What Serving Seniors is Doing About the Flu Outbreak in San Diego

January 12, 2018 - S F

The 2017-2018 flu season is being described as the deadliest flu season on record in San Diego, with more than 10,300 cases and 91 deaths reported so far. And it’s not just elderly people dying from flu-related complications, like pneumonia: in California, 27 people younger than the age of 65 have died this year, compared to 4 last year.

With the number of flu-related deaths having doubled (from 45 to 91) in one week, County officials recommend that everyone get a flu shot. Officials report that 70% of flu-related deaths in San Diego were people who had not been vaccinated. The vaccine is 40% effective and more than 600,000 have been administered across the county this season.

The Flu and Seniors

It’s important that seniors protect themselves and not underestimate the seriousness of the flu, as it’s especially contagious and can be life-threatening, especially for older adults, people with chronic medical conditions and people with compromised immune systems.

According to the CDC, “people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared to young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age.” Flu shots are covered by Medicare.

Early detection is important for seniors, who are encouraged to seek medical treatment at the first sign of symptoms. If caught early, the flu can be treated with a prescription of antiviral medication, which helps shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of the illness.

How Serving Seniors is Combating the Flu

  • Our nurse case management team has developed a pamphlet to educate clients and staff about the flu and how to prevent it, including effective hand washing.
  • Infection control and communicative disease training has been provided for staff.
  • We have a nurse case manager available onsite at our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center Monday – Saturday, with walk-in hours and appointment availability.
  • Serving Seniors has partnered with SHARP HealthCare to provide flu education and vaccinations in our facilities.
  • Staff with flu symptoms are encouraged to stay or return home to prevent spreading illness.

Flu Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue/confusion
  • Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea
  • People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever

How to Protect Yourself and Others from the Flu

  • Get the flu vaccine. Find out where
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Regularly clean commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial solutions
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others, especially older adults, young children, people with chronic medical conditions and people with compromised immune systems
  • If you start to get flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention immediately

Honoring Our Veterans

November 14, 2017 - S F

On Friday, November 10, 2017, Serving Seniors held a very special Veterans Day celebration to honor our veterans and their spouses. We welcomed two Girl Scout troops, six active duty Navy representatives, a Navy Captain, five WWII veterans, dozens of veterans from the Vietnam, Korean and Gulf wars, some peace-time veterans, the Serving Seniors Singers and local media.

Special Guests

Girl Scout Troops 4344 and 4823 led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked our veterans, then the Serving Seniors Singers performed “America the Beautiful.”

Paul Downey, President and CEO of Serving Seniors, and Captain Brien W. Dickson, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Point Loma, delivered remarks honoring and thanking our veterans. Mr. Downey shared a poignant first-hand experience of coincidentally meeting a WWII veteran at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during his travels in France a few years ago.

We honored all the veterans present by playing the “Salute to the Services” and asking them to stand for applause during their service branch’s song. The veterans were also presented with hand-made thank-yous from the Girl Scouts, and certificates of appreciation from Serving Seniors.

“They Deserve Our Gratitude 365 Days a Year”

Paul Downey summed up the cause for celebration and suggested we honor our veterans by treating all people with dignity and respect:

“Nearly 25% of our clients at Serving Seniors are veterans. They are diverse in their backgrounds, cultures and walks of life, but they have at least one thing in common: they all answered the call to be part of something bigger than themselves, which transformed them from ordinary to extraordinary citizens.”

“Let us honor them today, and every day, by upholding the admirable American values they fought, and died, to defend: liberty, equality, individualism, diversity and unity. Let us honor their service by treating all people with dignity and respect, even when we disagree with them. Let us show our gratitude to our veterans by remembering, respecting and appreciating the bold ideals that this country was built on, that they defended, and treating each other accordingly.”

“As They Served Our Nation and All of Us, Let Us Now Serve Them”

When the formal program concluded the veterans and Captain Dickson came forward to cut the ceremonial cake, then the Navy representatives and Girl Scouts served lunch. There were smiles all around and it was a beautiful, meaningful event – thank you to everyone who came out to honor our veterans with us!

View all the photos from the celebration on Facebook >

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d like to thank Balloon Guru for generously donating the balloons!

Testifying for the Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care

October 27, 2017 - S F

Our President and CEO, Paul Downey, testified this week at an informational hearing for California’s Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, emphasizing the importance of affordable senior housing and access to health and support services.

The hearing provided an opportunity for leaders in senior services organizations to share observations and boots-on-the-ground perspectives with state leaders to help them understand the types of programs and services that California seniors need. The session, part of a series of public hearings throughout the state, focused on creating or improving services which help seniors age at home.

In addition to Paul Downey, experts from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, AARP California, the California Assisted Living Association and other organizations discussed the importance of efficient, accessible services for seniors and the unique service needs of this population. Representatives also shared resources and examples of successful service models and proposed solutions to help elected officials affect change.

A Unique Perspective

Besides being our President and CEO, Paul Downey serves as Chair to the California Commission on Aging. As the state’s principal advocate for older adults, the Commission’s mandate is to ensure healthy, purposeful, dignified longevity for older Californians. The Commission also advises the Legislature and federal, state and local agencies on programs and services that affect older adults. With an impressive list of credentials and many years of experience, Paul is uniquely positioned to provide valuable insight into challenges around aging and services for seniors.

Paul began by sharing that Serving Seniors was the first organization in the country to receive approval to use Section 8 vouchers for transitional housing for homeless individuals. This project-based use of Section 8 vouchers is certainly better than nothing, but we’re still unable to triage homeless seniors’ situations efficiently due to the strict rules and bureaucracy involved in the Section 8 program.

Paul illustrated the challenges and inefficiencies Serving Seniors faces as a result of the lack of housing in San Diego with this example:

“It used to take our team 90 days to help a homeless senior through the transitional housing program and place them into permanent, affordable housing. Now, because of the lack of housing units, seniors might wait up to a year for placement. We have nowhere to put them after they complete the program.”

What Can You Do?

As Serving Seniors approaches our 50th anniversary, we urge San Diego citizens to get involved and support our ever-growing senior population. If the youth of today is our future, seniors are our legacy. Encourage your City Councilmember to make affordable housing a priority today: sandiego.gov/citycouncil

10 Quick Facts About Housing in San Diego:

  1. Current vacancy rate in San Diego: 2.73%
  2. Average cost of a studio in San Diego: $1,529/month
  3. Average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego: $1,640/month
  4. Average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego: $2,000/month
  5. Average cost of a single-room-occupancy unit (90-100 sq. ft. “hotel” room with a communal bathroom down the hall) in San Diego: $750/month
  6. According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, there are presently 3,700 adults aged 55+ on the streets of San Diego.
  7. The average wait time to receive Section 8 vouchers upon approval: 10 years
  8. Serving Seniors owns 350 units of affordable senior housing between two properties; for our 150-unit building in City Heights, there is presently a waiting list of 256 individuals. We turn one or two units per month.
  9. In recent years, 10,000 SRO (single-room-occupancy) units have been demolished in San Diego development projects.
  10. Keeping our senior clients in their permanent housing units requires constant support and intervention from our clinical and support teams. We have to strike a balance between landlord and social worker to keep seniors who have a history of episodic homelessness from regressing.

 

 

A Successful Senior Scam Stopper Seminar

October 20, 2017 - S F

Congressman Scott Peters and Senator Toni Atkins partnered with the California Contractors State License Board to present a Senior Scam Stopper Seminar at Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center this week.

One in Five Seniors Has Been a Victim of Fraud

Seniors are frequently targeted and vulnerable when it comes to fraud and scams, especially those who live alone. Scammers often look for individuals with savings or who are receiving monthly Social Security checks, and often plan a scam to access those funds.

Criminals target seniors because of potential cognitive or other impairments, knowing that if the case ever makes it to a courtroom, the victim’s mental soundness and memory recall can be questioned. Unfortunately prosecuting financial fraud cases is difficult, and many financial crimes are not reported, making it even more difficult to catch scammers and shut down fraudulent operations.

Senior Scams and Fraud Prevention

Representatives from the Contractors State License Board, the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the State of California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse shared information, tips and real-life cautionary tales of fraud.

Seniors and staff learned about common scams and fraud techniques, as well as ways to protect themselves, including:

  • Investment, home improvement and mortgage scams
  • Telemarketing and tech support scams
  • Impostor scams (“Your grandson has been arrested in Mexico – send money for bail!”)
  • Sweepstakes, lottery and prizes scams
  • Debt or tax collection scams, including IRS impersonation fraud
  • Elder financial abuse, sometimes involving relatives, romantic interests and “friends”
  • Construction-related scams and contractor fraud + tips for choosing a contractor
  • Things to look for before donating to a charity, especially following a disaster or tragedy
  • How to prevent shoulder surfing
  • Identity protection tips
  • Questions to ask if you think you’re being targeted
  • What to do if you suspect or are a victim of a scam

Our Favorite Scam and Fraud Avoidance Tips from the Seminar

  1. Don’t put your real birthday on forms in order to get free food or desserts at restaurants – use a false one
  2. When picking up prescriptions, don’t say your birthday out loud – hand the pharmacist your ID for DOB verification
  3. When expecting packages via mail (especially during the holiday season) arrange to have them delivered to your workplace or left with a neighbor – don’t let them sit out all day and risk their being stolen by “porch pirates”

Additional Senior Scam and Fraud Resources

 

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If you have an educational or advocacy topic you’d like to present to our seniors, please email info@servingseniors.org.

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