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Karen Lentner, MA, RD, LDN, LifePath NutritionistKaren Lentner, MA, RD, LDN, LifePath NutritionistOnce again the holidays are upon us, the days are getting shorter and colder, and comfort comes to mind.  For many, winter brings thoughts of how to stay safe and warm, what comfort foods to buy or prepare, and catching up on projects, books to read, or movies to watch. After the holidays do you also find yourself thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Are they often short-lived because they were never realistic to begin with?

Once the holidays are over, we may have the best of intentions.  Maybe you want to lose the 10 pounds you gained last year, exercise or sleep more, cook foods that are better for you, or reduce stress.  Often it feels harder to get motivated when it’s dark and cold outside.  It’s easier to think about getting in shape when the weather is warm and you have more energy.

If your goal is to maintain or build your strength and improve your health, eating enough protein every day is critical. 

Making realistic, clearly-defined goals or resolutions that include a timeline and accountability are more likely to be successful than just saying “I want to eat healthy.”  A suggestion for a resolution might be to eat healthier to increase or maintain your strength, to build muscle, and/or to decrease fat.  Building or maintaining muscle mass helps support strength and balance and reduces your risk of falls and fractures. 

Muscle mass can start to decrease at as early as 30 years of age.  Illness, medications, stress, smoking, alcohol, and lack of activity may cause muscle to break down.  To maintain muscle mass and strength, it is important to eat enough protein and nutrient-rich calories each day.  Engaging in physical activity or exercising regularly is also critical for maintaining muscle mass. 

So let’s get back to that resolution.  If your goal is to maintain or build your strength and improve your health, eating enough protein every day is critical.  

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that older adults should strive to get at least 5-6 ½ ounces of protein per day (depending on your size and calorie needs).   This is equivalent to approximately 45 or more grams of protein daily.  If you are malnourished, or have a specific chronic disease, your protein requirements may be higher, possibly 70 grams per day.  Another way to determine your protein needs is to calculate approximately 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for healthy adults. 

How do you get enough protein and what are good sources?                                                                                                       

Approximately 3 ounces of cooked poultry, fish, or other meat = 21 grams of protein
Tofu, ½ cup = 10 grams of protein
Cheese, 1 ounce = 7 grams of protein                                                                   
Yogurt, ½ cup = 6 grams of protein
Greek yogurt, ½ cup = 12 grams of protein
Milk, 1 cup = 8 grams of protein
Beans, ½ cup kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc. = average 8 grams of protein
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons = 8 grams of protein                                                                                                                 
Quinoa, 1 cup cooked = 8 grams of protein
Brown rice, ½ cup = 5 grams of protein                                                                                                                  
Egg, 1 large = 6 grams of protein
Almonds,  ¼ cup = 6 grams of protein

a bowl of lentil soupTo meet your protein needs, try to select a variety of foods from the list above and spread it throughout the day in meals and snacks.

Another excellent resolution for the New Year is maintaining or increasing your physical activity.  Although we may feel like hibernating, regular exercise is the key to building muscle, good health, and maintaining your independence. It also helps to reduce your risk of chronic health conditions. In order for this goal to be realistic, look for activities you enjoy so that you’re more likely to stick with them. Walking, swimming, yoga (in-person or virtually), chair exercises, dancing, resistance bands, and lifting weights are activities that can be done year round.  To help you to be accountable so you stay on track, try to do at least one activity a week with a friend.  Consider shopping together in a large grocery store or at the mall, where you can walk freely during the winter months.

Instead of saying you’ll eat healthier or exercise more, be specific.  You might start your resolution by saying you will eat at least 6 ounces of protein daily, will consume one serving of fruit and vegetables every day, and will walk for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.  Your goals need to be realistic for you. Make a timeline and try keeping a log or journal to measure your progress until you have successfully met your goals. 

Let January be the start of realistic resolutions, where you can see gradual positive and healthy changes. Making better food choices and staying physically active will help you feel healthier and more energetic, and will help keep you motivated to continue building healthy habits into your routine.

Lesley at work.Lesley at work.On Friday, October 29, colleagues, community partners, and friends gathered to remember Lesley Bolduc, who passed away on October 5, 2021. September 8, 2022, would have been Lesley’s 25th anniversary as a Case Manager in the Home Care program at LifePath, where she worked with older adults and their families to obtain the services they need to remain in their homes as they age in place.

“Lesley was bound and determined to make it to her work anniversary,” remembered Executive Director Barbara Bodzin, who said she had the privilege of knowing Lesley for the last 16 years and spoke about how Lesley’s warm welcome stood out to her when she first joined LifePath. Barbara described Lesley as “knowing West County like few others” and her relationship with clients and caregivers as “strong and familiar.” Barbara recalled how Lesley was passionate about advocating for her clients, and was also known as a mentor and resource to staff.

Her life was a triumph of courage, humor, and grace.

Barbara remembered when Lesley was first diagnosed with breast cancer and then, 16 years later at Buckley HealthCare Center, after a recurrence and surgery, how Lesley’s “determination and courage to embrace her situation” was clear. She returned to work in a pink wig with humor and grace, and pushed through the past years, continuing to be dedicated to her work and her family, including her son Steven.

“Lesley, we are all better for having known you. Your beautiful spirit will live on,” said Barbara.

One skill that case managers like Lesley need is the ability to know when to step in and offer help and when not to. Melissa Hatch, Home Care Program Director, remembers, “Lesley had great boundaries.” When Melissa needed guidance during her years as a case manager, she said Lesley “would help her figure out what was her job and what was not her job.” Melissa reiterated Lesley’s determination to make it to her 25th anniversary and said the Josh Simpson globe LifePath had purchased for her would now be given to James, Lesley’s husband of 57 years, and their son.

Lesley wearing her Kentucky Derby hat, made by Case Manager Linda Micka, this year.Lesley wearing her Kentucky Derby hat, made by Case Manager Linda Micka, this year.Linda Micka, Home Care Case Manager, shared a work space with Lesley and remembered her stories and great humor, mentioning the mocha truffle cookie recipe that Lesley had asked for 6 months ago, and how she found it a few days before the memorial and considered it a sign, making them for the gathering. Linda also mentioned how Lesley would always eat lamb with her husband while watching the Kentucky Derby, and how Linda made her a hat with a stuffed lamb on the front to wear while she watched the derby at rehab, and then surprised her with a lamb meal as well.

A client of Lesley’s told Linda, “Lesley wasn’t just a great case manager, she was also a dear friend.”

Lesley will also be missed by LifePath’s community partners. Jacob Waah, President and CEO of Victory Home Healthcare, came in person to honor her as a valued part of his professional family, saying, “I really enjoyed working with Lesley.”

Deborah Diamond, Client Services Nurse Manager, recalled how the last time she saw Lesley, Lesley raised her arm in victory and exclaimed, “I will never retire, Deborah!” while Amy Dlugosz, Personal Care Attendant Program Director, said she thought of Lesley as her “work mom” and described how Lesley always asked “how our boy was,” in reference to Amy’s son.

Barbara’s mention of Lesley’s fondness for “Sally Ann’s,” otherwise known as The Salvation Army, was met with fond giggles. Barbara recalled how Lesley would often stop by her office saying, “Hi Boss!” and tell Barbara about her dogs, her family, last night’s UMASS hockey win, or her latest finds at Sally Ann’s. “Truth be known, I came to LifePath never having been a thrift store shopper,” admitted Barbara, who described Lesley as being “dressed to the nines,” often appearing in new outfits from the store. Lesley was especially gleeful about finding a leather designer bag in mint condition that she later looked up online, only to find it cost a fortune new. Barbara said, ”I am proud to say my entire outfit today came completely from Sally Ann’s.”

Jen Glover, LifePath Protective Services Screening Supervisor, recalled being office mates with Lesley for almost 11 years and the hijinks that ensued, including surrounding a blue chair, acquired by staff member Debbie Clogston, who died in a car accident in 2007. The chair was covered with Tickle Me Elmos and other stuffed animals. When they moved offices, Lesley insisted they bring the chair, which became a favorite spot for staff and non-staff alike to sit and share whatever they needed to. They also held a memorial for Howard, Debbie’s blue betta fish, complete with fish crackers.

Lesley dressed up for the Halloween office party in 2013.Lesley dressed up for the Halloween office party in 2013.According to Pam Porter, a former LifePath Home Care Program Director, Lesley “did win her battle . . . her life was a triumph of courage, humor, and grace.” Pam read a passage from the movie “A River Runs Through It,” about Scottish fly fishermen, as a tribute to Lesley, who was Scottish and fished with her husband every summer. In part, the passage read, “Eventually all things merge into one and the river runs through it . . . on some of the rocks are timeless raindrops, under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are hers. I am haunted by waters.”

Lorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program DirectorLorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program Director2022 Medicare Part B Premiums, Deductibles, and Coinsurance

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released the 2022 premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts for the Medicare Part A and Part B programs on November 12, 2021.

The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B in 2022 will be $170.10, up from $148.50 in 2021, an increase of $21.60. This larger than usual increase is due to the rising cost of healthcare utilization combined with several other factors. This premium is normally taken out of your Social Security direct deposit. If you are not collecting Social Security yet, you will be billed the additional amount starting in 2022.

The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B in 2022 will be $170.10, up from $148.50 in 2021, an increase of $21.60.

Social Security benefits are increasing by 5.9% in 2022, which is about $59 for every thousand dollars received from Social Security. This is the largest cost of living increase in 39 years. However, the 15.9% increase in Medicare Part B will reduce the amount of increase you receive. Medicare beneficiaries whose individual income is above $91,000 annually or a couple’s joint income that is above $182,000 annually will pay an increased amount for their Part B and Part D, called an income-related monthly adjustment amount, also known as “IRMAA.” This affects 7% of people with Medicare Part B. The federal government bases the 2022 adjustments on the beneficiaries’ 2020 federal income taxes. If you believe your IRMAA is incorrect, you may request a new initial determination by contacting your local Social Security office. This is especially important if your income has changed after 2020 due to various reasons—for instance, you have retired.

The monthly Part B premium helps pay for doctors' services, x-rays and tests, outpatient hospital care, ambulance service, medical supplies, and other medical equipment. The 2022 Part B annual deductible will be $233 for all people with Medicare, an increase of $30 from 2021. The Part B deductible is annual; once you have incurred $233 of expenses for Medicare-covered services in any year, the Part B deductible does not apply to any further (covered) services you receive for the rest of the year.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps pay for hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care, hospice care, and other services. The Part A deductible will increase from $1,484 to $1,556 for beneficiaries with Medicare only, the Part A deductible is the beneficiary’s only cost for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital services. The 61st to the 90th day has increased from $371 to $389 a day, and beyond the 90th day, it has increased from $742 to $778 a day. For beneficiaries who have a Medigap Supplement 1 or 1 A plan, these costs are covered by that supplemental insurance coverage.

The skilled nursing facility coinsurance increased from $185.50 to $194.50 for the 21st to the 100th day. Medicare Part A covers the first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, after a three-day-qualifying stay in a hospital.

Many Medicare beneficiaries purchase additional insurance to cover the gaps of Medicare to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses including Medicare Supplemental Plans or Medicare Advantage Plans.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Starts January 1, 2022

Did you know that if you are unhappy with your Medicare Advantage Plan, you have options?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) occurs each year from January 1 through March 31. You can only use this enrollment period if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan on January 1. Changes made during this period take effect the first of the month following the month you enroll. For example, if you switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan in February, your new coverage begins March 1. Unlike Fall Open Enrollment period, you can only make a single change during the MA OEP.

It’s important to understand and be confident in your Medicare coverage choices. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to change your plan, check out your options today. Remember, the MA OEP ends March 31.

Changes that can be made during this period include switching to:

  • a different MA plan with drug coverage;
  • a different MA plan without drug coverage;
  • Original Medicare and a Part D plan; or
  • Original Medicare without a Part D plan.

In Massachusetts you may also add Medigap coverage to your Original Medicare during this time.

People who want to leave their Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare, can access Medigap policies, also known as supplemental plans. We are fortunate in the state of Massachusetts, as our insurers in this state offer continuous open enrollment.

Medigap policies are health insurance policies that work with Original Medicare and pay part or all of certain remaining costs such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments after Original Medicare pays first.

The SHINE program, (Serving Health Information Needs of Everyone…on Medicare), provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. This is a free service, though contributions are welcome and will go a long way to help support this vital program. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, you can make a SHINE appointment. To reach a trained, certified counselor in your area, please contact the Regional Office at 800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555, or contact your local Council on Aging.

This article is based on the November 12 news release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive Director

This time of year, many of us are focused on nurturing and feeding our loved ones as we celebrate the holidays. LifePath’s Nutrition program staff and volunteers maintain this focus for community members all year long.

Feeding America estimated that 100,000 people in our 4 Western MA counties have struggled with food insecurity this year. That’s an increase of about 25% since numbers were last reported in 2019, and those who directly serve community members contend the increase is actually much higher.

LifePath’s Nutrition program has looked to address this spike in numbers and respond to nutritional needs oftentimes created by pandemic-fueled fear and isolation. As we saw numbers shift, changes were made so that community members could safely access LifePath programs without having to suffer in silence.

Over the last year, LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program served 1,061 consumers and more than 140,000 meals. In an effort to curb exposure but not service, the program moved to delivering the same amount of meals over three days, in place of the traditional five. The ever-important wellness check was changed to a physically distanced “Smile and Wave,” as volunteer drivers continued to be out on their routes without pause. To further reduce the risk of infection through the heating and traying process, chilled meals took the place of hot meals. These efficiencies reduced contact not only between volunteer driver and consumer, but also between kitchen workers. Food was delivered in oven-safe trays, but microwaves were provided to consumers who needed them. We’re excited to announce that hot meal delivery and the classic wellness check will resume 5 days a week starting on December 6.

Also, we are pleased to share that a new cohort of volunteer Meals on Wheels drivers were trained by Congregate and Home Delivered Meal Coordinator Ann Kaczenski and have begun heading out on their respective routes. LifePath requires a certain number of drivers to fulfill the delivery need, but being able to call on a depth of backup and reserve drivers is essential. If you are interested in being a driver, we’d love to hear from you.

Over the last three years, LifePath has earned more than $16,000 from Subaru of America for our Meals on Wheels program.

Right now, through January 3, LifePath is again participating in Subaru’s Share the Love event. Over the last three years, LifePath has earned more than $16,000 from Subaru of America for our Meals on Wheels program. If you are a customer who buys or leases a Subaru, you are eligible to choose a charity to which Subaru will donate $250. Please choose Meals on Wheels so that LifePath’s local program will benefit from this generosity.

During the pandemic we identified a need to add grocery shopping to LifePath’s menu of services. It has become so popular that there is a waiting list of individuals who would love someone to do their shopping! Grocery shoppers are trained, then matched. Every other week, the grocery shopper receives a list with agreed-upon preferences and payment, and returns with the groceries and a receipt. If you love hitting the grocery store, someone in your community would appreciate your assistance. Other grocery resources may be available: call us to find out if we have something to suit your needs.

LifePath began delivering frozen meals to people with disabilities under the age of 60 who are participants in our Personal Care Attendant program. Individuals with disabilities or pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19. LifePath recruited volunteers for this new meal delivery program to keep these individuals safer and healthier during this uncertain time. We were able to add this program, in part, because of the generous COVID-19 Relief Funding we received from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. We offer our thanks to those behind the funding who saw our vision, allowing us to provide this new pipeline for nutritional aid.

For older adults who are able to get out, the Grab and Go meals offered at various senior centers have been a wonderful option. This program took the place of congregate meals at these sites, but we are happy to report that select senior centers are again serving congregate meals that offer balanced nutrition with company! These sites include the Greenfield Senior Center, which is serving meals (indoors only) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; and the Royalston Council on Aging, which is serving meals (indoors only) on Wednesdays. For more information, please visit our Congregate Meals page.

LifePath prides itself on the programs we run that offer an answer to food insecurity and close other gaps created by life events and the aging process. In addition to the programs mentioned, we offer stand-alone nutrition education and consultation, home care services that may include nutritional support, and the flexibility to provide meals for people with allergies or other special diets.

We encourage you, as you spend time with family and friends, to take special note of their well-being. If you notice changes or hear shared remarks around the difficulties created by the aging process, suggest that your loved one reach out to LifePath, or reach out for them. We are here to foster continued independence at home and in our community.

With inspired spirit and commitment, our staff and volunteers have made extraordinary things happen for those in need of sustenance. In this time of celebration, reflection, and feasting, please know LifePath is here to provide and nourish. Whether it is for yourself or a loved one in need of service, call us at 413-773-5555, Ext. 1230 or 978-544-2259, ext. 1230 to speak with a Resource Consultant.

Anne Colo with her mom, Mary ColoAnne Colo with her mom, Mary ColoOn October 29, 2021 President Biden proclaimed November 2021 as National Family Caregivers Month, “encouraging all Americans to reach out to those who provide care for their family members, friends, and neighbors in need, to honor and to thank them.”

The Proclamation, in part, states, “Every day, millions of Americans provide essential care and medical assistance to their loved ones.  These acts of love, commitment, and compassion enable their family members to receive the support they need to live a life with dignity.  This has been especially true throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Americans of all ages have made substantial sacrifices to keep family members safe and healthy.  During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the important role of our Nation’s family caregivers and thank them for the invaluable and instrumental care they provide.”

“Having my mom remain in a home she built, and raised her family in, surrounded by familiar things and people, has been the ultimate act of love . . .”

Anne Colo, 52 and a resident of Deerfield, is one of these family caregivers, providing “invaluable and instrumental care” to her mom, 87-year-old Mary A. Colo, a resident of New Salem.  Anne’s 92-year-old father, Victor “Vic” Colo, is another.  “They have been happily, and I emphasize super happily married, for 53 years. My dad keeps her safe, comfortable, entertained, and makes her smile.  He is with her all day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with the exception of one hour in the afternoon, so he picks up a great deal of responsibility and my mom is happiest in his presence for sure,” says Anne.  “Having my Mom remain in a home she built, and raised her family in, surrounded by familiar things and people, has been the ultimate act of love, and my dad is largely responsible for this being possible for her.”  

“Mom fell and broke her hip in October 2019, and we began services with LifePath [about two months later] . . . We were referred to LifePath as THE source for securing services for my mom by the support services at Athol Hospital where my mom did her rehabilitation.  We had no idea when she first came home what services we even needed or how we would manage this.  We were told that we would not be successful in caring for her at home by many healthcare professionals when she was released from the hospital.  [Care Manager] Michael Sobeck from LifePath came to the house and helped us assess our needs and develop a care plan and schedule,” Anne recalls.  “My memory of when my mom was discharged is the overwhelming feeling of complete responsibility—LifePath was very instrumental in helping us determine what my mom and dad needed and how we should go about securing those services.”

Now Mary has care, coordinated through LifePath, that comes from 8-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.  Anne travels up each night at 5 p.m. and stays over 2 nights a week, while the family pays independent caregivers to stay over the other 5 nights.

Anne says, “Through LifePath, we have Catholic Charities helping us.  I cannot say enough about some of the beautiful people that take care of my mom.  They are warm, loving, and hardworking.  They help my mom, dad, and entire family in ways we could not have imagined.  We are so lucky!”

Vic and Anne Colo, married for 53 yearsVic and Anne Colo, married for 53 yearsMary provided care to others throughout her life, before needing care herself.  “My mom is a Registered Nurse and worked as a surgical nurse at Children’s Hospital.  She worked for a renowned surgeon who was one of the pioneers in cardiac surgery and performed one of the first surgeries to correct congenital heart disorders in children.  She raised my brother Tom and I, and as my aunt once said, ‘there is no single person on this earth more excited to have children than your mom.’  Mom was a devoted caregiver to many people, including her dear mom, Evelyn Kenney, who was ill with cancer for many years.  She was a staunch advocate for people to receive the healthcare they needed, often taking people back and forth to Boston hospitals,” explains Anne.

When asked about the most difficult part of being a caregiver herself, Anne mentions the times Mary has experienced pain or distress.  “Seeing someone you love, unable to communicate their needs, who is solely relying on you to make sure they are ok, can be overwhelming at times,” explains Anne.

Anne says it is vital that caregivers take time for themselves:  “I would tell other caregivers the same thing that we hear a lot: in order to be of use to others, you have to care for yourself first.  You can’t give others what they need if you, yourself are not cared for, and it is impossible to give from an empty tank.  It is a cliché but I can attest that, on many occasions, having just a little time to regenerate can make an absolute world of difference in how I show up for others.”

“It is the greatest honor of my life to provide care to a person who has literally been the best person I have ever known,” says Anne.  “She cared for me throughout my whole life and has dedicated her life to caring for others that are most vulnerable.  It is one of my most treasured, gratifying experiences of my life so far.  I am so honored to be able to give my mom the gift of remaining in her home that she loved so much, being safe, loved, comfortable with people that she loves and that love her, and being so well cared for.”

If you are a caregiver who could use some support, please call LifePath at 413-773-5555, X1230 or 978-544-2259, X1230 to speak to a Resource Consultant, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..