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OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 58

Week #58

'Issues Facing Seniors

Meeting Notes Prepared by Zoë Haddad (Walls Project)

Tasha Clark-Amar (Executive Director, Council on Aging)

  • Council est. May 13, 1973 (48 years old)

  • Created in Congress by the 1965 Older American Act

  • Specifies a couple of objectives: afford certain traditional American concepts of inherent dignity for individuals to assist our older people to secure equal opportunity, adequate income at retirement, best possible physical and mental health, afford and maintain suitable housing with reference to special needs available at cost, comprehensive array of community based services, opportunity for employment without discrimination, efficient community servives and social service assistant

  • Team EBRCOA has 141 employees, 23 locations, 25 programs many of which are federally funded and state matched, lots of grant funds

  • 5 Pillars:

  • One: Access to healthy, nutritious meals. Everyone knows we do Meals on Wheels but it’s more than meals - created by nutritionists, Chef Celeste is our chef. As of last year, even during COVID, we provided 1.8 million meals across the parish in 23 locations and to our homebound seniors. We’re charged with reducing hunger for seniors, attacking food insecurity and malnutrition among seniors.

  • Two: Breaking of social isolation. According to the National Institute on Aging, social isolation and loneliness pose higher health risks to older folks such as physical and mental conditions, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and is a driver for Alzeihmers. We gather our seniors and do activities that promote cognitive strength - we sew, knit, do tai chi and yoga, have Senior Prom, crawfish boils, Bingo

  • Three: Access to decent, affordable housing. There’s 86,000+ seniors in EBRP. Of those, 42,000 seniors in this parish live on social security alone, which averages about $1300. Over half of our seniors live at 50% below the poverty line, which means their monthly social security check averages between $5-650 leaving less than $300 a month they can use for housing. A lot of our seniors live in deplorable conditions. We own one apartment complex called Dumas House, a 64 unit apartment. Just started construction on a $22 million project called Lotus Village. It will be the first senior village concept in Louisiana. 116 one bedroom age-in-place units with 56 buildings. Will have the first ever geriatric healthcare facility within the village. Will address everything they need from medical, dental, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, drug addiction therapy, any issue a senior may have, they can go to the clinic. They will have all the amenities they need…a smart home where you come in independent and leave in glory. We are planning a similar property in Baker.

  • Four: Access to senior transportation. 600,000 seniors stop driving every year. When you’re stuck in your home, you’re isolated. We started a free bus system with 11 buses called Lotus Drives. Pick seniors up and take them where they need to go. And we take them on activities...the senior playground (the casino with $20 each!) after the museum of course!

  • Five: Disaster agency for seniors. Have a seat at the Governor's Office Homeland and Emergency Preparedness. We have a list of high risk seniors on oxygen, coordinate activities relative to their safety in any disaster, get sandbags, help evacuate, etc.

  • We have an onsite food pantry, open air market/grocery store/farmers market/deli...Opened the first ever intergenerational center where the youth and seniors come together. We were just awarded with a new program from IBM, Volunteers with Public Schools, and Tara and Capitol High called the CITECH Program where the seniors and youth teach each other. This summer they will meet three times a week and do activities where each young person has a senior mentor.

Priscilla D. Allen PhD, LMSW (Professor in Aging and Geriatrics, LSU)

  • Representing the LSU School of Social Work, been a faculty member for 20 years after coming from Connecticut

  • Started as a Meals on Wheels coordinator then moved to a nursing home as a designee with 120 residents. Served as a social worker then opened a nursing home before realizing I wanted to do more to advocate for residents rights

  • I’m talking about the intersect of ageism and the fatality of COVID deaths in nursing homes

  • 0.06% of the population resides in nursing homes. In terms of large data, it’s a very small part of the population. But upwards of 40% of COVID deaths occured in nursing homes

  • The data are showing not just the reality that COVID was so deadly for our nursing home residents but that it exposed a problem already there

  • Nursing homes are rated on a scale of 1-5 stars - the health departments come in for inspections. No surprise, the most at risk nursing homes had the highest number of people of color, lower staff ratios, higher turnover of isolation is one of the most predictive features of studies of quality of life, mortality rates

  • Ageism was really unearthed because nursing homes already at risk had the highest rates of death. In LA we have 277 nursing homes. LA was not in the top 5 in the nation (broken down by number of deaths per 100,000) but we were something like seventh. There were states with very high reported COVID deaths in nursing homes, some 50%

  • There’s a dashboard in LA and reporting rates were very irregular...the data say that the residents who died of COVID died because of staff bringing COVID to the facilities, without PPE and proper hygiene and infection control

  • We worked nationwide and when they could show up the calls were ghastly...they were waiting to move people out, there were refrigerated trucks outside the nursing we must do something continually to provide more advocacy for our nursing home residents, more knowledge of what goes on, and focusing on those with highest risk

Craig Kaberline (Executive Director, Capital Area Agency on Aging)

  • Been with the CAAA for the last year, been dealing with aging issues for about 16 years

  • Also worked in residential with people with developmental disabilities and dealt with mental health in schools

  • We cover Older Americans Act basic programs as well as employment programs across 13 parishes

  • COVID brought a lot of challenges across our program

  • We have resources and information to hook seniors up with programs around the area

  • Health and wellness programs have also been a challenge during the pandemic but it’s key to keep our seniors outdoors, healthy, and socially involved

  • Talking about social isolation and transportation, it’s a big part - giving up a vehicle is one of those last pieces of independence

  • It plays in to the other big issues of our senior population such as access to food, healthcare, other community resources

Raymond Jetson (MetroMorphosis)

  • Please recognize how the things we heard from Tasha, Priscilla, and Craig were interrelated with every other area we’ve talked about. None of these issues exist in isolation, which is why this collaborative effort is so important.

  • The other thing I’d like to emphasize is the connection and the deeply entrenched impact of poverty on seniors. We often think of poverty, its consequences and impact on families and children but we must see the impact on seniors.

  • One of the special things about this work is that we ultimately find our community. It’s not about the specific issue, but it is people concerned about making this community better.

  • Tasha lifted up the notion of intergenerational activities. I would suggest that that is a critical driver in all of our work. Those who are aging in our community do not exist separate and apart from younger folks. There is value in connecting those generations.

  • Finally, a critical element of this work is rooting this in data - what we feel and see is important but if we are going to make a difference it has to be grounded in data.

Coalition Questions and Discussion

Pat LeDuff (CADAV): Wanted to also add the issue of grandparents raising grandchildren...we have assistance for the children but we need to think about the grandparents.

Tyler Litt (NSBR): The first question is around geriatric mental health and counseling. Are there local programs centered around not just memory loss but actual trauma informed counseling? Second, are there any organizations utilizing the Senior Corps program where seniors can work for a year and then use that educational award for themselves or gift it to an immediate family member?Tasha Clark-Amar: When we have issues with our seniors, we normally refer them to Ocean’s Behavior and Care South. Those are two entities that have wrapped counseling in a nice package relative to seniors’ mental health. We don’t utilize the Senior Corps Program.

Pat LeDuff: Scotlandville CDC has gone through AARP through the last 7 years. We don’t have paid staff - we go through them and they are awesome. They are usually retired from HR, retired from hospitals, and they do an awesome job running CDC and CADAV.

Ann Zanders (BRCC): Back in 2016 when the flood occurred, we were partnering with a few agencies that dealt with specific challenges. What bothered me was that those seniors who were deaf hardly had any assistance. There was no electricity, they were isolated and so afraid. So now in 2021, has anything occurred to change that compounded isolation for those seniors who are also challenged with being blind or deaf? I love what Tasha said about getting the intergenerational group together because we were even looking at, and I hope we still can, work with AARP to teach senior volunteers signing so that they could have enough capacity to volunteer and partner with a senior with other challenges, help them in their day to day life

Tasha Clark-Amar: We work with some groups - we provide tablets for them so they can communicate with us, specific Bingo cards, accommodations for activities, etc. I don’t have it in front of me, but contact me so I can get you that information.

Pam Wall: Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge has over 1,500 applications for home modifications for low-income, elderly homeowners and, with only part time staff, can address only 150 a year......many homes they have addressed with adaptations really need to be demolished. How can we address this as a community? Our goal is to keep seniors in their homes longer by making them more safe and healthy.

Tasha Clark-Amar: We signed a CEA prior to the pandemic to start working on home modification projects with them and we had committed some dollars to start this project that got delayed because of the pandemic, but it is our intent to pick that project back up. We also sent a letter to help them with a federal grant they are applying for. We want to help whittle down these applicants and work with the city to address these issues. We want to make sure our seniors live as long as possible, as independently, as possible...we look forward to reestablishing this program.

Manny Patole (Co-City): Are there programs to help access Medicaid resources using pooled trusts?

Tasha Clark-Amar: We have licensed Medicaid and Medicare counselors in office who I can connect you to.

Priscilla Allen: Somebody put AARP as a resource for general areas of interest. There’s a powerhouse lawyer who knows so much about adjudication, conservatorship...there are people out there who help with that.

Manny Patole: As we learn about the ALICE population, there are folks who have homes but because of their assets are limited to accessing Medicaid in addition to their Medicare benefits. The idea of using a pool trust helps remove that balance that would prohibit them from accessing Medicaid into an account that’s no longer considered part of that individual's money. That money can then be put in a trust used to pay for other bills. I only found out about this over the last three years because of my mother’s situation...the idea of being too rich for certain things but too poor for other things and a lot of the elderly - a lot of us - are in that same boat

Casey Phillips: I was just thinking about Pam and the rebuild needing more resources, the quick list would be AMIKids, SVP, Serve Louisiana, AmeriCorps, City Year, veteran groups

Pam Wall: The group Silver Hammers has been a huge resource. A lot of people don’t realize that Rebuilding Together has 6 part-time staff. They do 150 homes a year, the low cost high impact things like rails, levers instead of door knobs, lighting, and grab bars. The problem is a lot of the homes just need to be rebuilt because they don’t do things like sheetrocking, except for the flood. AARP and Red Cross gave them in the years since 2016 almost a million dollars. They actually did total rebuilds of houses that were flooded and had a lot more corporate volunteers to do that. There was a recent HUD grant that was going to allow...the thing is the federal government is realizing there will probably not be enough nursing home beds for the baby boomers who will need them. They are realizing the longer you can keep your seniors in their homes, healthy and safe, the less the burden on nursing home beds. There were several people on this Zoom who were very helpful in getting us support. In 70805, the demographic data is abysmal. The Feds wanted grantees to focus on elderly that were 80% of AMI. Right now Rebuilding Together does 30-50% AMI and still can’t serve the people who really need just things like grab bars in the shower.

Raymond Jetson: I lifted up Pam’s comments because I think they are really instructive in a couple of ways. The work at the heart of all these folks' efforts, specifically the organization Pam mentioned, should remind us that the needs facing our community and those aging in our community is more than any one organization can accomplish. It is impossible for Rebuilding Together to meet the structural needs by themselves. Secondly, the real life experiences of those aging in our communities will not be addressed by a single intervention. Even if Rebuilding Together had a staff of a thousand people and money to rebuild every home, that would not eliminate isolation, food insecurity, poverty, and other issues being addressed in our community. It is beyond the scope of any one intervention. Every day, 10,000 people turn 65. That will happen until the year 2030. This is not something that’s going to go away. It’s only going to grow in its immense impact in our community.

Tasha Clark-Amar: And add to that we are living fifteen years past the life expectancy. Seniors are living beyond what’s expected. Wednesday I went and celebrated four seniors in the Scotlandville area who turned 100 at the same time.

Casey Phillips: Korey Patty and Reverend Anderson both asked something really important - what are the opportunities for policy improvements at the local/state level that would impact senior outcomes. And Reverend Anderson asked did you all see COVID decrease the power of the senior population at the legislature?Tasha Clark-Amar: I felt like our voice was louder this year. Seniors were the population affected worst. Federally we received quite a bit as it relates to the CARES Act, second and third round. They paid attention to seniors first because we lost quite a few seniors. The state mimicked what the Feds did. I don’t think we lost our footing on many things relative to policy with seniors. From my perspective we’re in a good stand point relative to our policies. Policies can always improve but sometimes it’s good to leave well enough alone.

Reverend Anderson (PREACH): We are seeing a frighteningly high number of seniors come through the parish prison and a lot of them are related to serious mental illness, dementia, and domestic violence cases. Because LA is the number one incarcerator in the world, we have one of the highest aging incarcerated populations as well as one of the highest formerly incarcerated populations that consists of seniors because the sentences are so long. Do any of the presenters have programs specifically either educating the criminal justice system on the particular special needs of senior populations and/or servicing those populations whether it’s in a facility programming to help seniors or working with groups like VOTE to help them navigate getting seniors into programs?

Tasha Clark-Amar: We have been wrapping services around those that are formerly incarcerated as they come out. We have a program we work with that calls us as they come out. We provide material aid, access to housing, and help them get set up. Started a reentry program relative to employment. We have quite a few, maybe 25, reentry employees who are actually some of my best employees. We have a program where we have aligned with the Dept of Corrections. Relative to the pet piece [in the chat], we have a pet program where we were funded by National Meals on Wheels where we provide pet food quarterly, pet vaccinations...they love it.

Chris Spalatin (LSU): I’m wondering what the demographics are of the senior population in EBR, what their status is, if they’re living in a single family home, public housing, if they’re homeless, if it’s a multigenerational household along with any other demographic data which might help set the stage for what benefits could target certain groups.

Tasha Clark-Amar: You can call the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs. They have the official statement. It’s also on their website.

Priscilla Allen: Thank you everyone. Iowa has a really good nursing home network, so if you know people, specifically social workers, put them in touch with me and I’ll put them in touch with the network.

Craig Kaberline: Look forward to helping solve some of these issues we all face in the populations we serve.

Tasha Clark-Amar: Thank you for having me - I’m going to add some links to the chat and I’ll be sending you all an invite to the grand opening of this intergenerational center with is June 18 and we have the 25 programs we do so if you have a senior that needs something please reach out to us.


Zoom Chat

8:43:22 From Gerri Hobdy to Everyone: Thank you Tasha!

08:43:38 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone: Great information from Council of Aging - wow.

08:45:29 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Thank you, Tasha.That was EXCELLENT & very informative!!!

08:55:30 From Tasha Clark-Amar to Everyone: Tasha Clark-Amar:; Office Number: 225-923-8000; Cell: 225-281-6941 or Trudy Bihm-Howard:; Cell: 225-454-2355

08:57:23 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Please begin putting your questions into the chat for our speakers

08:57:42 From Manny Patole to Everyone: I am also working through my own elder care issues with my mother, so this is an important topic. For the Panelists - Are there programs to help access medicaid resources using pooled trusts?

08:59:11 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Unfortunately because Louisiana has such a high percentage of elderly prisoners and formerly incarcerated persons I wondered if any of the guests have programming directed to these populations whether behind bars or upon release in the community,

08:59:24 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: I would love to hear about geriatric mental health and/or counseling programs

09:00:21 From Mary Bergeron to Everyone: Please share your insights into the political landscape related to this topic. Who are the political stakeholders, what are their interests, and how is that played out in legislative decision making? For example, talk about the interests of those who own retirement/nursing homes versus those who live in them.

09:00:56 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: Any comment on those who are aging and have other challenges such as blindness or being deaf

09:01:05 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: Are there any organizations utilizing Senior Corps?

09:01:39 From Korey Patty to Everyone: What are the opportunities for policy improvements at the local and state level that would impact senior outcomes?

09:01:52 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: We have increasingly been seeing more seniors in the EBRPP. Many of the charges are tied to SMI or domestic Violence. Has any of the speakers programs working with law enforcement agencies to educate them on topics like dementia and other age related issues.

09:03:12 From Pam Wall to Everyone: Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge has over 1,500 applications for home modifications for low-income, elderly homeowners and, with only part time staff, can address only 150 a year......many homes they have addressed with adaptations really need to be demolished. How can we address this as a community? Our goal is to keep seniors in their homes longer by making them more safe and healthy.

09:03:40 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: Thank you, Tasha.

09:04:08 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: With the impact of the pandemic did the senior population take a serious hit to their normal influence during the legislative session?

09:04:17 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: Thank you, Pat

09:06:01 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: What are the demographics of the senior population in EBR? What percentage lives in nursing homes, with family in multiple-generation home, on their own, in public housing, homeless. I imagine some programs would benefit all, but targeted efforts could be good to accommodate everyone

09:06:26 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: Excellent point about geriatric counseling - is one of our issues that we have so few geriatricians in general, and practitioners, in particular - which is changing through education such as LSU focusing on gerontological social work. Access points for clinical people could be searched through Psychology Today (lists clinical people). When I think of Oceans and Geriatric psych units, I tend to think of the most advanced psychological concerns.

09:07:10 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Great idea, Ann

09:07:15 From Raymond A. Jetson to Everyone: I want to lift up Pam Walls’ message because it is so important to our collective work…Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge has over 1,500 applications for home modifications for low-income, elderly homeowners and, with only part time staff, can address only 150 a year......many homes they have addressed with adaptations really need to be demolished. How can we address this as a community? Our goal is to keep seniors in their homes longer by making them more safe and healthy.

09:07:17 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: I'm seeing Gina Rossi later who is an expert in aging-related functioning, concerns, family dynamics.

09:08:15 From Manny Patole to Everyone:,290.

09:08:21 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Does anyone provide services for non-English speaking seniors?

09:08:32 From Gerri Hobdy to Everyone: LATAN

09:08:35 From Manny Patole to Everyone: My mother has Macular Degeneration and I have worked with Lighthouse in NYC. They are wonderful

09:11:06 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: Is there a Elder LinkedIn available for local retired persons to connect, to hone professional skills, and/or find paid senior internships or volunteer opportunities? (Similar to the one at the CDC Pat mentioned)

09:11:37 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: It appears groups like Rebuilding Together and other organizations would be a great place for those needing community service hours and government funded teen employment should be directed.

09:11:56 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: AARP Louisiana has a great network for seniors with a variety of interest

09:12:15 From Manny Patole to Everyone: I can provide background context if you would like

09:12:50 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Are folks familiar with this? I can give a quick summary if needed?

09:13:08 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone:

Looking for Juneteenth story tellers and senior


June 12 - Scotlandville Park Harding Entrance

8:30 - 1:30

09:15:11 From Tyler Litt to Everyone: Would love to learn more about pooled trusts, Manny. How do I contact you?

09:15:25 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

09:15:43 From Manny Patole to Everyone: I am not an expert but have become familiar with it as a person setting one up for my mother.

09:16:06 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: TEAM RUBICON

09:16:09 From Reginald Brown to Everyone: LSU Life Course and Aging Center. Dr. Katie Cherry (previous director) helped Kenilworth Aging in Place group research and implement a neighbor-helping-neighbor program for our aging population.

09:17:01 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone:

09:17:23 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

09:18:56 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: This is Older Americans Month and CAAA also hosts a symposium "Aging Well in Louisiana" and Dr. Allen and her Colleagues were panelists last year. It is scheduled for November each year and the target audience are all those staff that serve seniors in any capacity. CEUs are available

09:21:15 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: For a lot of seniors being able to have or keep their pets is critical to the mental health and ability to get out of their isolation. Are any of the programs working with the pet adoption/rescue community to help connect seniors with resources that will help them keep their pets?

09:24:13 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: Loss of pets a critical area of quality of life - one of the many losses that residents face and w/COVID weren't able to see their families, and in many cases, pets. Eden Alternative homes uphold this virtue.

09:26:27 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone:

09:28:07 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Glad to hear it!

09:28:22 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone: Love it

09:29:52 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Hi All, I have to hop off to another call. Great and informative call once again Thank you for the education :-)

09:30:39 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone:

09:31:43 From Kelli Rogers to Everyone: Thanks everyone! Really valuable information for me professionally and as I care for aging family members. Great resources!!

09:32:42 From Kelli Rogers to Everyone: Some of that data is also available on

09:33:03 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: thanks Kelli!

09:33:20 From Tasha Clark-Amar to Everyone: Thank you for inviting me! Here are some links for you to review. Please visit our website at social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks

09:33:38 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: I'd like to also mention that while we are discussing the aging population, we should include youth and young adults at the table to discuss solutions.

09:33:40 From Reginald Brown to Everyone: Tasha, please talk about the new facility on Gardere Lane near Highland

09:34:00 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Absolutely!

09:34:34 From Pam Wall to Everyone: Sherreta, HUD just released a NOFA for housing homeless youth, ages 16-22, and young parents

09:35:33 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: Sheretta good point - intergenerational work is key to better outcomes !

09:38:19 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: Thanks Pam! And Yes! Definitely Priscilla!

09:39:27 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: Great ! Is ageist also not to include younger people in conversations about aging

09:41:36 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Estate Planning is critical

09:41:52 From Katie Pritchett, United Way to Everyone: clear titles is a huge issue!!

09:42:25 From Priscilla Allen to Everyone: Thank you, all.

09:42:42 From Reginald Brown to Everyone: Jump$tart does some financial literacy in the schools

09:43:38 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Great point!

09:45:10 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: Always so many great perspectives on these calls!

09:45:41 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone: Was postponed. We will need to keep a look out for next session

09:45:55 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: ^^^^^

09:46:07 From Luke St. John McKnight to Everyone: RT

09:46:26 From Flitcher R. Bell to Everyone: AS A REMINDER....This is Memorial Day weekend (lots of travel), and the first major holiday since CDC has removed mandatory mask mandate... However less than 40% of USA adults are vaccinated...… PLEASE continue to practice wearing mask, safe distances, etc. until this virus is truly under control.... HAVE SAFE AND WONDERFUL WEKENDS!!

09:48:05 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone: We are doing a Juneteeth event at CPM

09:48:30 From Gerri Hobdy to Everyone: Rodenya please share Green Book with Tasha!!!!!

09:49:45 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Cool!

09:50:33 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Yes, Gerri! Great point!

09:52:50 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone:

09:52:52 From Lindi Rubin Spalatin to Everyone: Thank you for this conversation today. I have to run to another meeting.

09:53:31 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone:; 225-229-3389

09:54:09 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Reminder for next week’s call: 6/04 - Public Housing + Community Health - Part III

The focus of this discussion will be 'Resident-Led Community Development’ with Mayor Broome’s Safe Hopeful Healthy as the cornerstone of this movement. This topic will build well on Part I and II of our discussion around the driver of poverty 'Lack of homeownership and escalating rental costs’ from Week #40 and #54

09:57:17 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: Gotta jump. Have a safe and happy weekend everyone.

09:58:28 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Knowledge is power always!

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