Thank You from Amanda James

I received my first job in the aging network based on connections I made at a GGS Annual Conference while a student at UGA. To be a part of the GGS Leadership many years later as a GGS Board Member and then the GGS Executive Director has truly been an honor and a privilege. I have enjoyed working with you over the past 4.5 years. I will be assisting GGS with their transition to a new director. Please continue to reach out to me at administrator@georgiagerontologysociety.org with your GGS questions and concerns. Thank you for making my job so enjoyable. GGS is an exceptional organization and I hope to see you all at a future conference!

Thank you,

Amanda James

A Message from your GGS President

November 14th marked the beginning of the season of light with Diwali. The Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, and other celebrations will follow and an anticipation of a new year in which we all hope for change and new beginnings. In what has felt like dark times for many of us and for many of the older adults we serve, we could all use more light in this world. We continue to hear stories of how our members and the larger aging network have been this light for the people we serve and for each other. Though the work is not done, we hope this holiday season will allow you to reflect on the grace and goodness you have provided in this world and encourage you to continue to be a source of light for those around you. As president of GGS, I am humbled by your work and sacrifice and I am proud to lead an organization with such amazing members. On behalf of the Board, thank you for allowing us to serve you as you serve others.

Your GGS President,

Pat Baker

October is Residents’ Rights Month (LTCO Spotlight)

For most of us, we have no problem letting someone know when our rights are being violated. But, have you thought about the rights of residents who happen to live in a long-term care facility? Do a person’s rights change when they are no longer completely independent?

October is “Residents’ Rights Month.” It is an annual event to honor those living in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living communities. It is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect, and the rights of each resident. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees residents’ rights and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice, and self-determination. The law also requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” State law also protects the rights of all long-term care residents. Residents’ Rights Month is a time to raise awareness of these rights and celebrate residents.

This year’s theme, “Connection Matters”, emphasizes connections – to family, to friends, and to the community – as an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents. During this time of pandemic, in-person visits are extremely restricted. It is more important than ever to help residents stay connected with family and friends using technology, window visits and other options. Residents’ Rights Month is an opportunity for residents, staff, families, ombudsman representatives, and other advocates to work together and promote quality long- term care.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program gives a voice to resident concerns, advocates for system and legislative changes, addresses complaints, and provides information and assistance to long-term care residents. We strongly encourage the community to participate in Residents’ Rights Month activities because our residents continue to be important members of our
communities. To learn more about Residents’ Rights Month overall, please visit https://www.georgiaombudsman.org/ or call 1-866-552-4464, option 5 to connect with our ombudsman representatives.

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight – Ser Familia

Ser Familia’s mission is to equip Latinos of all ages with the tools, resources and skills they need to go from crisis to thriving.   Our vision is to have all families flourish and contribute to the well-being of their communities.  Our 65 and over Latino population has been especially hit with the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 and we are more committed than ever to provide mental health services that are linguistically and culturally appropriate to this population.

According to the US Census Bureau, The Latino population in Georgia, age 65 and over, grew over 200% in one decade (*2010 Census vs 2019 Census). In 2010, Latinos over 65 made up 4.7% of the population. By 2019, the percentage was 14.3%.

With the population growth and the outbreak of COVID-19, the need for Mental Health Services, as well as Emergency Assistance has only increased exponentially.  Ser Familia has filled that void by quickly launching and continuing support programs assisting the golden population and their families in their language”

Learn more at https://serfamilia.org/

Belisa M. Urbina
Executive Director
Ser Familia, Inc.

A Message From Your GGS President

2020. What a year it has been! As I write this, we are only half-way through, and I am positive each one of us has been affected in some manner. COVID-19, political uncertainty, the pain of social injustices, economic hardship, social isolation, social division, and the reminder that we have a long fight ahead of us when it comes to addressing social inequities.

Given the intersectional nature of the challenges that we face, we are reminded daily of the importance of the work that we do both individually and collectively. Our organization’s mission states, “The Georgia Gerontology Society is a statewide multidisciplinary professional network that educatesserves, and advocates for older adults and their families.” We work for all older adults, and these challenges have renewed our resolve to fight even harder for those who are most vulnerable.

The American Society on Aging recently noted that “Age offers no immunity to racism and violence.” Older adults are at highest risk from COVID-19, and older adults of color experience compounding risk factors that have real and lasting consequences on their health and well-being. The accumulation of stress from a lifetime of experiences with discrimination and racism, inequities in healthcare, and a systematically perpetuated racial wealth gap, all contribute to older adults of color being at higher risk for health challenges.

As the state of Georgia’s largest organization of multidisciplinary professionals in the field of aging, GGS will continue to advocate for all older adults and their families to have equal access to services and supportive community resources. We will continue to support decisive actions that address longstanding inequities and eliminate social injustice when and wherever we encounter. We will also work harder to amplify the voices of people of color in our field and recruit professionals from underrepresented groups for leadership positions to ensure that we are working effectively for all older adults in Georgia.

GGS is committed to ensuring our membership and older adults in Georgia remain our focus, especially in these complicated and dynamic times. We are advocates, so it comes naturally to us to want to make our organization better. Stronger. To stay as relevant as possible to those we serve. And, the only way forward is to listen. Carefully. Any questions, suggestions, or feedback? Please reach out to us. We are all ears and we want to do better. In the meantime, please continue to take COVID-19 seriously and remember that washing our hands is the least we can do to protect our most vulnerable community members.

Thank you in advance for your review and recommendations,

Barbara J. Hall

October is the Time to Honor Long-Term Care Residents

On October 9, 2019, Georgia Department of Human Services Commissioner, Robyn Crittenden,  joined with Division of Aging Services Director, Abby Cox; State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Melanie McNeil; Long-Term Care Ombudsman Advisory Council members, volunteers and the staff of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman to recognize the month of October as “Residents’ Rights Month”.

In 2018, more than 1,000 nursing home residents from across the state sent letters and petitions to the Governor and their state House and Senate members asking for an increase in the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA). Governor Kemp and the members of the Georgia General Assembly responded positively. In 2019, residents again contacted their House and Senate members urging an increase to the total PNA authorized in law. Lawmakers agreed and increased the PNA to $70. Many Ombudsman Representatives worked with residents, resident councils and nursing home staff to assist residents with this advocacy effort.

The PNA is the monthly sum of money that residents who receive Medicaid may retain from their personal income. Any income above the allowance is applied toward the cost of their care. The PNA allows residents receiving institutional care Medicaid benefits to keep from their income $70 each month to pay for personal items such as clothing, shoes, haircuts, snacks, cards and postage, small gifts, etc.

We strongly encourage the community to participate in Residents’ Rights Month activities and to visit residents, who continue to be important members of our communities. Our staff and volunteers advocate for Georgia’s long-term care facility residents, empowering residents to exercise their rights to make their own decisions.