Conclaves” or something similar.  Stay tuned.  More later!

Computer Training and PC program

The Commission is considering the creation of a project that might help seniors who are tentative and/or inexperienced on a computer and the Internet, and wish to expand their isolated and perhaps somewhat cloistered existence by using a computer to access news sources, communicate with family and friends, research their genealogy, or otherwise enrich their lives.  Our idea includes donations of good used computers as well.  People – like myself! - who depend on a computer usually upgrade quite regularly - the older one still being serviceable -  and we hope to get a few of those for our seniors who apply for this program and might need one.  Stay tuned.
Data breaches?

Speaking of computers, your editor subscribes – among many other ones – to a weekly email newsletter from that addresses technology issues and news.  One recent article on data breaches - much in the local news lately - might be helpful.  Go here:

When does a Senior stop driving?
 Suzy Hopkins’s latest (Winter 2011-2012) issue of her senior magazine Friends and Neighbors (FAN) features a timely and interesting article entitled “Stop Signs” on this very topic, by Chris Bateman.  To read it, go to your home-delivered issue or find it in one of the many locations around the area.  It’s, alas, not online yet, and includes a list called “Time to quit? Top 10 signs.” I've listed them below:
  1. Do you feel uncomfortable or anxious behind the wheel?
  2. Have you found unexplained dents or scrapes on your car?
  3. Do you drift across lane markers or into other lanes?
  4. Do other drivers frequently honk at you?
  5. Do you get lost in familiar places?
  6. Do you find it hard to turn your head to check over your shoulder?
  7. Are friends and relatives reluctant to ride with you?
  8. Do you often forget where you parked your car or forget to buckle up?
  9. Is it hard to see pedestrians or other cars at night?
  10.  Have you received two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past 24 months, been in two or more accidents, or had two or more “close calls” over the same period?
First Alert” or Cell Phone?
Do you use one of the “First Alert” kinds of services for the 30+ some odd dollars it costs a month?  Hmmm.  Do you have a Cell Phone? To save the monthly cost, you might want to consider a cell phone instead (I did this very thing myself), because that’s a savings of $360 or so a year. Of course, you need to consider reception, as in do you have a signal everywhere you want to go in the house? In this county that can be dicey. Location, location. But if you do have reception around the house at least, you might consider switching. And of course you have to have a reliable person to call and you always have to clip the phone to yourself. So: Just a thought: it's something to think about, especially if money is an issue.

Tuolumne County Commission on Aging... encourages and welcomes visitors to our meetings and we have vacancies at the moment, so we welcome any interested parties to apply. Attendance at our meetings is recommended to find out if you want to participate. Please come to our meetings and see what we’re about!


Did YOU Know?
by editor Roberta Goodwin (comments? email me at:

News Flash! For your better living…
 1. The Tuolumne County Commission on Aging is working on a program for 2012 called “Leadership Tuolumne Seniors” which we intend to be a series of classes scheduled on Wednesdays - March 21 through May 18 - to help “Build a better community by providing Tuolumne County seniors education and opportunities for service and leadership.”  Prospective LTC participants must apply and for a tuition fee of $275 will receive “materials, meals, refreshments, events, and excursions”… see Carleton Penwell for applications and information.  You may email Carleton at or call him at 209-532-8583.

2. Carleton Penwell and Ira Uslander are quoted in the Union Democrat 12/29/11:
"Many senior citizens living on a fixed income will soon receive something they haven’t seen in two years — a raise.” by Chris Caskey…
"Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits will increase 3.6 percent in 2012 to cover cost of living increases. This will be the first cost-of-living adjustment for people receiving Social Security since 2009, when the benefits went up 5.8 percent. The cost-of-living adjustments are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, according to the Social Security Administration. Almost 15,000 people in Tuolumne County and 12,000 people in Calaveras County receive Social Security benefits, according to the administration. That equals $193 million paid to Tuolumne County residents every year, and about $160 million in Calaveras County.

Some local senior citizen advocates expressed cautious optimism over the increase. Carleton Penwell, of Columbia, said larger economic issues have meant, and will likely continue to mean, government cuts. But Penwell, who sits on the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging, said entitlement programs like Social Security are sacred to most of the people who rely on them.  ‘For many seniors, it will be most welcome,’ he said.  Ira Uslander also serves on the Aging Commission and helps run an in-home care agency that largely serves senior citizens. Uslander said seniors continue to say it’s getting harder and harder to live on Social Security.  An increase at 3.5 percent is helpful, but he also called it a small increase. And Uslander also pointed to a plan to increase Medicare premiums that could minimize a person’s Social Security increase depending on income level. ‘Any increase is a help, but it’s not going to make a huge change in anybody’s lifestyle,’ Uslander said.  More information about Social Security benefits is available by calling the toll-free line at 800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. The Sonora office at 745 Morning Star Drive is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

3. Our recent event (September 29) Aging for Dummies conference will be shown on Cable 8 through January. The schedule – too long to be reproduced here – was published in the UD recently. Call Carleton Penwell at 5312-8583 for more info, or email him at:
Please note, Tuolumne County Behavioral Health, Area 12 Agency on Aging, Tuolumne County Senior Center, Catholic Charities, and the Tuolumne county Library will also have DVDs of the session available to be checked out if you wish.

4. You readers might have wondered at some point how much Commission on Aging members have to comply with government ethics standards, as a matter of fact they must undergo coverage and certification every two years like all government employees. We can attend refresher training sessions or do our training online for certification.

5. PG&E’s low-income program: PG&E has a low-income program called “The Energy Savings Assistance Program” and they partner locally with Sears to bring new refrigerators to folks. According to an installer I talked to the other day named “Mike” he said that he and his crew make about 10 stops a day in the county to bring free brand-new refrigerators. His clients run to – he estimates – about 70% seniors. As part of the program, the crew even picks up their old refrigerators (and refurbishes/recycles them). The service area extends from Mi-Wuk to Riverbank, more or less, as he explained. Other features of the program include what they term “Improvements to your house, apartment or mobile home including compact fluorescent lights, caulking, showerheads, minor home repair and more.” To find out more about the program and whether you're eligible, or if someone you KNOW is eligible, go to: call or call 800-989-9744.

6. And this from Catherine Driver (via Suzy Hopkins of FAN Magazine): "REACH Plus is a program provided by PG&E and Salvation Army to help folks with delinquent electricity bills. We are working with our local Salvation Army to provide help to elders in need of assistance with their PG&E bills. We will be helping those 62 and over while Salvation Army will work with those under 62. (We will help in the case of a participant in the OE program, regardless of age.) Our part, like the Salvation Army's, is to assist in filling out the needed paperwork and making sure all appropriate paperwork is included (i.e. PG&E bills, proof of age, etc.). We then call PG&E to make the "pledge" and then fax the paperwork to Salvation Army in San Francisco. We can be reached at 532-7632 and Salvation Army can be reached at 588-1986. Catherine Driver, Engagement Coordinator, Older Adult Outreach & Engagement Program."

7. Minor Home Repair: Area 12 Agency on Aging offers a program for eligible county seniors “designed to assist seniors over 60 who have home repair problems they cannot resolve which threaten health & safety.” To be eligible, you must: be 60 years of age or older; reside in Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa Counties; live in your own home. Typical repairs include... (among others) hard to turn faucets; leaky toilets; door knob repair; install grab bars; repair doors and windows; ramp repair
Call Area 12 Today for more information on how you can arrange for needed home repairs 209-532-6272...
or go to: Also, you can view their website at:

8. An email from Ira Uslander: “I was just talking with Tom Teach at WM (Cal Sierra Waste Management) and he told me they have a disposal kiosk in front of their office on Camage for needles and other sharps. This is sometimes an issue for people with diabetes and other situations where they self medicate."

9. From Roberta Goodwin: I'm not a Comcast subscriber, but I ran across this item from Comcast. It’s a program intended to help low-income families with low cost laptops, discounted internet access and free internet training. I see that it’s “aimed” at families with kids, educators and civic leaders. But it seems to me we have quite a few senior grandparents in this county raising their grandchildren. Enough to justify making a big deal of this? Maybe not. But in any case, is it good information? I think yes. So if you want more information, whether for yourself or someone else, go to this link for details: and then for more, click on the “how it works” button.

10. Waste Management "yard service" - The Waste Management "yard service" option means Cal Sierra handlers retrieve and return the garbage carts so the resident doesn't have to. The fee is currently in the neighborhood of $11.00 and will be waived upon the resident’s submission of a doctor's note stating a disability rendering the resident unable to move the new garbage carts to and from the curb. The Commission is gratified to learn that their lobbying effort in this regard has been fruitful.

Commission on Aging Events Calendar 2012
In future, we will be blogging with even more information on matters of interest to county seniors so stay tuned! And please feel free to let us know YOUR ideas for events or forums that you want to see! We actively solicit your comments. As always, you may contact the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging by email:

NEW: The Commission on Aging appears on a regular basis before the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors in order to update them on Commission activities.  Note: Sometimes holidays force us to change the day; emailing us at is always recommended.

*Commission on Aging general meetings 1:30PM, 2nd Monday each month, at Area 12 Agency on Aging, Standard Rd., Conf. Room C
*Commission on Aging Executive Board meetings 1:00PM, 1st Monday each month, at the Senior Center
*Commission on Aging Public Relations committee meetings, 12:00PM, 1st Wednesday each month, at Interfaith
* Commission on Aging Education Committee meetings, 9:00AM, 3rd Tuesday each month, Starbucks, Sonora Crossroads Shopping Center, in the Prudential 2nd Floor Conference Room

***2012 Activity & Speakers’ schedule***
(Speakers inform the commissioners on senior related issues.)
January - none, Goal Settings Session
Rest of the year TBA
All COA meetings are open to the public. Please come and give us your ideas, concerns, and information regarding senior issues!

In future, we will be blogging with more information on matters of interest to county seniors so stay tuned! And please feel free to let us know YOUR ideas for events or forums that you want to see! We actively solicit your comments. You may contact the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging by email at

To go to the Area 12 Agency on Aging’s website, go here:
To go to the Little House website, go here:
To go to Friends and Neighbors website go here:
To go to the San Francisco Institute on Aging website, go here:

Blog Editor: Roberta Goodwin

No comments:

Post a Comment