Chat about Lawrence senior services with Jessie Lusher

August 15, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

As the director of Senior Services of Douglas County, Jessie Lusher oversees everything from lunch programs to helping Lawrence retirees get the right Medicare subscription. She'll take questions at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday

Moderator:

Hi folks. Jessie is here and we'll start up in just a few minutes.

Moderator:

Please offer up any questions you might have!

justthefacts:

What suggestions do you have for someone with a senior relative who will not drive (but probably could), is still in a private home (family's) and brand new to the area/state? While she was active in her church back home, she hasn't made any effort (in a year) to independently find new friends here in Lawrence. She is shy and reserved and will hardly set foot outside the house without someone she knows along, plus she has no transportation available from 8-5 week days. But she LOVES to shop, read and still has a keen mind. I've tried getting her to volunteer for things, but that is out of the quesiton until she knows the people involved. Is there any group around who does in house "visits" just to give an elder person more "into the swing" of a new community?

Jessie Lusher:

What a great question! This is one that we get from alot of caring friends and relatives. Senior Services has a program called the Friendly Visitor Program. This program matches interested volunteers with seniors in need of companionship. An interest survey is completed by both parties and then the match is made. Frequently the friendship extends beyond the walls of the home and the pair will go shopping, out to eat, to plays and concerts as well as activities at the Lawrence Senior Center. I heartily recommend that you call Katie Glendening at the Lawrence Senior Center for more information. The number is 842-0543. DCSS also operates a transportation service Monday - Thursday from 8:00am - 4:30pm. The Senior Bus will take your relative anywhere she wants to go in Lawrence. It's on a donation basis so cost is never an issue. Call Dorothy at 842-0543 for more information.

userid:

what are there not more organized activites in the mornings?

Jessie Lusher:

I'm not sure if you mean at the Lawrence Senior Center or not. I will say that at Douglas County Senior Services we try to plan activities that reflect the needs and desires of those that we serve. During the summer months we plan fewer activities due to the many vacations that people take. Heat also plays a factor in our planning during the summer months. With the approach of fall activities will pick up again and I feel confident that you should find something you like. Try our Downtown Painting Group, our Friday morning bookgroup or one of our exercise groups. In September we will begin playing "Pickleball," a fun game that will keep you fit as well as a way to have fun. Please give us a call with any ideas that you may have for programming.

jazzttt:

Hello~ My Mother, Trudy Travis, uses your Bus 62 transportation service twice a week and occasionally more. She wanted me to say that she has always been very impressed with the service promptness and courtesy of her regular driver. She only has one minor question: Why is the service not available on Fridays? It would seem seniors would need rides on that day to grocery shop for the weekend, etc. We use Independence, Inc. on that day, they are very good also. Thank you, Tyson Travis, Pine Bluff, AR

Jessie Lusher:

Thank you for your kind words Tyson. I know Trudy and she's a gracious woman. We enjoy providing the service to her. Several years ago DCSS experienced a $27,000 cut in the amount of funding that we receive from the County Mill Levy. Unfortunately that resulted in some programming cuts. Our transportation service took the biggest cut. We would dearly love to increase the service again someday. You are right Independence, Inc. offers a great service. That agency has been very helpful in picking up the slack. Tell Trudy to keep on riding with us!

Moderator:

Jessie: We're all aware that our society -- particularly in Kansas -- is aging, and that more and more folks are in the senior population. How are you seeing that, and what's that mean for your operations?

Jessie Lusher:

Our agency is in the process of redefining ourselves and what we do. As we grapple with the intense needs of the very old (85 years and older) we find ourselves needing to address the emotional and social needs of the younger senior. That's a difficult thing to do. We in essence have about a 40-50 year age difference in the folks that we serve. I think the younger retirees are going to want access to more volunteer activities, continued employment, travel and leisure activities. The baby boomers are going to demand more in-home care and be less inclined to want to live in congregate housing and the traditional retirement communities. As we confront these changes, our agency will stay true to our mission statement of "creating opportunities that allow Douglas County Seniors to remain independent and active in their homes and communities."

Moderator:

There were a lot of complaints about confusion surrounding the new Medicare prescription program during the early enrollment phase a few months back. Now that the program is actually running, how effective is it?

Moderator:

(We'll have time for one more question after this.)

Jessie Lusher:

Argh! You would have to ask about Medicare Part D. One of the biggest problems that folks have encoutered is hitting the proverbial donut hole sooner than they expected. This is the spot where many plans stop paying and the senior is expected to pick up the full cost of the medications. This November seniors will have an opportunity to re-enroll in a plan. This will give them a chance to select a new plan that may address the donut hole problem. DCSS will have trained counselors on hand at the Lawrence Senior Center to assist people in making an informed decision.

Moderator:

What percentage of your clients are hitting that "donut hole"?

Jessie Lusher:

I don't have clear numbers on the percentage. What I've heard is anecdotal.

Moderator:

Thanks, Jessie, for joining us today!

Jessie Lusher:

I really appreciate the opportunity to chat with the community. It's been alot of fun. If readers are interested in our services either to receive them or volunteer please give me a call at 842-0543 or call our Development Manager Tina Roberts for information on how to volunteer or contribute.

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