New executive director of Senior Services of Douglas County to discuss aging issues

June 19, 2007

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

John Glassman, the new executive director of Douglas County Senior Services, is will chat about issues related to aging and Medicare. The agency is committed to creating opportunities that allow Douglas County residents 60 and older to remain independent and active in their homes and communities.


Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. Our guest today is John Glassman, new executive director of Senior Services of Douglas County. Welcome, Mr. Glassman.

John Glassman:

Welcome to all. Thank you for this opportunity to provide information to members of our community about our work and the services we provide to seniors in Douglas County.


You are new to the position. What are some of your goals?

John Glassman:

We break that down short term and long term. Lets start with short term goals...
First we will make assessments of the services we provide and the community that we serve, and see what understanding the community understands of our services and those that we serve.. We will see what gaps exist in our services. Next we will get a better understanding of those we are currently serving by interviews and observations, then we will develop the goals and objectives that relate to this new world of baby boomers that we are living in.

Our long term goals are to redefine the needs of these baby boomers in their aging process and the pressures that is on them as they encounter the caregiving process of dealing with their parents. We will put into place a more clearly defined service plan to be used throughout Douglas County.


Last week Senior Services hosted a meeting about Medicare. How did that meeting go? And what kinds of questions did the audience ask?

John Glassman:

We had a nice turnout at our Medicare Information Day. Besides the presentations by the Kansas Department on Aging who spoke about Medicare Fraud, and the Social Security Administration that spoke about Medicare and Social security, we had Questions answered about Veteran Benefits in Health Care and Medicare Appeals. One of the most asked questions was "How do I figure out this bill, why are they billing me for these services?" Each question is individual. I would recommend that you call Paula Haisch at Douglas County Senior Services if you have a question. Her number is 842-0543. She can counsel you on an individual basis in the privacy of her office.


Here come some questions from our readers.


What do you see as the biggest unmet needs for seniors living in the community?

John Glassman:

There are two levels of our senior population. The first is frail elderly, who are possibly homebound, transportation and nutrition are vital in keeping them in their homes and in their communities. It is the issues that are identified around chronic illnesses and how they are managed in their daily lives. The next level is the newly retired. They desire a broader level of activities and are looking for volunteer opportunities that will keep them in touch with their communities.


I recently learned a lot about how German and Swedish governments have dealt with aging services issues and was impressed, although I acknowledge that there are significant differences in our systems. But in particular, I was impressed by the emphasis made in particular by the Swedes to diminish the use of 'homes for the aged' and increase services to prolong in-home living, and then provide living options less intensive and expensive than our traditional 'nursing homes.'

Congratulations on your appointment. Is your group created for the purpose of analzying these issues and taking advocacy positions on such issues?

And I note you have moved back to Kansas from Colorado. Any observations about the general climate in general of being back in Kansas? Have things changed one way or the other?

John Glassman:

It has been well known for decades that the German and Swedish populations have been leaders in building for the aging process. There is a great deal we can learn from them. I believe that the pressure is building from Baby boomers that we begin taking new views of how we care and treat our elderly. These are models we should look at closely. I do believe this is something that an organization like Douglas County Senior Services should become more involved either through advocacy, program development along with other community organizations. This is part of our long term goals and efforts.
As far as returning to Kansas, my son and I arrived on the hottest day of the year last July, and I believe the heat index was around 112 degrees. I tell people that I really missed the heat and humidity. I am glad to be back, Kansas is still home.


Why don't you introduce them to a volunteer force that would do tasks for them in the community and have them exchange favors or items or other in recompense for doing things like mowing lawns when the elder resident is too old to or cleaning out that attic or basement or garage every spring in exchange for buying the volunteer a lawn mower or giving them a previously owned one that the owner can no longer push.

John Glassman:

First of all, we do have a strong volunteer cadre who work closely with our elderly clients in a wide variety of capacities, including some of the tasks you mentioned. We also have meetings scheduled with several groups who want to help supply volunteers to us, and we are always open to and welcome those who want to volunteer with us. The idea of an exchange system is not a new one, but I am not sure it has been tried here. Perhaps we should look at that option and see if that is possible.


Does one need to live in Douglas County to take advantage of the services you provide at Senior Services of Douglas County?

At what age may person obtain services?

John Glassman:

Yes, for the most part, one needs to reside in Douglas County, however if there are questions about services in other counties or states, we can provide referrals to those agencies. Also, if one is a caregiver for someone in Douglas County, but does not reside in Douglas County, we can help with caregiving issues. We have some services, especially in our Leisure and Learning Department that offers services to those younger that 60 years old, but most of our services are available at age 60.


Thank you for all the help you provide local seniors! Are you still accepting cell phones that older adults can use in case of an emergency?

John Glassman:

Yes! If anyone has a used cell phone that they would like to donate, please stop by and drop it off! It is used to give to seniors who need them for 911 emergency calls. We are located at 745 Vermont Street.


We're out of time for today's chat. To wrap up, how can senior citizens reach you or get assistance from Douglas County Senior Services?

John Glassman:

You can call us at 842-0543 or stop in the Senior Center at 745 Vermont Street. We welcome any questions and comments. Thank you for joining us, and thank you to Dennis Anderson and The Lawrence Journal World for hosting this chat today.


oldgoof 10 years, 9 months ago

Having recently visited Germany and Scandanavia, I am impressed by the concepts behind, and the services provided to help the aging. In particular, in Sweden, my understanding is the policies have actually closed former nursing homes in favor of services provided to extend independent living situations.
. . Should the State of Kansas and LawrenceDouglas County be doing the same, and is part of your organization's mission to take advocacy positions on these issues?

BigDog 10 years, 9 months ago

Kansas does have community services that are available in lieu of nursing home care. In Kansas, an individual is required to go through an assessment in order to enter a nursing home. In the process of that assessment the individual and their family is educated about options, like in-home care, as alternatives to nursing home care. As a result of having this choice, the population of nursing homes are dropping and more seniors are remaining living in the community.

Old goof, I do believe though Kansas and America as a whole has a ways to go in improving the services for our senior population. We need to change our views toward the aging and what value they add to our society.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.