Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Q&A with Clara Cunnicciari

I caught up with Clara Cunnicciari on Facebook yesterday -- well her grandson Chris, anyway, who manages Clara's FB page. He was gracious enough to relay some questions I had posed. My questions and Clara's answers (in all caps) are below:

In the Depression, did you ever think you would live into your 90s? If so, what did you imagine life would be like?
NO I DIDN'T, I'M THANKFUL FOR MY MEMORY AT THIS AGE.

What do you miss about your younger years?
NOT TOO MUCH, BECAUSE WE WERE IN THE DEPRESSION, WE DIDN'T HAVE TOO MUCH. THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE AND WE HAD THE DEPRESSION. WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY MONEY OR DO ANYTHING. I DO MISS MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

What do you love about your older years?
MY HEALTH, I GUESS. I'M HAPPY WITH MY FAMILY. I LOVE MY GRANDKIDS AND MY GREAT GRANDKIDS, I'M GLAD TO HAVE LIVED TO SEE THEM ALL.

How did the YouTube Depression cooking sessions come about? Are you surprised at how popular you've become?
MY GRANDSON STARTED IT. NO, I DIDN'T THINK IT WAS GOING TO BLOW UP LIKE THIS. I JUST THOUGHT I'D MAKE A LITTLE PASTA.

What's the best compliment you've received as a result of your YouTube fame?
THAT I LOOK YOUNG, THAT I DON'T LOOK MY AGE.

You're currently 93, right? How old do you feel?
I FEEL, I FEEL 93. I DON'T HAVE THE STUFF I USED TO HAVE, BUT I THANK GOD FOR WHAT I'VE GOT.

If you had to give one piece of advice about aging, what would it be?
JUST TAKE IT GRACEFULLY, THAT'S ALL.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nanogenarian serves up Depression food & stories

Nanogenarian Clara Cannucciari lived through the Great Depression and then some. Since 2007, she's been dishing up Depression Cooking fare on her own channel on YouTube. In addition to instructions for dishes like Poormans Meal (below), Pasta with Peas, and Cooked Bread, Cannucciari relates childhood stories from the Depression.




Though her "Depression Cooking" channel on YouTube doesn't say for sure, I would guess that her grandson, to whom she frequently refers, is behind the effort to share her wisdom via the web. You can also check her out on Facebook -- Clara Cannucciari.

Amy Magan
Communications Manager

Friday, January 16, 2009

Helping Indiana's elders age in place

Since June 2007, CAC has been working at the direction of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Division of Aging to develop Communities for Life (CFL), an initiative to create five healthy “neighborhood naturally occurring retirement communities” (NNORCs).

A NNORC is a community that has naturally developed a high concentration of older residents age 60 years and older because these older adults want to remain in their homes as long as possible, a concept known as aging in place. These communities are not planned or designed but develop as long-established neighborhoods, where the low turnover of households has led to most residents aging in place. These neighborhoods consist of older neighbors who have known one another for many years. A NNORC generally has few defining characteristics beyond the age composition of the neighborhood.

According to studies by AARP and the Advantage Initiative older adults close to 90% of older adults want to live in their homes and communities for the remainder of their lives. Keeping aging older adults healthy at home is a preventive strategy with documented cost savings. By promoting healthy aging and intervening before a crisis occurs, NNORC services may prevent someone a move to a more restrictive living environment.

NNORC programs were established in 5 Indiana neighborhoods:

  • The Shepherd Communities - Linton
  • LaSalle Park - South Bend
  • Gary Midtown - Gary
  • Huntington
  • Martindale/Brightwood Golden Ages - Indianapolis
Photobucket
Indiana Division of Aging Director Megan Ornellis (rear center) with representatives from the
Martindale-Brightwood Golden Ages NNORC


Each of the NNORCs were formed to respond to the challenges of successfully aging in place. The first phase of the funding from the state was used to promote community planning, engage and empower older adults to become change agents for their neighborhoods, and to explore the existing neighborhood assets and areas of needs all with an ultimate focus of creating opportunities for older adults to age in place where and how they choose.

Last December, CAC received funding to begin phase II of Communities for Life – implementation of programs and services toward building a “healthy” NNORC. Armed with substantive knowledge about the community, and with key stakeholders and resources at the table, a healthy NNORC designs and implements projects that meet both individual and population-based needs. That dual focus facilitates the changes necessary to transform a community into a good place to grow old.

While each individual NNORC will have its own unique combination of services, the basic goals and objective remain the same: to improve the quality of life for senior residents. Over the next 6 months, the CFL NNORCs will implement programs and services to:
  • Improve residents’ access to existing services and programs
  • Maximize seniors’ choices, control and accessibility through enhanced transportation options
  • Strengthen housing quality (safety, security and maintenance)
  • Promote residents’ interaction and sense of community
NNORC success reflects the strength, determination, interest and aspirations of a community of senior residents who desire to successfully age in place.

LaNita Garmany
LaNita S. Garmany
Communities for Life
Project Director

Monday, January 12, 2009

The other side of the coin

Last week, The Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana is among the 10 worst states for nursing home care. The article cited staffing – turnover and lack of staff -- as a major roadblock to quality care. The data and rankings were compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

While the CMS data indicate a need for change in many of our state’s nursing homes, I thought now would be a good time to highlight one of the positive efforts being made by 100 nursing homes to reduce the incidence and improve the treatment of pressure ulcers (referred to in the Star article as bedsores) through the Indiana Pressure Ulcer Quality Improvement Initiative (IPUQII).

Under the leadership of the Indiana State Department of Health, these 100 facilities have voluntarily committed to a year-long collaborative effort that involves everyone from CNAs to residents and their family members to nursing administrators. They are building better communication channels between staff members, encouraging family members to become involved in the care of their loved ones, and educating everyone in the facility on how to prevent pressure ulcers.

These facilities have committed members of their staff to attend three day-long learning opportunities during which their knowledge about the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers has been and will continue to be strengthened. They are sharing their experiences with other IPUQII participants so that the learning can continue across Indiana’s network of nursing homes.

As data is collected and progress is made, we plan to be sharing more good news about this initiative here.

Bachman

Jennifer Bachman
Senior Projects Director

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

DTV take 3

Just a follow up to yesterday's entry.

#1: I spoke with someone from the Federal Communications Commission yesterday. He said they are encouraging people who need or want converter box coupons to go ahead and apply for them at www.dtv2009.gov. There is some hope that Congress will find more funding for the program. If you wait until the appropriations are made to apply for your coupon, you'll be that much further down the list. So, if you want a coupon, apply today!

#2: I mentioned that some Area Agencies on Aging had been awarded grants to help seniors with the DTV transition. In Central Indiana, that agency is CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions.
Through this grant, CICOA is able to provide the following services to seniors age 60 and over:

  • Home Assessments – To determine if a converter box is needed.

  • Coupon Application Assistance – A CICOA representative can assist the senior to file an online application for up to (2) $40.00 converter box coupons. It may take up to 6 weeks to receive the coupon by mail.

  • Converter Box Purchase Assistance – A CICOA representative will assist with transportation arrangements or will use the coupon to purchase the converter box for the senior. PLEASE NOTE: The actual cost of a converter box ranges from $40 - $60. This grant does not allow for the use of funds to make up the difference in cost. There may be some out of pocket expense for seniors.

  • Converter Box Installation Assistance – A CICOA representative will go to the senior’s home to install the converter box.

For more information, call CICOA's special “DTV Hotline Number:” (317) 803-6079 or 800-489-9550.

To see if similar assistance is provided by the Area Agency on Aging where you live, click here for a list of AAAs by state.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

DTV boxes will cost seniors -- and others -- more

The noise about the federally-mandated switch to digital television is getting louder as the February 17 deadline looms. Television stations are running commercials, telling consumers to be prepared. Newspapers are publishing stories. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency has awarded grant monies to Area Agencies on Aging to help seniors get connected. Even we have entered the fray, offering our free Digital Television Connection Project toolkit to help faith-based and community organizations help their elders make the transition.

Much of the discussion and action around this issue has figured in a component offered by the federal government -- digital converter box coupons with which consumers can save $40 off the cost of up to two boxes. Well, it appears that the early bird gets the coupon. A story in today's USA Today reported that the TV converter coupon program is out of money. Anyone requesting coupons now will be put on a wait list that is currently more than 103,000 people deep.

Of course converter boxes can still be purchased at full price, which ranges from $40-$70 on average. And organizations implementing the Digital Television Connection Project may want to look into their own budgets to determine if they have any available dollars to contribute to seniors who might struggle to afford the boxes on their own.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It takes a village of professionals to care for the aging.

Last week, The Future of Aging blog recapped an article from the New York Times that detailed the declining number of geriatricians in the United States. CAC's Academic Program Director Tamara Wolske left a comment there that I thought worth repeating here:

There is indeed a critical shortage of geriatricians currently, and in the future, based upon the demographic projections, this will become a crisis situation. Geriatricians will tell you that they depend upon an interdisciplinary support team to help them be effective in the care of the aged and that includes more than nurses and other clinical personnel.

We need more people in other fields to be trained because caring for elders provides many challenges and opportunities. It requires creative and critical thinking for developing innovative solutions to situations that are as unique as the individuals that need care. Aging studies are valuable for everyone, no matter what occupation, because eventually we all will be working with, for, or on behalf of older adults.

Recognizing that reality, the University of Indianapolis offers courses in gerontology in an online format that allows busy working people the opportunity to earn a Master of Science or Certificate of Gerontology. Students can participate in courses with the Center for Aging & Community from any location in the world and on their own time schedule.

Training more geriatricians and also educating others who can provide support to the physicians and their patients is absolutely crucial to the future health and well-being of our aging population.