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County Road Walk – Leyden, Mass.

Located in Leyden, Massachusetts, the County Road Walk is a two-mile roundtrip walk surrounded by beautiful country farm landscapes. The walk is on a quiet, dirt road with minimal traffic moving through. Walkers will enjoy viewing sprawling farmland and cows grazing in the field as they pass beautiful homes and wildflowers along the way. The walk itself is relatively flat and is accessible for the novice walker looking to take a shorter walk in a new setting.

Sept 2017 Walk Franklin County Leyden photo

The walk begins at the intersection of Greenfield Road, Lois Lane, and South County Road, where there is large shoulder space on the road for parking. From there, walkers will proceed north on South County Road for one mile until meeting at the intersection with Greenfield Road again where they can turn around and return to parking.

Directions from 1-91 Northbound: take Exit 26 to MA-2A/MA- 2, at the rotary (traffic circle), take first exit toward Route 2 East. Follow the road past two traffic lights for a little under a mile taking the left onto Conway St. Stay on Conway St. for approx. 1.7 miles. Follow this road for approx. 4.3 miles as it goes from Leyden Rd. to Greenfield Rd. Keep an eye out for South County Road on the left side. Directions from I-91 Southbound: take Exit 26 toward route 2, take third exit off of rotary and continue as written above. 

More than 75% of falls take place inside or in close proximity to the home, but your home doesn’t have to be an obstacle course of potential falls. Some simple and quick changes will easily help reduce your risk of falling. Review the steps below to get started today.

The front door

  • Check your front steps. If you have steps at the entrance of your home, make sure they are not broken or uneven. Try to fix damage, such as cracks or wobbly steps, as soon as possible.
  • Check the lighting around your front door. Make sure all entryways are well lit so you can see where you are stepping. It’s best if you can have motion sensor lights, so you don’t have to worry about turning lights on yourself. Plus, they can save you money on energy costs.
  • Consider installing a grab bar. Putting grab bars on one side of your door can provide balance while you’re putting the key in the door, or stepping up once you have the door open, especially if you are carrying bags or the steps are slick.

Kitchen

  • Move your most commonly used items within reach. Put the kitchen items you use every day—like plates, glasses, or even seasonings—on the lowest shelves. This will help you avoid using stepstools and chairs—things you can easily lose your balance on—to reach items on higher shelves. Plan a head for special needs. Ask a loved one or visitor for help every few months or so to rotate seasonal items to within reach – for example baking dishes that are only used at holiday time.
  • Replace scatter rugs with rubber backed rugs. Scatter rugs or area rugs are tripping hazards. If you prefer to have a mat on the floor near the sink or stove, make sure it is placed securely on the floor and doesn’t have turned corners or edges that you could trip on. The best rugs have heavy-backed rubber bottoms so they stay in place.
  • Clean up spills immediately. Kitchen floors can be slippery and very dangerous when wet! Keep a hand towel within easy reach to help you clean up spills easily and quickly.

Editor’s note:

September 22, 2017, is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. For three weeks in September, we will be running this article from the National Council on Aging (copyright 2016) in several installments. Learn more.

LifePath offers a free falls prevention workshop, called, “A Matter of Balance,” through the Healthy Living Program. Learn more.

Become a Rides for Health volunteer in September!

April 2016 AVS R4H Marvin photoRides for Health volunteer drivers help elders in the Home Care Program at LifePath retain their independence. Once Terry Day (left) has scheduled a medical appointment, she will call Marvin Kelley (right), Rides for Health volunteer, to arrange transportation in advance. Marvin is ready to escort Terry from her door, to his car, and into the medical building and will also bring her back home.Healthcare transportation is a critical need for elders living in our community. In a few hours a month, you could help as a Rides for Health volunteer!

Volunteer Rides for Health drivers are critical to the health of elders who are home care clients of LifePath in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. In providing an elder with a ride to a medical appointment or the pharmacy, volunteers make a difference in the lives of the elders with whom they’re matched.

You can give the gift of independence to someone like Terry Day, who says of her volunteer, Marvin Kelley, "He is right there beside me. Rides for Health gets me where I need to go, when I need to go."

Marvin encourages you to become a volunteer. “Give it a try,” he says.

How to become a Rides for Health volunteer

Becoming a volunteer is simple. After completing the application process, you will attend a half-day of training. The next free training takes place on Monday, September 25, 2017, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Greenfield Community College’s downtown location. Light refreshments will be served.

For Rides for Health volunteer application materials and more information, click here.

Marvin appreciated the training he received with the other volunteers. “I expected to be trained and screened. That adds an element to my confidence in being able to provide this kind of service.”

“Our hope for the Rides for Health program,” says Trevor, “is to expand the number of volunteers that we’re able to provide and thereby eliminate our waiting list and serve more elders.”

Economic insecurity and community efforts to help

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotExecutive Director Roseann MartocciaAn article that ran in The Boston Globe on July 29, 2017, titled, “Many of the state’s elderly residents struggle to pay their bills,” talked about Judi, age 74, who lives in elder housing in Boston. Despite working all her life as a flight attendant and library worker, Judi struggles every month to make ends meet on her limited income of $1,860 per month from Social Security and a small pension. The article describes Judi deciding not to fill and use a new medication for a bladder condition as it would have cost her $55 each month. Judi says she is lucky if she has any money left at the end of each month. 

Judi is among nearly 300,000 people over 65 whose incomes aren’t enough to cover basic necessities – food, utilities and healthcare-related expenses (using the 2016 Elder Economic Security Index). Elders like Judi are among the 60% of single older adults in the state who have no reserve after covering essential living expenses each month. Among older couples, nearly 30% fall below the index’s target value. While 19% of older persons in Massachusetts who live alone fall below the poverty line, many more are in the position of not making enough on which to live. Though they may not qualify for public benefits, their financial situation is strained because of the high cost of living in the Commonwealth. 

Governor Baker has put a think tank of 24 members to work as the Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. The Council will develop a plan to promote healthy aging in Massachusetts, and to achieve the goal of making the Commonwealth the most age-friendly state for people of all ages. Older adults are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and will make up 23% of the Commonwealth’s population by 2035. The Council’s recommendations may address a broad range of issues including current practices that support healthy aging, how to improve public awareness of and access to services for older adults and caregivers, and how to leverage innovation and technology to support aging in communities.  

At a recent listening session of the Council held in Western Mass, there was a wide variety of areas addressed by presenters, including needs related to: affordable housing; workforce capacity; transportation; technology and lifelong learning as two solutions to combat social isolation; as well as the specific needs of persons with dementia, grandparents raising grandchildren, veterans, the deaf and hard of hearing and people with autism who are living longer. 

There are models emerging in communities to work to offer supports to residents including the “Village” model and age- and/or dementia-friendly communities. It will take creativity and innovation to meet the needs of many in our communities. 

Congressman McGovern held a field hearing in Greenfield in early August, and one person’s comments regarding health care rang true when she stated, “Balancing the budget on the backs of those who are disabled, poor and elderly… It’s appalling.”

If there’s one thing everyone wants, it’s a sense of belonging. The Adult Family Care (AFC) program at LifePath helps foster belonging by enabling adults of all ages to belong to a community, and more importantly, to a family.

Specifically, AFC helps adults age 16 or older who—because of medical, physical, cognitive, or mental health conditions—cannot safely live alone. Family members or individuals wanting to care for a person in need can become an AFC caregiver. They are compensated for their care with a tax-exempt stipend and room and board.

Families of all sorts make wonderful caregivers. “Our families range from single people, couples, to families with children,” explains Janet Calcari, AFC Program Director, “and our clients range from 16 to 98 years old, with all kinds of diagnoses and all kinds of needs.”

Some families come pre-made: the parent of an adult child with a developmental disability, the child of a parent with a physical disability, or a friend of someone who has a medical condition may qualify to become a caregiver. Other homes are created by matching individuals or families who wish to open their homes and become caregivers with someone in need.

“We support the client and the caregiver as much as they need,” says Calcari. Each caregiver is paired with a nurse and a social worker, who are there as advocates, providing information and education to caregivers to ensure the caregiver has a proper understanding of the needs of the person in their care. In addition to monthly visits, nurses and social workers are always available by phone and for crisis visits.

Would you like to become a caregiver with AFC by caring for a loved one or opening your home to someone new? Do you or someone you know wish to participate in AFC? For more information about AFC and other services provided by LifePath, contact us.