2020 Census

The 2020 Census will soon be underway and it is vital for everyone to participate. The Census, which is a once-a-decade population count, determines very important decisions, such as the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, the amount of federal funds provided to states, counties and local municipalities, and which infrastructure projects get completed. With that, there are certain groups of people and areas that are at risk of not being counted, including hard-to-count rural communities, college students, those facing poverty and children under 5 years of age. Not being counted puts these groups at risk and deprives them and their communities of important public and private resources. Be sure to participate in the 2020 Census to ensure accurate funding and resources for you, your family and your community!

A Raise for Social Security Beneficiaries

Social Security beneficiaries will see a 1.6 percent increase in their retirement earnings in January 2020, due to the Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) that occurs every year. This increase is lower than the increase in 2019 at 2.8 percent, but it is still higher than the average over the past decade, which was 1.4 percent. The increase will average about $24 per month and $288 per year for individuals.

Cost of Living Allowances, or COLAs, are meant to offset the effects of inflation of fixed incomes. This was first introduced in 1950 when Congress first legislated an increase in benefits. Many retirees count on their Social Security as the largest source of income, so the COLA increase will help Social Security beneficiaries, as well as their families, keep up with the rising costs of living. Although this is a modest increase, this increase typically does not keep up with rising prices as most older adults face increases in living expenses, such as housing, transportation and, most of all, health care and prescription costs. AARP found that, in 2017, retail drug prices increased by twice the rate of inflation, and it has exceeded the inflation rate for at least 12 consecutive years. Overall, in 2019, about 64 million Americans received over one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits. Nearly nine out of ten individuals, age 65 and older, receive Social Security benefits.

As Social Security is increasing, Medicare Advantage plan premiums are set to decrease by 14% throughout 2020, to an estimated monthly $23. This is set to impact one-third of Medicare’s 60 million beneficiaries who belong to the private insurance plans. If you or a loved one needs assistance with Medicare-related issues, please contact the Agency’s APPRISE Program at (814) 946-1235 or 1-800-245-3282.

*Information provided to Blair Senior Services, Inc. from American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Scott Moyer & Amy Williamson

Scott Moyer and Amy Williamson share a common goal: to introduce Tai Chi for Health to as many interested participants as they can! Both Scott and Amy were trained as instructors in Tai Chi for Health in March of 2018 and have been working together since then to grow the program and bring the classes to many different sites throughout Blair County.

Scott and Amy became Blair Senior Services, Inc. employees after having very different career paths. “I was involved with human services, serving as a program director for a number of Blair County programs for about 30 years,” Scott shared. Previously an interior designer at an architectural firm, Amy is now a professional musician. To fill the need for additional instructors at the Blair Senior Services, they both took the opportunity to learn Tai Chi for Health, an evidence-based program created by Dr. Paul Lam.

Once trained, they began teaching classes in several of the senior centers. “Scott and Amy teach the classes together, which is really nice because that allows participants to see all of the moves no matter their position in the room,” said Angel Dandrea, Volunteer Program Supervisor. “Each one of them brings something different to the table which is great.”

Thinking that there were many more adults over age 60 who would enjoy and could benefit from Tai Chi classes in Blair County, Scott and Amy began taking the classes out into the community. “The response has been great!” noted Amy. “We’ve held classes at a variety of sites, including churches, YMCA’s, and a library.”

Classes are held once per week starting with the 8-week Beginning class,” explained Scott. “Then, if there’s enough interest among the participants, we offer our one-day Fall Prevention Workshop, followed by the 8-week Advanced class.” The series can be extended by adding the level three class, “Continuing Your Journey.”

Practicing together for that length of time, the class members become very comfortable with each other. “It makes a great atmosphere for learning, one that’s very positive, encouraging, and enjoyable,” said Amy. “By the time we hold the Fall Prevention Workshop in the succession of classes, we can engage in some really meaningful discussion because most everyone feels comfortable enough to talk about and share their experiences.”

Scott and Amy both feel that making these connections with the participants is the most rewarding part of being a Tai Chi for Health instructor for Blair Senior Services, Inc. “We’ve gotten to know so many wonderful people at each site,” Scott remarked. “It’s great to see them attending multiple classes and telling their friends and family about the benefits of Tai Chi. Agreeing, Amy said, “Many participants have shared with us how Tai Chi has positively influenced their lives. We are happy to be teaching this beneficial wellness exercise and look forward to bringing the classes to many more sites!”

For more information on our evidence-based classes, including Tai Chi for Health, Fall Prevention Workshops, and Living a Healthier Life With Chronic Conditions, a Self-Management Workshop, please contact (814) 946-1235 or toll-free (800) 245-3282, or visit www.blairsenior.org and Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Facebook page for a full calendar of classes and events.