SFY 2023 Annual Report

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MISSION To coordinate a system of services that promote the well-being and independence of older and disabled Georgians, helping them achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives.

VISION For all seniors and disabled individuals in our service area to have the resources to live longer, live safer, and live well.

PILLARS Safety We prioritize the safety and well being for all.

Respect We value everyone’s individuality with care and compassion.

Experience We deliver quality service in a friendly and engaging atmosphere.

Efficiency We maximize our resources to deliver competent, quality services.

To view from a desktop visit sowegacoa.org/video-library. 2 Sowega Council on Aging

Message from our Executive Director Izzie Sadler “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

SFY 2023 has been a busy and transformative year for the Sowega Council on Aging, and I am excited to share our accomplishments and challenges with you. As you read about our activities this past year, I remind you that behind every statistic and number in this annual report is a person receiving services that help them live with dignity and independence. Here are a few highlights from SFY 2023. AGING AND DISABILITY RESOURCE CONNECTION (ARDC) Throughout the past year, our organization has continued to experience a high volume of calls to our Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). These calls highlight the increasing needs of our senior community, and they serve as a reminder of the vital role we play in ensuring their well-being. It is important to note, however, that we are operating in a challenging fiscal environment as budgets are decreasing. For a detailed analysis of these budget impacts, I encourage you to turn to page 6 of this report. PROGRAM GROWTH Despite these challenges, I am pleased to report that SFY 2023 has also been an exciting year for us. We have witnessed a growing number of seniors feeling more comfortable with in-person activities, and this has enabled us to expand our program offerings. I invite you to explore our quarterly magazine and visit our website at www.sowegacoa.org to get a glimpse of the exciting activities and opportunities we have introduced to enrich the lives of our seniors. EXPANDED DEMENTIA SUPPORT I am thrilled to announce that the state of Georgia has launched a new statewide initiative focused on dementia. In SFY 2023, we laid the foundation for this program, and in SFY 2024 we will be launching a series of educational programs, training sessions, workshops, virtual dementia tours, and a caregiver conference. These initiatives will be instrumental in providing muchneeded support to those affected by dementia and their caregivers. ADVOCACY Advocacy remains a cornerstone of our work as an Area Agency on Aging. Please keep an eye out for our annual public hearings, where we discuss the challenges faced by our senior community and seek input from you, our valued stakeholders. If you are interested in joining the advocacy efforts, I encourage you to consider becoming a part of the Georgia Council on Aging. You can learn more by using the QR code here or visiting https://www.gcoa.org/about-co-age. TO LEARN MORE, SCAN THE QR CODE.

I am incredibly proud of our dedicated team, who work tirelessly to serve the seniors in the southwest Georgia region. Each number and statistic presented in this annual report is a testament to their hard work and commitment to our mission. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our supporters, partners, and volunteers whose continued support is instrumental in helping us fulfill our mission of enhancing the lives of seniors in our region. As we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the coming year, I am confident that together we can continue to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the seniors we serve.

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Baker Mitchell Miller


Seminole Decatur



About Sowega Council on Aging Sowega Council on Aging has been a trusted nonprofit organization since 1966. We provide unbiased information, programs, and services to 60,000 seniors age 60 and up, caregivers to those who are 60 and up, and disabled adults annually in 14 counties across southwest Georgia. We promote the independence, health, and dignity of older adults in need through compassion, education, and advocacy. The Albany-Dougherty Council on Aging was incorporated in 1966. In 1979, to reflect the 14-county service area -a 6,000 square mile region- the name changed to Sowega (Southwest Georgia) Council on Aging. The Sowega Council on Aging operates as an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and an Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ARDC). With counties whose total population ranges from 4,074 - 96,065, it is easy to understand the challenges which must be met to provide services in a cost-effective but fair manner. The flexibility in developing service plans given to Area Agencies on Aging by the Division of Aging Services permits this to happen. The Sowega Council on Aging is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization.

What is an Area Agency on Aging? Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) were formally established in the 1973 Older Americans Act (OAA) as the “on the ground” organization charged with helping vulnerable older adults live with independence and dignity in their homes and communities. An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public or private nonprofit agency designated by the state to address the needs and concerns of all older and disabled persons at the regional and local levels. AAAs contract with local service providers to deliver many direct services, such as home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance, transportation, and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option. An Area Agency on Aging fulfills the following roles: • Assess community needs and develop and fund programs that respond to those needs • Educate and provide direct assistance to consumers about available community resources for long-term services and supports • Serve as portals to care by assessing multiple service needs, determining eligibility, authorizing or purchasing services, and monitoring the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of services • Custodians of the public interest demonstrate responsible fiscal stewardship by maximizing the use of public and private funding to serve as many consumers as possible 4 Sowega Council on Aging



Baker Calhoun Colquitt Decatur Dougherty Early Grady Lee Miller Mitchell Seminole Terrell Thomas Worth

701 859 6,829 3,072 13,783 1,936 4,343 3,595 1,223 3,634 2,828 1,667 8,060 3,860




A Regional Resource Center Sowega Council on Aging 335 West Society Avenue Albany, Georgia 31701 P: (229) 432-1124 T: (800) 282-6612 F: (229) 483-0995 SowegaCOA.org The 45,000-square-foot regional education center is the hub for Sowega Council on Aging. The administrative offices include a variety of multipurpose rooms, meeting rooms, reception space, and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 250 people in a banquet format. The facility is equipped with stateof-the-art audio-visual equipment and smart boards, making the center ideal for corporate meetings, seminars, conferences, and educational presentations. The entire facility is ADA compliant and includes two elevators and equipment for those with mobility concerns.


Deborah Clemons, Chairman Chair: Frank Dinie Mitchell County Colony Bank | Dawson, GA Vice Chair: Tammie Croft Colquitt County Chris Kane, Vice Chair Connie Hobbs Baker County Phoebe | Dawson, GA Sherry Bailey Baker County Jeff Wright, Secretary Mack Jones Calhoun County Draffin Tucker | Albany, GA George Masciarelli Decatur County Bo Strickland, Assistant Secretary Dillard Glover Dougherty County Gardner, Willis, Plaire & Wilson | Albany, GA Ernestine Taylor Jones Dougherty County Joe Austin Gloria Bronson Dougherty County Retired Phoebe Hospital | Albany, GA Janice Route Blaylock Dougherty County Carol Boyd John Johnson Dougherty County Jim Boyd Construction Co. | Leesburg, GA Willie Jones Dougherty County Tangela Campbell Melinda Crook Early County Retired MolsonCoors | Albany GA Annette Higdon Grady County Stacey DeMarino Ilean Bady Lee County Renasant Bank | Albany, GA Cory Thomas Miller County Don Gray Edward Green Mitchell County City of Albany | Albany GA Billie McLendon Seminole County Melanie Kemp Laurie Joan Perry Terrell County Retired | Camilla, GA Angela Kiminias Thomas County Dr. Steve Kitchen Lougenia Cross Worth County Retired Phoebe Hospital | Albany, GA Daniel Stone Synovus | Albany, GA Sherman Willis Gardner, Willis, Sweat, Plaire & Pickett, LLP | Albany, GA

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Figure 1 shows population factors that negatively impacted the region’s Intrastate Funding Formula (IFF) calculations in SFY2023. While population counts increased in the region, the percentage of the statewide population living in the region decreased. In SFY2024, we see the numbers increase slightly, but some, including the most heavily weighted (75+),


are still below SFY2022 levels. Figure 2 shows how statewide population shifts impacted the region’s funding formula. Although there’s a slight increase from SFY2023 to SFY2024, SFY2024 is still below the SFY2022 funding levels. Figure 3: In SFY2023, the Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services, provided a one-time offset to mitigate negative IFF impacts. The offset was greater than the negative IFF impacts. In SFY2024, that offset was removed, so even though the percentage of base funding increased in SFY2024, the impact of the SFY2023 losses is now being experienced.

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The Aging & Disability

RESOURCE CONNECTION 8 Sowega Council on Aging


THE AGING & DISABILITY RESOURCE CONNECTION 1-800-282-6612 The Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) connects seniors, individuals with disabilities, family members, caregivers, and professionals with the resources and information they need. • Serves as the no wrong door for information, resources, and services • Provides information and assistance to individuals needing either public or private resources, to professionals seeking assistance on behalf of their clients, and to individuals planning for their future long-term care needs • Provides easy access to information • Offers screening for services and options counseling • Provides resources and services that support the individual’s range of needs • Creates a person-centered, community-based environment that promotes independence and dignity for individuals

ADRC SFY 2023 Total calls received: 16,897 Total contacts received for information and service inquiries: 11,331 Referrals received from providers: 2,527 Referrals made into services (total clients served in HCBS services only): 1,217 Number of units of service provided: 385,282 MFP: 11 NHT: 6 NHT: 6

Event Name



Chair Fitness (Monday)



Chair Fitness (Thursday)



Line Dancing (Beginner)



Line Dancing



Pedaling for Parkinsons






Senior Stretch & Yoga



Tai Chi Beginner



Tai Chi for Arthritis



Welness Room



Total Event Sign-ins



Virtual Classes


Nutrition Class 10 am

5 (1x/monthly)

Nutrition Class 11 am

9 (1x/monthly)

Easy Trivia

9 Avg. (1x/month)


11 Avg. (1x/month)

Coffee Chat

5 Avg. (1x/week)

SNAP Education

2 Avg. (5 weeks)

Virtual EBPs


Tai Chi (am)

4 Participants 1 workshop

Tai Chi (pm)

6 Participants 2 workshops


25 Participants 4 workshops


18 Partiipants 3 workshops

AARP SMART DRIVER CLASSES Monthly AARP Smart Driver classes started back at the end of the fiscal year. Average attendance per class: 17

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Senior Center Without Walls Congregate


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Senior Centers exist to enrich the lives of senior citizens through programs and services that improve their health and wellness, decrease loneliness and isolation, and provide social, economic, and education opportunities to enhance their quality of life. Nutritious meals are served to people age 60+. Participants enjoy activities, exercise, special events, and engaging programs. Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being. Senior Centers are reinventing themselves to meet the needs and desires of the aging baby boomer generation. Boomers currently constitute 2/3 of the 50+ population. By the year 2030, one in five individuals in each community will be over 65. Since April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our senior center programs have been operating under a new model - Senior Center Without Walls Congregate Meal Program. The program offers the same components as a physical senior center within a community. In SFY 2023, the Sowega Council on Aging contracted with 22 local restaurants in our 14-county area to serve lunches Monday through Friday between 11 am and 2 pm. The county of residence determines the restaurants available to the client. The senior recreational activities are offered throughout the community in locations like the library, recreation department, church, etc. Programs include exercise classes, Bingo and other games, walking clubs, nutrition education classes, devotionals, music programs, evidence-based health programs, crafts, and more. We contracted with five organizations throughout the region to provide senior recreational activities through the Request for Proposal process. Our Senior Recreation partner providers include Albany/Lee YMCA, Colquitt County Arts Center in Moultrie, The Cross Church in Camilla, and Spring Creek Health in Miller County. They provided various activities including exercise classes, games, educational workshops, music programs, crafts and more. We hope to add more partner providers in other counties throughout the region in the future. Virtual activities are also a part of the SCWW model. Participants were able to join nutrition education classes, evidence based-programs, various games, and coffee chats, along with a daily engagement activity on the Claris Companion tablets or home computer/tablet. Congregate Clients served: 1,106 Congregate Meals served: 135,474

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WELLNESS PROGRAM 12 Sowega Council on Aging

The Wellness Program promotes optimum nutrition and healthy lifestyle management for positive outcomes. In each of our 14 senior centers, active aging is encouraged by implementing the following five key messages: “BE ACTIVE, BE SMOKE-FREE, EAT HEALTHY, GET CHECKED, AND STAY POSITIVE.” These messages are addressed through four major areas of wellness, lifestyle management, awareness and prevention, nutrition, and physical activity. Collaboration with community partners is key when providing programs and activities that focus on diet, exercise, health and chronic disease prevention and self-management. Over 1450 older adults received information in the form of a quarterly magazine along with a calendar of program offerings. We hosted three regional Resource Fairs in conjunction with the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), one in Dougherty, one in Mitchell, and one in Miller County. Participants were able to gather resources and information about programs and services from various providers in the aging network. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a Federally funded program provided through the USDA for GA residents who are 60+ that meet the income requirements. Participants were issued a $30 voucher to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from approved local farmers. Awareness events were also hosted and celebrated in honor of Older American’s Month in May, National Fall Prevention Month in September, and Active Aging Week in October. Monthly virtual classes were offered and made available through the Claris Companion tablets for those who received a tablet. These tablets are senior friendly making it easy for anyone to participate. Various topics including immunizations, diabetes awareness, nutrition, falls prevention, active aging, disaster preparedness, relationships, and battling the holiday blues were introduced through monthly programming options. Clients were mailed the agency quarterly magazine with a list of virtual program options, including Easy Trivia, Virtual Bingo, Wellness Wednesday, and Brain Fitness workshops. In-person activities and classes started back with the decline in COVID-19 cases. Chair Fitness, Line Dance and Tai Chi were offered and taught by SCOA volunteer instructors, seeing an increase in participation after being home for so long. The Wellness Program also facilitates evidence-based programs throughout the region, including Living Well Workshops through Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls, Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention, and the Aging Mastery Program (AMP).

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EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAMS Evidence-based programs (EBPs) offer proven ways to promote health and prevent disease among older adults. They are based on research and provide documented health benefits, so you can be confident they work. This year, due to COVID restrictions limiting in-person programming, we were able to facilitate the majority of these programs over a teleconference line or, virtually, via laptop, computer or tablet.

CHRONIC DISEASE SELF-MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (CDSMP) The CDSMP is appropriate for any adults experiencing chronic health conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and diabetes; their family members, friends, and caregivers can also participate. This program provides information through Living Well Workshops, which teach practical skills on managing chronic health problems. The CDSMP gives people the confidence and motivation to manage the challenges of living with a chronic health condition. 3 Virtual workshops served 18 participants TAI CHI FOR ARTHRITIS AND FALL PREVENTION Dr. Paul Lam and a team of researchers developed this evidence-based exercise program to introduce persons with arthritis or fear of falling to Tai Chi. Participants meet once or twice a week for up to one hour. This program relieves pain caused by arthritis, reduces falls, and improves quality of life. 2 In-Person workshops in Dougherty County serving 98 participants 3 Virtual workshops offered regionally, serving 10 participants. As part of a pilot program, participants were provided a tablet to provide them access to the Zoom platform. A MATTER OF BALANCE A Matter of Balance program is appropriate for any adult experiencing concerns with falling or loss of balance. The program emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. Participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and exercise to increase strength and balance. This program was put on hold as a virtual platform was being developed. DEALING WITH DEMENTIA This four-hour evidence based workshop is paired with the comprehensive Dealing with Dementia Guide, a detailed workbook designed to help family caregivers taking care of someone with dementia. Participation in this workshop is proven to increase dementia knowledge and confidence in the caregiver’s ability to provide care. One workshop with 17 people. AARP SMART DRIVER CLASSES We hosted monthly classes serving 152 seniors during the year. These classes are taught by AARP certified volunteer instructors. The classes are 6 hours in length split into two 3-hour sessions.

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AGING MASTERY PROGRAM® (AMP) AMP is a fun, innovative, and person-centered education program that empowers participants to embrace their gift of longevity by spending more time each day doing things that are good for themselves and others. The program encourages mastery—developing sustainable behaviors across many dimensions that lead to improved health, stronger economic security, enhanced well-being, and increased societal participation. The Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) was developed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and has been successful at helping older adults build their playbook for aging well. Across the state of Georgia, this fiscal year, four virtual workshops were offered, serving 28 Georgians. In our region, one workshop was offered telephonically with six people graduating from the program. PEDALING FOR PARKINSON’S (DISCONTINUED) The Sowega Council on Aging is a licensed partner of the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program. Before the pandemic, this exercise and support group met a minimum of twice a week, focusing on alleviating the signs or symptoms of Parkinson’s through forced pedaling. Participants were able to start meeting in-person once a week to pedal and support each other as they dealt with the disease. They were also provided the stationary pedals to keep in their home to maintain their exercise throughout the week. Weekly session served five participants and their caretakers took part in these weekly telephonic support group sessions. CLASSES In-person Chair Fitness, Line Dance, Chair Yoga, and Tai Chi were offered and taught by SCOA volunteer instructors seeing an increase in participation after being home for so long. Unduplicated Number of Participants served for the following classes in FY22: • Monday Beginner Line Dance – 44 • Monday Chair Fitness – 139 • Monday Line Dance – 46 • Tuesday Pickleball – 21 • Tuesday Senior Stretch & Yoga – 86 • Wednesday Tai Chi Beginner Class – 36 • Wednesday Tai Chi for Arthritis – 62 • Thursday Chair Fitness – 112 It’s unknown how many people may have taken part in classes offered virtually via YouTube and Facebook Live. TRIPS We had 2 overnight trips through Diamond Tours, Inc. in FY23. In October 2022, we had 40 participants that enjoyed the Savannah, Jekyll Island, Beaufort, SC trip which was a 5 day/4-night trip. In April 2023, 33 participants attended the Myrtle Beach show trip, which was also a 5 day/4-night trip. Day trips included: • Shopping Trip – The Shoppes at River Crossing in Macon – 11 participants • Swamp Gravy Show – “Merry and Bright” – 13 participants • Rylander Theatre - Sons of Serendip – 5 participants • Dinner/Chehaw Festival of Lights – 8 participants TRANSPORTATION For seniors and disabled persons who cannot drive, or might not have access to transportation, or where public transportation is not available, the Sowega Council of Aging offers transportation services. These services are available for medical appointments, pharmacy visits, shopping, Adult Day Care services, community-based programs, other social service activities, and essential community resources. Specialized transportation for those using wheelchairs is available. Trips Scheduled: 15,670

Clients Served: 223

Subscription Riders: 127

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Home & Community

BASED SERVICES 16 Sowega Council on Aging

Non-Medicaid-based services are available to clients to provide the resources and assistance necessary to remain in their homes as independently as possible. Adult Day Care | Case Management | Congregate Meals Home Delivered Meals | Homemaker Services | Material Aid Vouchers | Respite Care

ADULT DAY CARE Provision of social and recreational activities to persons in need of limited personal care assistance, supervision or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living. Clients Served: 7 Service Hours: 3,564

ALZHEIMER’S ADULT DAY CARE Provision of social and recreational activities to persons in the various stages of Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementias, in need of limited personal care assistance, supervision or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living. Clients Served: 49 Service Hours: 20,607

CASE MANAGEMENT Case management assists individuals in gaining access to needed Home and Community Based Services and other State Plan services as well as needed medical, social, educational, and other services regardless of the funding source. Case Management includes assessment, care planning, service management, monitoring, and negotiation of fees. Clients Served: 1,283 Service Hours: 10,376

IN-HOME RESPITE CARE Services that offer temporary substitute supports or living arrangements for care recipients in order to provide a brief period of relief or rest for caregivers. Clients Served: 17 Service Hours: 6,749

COVID STIMULUS FUNDED MEALS Meals served to Tier 2-HDM clients at their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients Served: 132 Service Hours: 8,471

HOME DELIVERED MEALS Also known as the “Meals on Wheels” program, home delivered meals provide a hot, nutritious meal daily to homebound individuals. The “personal” delivery offers social interaction as well as a safety check. Clients served: 735 Meals served: 139,677

HOMEMAKER SERVICES Most older people choose to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Homemaker services provide individuals with the assistance needed to remain independent. Services include meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping. Clients Served: 181 Service Hours: 11,801

MATERIAL AID VOUCHERS May include: options counseling, home modifications, assistive technology devices, incontinence supplies, nutritional supplements, over-the-counter medications, infection control products, skincare products, and more. Caregiver Material Aid Vouchers: 74

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Long-Term Care

OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM 18 Sowega Council on Aging

ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Representatives of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman are advocates for residents of nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living communities, community living arrangements and critical access hospitals. They work to improve the quality of life and quality of care for residents of these long-term care facilities. Our eight South Program Certified Ombudsman Representatives investigate and work to resolve complaints on behalf of residents. They routinely visit long-term care facilities to be accessible to residents and monitor conditions. The Ombudsman Representatives provide community education and outreach services to raise awareness and public sensitivity to elder abuse, enabling individuals to identify and prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults. The Sowega Council on Aging South Program Ombudsman Representatives work with residents, long-term care facilities, Health Care Facility Regulation Division, law enforcement, and other agencies to prevent elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse as well as financial or material exploitation, neglect, and abandonment.

FY2023 SOUTH PROGRAM OMBUDSMAN ACTIVITY Our eight South Certified Ombudsman Representatives cover 48 counties and a 20,000mile territory that includes over 496 facilities. They serve over 13,250 residents. The number one priority of the Ombudsman Representative is complaint resolution to the satisfaction of the resident. The South Program has resolved 1023 complaints in FY2023. South Program Ombudsman Representatives have provided 861 facility staff consultations on resident rights issues and provided 1,028 information and assistance to residents, resident families, and the public. They have provided 59 in-service education sessions on resident rights to facility staff and 43 community education sessions.

Serving 48 counties in South Georgia • 72 Nursing Homes • 203 Personal Care Homes • 27 Assisted Living Communities • 186 Community Living Arrangements • 8 Critical Access Hospitals

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COORDINATION 20 Sowega Council on Aging

The Community Transitions (CT) program, formerly known as “The Money Follows The Person” (MFP) program allows a person who currently resides in an institutional setting (nursing home, hospital, or rehab facility) for at least 60 days, and with at least one day of nursing home services paid by Medicaid during their stay, the opportunity to meet with a CT Options Counselor to discuss options for transitioning back into the community to live. An eligible person could qualify for Community Transitions Services to assist transitioning from the nursing home into the housing of their choice. Some of the CT services assist with securing housing, help with paying security deposits, purchasing basic furniture, household goods and supplies, transportation arranged, and home modifications provided as needed. Medicaid waiver programs support and promote each person’s independence and freedom of choice. The CT Options Counselor works to help the Transition Coordinator ensure that the transition is complete. Participants who are successfully transitioned are supported through the CT program for 365 days. We also have services available for those currently residing in a nursing home or rehabilitation center for at least 20 days. This program is designed to give seniors the opportunity to return home after rehab or recovery in a skilled nursing facility. Patients may be receiving rehabilitative services to help recover their physical and functional abilities so that they can return home safely. The goal is for them to resume their normal day-to-day activities while helping to minimize care costs and prevent hospital readmissions. Services Include: • Medical Equipment/Supplies • Wheelchair Ramps • Household Supplies • One-Time Rent Assistance Qualifications: 55+ Years Old Income less than $6175 per month U.S. Citizen 20+ Days Term in Nursing Home or Short-Term Rehab Number of CT/NHT transitions taking place SFY 2023 is 20 MFP transitions 15 & NHT transitions 5

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LEGAL SERVICES 22 Sowega Council on Aging

GA Legal Services started hosting monthly on-site visits in January to assist seniors with questions and various forms including Wills, Advance Directives, SNAP applications, and more. They helped 21 seniors on site. GLSP has closed 130 cases. The closing reasons are: • Counsel and Advice: 64 • Brief Service: 54 • Negotiated Settlement with Litigation: 2 • Administrative Agency Decision: 2 • Extensive Service: 8 Ethnic Groups: • White: 43 • Black: 86 • Other: 1

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VOLUNTEERS 24 Sowega Council on Aging

We are always looking for dedicated members of the community to be a part of our volunteer movement. There are several ways a person can volunteer with Sowega Council on Aging. Our volunteers are age 55+ and serve within the Americorps RSVP program. Our process is simple and includes a background check, for the safety of our seniors, for the majority of the areas of service. Our Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is vital to meeting our local needs by providing an experienced volunteer workforce. Volunteers aged 55 and older are encouraged to serve by sharing their skills with others at senior centers or out in the community. The RSVP Volunteer can choose to work in various volunteer stations. Currently our volunteers are serving in the following areas: Ramp Crew, Craft Station, Telephone Reassurance, Wellness, Nursing Home Visitors, Transportation, and Tax Aide. We also have episodic volunteer opportunities throughout the year that include events such as, but not limited to, Health Fairs, Senior Farmers Markets, or being a member of the agency councils and coalitions.

VOLUNTEER PROGRAM SFY 2023 • A team of 131 volunteers logged over 9,900 hours. • Our Senior Center Without Walls Model allowed our volunteer engagement to go beyond the brick-and-mortar and into the community to connect with 1,500+ seniors. • We built 126 ramps for disabled, ill, or amputee clients. • We produced over 1,800 hand-crafted items such as teddy bears, wheelchair bags, and mini pillows for patients in the hospital. • We made over 11,000 phone calls to seniors who were isolated due to public health restrictions from COVID-19. • We continued our partnership with many businesses, churches, nonprofit organizations, fraternities, and other affiliations within the 14 counties of Southwest Georgia. Organizations like Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and United Way of SWGA were major contributing partners to many of our programs and services offered within the community.

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CAREGIVER PROGRAM 26 Sowega Council on Aging

FAMILY CAREGIVER PROGRAM The Family Caregiver Program supports caregivers who provide in-home care to a lovedone sixty years and older. An assessment with the caregiver is completed to identify the assistance needed and available resources. Services & Material Aid Assistance May Include: options counseling, home modifications, assistive technology devices, incontinence supplies, nutritional supplements, over-the-counter medications, infection control products, skincare products, and more. Events include the monthly Caregiver Support Group meetings and the annual Lunch and Learn seminar in November. In recognition of National Caregiver Month in November, a family caregiver, paraprofessional caregiver, and a volunteer caregiver are honored at the annual Caregiver Conference. Additional seminars and learning opportunities are held throughout the year to support caregivers. The Family Caregiver Program reduces caregiver burdens by providing emotional support, resources, education, and hope for caregivers. Caregiver Material Aid Clients: 68

CARE-NET The CARE-NET is a unique volunteer coalition of caregiver support organizations from a broad array of illnesses and disabilities. Coalition members include volunteer leaders and advocates from community and state agencies, private corporations, churches, and family caregivers who provide ongoing information, assistance, counseling, training, and support groups for caregivers throughout Georgia: • Links professional and family caregivers in a supportive community concerned with caregiving. • Identifies community caregiving strengths and needs • Implements effective educational programs for caregivers • Organizes community forums on caregiving issues • Provides a source of support for caregivers • Fosters strong relationships among community leaders concerned about caregivers • Helps agencies and stakeholders work collaboratively, coordinating human and fiscal resources • Educates the public and legislators about caregiving • Identifies policy issues and advocate on behalf of caregivers

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ADVOCACY 28 Sowega Council on Aging

ADVOCACY The Council on Aging is the area leader in senior advocacy. Older adult concerns are monitored and addressed throughout the year at the local, state, and federal levels. Advocacy efforts include: • Recommending legislation • Developing and presenting testimony at public hearings • Representing elderly in long-term care facilities • Addressing local civic groups, churches, city, and professional organizations • Commenting on proposed legislation that affects seniors in our area • Publishing an area-wide bi-monthly Long Term Care Ombudsman Newsletter. • Working with AAA Board of Directors, Advisory Council, and Committees Senior Week at the State Capitol was hosted in-person in February, as were the other Co-Age meetings during the year.

SENIOR HUNGER COALITION Partnerships with local farmers, food banks, churches, restaurants, grocery stores and senior housing complexes allowed for outreach and innovative service projects throughout the region. This initiative meets quarterly and brings southwest Georgia area organizations and businesses together around the shared goal of combating senior hunger. Through innovative programming and partnerships, The Senior Hunger Coalition hopes to ensure that all clients are food secure and expands that commitment to serve all older adults within our community. Focus Areas: 1. Today’s Seniors 2. Food Access 3. Food Waste and Reclamation 4. Meeting the Needs of the Community 5. Health Impact of Senior Hunger Our FY23 mini grant partners included 1) About Thyme Catering in Norman Park which helped 45 seniors receive two meals/week with the help of local church volunteers packing and delivering these meals weekly for a total of 500 meals, and 2) Flat Creek Baptist Church, which provided monthly Lunch-n-Learn opportunities to seniors in Miller, Early and Seminole Counties, serving 250 meals. Grocery totes were also provided to seniors at our Senior Farmers Market events.

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DEMENTIA CARE SPECIALIST 30 Sowega Council on Aging

DEMENTIA CARE SPECIALIST PROGRAM (DCS) In SFY 2023, The Division of Aging Services launched a statewide initiative to support people living with Dementia (PLWD), their families, and the communities they live in. The program is a critical component of Georgia’s efforts to become a dementia capable state. The DCS program was specifically designed for the state to become a leader in supporting our aging population– those individuals with brain change and their care partners. To execute the state’s mission, the DCS will: • Provide dementia-specific training for AAA staff, providers, and partners. • Raise awareness about the importance of early detection and screening. • Provide dementia-specific community education through outreach events and educational sessions (Dealing with Dementia workshops, Virtual Dementia Tours (VDT), Dementia Friends Sessions, and general education sessions) • Provide education and support to people with cognitive concerns or dementia and their families. • Refer individuals to community resources. The Sowega Council on Aging has (1) full-time Dementia Care Specialist dedicated to this initiative, developing programs, trainings, and a coalition dedicated to meeting this mission.

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Your help makes a difference. With your assistance, the Sowega Council on Aging works to make Southwest Georgia a better place for seniors and individuals with disabilities. 100% of all donations go directly into the programs and services offered in your area. Visit our website to give today. sowegacoa.org

Programs and services funded in part by the United Way.

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