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Barbara Bodzin, LifePath Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive Director

Celebrating Older Americans

May is Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme, according to the Administration for Community Living, which leads our nation’s observance, is Connect, Create, Contribute. It encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.
  • Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

Group of senior women linking armsEngagement promotes wellbeing and fosters the essential role older adults play within our communities. Positive engagement occurs through participation in meaningful activities which support our values and our life goals. This can happen through a multitude of ways to connect with others.

Connections naturally occur through our networks of family, friends and neighbors and expand out into our communities. We can enrich the lives of others when we tell our stories, share our culture, our history, and our wisdom. We can have a voice through grassroots activities, involvement with nonprofit organizations, participation on boards, communication with legislators, or involvement in social and political actions.

Opportunities for enrichment through education, volunteerism, exercise, health enhancement and social engagement are available through area colleges, senior centers, faith communities, and local organizations.

“Engagement promotes wellbeing and fosters the essential role older adults play within our communities.”

LifePath offers evidence-based healthy living programs which help participants improve health behaviors, health outcomes, and reduce healthcare utilization. Participants are motivated by peer leaders and by peer support who encourage one another to make positive lifestyle changes. Participants successfully integrate behavior changes into their day-to-day lives through this effective model. For those who are inspired by the experience and impact, there is opportunity and encouragement to continue on and train as volunteer peer leaders.

Volunteerism is another way to find fulfillment through a sense of connection and a way to give back to the community. LifePath relies on dedicated volunteers who positively change the lives of others. There is a wide range of options available, including delivering Meals on Wheels or assisting at a congregate dining center, visiting and advocating for residents in nursing facilities, leading a workshop in healthy living, transporting to medical appointments, or providing assistance with bill paying, understanding health insurance options, or completing fuel assistance applications. For those who prefer, there are options for working in our offices, acting as a consultant, or assisting with fundraising. Whatever the passion or skill set, there are opportunities available.

Whatever your age, or stage in life, consider ways you might connect, create, or contribute. Opportunities abound to become involved. Call LifePath to explore options at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Two older men walking together in the woodsMary Ann cares for her husband who has dementia. Before she took the Savvy Caregiver Program course, she often felt like she was encountering crisis after crisis when interacting with her husband. She did not know how to make it better.

Savvy Caregiver helped Mary Ann understand the impact dementia was having not just on her husband, but also on herself, and she learned new skills to better manage daily life.

“The most valuable piece of information I learned from the caregiver program is that I cannot change the disease,” says Mary Ann. “I cannot change my husband’s reaction to the disease or his behavior.”

After Savvy Caregiver, Mary Ann now feels more in control and is able to communicate better.

“The only thing I can do is control my reaction to his behavior…but not going into crisis mode,” says Mary Ann, who now uses techniques she learned during the training to better interact with her husband and feels better about herself and her ability to provide care for her husband.

“The only thing I can do is control my reaction to his behavior…but not going into crisis mode.”

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, Savvy Caregiver can help you, too! Sign up for the free, six-session training at LifePath in Greenfield, Mass., on Thursdays, May 2-June 6, 2019, from 3 to 5 p.m., led by a Savvy Caregiver practitioner. Space is limited, so register by April 25 online, or leave your contact information at 413-773-5555 x1190 or 978-544-2259 x1190. No walk-ins and no professional caregivers please.

LifePath offers many support options for caregivers; learn more.

The benefits of volunteering range from helping your community to be a better place to honing skills to re-enter the job market. But the benefit that people may overlook is finding new friends and social connections. As TrueFriends.org states, “It really is okay to ask, what’s in it for me?” New friendships may be the answer.

Volunteering is fun and positive and is definitely a way to meet new people and make new friends. This is especially important for seniors who move away from the town or city where they have lived for years. Some move in with family or may relocate to senior living/retirement communities. It is very hard to adjust to new surroundings when you are “the new one” with few, if any, social supports.

“It really is okay to ask, what’s in it for me?”

Volunteering gives these seniors a positive goal for their leisure time and boosts confidence. This confidence makes it easier to reach out and build new friendships. Connecting with people who are actively volunteering benefits you as well as the people, causes, or organizations that you help, so enjoy the move and volunteer as soon as you are settled. Find the nearest senior center, school, hospital or survival center and offer your skills and time. If you need more help finding a volunteer opportunity, visit VolunteerMatch or NationalService.gov, or Google RSVP for the program nearest you.

RSVP of the Pioneer Valley can also find an RSVP program near to where you are moving, so please let us help. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Volunteer Manager for Franklin and Hampshire Counties at 413-387-4558 x 1, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, 413-387-4558 x 5.

Attorney talking with clientLifePath supports Community Legal Aid (CLA) in providing free legal services to residents of Franklin County and Athol, Petersham, Phillipston and Royalston in Worcester County who are age 60 and over. We want you to know more about these services and how to access them. This help is available because the federal Older Americans Act provides funding to the state Executive Office of Elder Affairs for civil legal assistance throughout Massachusetts, and some of that money goes to LifePath, which then provides a grant to CLA.

Because the funding isn’t enough to allow us to provide full representation in response to each request for legal assistance, we are only able to assist with certain types of legal problems. The areas in which we are more likely to be able to provide advice or other assistance include: denials or terminations of MassHealth; housing matters (such as evictions, and denials or terminations of rental subsidies); denials, terminations or reductions of public benefits (such as unemployment insurance, SNAP/Food Stamps, Social Security/SSI/SSP, and state veterans services or ch. 115 benefits); and coverage denials and enrollment issues with Medicare. We also work with elders seeking assistance with issues of autonomy, abuse and exploitation.

In addition to looking at the type of problem for which our assistance is being sought, we try to determine the seriousness of the elder’s situation to ascertain whether we will provide a phone consultation to the caller; provide some level of legal assistance, which could involve representation in court proceedings; initially investigate the situation further on behalf of the elder before determining the role we can play; or provide some referral information, if possible. Low-income elders with family law matters such as divorce would be referred to our family law unit for a case acceptance decision and those seeking assistance with bankruptcy would be referred to our Volunteer Lawyers Service for free assistance from an attorney in private practice.

CLA is open for telephone-assisted screening Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 am to 12:15 pm, and Wednesday 1:30 pm to 4:15 pm. Elders may call toll free at 1-855-252-5342. CLA also has an online application on its website, which can be accessed at any time. Elders can also go to the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder website, which identifies what types of legal problems are appropriate for referral to CLA. The Legal Resource Finder can also help elders locate additional resources on a wide variety of legal topics.

We at Community Legal Aid look forward to assisting you with your legal questions and concerns. We accommodate clients with mobility and transportation challenges by meeting with them in our satellite office in Greenfield or in their home, medical facility, or in another mutually convenient location.

Seniors participating in a workshopBec Belofsky Shuer and Lee Shuer, from Easthampton, will facilitate a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) group to support you as you develop strategies for making the most of every day, even when things are tough! This free workshop will meet at Baystate Franklin Hospital Conference Room B in Greenfield, from 1 to 3 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays April 29-May 22, 2019.

WRAP is about finding and keeping hope and independence in our lives. Each week, we will discuss practical skills and action plans to deal with life’s ups and downs. We will meet six times, for two hours. You will be provided with a personal WRAP workbook - it’s yours to keep!

Bec and Lee love running these groups and hope you will join them. Their group at the Longmeadow Adult Center was a hit, thoroughly enjoyed by attendees and facilitators alike!

Learn more about LifePath’s many programs that support the wellbeing and independence of elders, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.

This workshop series is sponsored by LifePath with support from the Massachusetts Council on Aging, under a service incentive grant from Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

To register, call 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 x2213, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sign up early, as space is limited.