Rewrite Your Retirement

Many working adults go through their careers anxiously waiting for retirement as they prepare for days of freedom from their jobs. They fantasize about their days at home, where they have complete control over what they do day-to-day or what they’re not going to do. It is a dream for many to reach this point, but what happens when retirement isn’t everything you may think it is?
In reality, the number of working seniors is on the rise, and there are multitudes of people “un-retiring.” Some seniors who “un-retire” lead into a career that is completely different than their previous careers. There are those who also pursue higher education or go back to further their education after coming out of retirement. Older adults who have “un-retired” have given many reasons why they have come out of retirement, with boredom being the main reason.
John “Jack” Butler retired in 2008 after 39 years of working as a Machinist with the railroad. He currently works as a Van Driver for Blair Senior Services, Inc. two days per week. About 4 years ago I started to go stir crazy. My wife hadn’t retired yet and I was home alone all day, with no one to talk to… it got lonely and I was very bored,” shared Jack. Some of the other top reasons why seniors are “un-retiring” are to supplement existing income, increase social security benefits, increase socialization, improve mental sharpness and stay active into their older adult years.

“I’m not sitting at home watching television or putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Jack said. “Driving definitely keeps me moving.”
Along with driving two days per week, Jack volunteers at Bishop Guilfoyle High School as a full-time chaperone when going on trips to Pittsburgh, New York and beyond. He also volunteers at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on the Funeral Committee.
“I try to keep busy when I’m not working or volunteering. I have 11 grandkids all across the state, so with my flexible schedule it’s easy to go visit them when I need to,” Jack said.

Above all, Jack believes that the socialization aspect with the consumers is the best part. “I hear some great stories from our consumers,” he shared. “Sometimes, though, some of our consumers just need to talk to someone, we’re all they have. I know how they are feeling and I consider it my ministry here on Earth to be there for them.”
Some older adults choose not to retire altogether, working directly into their retirement years. Rick “Mac” MacIntyre has worked as a Van Driver for Blair Senior Services, Inc., for 32 years. Previously, he had worked for United Service Company, a linen service that was based out of Johnstown. MacIntyre enjoys keeping busy so he can remain mentally sharp and active.
“You must keep active,” Mac said. “Do something you enjoy and get out among people and socialize. Use it or you lose it.”
Theresa Williams, who is 69 years old, had always dreamed of being in the healthcare industry. “I was always looking to take care of someone, even pets. I love to care for my pets and my family,” Theresa stated.
When Theresa had the opportunity to become a Certified Nurses Aid (CNA) at Hillview Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, it was like a dream come true. Although this was an exciting moment in Theresa’s life, it was challenging.
“It was very high paced with a lot of long days,” she said. “My age and schedule definitely made it a challenge.”
While Theresa was completing her coursework for the CNA program, she also continued to volunteer for Blair Senior Services, Inc. as a Senior Companion, helped with activities at Hillview, and assisted with breakfast and activities at Allegany Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM). “I don’t regret any of it though, I enjoy helping others and caring for them,” Theresa shared.
One of the things that helped motivate Theresa through her CNA coursework was some of her other classmates. “The girls I was completing the course with were 19-23 year olds and they were just so supportive and really did motivate me through the program,” Theresa said. “I am so glad to have made friendships with them. We’re going to work together at Hillview.”
With all of her accomplishments, Theresa never thought she would make it to this point. “I’m not going to lie, I doubted myself and I really let my age hold me back for a while. But older adults need to realize that they can do it and you can get a second chance at something you’ve always wanted to do,” Theresa said.
Along with keeping older adults active, “un-retiring” can open new experiences and new friendships from all generations for those considering coming out of retirement. DelGrosso’s Amusement Park and Laguna Splash along with Marianna’s Fundraisers have a large number of older adults who work for them both seasonally at the park and year-round at Marianna’s.
Joe Bilka, who works in the Security Department at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park and Laguna Splash, is in his fourth year at the park. Joe, who is 69 years old, retired as a History Teacher from Philadelphia and decided to come back to his hometown of Altoona following his retirement. A father of three and a grandfather of seven, he is currently enrolled at Penn State University to receive his masters degree in Human Development & Psychology.
Joe, like many other “un-retired” older adults, enjoys the socialization and increased activity level benefits. “I like people and keeping busy keeps me young,” Joe said.
Prior to the opening of their 2019 park season, DelGrosso’s had 534 employees that were 51 and older (17% of their current workforce) with a goal of hiring 750 older adults. Their older adults like the flexible work schedule they can have working at the amusement park.
“We always try to accommodate their schedules and needs,” shared Amy Mearkle, Director of Marketing. “The park is a really fun environment and our staff spans generations. The older adults like interacting with the younger staff and they become friends. They also take on the role of mentors with bonds that last a long time.”
Not only does having colleagues from different generations create diversity in the workplace, it also benefits each employee differently. According to an AARP online survey, older workers appreciate younger workers for their technology skills, new perspectives and creativity; whereas younger workers appreciate older workers for their wisdom and experience in navigating the workplace.
Bruce Beck, who is in his sixth season with DelGrosso’s Amusement Park and Laguna Splash, is a retired dairy farmer from Sinking Valley.
Bruce, being 59 years old, got restless at home after retirement and needed a change of pace.
“I got tired of sitting at home and doing nothing when I retired,” Bruce said.
Along with keeping busy, Bruce enjoys the connections that DelGrosso’s has provided for him.
“The friends I have made here at work are awesome,” Bruce shared. “I really enjoy being here.”
Positions available at DelGrosso’s and Marianna’s include: games, first aid, lifeguards, clean-up, ticket sales, maintenance, cash office, gift shop/retail, mascot character, food service, information booth, logistics/warehouse, customer service, security/parking and rides. In addition to competitive wages for new and returning staff, they offer flexible scheduling, employee referral program and discounts, reciprocal ride passes to select Pennsylvania amusement parks, and training.

Many of Marianna’s older adult workers enjoy their flexible schedule; employees work five-hour shifts, five days per week beginning at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and complete their shifts at 11 a.m. or noon.
“We’ve found a lot of the older adults like getting up early and finishing work with time left in the day to spend with family and friends,” said Amy.
To find job postings and apply, go to their website at www.delgrossos.com and follow the directions. You may apply for more than one job. If you have questions about or need assistance with the application process, you can contact their Human Resources Department at 814-684-5880.

To find volunteer and employment opportunities at Blair Senior Services, Inc., visit www.blairsenior.org or call 814-946-1235.

Caregiver Support Program

From Seasons Magazine Spring 2019

Many adults find themselves in a role as a caregiver. Caregiving may involve shopping, housekeeping, providing transportation, feeding, bathing, toilet assistance, dressing, walking, coordinating appointments and medical treatments, and managing a person’s finances. To provide unpaid care is often an act of love and devotion, but also a great drain on one’s physical and mental health. Caregivers frequently feel as though they are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which can cause great stress and anxiety. Their patients are mostly loved ones, most often a parent, spouse, or child with special medical needs. Caregivers must pay particular attention to their own needs and well-being, or they risk burning out and becoming less effective in the care of their loved one.

The Blair Senior Services, Inc. Caregiver Support Program is a unique program designed to provide support to these caregivers of functionally dependent people. It is unique in that it is one of the few programs targeted specifically for caregivers. The goal of the program is to reduce caregiver stress and reinforce the care being provided to the older persons at home.

“The Caregiver Support Program is designed to provide assistance to an unpaid caregiver who provides routine care for a person 60 years of age or older.  The caregiver and care recipient may reside in the same household or in different homes”, says Lisa Moyer, Blair Senior Services’ Long Term Living Program Supervisor. She continues, “This program assists eligible caregivers through education on caregiving techniques, information about services available in their communities, and provides limited financial reimbursement for caregiving expenses.  The program would begin with a comprehensive assessment to determine which benefits best meet the needs of the caregiver and the person receiving care.”  The Blair Senior Services’ Care Manager will help guide you through the process by providing information about the Caregiver Support Program, including the benefits that are available and the options you may choose.

In addition, assistance may be available to caregivers of individuals aged 18-59 who have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other chronic dementia.  Caregivers who are 55 years of age or older, who reside with and care for a related adult aged 18 to 59 who has a non-dementia related disability may also participate in the program.  The care receiver cannot be the biological or adopted child of the caregiver or be receiving Medicaid Waiver services while participating.

Caregivers who are accepted into the program may be eligible to receive up to $300 per month reimbursement for the purchase of supportive services and goods from a pre-authorized list. The level of reimbursement is determined on the basis of caregiver need, income, actual expenditures, and availability of funds.

The program can help with providing the caregiver a much needed break.  For example, reimbursement of the costs of in-home respite or Adult Daily Living services is available.  Caregivers may choose their own providers for the respite services – this allows flexibility for the family to hire individuals known to them, which is often more comfortable for the care receiver.  They may also utilize the service on a schedule that works for their family.  Some other programs require a set weekly schedule for the services, but a set schedule does not always meet the needs of every family. Adult Daily Living services provide the care receiver with socialization, meals, and daily care in a supervised setting, while the caregiver is taking a much needed break or perhaps running errands.  These options allow the caregiver peace of mind that their loved one is being cared for when they cannot be there.  Caregiving can be a full time job and regular time off helps to keep you well and able to serve as the caregiver.

The cost of the supplies that are sometimes involved in caregiving can add up very quickly.  Many caregivers find themselves spending a considerable amount of money each month on items that are necessary for their loved one’s hygiene needs, such as disposable undergarments, incontinence pads, gloves, and wipes.  They also may need to purchase nutritional supplements, such as Ensure or Boost drinks, to help their care receiver maintain their weight or manage a medical issue. The Caregiver Support Program can help reimburse the cost of these items to reduce the financial burden on the caregiver.

One-time reimbursements of up to $2,000 may be given to qualified families to modify the home or purchase assistive devices to accommodate the frail relative. Lisa Moyer explains, “For example, such adaptations might include installing a stair glide, a wheelchair ramp, or modifying a bathroom.” While the reimbursement may not cover the full cost of such a modification or piece of equipment, it may offset a large portion of the expense to the caregiver.

Also included in the Caregiver Support Program is the Grandparenting and Older Adult Relative Caregiver Program. Lisa states, “Significant life occurrences can happen.  The Grandparenting Program is designed to provide assistance to persons age 55 or older, who are caring for children (under age 18) related to them living in the same household, when their parents are unable to provide the care and do not live in the same household.  The Grandparenting Program is an ongoing effort to provide opportunities and develop stronger ties with educational and child-care networks with some reimbursement of expenses, such as services and educational supplies, up to possibly $300 a month.  A caregiver may receive reimbursement for services and supplies such as daycare costs, school supplies and equipment, clothing, and fees for extracurricular school activities.

The Caregiver Support Program can also work in conjunction with services being provided by the care receiver.   The care receiver may qualify to receive services through the Options Program for free or low cost, or receive hospice or Veterans’ services.  While these services are intended to benefit the person receiving them, they also provide respite to the person’s caregiver.  The Caregiver Support program can assist with reimbursing care-related costs for services not available through the free or low-cost options.

Individuals participating in the Choices Program may qualify to submit the costs involved with the program through the Caregiver Support Program.  Choices provides a wide variety of privately paid service options that are not available through most other traditional programs.

For more information about the Options or Choices Programs, please call Blair Senior Services, Inc. at (814) 946-1235.

Blair Senior Services, Inc. Transportation Department Announces Awards

From Seasons Magazine Spring 2019

Blair Senior Services, Inc. Transportation Department held their annual Safety Training and Awards Meeting on December 10, 2018 at the Central Blair Senior Center in Altoona, PA. Recognitions included a long list of Accident Free Drivers Awards, the 2018 Rex Fahr Customer Service Award, and a special presentation of the Ecolane’s Pennsylvania Partner Award to Blair Senior Services, Inc. as Pennsylvania’s Transportation Provider of the Year.

Celebrating 2018 Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Transportation Departments achievements are: Sean Ford, Nominee of the 2018 Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service: Peter Harter, Recipient of the 2018 Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service: Dennis Wisor, Transportation Program Manager, holding the 2018 Ecolane’s Pennsylvania Partner Award: Deb Lee and Robbin Snively. Nominees of the 2018 Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service.

According to Dennis Wisor, Blair Senior Services’ Transportation Program Manager, the Transportation Department staff had a lot to celebrate this year. “In addition to the employee achievements, receiving Ecolane’s Pennsylvania Partner Award is a true honor,” shared Wisor. “I believe we have an incredible team who goes beyond the call of service, and exercises great communication across all of our departments, which is one of the reasons why we are one of the lowest cost per trip providers in Pennsylvania.”

Vehicle Operators One Year Accident Free: Bill Beck, Kevin Cowan, Kevin Hite, Vickie Killinger, William Kuny, Clark Liebegott, Rick MacIntyre, Raymond Nebelski, Melvin Pfahler, Bill Richard, Jim Settlemyer, and Larry Wagner

Safety awards were presented to the Transportation Department’s drivers in recognition of their accident free records. According to Wisor, “Our van drivers help to provide worry-free, safe transportation. Our consumers don’t have to become isolated because they aren’t able to drive themselves or they don’t have loved ones that are able to take them where they need to go.”

Awardees included:

  • Vehicle Operators One Year Accident Free: Bill Beck, Kevin Cowan, Kevin Hite, Vickie Killinger, William Kuny, Clark Liebegott, Rick MacIntyre, Raymond Nebelski, Melvin Pfahler, Bill Richard, Jim Settlemyer, and Larry Wagner
  • Vehicle Operators Two Years Accident Free: Terry Brumbaugh, Pete Bucci, Gregg Bunn, John Butler, Dan Novak, Craig Schaffer, and Clair Servello
  • Vehicle Operators Three Years Accident Free: CJ Brewbaker, John Scalzi, and Dennis Skorupa
  • Vehicle Operators Five Years Accident Free: Joe Will
Vehicle Operators Two Years Accident Free: Terry Brumbaugh, Pete Bucci, Gregg Bunn, John Butler, Dan Novak, Craig Schaffer, and Clair Servello.

Pete Harter was awarded the 2018 “Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service” for consistently doing good work every day. According to Wisor, “The Rex Fahr Award was named in memory of the late Rex Fahr, a past Transportation Department driver from June 2013 to January 2016, who was well loved and respected for his exceptional work and personality.” Other nominees for the award included Sean Ford, Deb Lee, and Robbin Snively.

Vehicle Operators Three Years Accident Free: CJ Brewbaker, John Scalzi, and Dennis Skorupa.

Blair Senior Services, Inc. Transportation Program offers convenient and affordable door-to-door transportation services to Blair County residents through their fleet of thirty shared-ride vans. They provide more than 120,000 trips each year. Anyone can ride in the vans, regardless of age, and some programs help pay for transportation for certain individuals under age 60. Consumers age 60-64 are eligible for funded trips to medical appointments and federal buildings, such as the Social Security office. Consumers, age 65 and older can use the vans for any purpose, such as shopping, errands, visiting friends, and medical appointments. Pennsylvania Lottery funds pays 85% of the fare for consumers age 65 and older, while Blair Senior Services, Inc. shares part of the remaining 15% of the cost for most trips.

Vehicle Operators Five Years Accident Free: Joe Will.

For more information contact the Blair Seniors Services, Inc. Transportation office at (814) 695-3500 or visit their website at www.blairsenior.org.