- Written by Attorney Pamela Oddy, Athol, Mass., 978-249-7511
Recently, I had a routine wellness exam with my primary care physician. During the course of the meeting, my doctor introduced me (from the patient's perspective) to the MOLST. A number of my clients have provided me with copies of their completed MOLST forms for my files, so I was already acquainted with the form.
MOLST stands for Massachusetts Order of Life Sustaining Treatments. It is double-sided, and it asks health care questions such as whether or not you want to be intubated or fed by artificial means or resuscitated or go on dialysis. The MOLST form is on hot pink paper and is an important part of a person's arsenal in directing health care treatment. lt is done in conjunction with one's doctor so that the specific medical issues may be discussed as to what exactly these questions may entail.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices have Health Care Proxy forms that may be given to patients upon request.
At the same meeting, my doctor asked me for a copy of my Health Care Proxy for his file. Whereupon it prompted me to examine the documents I had drafted for myself. I found that I had not updated my Health Care Proxy in the last 21 years. My children were not mentioned on my Proxy as decision-makers because they were so young, or not yet born, at the time I signed that form. I immediately redrafted the Proxy to include my children (after my spouse) as designated choices to make medical treatment decisions for me should I not be able to speak for myself or direct my own health care. I also took advantage of the opportunity to update my Will and Durable Power of Attorney, but that is the subject of another article.
Hospitals and doctors' offices have Health Care Proxy forms that may be given to patients upon request. They are simple forms to complete and, once completed, copies should be given to the person's primary care physician as well as to the estate planning attorney. Hospitals and nursing homes have frequently called my office, for example, requesting a copy of a particular patient's Health Care Proxy. When l draft Proxies for my clients, I will routinely make multiple copies on lime green paper so that they may be spotted easily in a medical file and I will direct my client to hand out those green copies not only to the people named as decision makers on the Proxy but also to my client's primary care physician.
Everyone would be well advised to have a Health Care Proxy as part of one's estate planning documents.
The views expressed in this column represent general information. To address your particular and specific needs, consult your own attorney. If you need help with referral to an attorney, contact the Franklin County Bar Association at (413) 773-9839 or the Worcester County Bar Association at (978) 752-1311. Elder law resources may be found through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Chapter, online or 617-566-5640.
Community Legal Aid (CLA) provides legal services free to people age 60 and older for civil legal matters, with an emphasis on access to health care coverage (MassHealth and Medicare) and public benefits as well as tenants’ rights. A request for legal assistance can be made by phone at 413-774-3747 or toll-free 1-855-252-5342 during their intake hours (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.) or any time online.
- Written by Janis Merrell
Senator is emboldened to fight even harder for elder security
Senator Jo Comerford visited the LifePath Meals on Wheels kitchen in Erving on Friday, June 28, to understand how LifePath delivers 535 meals each weekday to local homebound clients.
The kitchen is hectic in the morning, with Meals on Wheels staff hurriedly making the meals that will be delivered in time for lunch to a 30-town area in Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Senator Comerford met with Kitchen Manager Charlie Cornish, Nutrition Program Director Jane Severance, and LifePath’s Executive Director Barbara Bodzin, before being given a kerchief, apron, and gloves and jumping in to help prepare meals.
Mr. Cornish explained the kitchen staff and drivers “surprise him all the time with how wonderful and dependable they all are.”
Frank “Bill” Newton, 89, shuttles meals to drivers at the ready in Athol and then delivers a few meals himself. He stated he “has been retired for so long he needs a reason to get up in the morning, and this gives him a reason.”
LifePath’s Meals on Wheels drivers deliver 129,106 meals to homebound clients per year. While LifePath’s total cost per meal is $10.09, LifePath only suggests a donation of $3 per meal, and continues to deliver meals regardless of what a client can pay. All deliveries include a friendly wellness check and follow-up with the client’s emergency contact if there is an issue.
Pinnie Sears, who delivers meals in Montague, Sunderland, and Leverett, stated, “I’ve known most of the people I bring meals to all of my life. It’s really cool!” At one point she had 10 clients over the age of 90 on her route.
Kendall Browning, who shuttles meals to other drivers and then delivers meals himself for the West County area, enjoys “making clients’ days.”
After helping to prepare the meals, Senator Comerford delivered her first meal to Dorothy “Dot” Shippee, 92, in South Deerfield. Ms. Shippee, who lost her husband, a WWII marine, in 1985, told the senator about raising 9 children and spoke proudly about her 28 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren (including one on the way)!
The second meal delivery Senator Comerford made was to Eleanor Smith, 88, who gave the senator a huge hug when she found out who she was. Ms. Smith had 10 siblings but explained she was the last one left and was so happy to have a room full of women again “as it reminded her of her sisters.” Her husband passed in 2006. About her Meals on Wheels driver, she said, “He’s so nice and I enjoy the company.”
Ms. Smith’s daughter, Lisa Woods, who lives with her mother but works during the day, stated, “LifePath has been so awesome! I don’t know what I would do without them. They’ve been a godsend for both of us. I know she’s getting everything she needs.”
While LifePath’s total cost per meal is $10.09, LifePath only suggests a donation of $3 by clients per meal, and continues to deliver meals regardless of what a client can pay.
At the end of Senator Comerford’s morning with LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program, she stated, “I’m grateful to have experienced the great work of LifePath and how the agency changes people’s lives. I am emboldened to fight even harder for elder security.”
Executive Director Bodzin expressed her thanks to Senator Comerford, stating, “We are thrilled you are here to witness the fabulous work of the Meals on Wheels kitchen volunteers and volunteer drivers.”
Bodzin added, “Drivers save lives. There is a significant portion of the population that has no one to depend on. Drivers fill that void.”
If you are 60 or over and would like to receive home delivered meals, or if you are interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels, please contact LifePath at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.
- Written by Janis Merrell
Become a Rides for Health Volunteer: Free Training July 29 from 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
John Wood, a Rides for Health volunteer, has been giving Aminta Peters rides to medical appointments since June 2017. They have formed a close bond based on sharing their life experiences during their trips together. John states, “It's been wonderful. [We’ve] had many good conversations en route.”
Aminta agrees, “Yeah. I appreciate it, I appreciate it very much. We can talk about many topics.”
John became a Rides for Health Volunteer for two main reasons. He states that after a 2002 accident, “many people from the church I attended in Greenfield pooled together and gave me rides to therapy sessions in Springfield over probably a period of oh, six, seven months. I felt that this was a way to repay that generosity and that kindness. And I think the other aspect of it which caught my attention was, here's a chance to meet people I probably wouldn't have met in a normal run of the mill workday. I'd been a teacher at the university for, oh, golly, 35 years, always meeting basically the same sort of people, so I thought this was a chance to branch out.”
Prior to developing the program, LifePath surveyed clients about transportation and found the following:
- 42% surveyed said transportation to the doctor is an issue
- 64% stated that they rely on others for all of their transportation
- 36% reported having not scheduled doctor’s appointments due to lack of transportation
- 27% reported having missed doctor’s appointments due to lack of transportation
- 15% have had issues with accessing medication from their pharmacy
- 23-34% stated that they declined to participate in, or had to drop out of, outpatient therapy due to transportation issues
- 32% stated that transportation issues have kept them from participating in health-care related activities
The first Rides for Health training took place in July of 2015. Two volunteers completed the training and began to take on clients. They each started out with 1 client and gradually expanded their capacity. Currently there are 11 Rides for Health volunteers who serve 29 clients. Three clients are still looking for a volunteer.
The success of LifePath’s Rides for Health was recognized when it was selected as a 2018 n4a Aging Achievement Award recipient (n4a is the national association of Area Agencies on Aging, serving over 600 AAAs nationally). Trevor Boeding, Ombudsman and Rides for Health Director, is the creator and administrator of this vital program. Trevor states, “The success of Rides for Health is due, largely, to the kind and generous community-minded volunteers who serve their clients with grace and dignity. They are the heart and soul of the program.”
The success of LifePath’s Rides for Health was recognized when it was selected as a 2018 n4a Aging Achievement Award recipient…
According to John, “The training was very straightforward, thanks to Trevor.”
Adds Aminta, “It takes the person running the program to think about all the aspects of what makes a program do well, you know? And I would highly recommend other clients take advantage of this program.”
According to Aminta, “From a client's point of view, I have found this very helpful in meeting my healthcare needs that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. I felt safe and the fact that they had been screened and all that, it was a relief for me. Certainly John, as well as the other people, have been very respectful and kind, cordial, punctual. I appreciate that.”
John states he appreciates “the fact that we're able to drive people to appointments and it enables them to live at home and have all the benefits of home living rather than having to go into some healthcare facility. I feel that I'm contributing something by being able to do that.”
- Written by Wendy Iseman, LifePath Volunteer
Volunteering is in my blood. As a young girl growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I started with the Candy Stripers, wearing a pink and white striped dress as my uniform, walking down the halls of Polyclinic Hospital pushing a cart filled with books to distribute to patients. I also filled flower vases with water to keep them fresh and talked and joked with patients who at that time seemed really ancient. I was 12 years old.
Next up was a volunteer job at 16 at a Settlement House in Little Italy in Cleveland, where I played games on the concrete playground with kids of all ages and served them snacks, broke up fights and took care of skinned knees.
Over the years I continued to volunteer by working on a Wildlife Committee with the Sierra Club in New York City, a tenants’ rights organizer in my Staten Island apartment building and as an activist for the local park across the street. In 18 years I hosted over 200 travelers in my apartment on Staten Island through a group called SERVAS, which was started after World War II to create international friendships.
In Maine I volunteered for 6 years with Western Maine Senior College, which held health workshops, community and educational programs, and made great friends there too! My friends and I started a group where we held get-togethers at a local café hosting young people from around the world who were working at Sunday River Ski Resort as international workers.
For over 20 years I volunteered overseas with host/volunteer groups through WWOOF and Workaway.info, working on farms with animals and vegetables, managing AirBnBs, youth hostels, and helping in private homes with gardening, landscaping, elder, and child care. My last volunteer period lasted 19 months in Europe, working mainly on farms. I cared for 13 donkeys and one mule, sheep, chickens, goats and my absolute favorite: pigs. I regularly petted a huge bull named Cumulus and his 35 ladies who roamed the greenest fields I have ever seen. I worked on olive farms in Italy with horses and 3 weeks at a plant nursery in Brussels.
And, now, here I am at LifePath working with Rides for Health, taking people to medical appointments in my car 4-5 times a month.
For 10 years I volunteered as a digger at Kent Archeological Field School in Faversham, England, digging up Roman relics; an incredible experience for someone who loves history.
At one point I volunteered at the National Trust in England, rebuilding stone walls, cutting weeds in a stream that flowed to the ocean, and clearing paths on walking paths near the sea.
And, now, here I am at LifePath working with Rides for Health, taking people to medical appointments in my car 4-5 times a month. I like my “clients” very much! We have great conversations and I feel like I am doing something that has real purpose for me. As an elderly person myself (I just turned 70 in June), I really feel for people who have medical issues and can’t drive themselves to appointments or don’t have a car. I have my share of medical issues but I am still driving and hope to be part of this program for years to come.
About 18 months ago I took a workshop with LifePath offered in Franklin County on Learning to Live with Chronic Illness. It was a fantastic course taught by lay leaders who had medical issues themselves. Andi Waisman, Coordinator of Healthy Living, learned of my social work/health education background and asked if I would be interested in taking training to become a lay leader myself and I jumped at the chance. I spent 21 years in Brooklyn, NY, teaching adults how to manage their lung disease and I was missing those workshops and the wonderful people who attended.
Eight months later I took the training for teaching Healthy Eating. My friends got a good laugh out of that because I am known for my love of sweets and fast food. But who better to teach a class than someone who is struggling with making the right choices? I have changed many of my poor habits because of the Healthy Eating class and have learned I can really eat healthy food without breaking the bank!
Healthy Living now has a once a month workshop on the third Monday of each month where we invite people who have attended the Healthy Living Workshops in the past to continue their personal quest for health. Just in the last few months we have had speakers on Tai Chi, eating healthy with Just Roots, a local CSA, and mindfulness. I am proud to be the facilitator of this group which is called The Path to Hope and Healing. The workshop is open to the public too and we encourage you to contact LifePath to get more information.
Volunteering is one of the greatest things I do in my life. There are so many people who need help to live a healthier, happier life. The staff at LifePath are passionate about what they do. I have been well-trained and looked after and even rewarded with delicious lunches in thanks. It is a win-win situation all around.
If you have the time and have been thinking about volunteering at LifePath, please give them a call at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.
- Written by Janis Merrell
A Summer Garden Party With the Rainbow Elders
Enjoy a Catered Meal and Beautiful Gardens with the Rainbow Elders
Join the Rainbow Elders on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for an afternoon gathering: enjoy a catered meal, meander through the daylily gardens on 15 and a half acres of land, and meet with LGBTIQA friends old and new.
Register by July 18 online or by contacting Lynne Feldman, Director of Community Services at LifePath, at 413-775-5555 x2215 or 978-544-2259 x2215. You will receive a confirmation with directions. Please notify us in advance about any special dietary needs and we will do our best to accommodate them. In the case of thunderstorms only, the picnic would be rescheduled to Wednesday, July 24.
A suggested donation of $10 is appreciated and will be used to cover expenses for this and future Rainbow Elders events. If you can donate more than $10, it will help someone else with fewer resources attend. Any donation amount is welcome.
This is a drug-, alcohol-, and fragrance-free event.
Special thanks to our sponsors Rockridge Retirement Communities and Victory Home Healthcare!
LifePath’s Rainbow Elders offers opportunities and information to build connections and find resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, aromantic, and agender elders, as well as their allies, and educational outreach to agencies, businesses, and the community at large. Rainbow Elders helps people build relationships, give and gain support, grow in knowledge and cultural competence, and advocate for human rights so that everyone can live and age with dignity.
*A medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century. The title translates approximately to “Summer Has Come In” or “Summer Has Arrived.”