Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Annual Report 2012: Council on Aging

The mission of the Franklin Senior Center is to enhance the independence and quality of life for Franklin’s older adults by:

  • Identifying the needs of this population and creating programs that meet those needs.
  • Offering the knowledge, tools and opportunities to promote mental, social and physical well-being.
  • Advocating for relevant programs and services in our community.
  • Serving as a community focal point for aging issues and as liaison to local, state and Federal resources for older adults and their families.

The Center is located at 10 Daniel McCahill Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Center provides programs, services and activities along with outreach, information and referral to serve the needs of older adults and disabled individuals.

Senior Center: Back patio
On a warmer day, the patio in the back of the Senior Center

The Senior Center offers health screening and wellness, nutrition, social service coordination, socialization, recreation, educational programs, a supportive day program, recreational transportation and volunteer opportunities.

Our staff includes 2 full-time employees and 8 part-time employees. Four of these positions (2 full-time and 2 part-time) are funded by the town of Franklin. Our Health & Wellness Nurse and Supportive Day Program Aide are funded through grants, and our Grill Cook is funded through a generous donation from the Friends of Franklin Elders. Our two Supportive Day Program Coordinators and Bus Driver are funded with
program fees.

The Council on Aging’s Strategic Planning subcommittee completed a strategic plan to address the needs of Franklin’s elderly community over the next 10 years. The Council’s by-laws were also reviewed and

We launched a new Fall Prevention Initiative which included individualized Gait Assessments and Fall Risk Assessments to determine if elders are at risk for falling, along with a new evidence-based program entitled Strong for Life, using resistance band exercises, and the Matter of Balance evidence-based program. We also distributed Fall Prevention packets in an effort to educate elders about fall risks. This program
was funded by the Metrowest Health Care Foundation and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

The Center hosted two Franklin High students in a new internship program which placed each student with us for 70 hours. The program was so successful that the students donated twice that amount of time. With their assistance, we offered several new programs including: a Digital Photography Class, Video Oral History
interviews, and presentations on Social Media for Seniors and Cell Phone Savvy. All of these programs were extremely well received.

We also offered several new programs and activities this year including: Meditation Classes, Chair Yoga, Chair Volleyball, Senior Striders Walking Club, Depression Screening, the Silvertones Chorale Group, and the Yellow Dot Program. A second painting class was added to our schedule due to popular demand.

Our Wellness Nurse is supported through grants from the Metrowest Health Care Foundation and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. She provides weekly health screening of blood pressure, bi-weekly blood sugar testing, ongoing health education, home visits, and a monthly

As noted above, we offered several new innovations to prevent dangerous falls which can lead to serious injury or fatality for older adults. We enhanced our Safe & Secure at Home program by offering Gait Assessments, new evidence-based trainings and in-home evaluations of senior’s home environments to
determine if the risk for dangerous falls can be addressed. Based on this evaluation, installation of grab bars and adaptive devices are provided.

Our nurse provided 103 Fall Risk Assessments and 60 Gait Assessments this year which resulted in 31 referrals to Health Care Practitioners. She also offered 262 units of evidence-based training through the Matter of Balance and Strong for Life programs. Grab bars were installed in 28 households this year,
and we distributed 151 Fall Prevention Packets.

Wellness activities at the Senior Center include:  Low Vision support group, TOPS weight loss support group, a Caregivers Support Group, Podiatry Clinics and Chair Massage. The Center hosted a flu vaccine clinic and offered ten health education presentations over the course of the year.

Fitness activities offered at the Senior Center include: Chair Exercises, Zumba, Tai Chi, Yoga, Drums Alive, Meditation, Line Dancing, two walking clubs, Bocce, and Cardio,Tone & Stretch. We logged 8,391 units of fitness activities this past year.

The 2011 Senior Expo was held at the Senior Center with over 30 exhibitors, a senior fashion show, entertainment and a free luncheon. The winner of the Silver Spirit Award was Anthony Molinaro.

Outreach/Social Service Coordination
The Social Service Coordinator at the Franklin Senior Center provides assistance with housing, employment, home care services, tax abatements, long-term care placement, prescription drug programs, and many other
programs and services for elderly and disabled residents. The Coordinator can make home visits to homebound residents to assess needs and make referrals.

Several social benefit programs can be accessed to help senior and disabled residents, including Food Stamps, Fuel Assistance, Mass Health, Supplemental Security Insurance, Veteran’s benefits, and many other public benefits. Further assistance is provided such as monthly legal clinics, and the SHINE (Serving
the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program, which provided assistance with health insurance questions and problems for 175 elders last year. Several tax preparation programs were also offered, including preparation of 120 tax returns by the AARP Tax Preparation Program and 68 returns prepared by a private volunteer who also prepared Circuit Breaker Tax Credit forms for 84 elderly residents, resulting in a total of
$73,920.00 in senior tax relief. A session providing information and assistance to seniors in obtaining real estate tax abatements was also offered.

The Council on Aging also offers a cable television show, The Senior Circle, which provides useful information on senior topics and issues of interest. COA member, Stella Jeon, hosts the show which is shown on Franklin Public Access, Channel 8.

Educational Programs
Some of this year’s educational presentations included: CPR & First Aid Training; AARP Driver Safety Program; Know the Ten Warning Signs: Early Detection Matters; Real Estate Tax Abatements; What You Need to Know About Shingles; Dealing with Dizziness, Vertigo, and Balance Problems; Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Workshop; Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits; Are Your Medications Doing More Harm than Good?; Planning for Medicare: Countdown to 65; Taking Control of Your Future: A Legal Checkup; Adventures in Peru Travelogue; The U.S. Constitution; Learning to Use Social Media, Cell Phone Savvy; The Roads Scholar Class; The Five Wishes Advance Directive, and The Health Benefits of Walking.

Other educational opportunities included: a Digital Photography Class and painting classes. Peer led groups include: woodcarving, knitting and quilting classes, computer instruction, Italian Conversation classes, cribbage classes, a Brain Gamers group, and book and current events discussion groups.

Social and recreational opportunities are also offered at the Center, including cards, games, movies, parties, crafts, bingo, trips, and fitness activities.

The Common Grounds Café offers senior citizens a delicious, healthy, and affordable breakfast and luncheon in a welcoming environment. The Café provides a great social venue for Franklin’s seniors. In FY’12, we
served 17,894 meals at the Common Grounds Café. In addition, our monthly theme parties offer an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones while enjoying a delicious meal and great entertainment.

Supportive Day Program
The Supportive Day Program at the Senior Center, The Sunshine Club, offers a safe, structured and stimulating environment for frail elders, or those with mild to moderate dementia. This program has an overwhelmingly positive effect on the quality of life for participants who enjoy fun activities, socialization and gentle exercise.

Through this day program caregivers, many of them elderly, obtain respite from the strain of caregiving. Caring for a loved one is a stressful job that takes an enormous toll on caregivers; therefore, we also offer a Caregiver Support Group to help provide support and education for those in this critical role.

Handicapped accessible transportation is available to Franklin’s elderly and disabled residents through GATRA, the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority. Dial-A-Ride service is available to Franklin senior residents within Franklin or out-of-town within a 15 mile radius. GATRA also offers a fixed
route bus through town and transportation for medical appointments to Boston and other destinations. GATRA transportation can be scheduled by calling 800-698-7676.

The Council on Aging works closely with GATRA to assure optimal access to, and quality of, both
Dial-A-Ride and the fixed route bus services for senior and disabled riders.

TRIAD is a partnership of the Council on Aging, the Franklin Police Department and the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Its goal is to enhance senior safety and improve awareness of scams and fraudulent schemes to reduce the instances of elderly victimization.

This year TRIAD launched the Yellow Dot Program, a free program that provides a sticker for an elder’s vehicle’s rear windshield, directing first responders at a crash site to the driver’s medical information in the glove compartment. TRIAD also offers the Project Lifesaver program to aid individuals who may wander off
due to dementia. The program provides subscribers with a wrist bracelet with a radio transmitter. Should the subscriber wander, the caregiver notifies the police and a search and rescue team is deployed with a mobile radio receiver to track the signal.

TRIAD manages the “Are You Okay?” telephone reassurance program for Franklin’s senior and disabled residents. This program provides a daily telephone call to assure subscribers’ safety. The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office makes daily calls, and if the subscriber doesn’t answer the call, a well-being check is
carried out to assure that the subscriber is safe.

Friends of Franklin Elders
The Friends of Franklin Elders, Inc. (FOFE), is a private, non-profit organization, which was founded to assist the Franklin Senior Center with funding. The Friends supplement town funding for the Senior Center by providing funds for programs, services, and equipment for the Franklin Senior Center. The Friends of Franklin Elders’ annual membership drive supports programs, services and activities at the Senior Center.

This year, the Friends offered crucial support by funding our Café’s Grill Cook, providing $9,800.00 to fund this position. This position is an essential component in offering healthy, affordable meals at the Center’s Common Grounds Café.

In addition, the Friends fund events such as our annual Veterans Breakfast and our Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, and they fund the entertainment at each of our monthly social events. They also funded the purchase of grab bars for our Safe & Secure at Home program and tee shirts for our volleyball team. This year, the Friends of Franklin Elders also took over publishing our newsletter, The Franklin Connection.

Busy Bees
The Busy Bees Crafts Group meets twice weekly to create crafts and hand-made items to sell at their annual Holiday Bazaar and other local events. The Busy Bees then donate funds to support the Senior Center by purchasing equipment and contributions to various events.

The group also donates hand-made gift items to our gift shop and makes gifts for the guests at our Nonagenarian Tea Party.

Newsletter & Website
The Franklin Connection, the Senior Center’s monthly newsletter, contains news about upcoming activities and events, along with relevant information on social benefit programs. The Franklin Connection is mailed free of charge to Franklin’s elderly residents. To obtain a subscription, senior residents can call the
Senior Center and provide an address. The newsletter is also available on-line at:

Postage for this is provided with a grant from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and a donation from the Friends of Franklin Elders. The Center’s website also contains useful and topical information of interest to senior citizens and disabled residents.

Tax Work-Off Program
Franklin offers a Tax Work-Off Program for senior homeowners aged 60 and over. By working in various town departments at minimum wage, seniors can take a credit of up to $800.00 off their real estate taxes. This program provides important tax relief to senior citizens, while supplying the town with dependable, skilled workers. Last year, 86 participants worked for a total of 7,517 hours at a total cost of $60,134.00. Senior workers were placed in the Library, Treasurer/Collector’s office, the Recreation Department, the DPW, the Assessors’ office, the Building/Inspection office, the Senior Center and several schools.

Grants and Community Support
For FY’12, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs provided a grant of $27,494.00. We also received $13,373.00 from the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation to fund our Health & Wellness Nurse whom we shared with the Medway Council on Aging. Funding was also provided by organizations such as the Franklin Cultural Council, the Friends of Franklin Elders, and the Busy Bees, to support Senior Center programs, services and activities.

The Random Smiles Project was presented with a Community Service Award by the Franklin Council on Aging at our Volunteer Recognition Luncheon in April. The Random Smiles Project provides substantial support to elderly and disabled households.

The Franklin Council on Aging works closely with the Franklin Police Department to enhance the safety and well-being of Franklin’s older adults. The Franklin Police Patrolmen’s Association officers offer a holiday luncheon at the Senior Center every year, along with educational presentations and Bingo parties.
The Franklin Patrolman’s Association sponsors a holiday luncheon at the Senior Center.

The Hockomock YMCA furnishes instructors for several of our fitness classes including: Yoga, Tai Chi, Zumba, an Aerobics class, and the new Drums Alive class. The “Y” also provides training on our fitness equipment by sending an instructor to the Center to offer classes on the proper use of this equipment.

The Council on Aging is deeply grateful to the community organizations and local businesses which have supported the Senior Center over the past year. This generosity enhances our ability to meet the growing needs of senior and disabled residents.

Our volunteers are acknowledged for their dedication and generosity at our annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. This year, the luncheon and entertainment were generously funded by the Friends of Franklin Elders. This year, 130 volunteers at the Senior Center donated 11,234 hours of service to the Town.
This contribution by volunteers would be worth a total of $89,872.00 in paid wages if workers received the minimum wage.

Our volunteers are essential to the operation of the Senior Center. Without their selfless dedication, we could not offer the many programs, services and activities we currently enjoy. The Council on Aging is profoundly
grateful to our volunteers for their gift of time.

Intergenerational Activities
Intergenerational activities are always embraced at the Senior Center. This year we had numerous activities with students from several different schools. Eighth grade students from the Horace Mann middle school came to the Center to demonstrate their inventions to help older folks hold a pencil. National Honor Society students at Franklin High School hosted their annual Spring Fling for seniors with a free luncheon,
entertainment by talented students, and generous raffle prizes which the students solicit from local merchants.

Contestants from the state-wide Junior-Miss beauty pageant volunteered at the Center and then performed for our members. We hosted two students from Franklin High and Xaverian Brothers High School and two students from Franklin High School for extended internships. Tri-County Regional Technical Vocational
School Health Services students visited the Center bi-weekly to interact with seniors and assist with activities. Tri-County’s Honor Society offered free gift wrapping for seniors during the holidays.

As their capstone project, two students from the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter School raised $700 by holding a talent show and donated it to the Senior Center. Students from the Benjamin Franklin Charter School contributed to the Friends of Franklin Elders’ annual basket drive and were thanked with an
Ice Cream Social at the Senior Center. In addition, many students volunteer at the Senior Center throughout the year. All of these intergenerational activities and events create an enduring bond that bridges the years between students and seniors.

The Social Imperative
A survey by the National Council on Aging recently found that, compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction and life satisfaction. This research demonstrated that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic diseases and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well-being. These findings confirm what senior center participants already know; that staying active, engaged and socially connected promotes a positive outlook and better quality of life.

Respectfully Submitted,

Karen Alves,
Senior Center Director

Published by the Town Clerk, this comes from the 2012 Annual Report

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