The Great American Senior Show

Triple A for Seniors -- It's Not What You Think -- But Seniors Love It

June 15, 2022 Sam Yates Season 2 Episode 50
The Great American Senior Show
Triple A for Seniors -- It's Not What You Think -- But Seniors Love It
Show Notes Transcript

When you mention Triple A, most people think of the automobile club. But in Southwest Florida, it stands for Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. And it really makes seniors happy.

That's great news since Southwest Florida has one of the highest percentages of senior citizens than any other region of Florida.

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida, like all eleven regions under the Area Agency on Aging umbrella and administered by Florida's Department of Elder Affairs, dedicate millions of dollars every year to making sure Florida elderly and most fragile citizens have food, homes, energy, and many of the things everyone takes for granted.

The Great American Senior Show pays a visit to CEO Norma Adorno, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida to learn more about the Triple A and what the seven counties served by Ms.  Adorno receive in care and compassion for seniors.

Sam Yates:

Hello, everyone and welcome to another exciting edition of The Great American Senior Show. I'm your gray haired host, Sam Yates. And once again, we are on the road this time in southwest Florida Fort Myers and the headquarters of the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. As you know, Florida has as I've talked about 11 separate Area Agencies 11 Different regions with a core approach providing care and services to seniors and disabilities. But it's fine tune for each region because as you can imagine, what could be the overall umbrella is then broken down to fit the very specific needs. And here the southwest region serves Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties, and the CEO of this awesome Area Agency on Aging Norma Adorno has invited the great American senior show for a visit. We've taken her up on it. Norma, did I get all those counties? Correct?

Norma Adorno:

Yes, you did. Sam,

Sam Yates:

it's my pleasure to welcome you to the program today.

Norma Adorno:

Thank you so much for having us here. I am truly humbled and blessed to be able to speak to to you and the community about all of our services that we have here to offer at the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida.

Sam Yates:

First about you. I always like to know about the people. And I think that's very important from a leadership standpoint, tell us about yourself.

Norma Adorno:

So I am a native Floridian born and raised here in Fort Myers, Florida. Right in Lee Memorial Hospital. I've been with the community for over 30 plus years. And from my schooling, my family. My background is here in Lee County, graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, and super happy to continue serving in my community and the seniors of Southwest Florida,

Sam Yates:

you and I share that commonality of being natives. And I love the fact that we're natives, and we can appreciate what is going on in this state. Earlier I mentioned the southwest region, the seven counties now the populations here of seniors is just absolutely outstanding as far as high percentages, and I'll quote a couple of these numbers and and they're perhaps not exact, because it depends on where you go for your statistics, but Charlotte 40%, Sarasota 37 lea nearly 29 Collier 33%. Now that's not including those are just the numbers of people 65 and older. So we have a lot of aging and people in need for these counties that said, well, that big umbrella, some of your priorities for them.

Norma Adorno:

So yes, Sam. So our priorities, you know, the agency was founded in 1978. Many people are not aware of our existence. So, you know, I've heard when presenting to the community that you are the best kept secret in southwest Florida. And so my priority is to truly bring awareness of what we do who we are, and why we serve. Here in southwest Florida, you know, and as you mentioned, we do serve some of the highest senior populated counties in the state of Florida, we do take this through a multi layered approach, where we're addressing opportunities to reintroduce the services of the agency into the community. We recently rebranded our agency logo and our colors to be bit more senior friendly, to identify the colors and the objects and also on our webpage, through management and staff are working diligently to accomplish our mission, which is connecting older adults and adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers with the services that they need. So we are here to help and to continue to offer many services, albeit because of COVID, the majority of them being remote.

Sam Yates:

And I would imagine, as we take a look at some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in the last two years and are still facing now COVID is at the still at the top of the list

Norma Adorno:

that is very much at the top of the list, because it continues to, you know, circulate and transpire and transform into new viruses. So we definitely want to protect our seniors and also keep our staff safe as well.

Sam Yates:

Some of the programs, let's go into a couple of the details. And And certainly, you know, we're going to spend the extra time on this and I'm hoping that we'll be able to do a second episode and we've sort of talked about that already. And I know the answer but I won't ask the question yet. But the programs are far ranging. Talk us through a couple of those programs

Norma Adorno:

so I can share with you that in 2021 Our elder helpline in our agents facilitated clients with with just the top eight were health insurance, a combination of Medicare and Medicaid we received over 9000 calls alone, just for that particular service. We have multiple requests for individual family and community support, housing was our top three request of unmet needs, we had close to 2000 calls just in regards to housing. And as you know, with inflation in the market, you know, rent has become a significant issue here, in in not just southwest Florida, but nationwide, quite a bit of informational services, transportation for seniors, that was at about 1000 calls as well. Legal consumer and public safety services, food meals and utility assistance, were the top eight, that we rounded off our year in 2021.

Sam Yates:

Those are all the things that many of us take for granted. But when it comes to seniors, they can't take that for granted. And then they turn to the area agencies on aging, your approach. And I want to emphasize this, you also have lead agencies. And I don't want to say that they work for you, but they work with you to implement the programs that you feel is important for each of your counties. Explain how that works a little bit?

Norma Adorno:

So yes, that's correct. So as part of the Area Agency on Aging, we are providing resources through our subcontractors. So we have lead providers in various of our counties. So for instance, senior friendship centers is one of our large partners that facilitate services such as respite care, congregate meal sites, they provide services, you know, in in their settings, you know, to the elder population in home care, provider care, patient care, so they're able to address those needs, that may very well be, you know, in the privacy of one's own home, or possibly at their current site locations.

Sam Yates:

Now, I know that it's it varies across the state, but there are federal funds that are coming into Florida, some of the numbers range from $10 million to $150 million. And more, will those funds help? The area agencies throughout the state do their jobs? Even better? They are doing an excellent job already. But will these buttons help?

Norma Adorno:

Absolutely, the funds will be a tremendous help for lead providers, you know, the Department of Elder Affairs, the government, you know, starting with our governor, and our secretary, Madam Secretary, Michelle Branham, on they're all very dedicated and committed to ensuring that our seniors are receiving the care and the resources that they need. So with that being said, you know, the money is being made available, so that way the lead providers can compensate and also have the revenues needed to provide our seniors with the services that they're in need of or call in for, you know, there are assessments that are being taken. So we can obviously, you know, filter out where the greatest needs are, but the money is coming down from the government, you know, to help our elder population, they've actually elevated and our seniors, you know, are at the spotlight. Now, too. They've been brought up to the top of the page, Sam,

Sam Yates:

you know, I have to put in a plug for the great American senior show. We want to help we that's and that's the whole purpose of this program here in Florida. And we do it outside of the state of Florida as well. But here in Florida, and the rest of the nation, our seniors need so much to know more about what is available for them. Because as you mentioned earlier, there's a lack of awareness. So we're proud to play a part in creating that awareness. One area we haven't touched on yet volunteers, every organization no matter what that organization is doing, you still need more volunteers, correct?

Norma Adorno:

That is correct. So COVID has played a big role in the reduction of our volunteers. So we are actively recruiting not only for staffing, but for volunteers. Volunteers are the heart of everything that we do, they touch the community, they're able to give their time graciously. So when it comes to our SHINE program, which stands for serving health insurance needs of our elders, we offer different types of health and wellness programs. And those were our volunteers help us with Arthritis Foundation exercise programs, our Matter of Balance program, and our savvy caregivers, which are just a few of the services that volunteers can also be a part of here at the Area Agency.

Sam Yates:

I'll share a secret as we've traveled around the state and also had contacts from around the nation with the the COVID situation. Everyone's trying to recruit carriers givers and everyone's trying to recruit those who simply want to come and volunteer. And we have seen and passed on to certain groups of people that we'd love to do work with that nurses are getting out of the hospitals, they're burned out. But yet they don't want to quit doing what they are doing. I think they're a tremendous resource, both as volunteers, and for home care and other things that don't put them on the frontline, I'll just share that.

Norma Adorno:

Well, that's excellent. And we would greatly appreciate all of the assistance that we can give receive, here at the Area Agency, our nursing population, would be extremely beneficial as we serve clients, and there's case management that's involved and their expertise would definitely be a great addition, it'll

Sam Yates:

be a great addition for whatever the tasks that you need them to do. So we hope that you know that our listeners right now, if you're in that category of nursing, or you've been burned out, or you've just joined that vast audience that is no longer wanting you to do the job you used to do come on in and volunteer and, and that begs the question, how may they contact you.

Norma Adorno:

So I would definitely recommend that our primary helpline for our elders that are seeking service, I will share with you that our helpline is 1-866-413-5337. If you're looking to volunteer, you can call us directly here at the office, which is 239-652-6900. And just let us know that you're calling in regards to volunteer opportunities, and we'll gladly facilitate that.

Sam Yates:

And that goes through all of the counties that you serve. It's not necessarily right here in Fort Myers. It's for all of the counties. And what about those people who may be visiting here? I don't want to call them snowbirds. They're our winter visitors. But if they're visiting here, and they're going to be here several months, and they're tired of not doing anything, volunteer,

Norma Adorno:

by all means, give us a call. There's always a place for a volunteer at our agency.

Sam Yates:

Great, Norman, it is that time that I have to ask the question, will you come back for another episode?

Norma Adorno:

Absolutely. It would be my pleasure. And you know, I

Sam Yates:

sometimes I have to stop and pay the visual picture because we're just audio. Normal is smiling ear to ear. She has that that look on her face. It says yes, I am so excited to talk about what we do here. And it's contagious.

Norma Adorno:

By utilizing the podcast tool, Sam, this will reach a greater audience. If they cannot see us, they will definitely hear us. And getting the message out and socializing the services that are available to our seniors is the utmost importance. So I greatly appreciate you being here with us and getting our message out there to our seniors.

Sam Yates:

So I really admire you for being able to take the helm here and convey that enthusiasm and excitement.

Norma Adorno:

Excellent. That is my passion. And I am so grateful to have you here. And so that we can both together, share the word share the word of what we're doing. Thank you so much.

Sam Yates:

We look forward to having you come back and we are going to do just that with Norma Adorno, the CEO of the Area Agency on Aging for South West Florida. We'll have her back. And in the meantime, I'm your gray haired Host Sam Yates and that's the way our program ends