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Around Town: Seniors

St. Mary launches Family Caregiver Center

St. Mary Medical Center, in partnership with Catholic Housing and Community Services, has established the Family Caregiver Center to connect older adults to aging-in-place resources and services. The Family Caregiver Center provides seniors and their loved ones with information to help seniors remain in their community and live with dignity, health, independence and the highest quality of care. 

“We are thrilled to open the Family Caregiver Center and provide needed support to seniors as they age and to their loved ones as they transition to caregiver roles,” said Lisa Kelly, St. Mary Director of Community Health & Well-Being and Volunteer Services. “We aim to reduce the stress of managing multiple priorities to ensure older adults in our community receive the compassionate, whole-person care they deserve.”

The Family Caregiver Center is now open telephonically. Seniors or their caregivers may call to receive a geriatric assessment and to learn about resources available that address their medical, social, legal, financial, home safety and other personal needs. Caregiver care managers will assist with determining next steps to develop a plan that answers individual concerns, which includes coordinating the right network of services and community resources.

As the coronavirus pandemic still poses a health risk to older adults, the Family Caregiver Center’s storefront location will be open to the public on a date to be determined. It will be located at 140 N. Pine St., Langhorne, in the Community Aid Refurbished Equipment Store.

To learn more about the Family Caregiver Center and to discuss your needs, call 267-638-7424.


HealthLink Dental Clinic reopens

Whether relieving a toothache or putting the polishing touches to make a smile sparkle, HealthLink Dental Clinic is again open for those in need of its services, with a number of safety measures in place. 

You will be screened by phone before your appointment; you must call from the parking lot when you arrive; you must wait for HealthLink’s call to enter through the new entrance; masks are required for entry; staff will take your temperature and oxygen level when you enter the clinic; and only those with appointments may enter the building.

Since 2001, HealthLink has offered free dental services to low-wage-earning adults and military veterans age 18 and older in Bucks and Montgomery counties who are without dental insurance. 

In 2017, the National Association of Dental Plans reported an estimated 74 million Americans did not have dental health insurance coverage. Medicare provides health insurance for those aged 65 and older, but not dental insurance coverage. Individuals may also elect to buy dental insurance through supplemental Medicare Advantage plans offering it. 

Some individuals covered under Medicaid may or may not have access to dental coverage. Yet COVID-19 has struck another blow to people who don’t have money to pay for dental services.

While states are required to provide dental and health care coverage to income-qualifying children, coverage for adults is less clear-cut. States are not required to extend dental care coverage to income-qualified students. HealthLink enlists experienced dentists to volunteer, apply for grants, invite corporate partnerships, and open doors for sponsorships. 

Dental services at HealthLink include routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, root canals and crowns. Only patients with root canal procedures completed at HealthLink are eligible for crown treatment.

When dental health care is neglected or must be cut altogether because of its cost, the risk for developing more serious health conditions and problems dramatically increases. Gum disease and recession, and tooth loss may be directly linked to poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene is also being linked to serious conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic closed most, if not all, dental practices for a period of time, HealthLink was closed from March 15 to June 12. The dental practice is now open on an “appointment only” basis. The staff is committed to be fully operational as soon as possible. 

To learn more about HealthLink, located at 1775 Street Road, Southampton, visit healthlinkdental.org or call 215-364-4247.


Low-income seniors reminded of food assistance

The Departments of Agriculture, Aging and Health reminded Pennsylvania’s low-income seniors and WIC recipients to use their vouchers from the Pennsylvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program to purchase fresh, local fruits, vegetables and herbs from farmers markets and farm stands across the commonwealth. 

“In a state as agriculturally rich as Pennsylvania, no one should go hungry. The way this program connects farmers directly with individuals in need to provide fresh, local nourishment is ideal,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “COVID-19 has created a broad community of need in Pennsylvania – but our food assistance programs, like FMNP, were designed for times like these. I encourage everyone with vouchers to use them, go pick up some local comfort food. And know that you’re supporting a local farm family by redeeming your vouchers.”

From June through November, the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide low-income seniors and eligible participants in the WIC program with vouchers to purchase Pennsylvania-grown fruits, vegetables and fresh-cut herbs from approved farm markets and farm stands across the commonwealth. In an effort to protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians and effectively mitigate against COVID-19, vouchers are distributed to participants via mail from WIC clinics and Area Agencies on Aging. 

“Older adults who suffer from food insecurity have inadequate diets, a higher risk of depression and other poor health outcomes. Programs such as the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program make it possible for vulnerable adults, 60 years of age and over, to access nutritious foods and help them live healthy lives,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “I urge all older Pennsylvanians to contact their local Area Agency on Aging for any assistance they require to receive their free vouchers, and to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines when visiting these markets.”

To be eligible, seniors must be 60 years old by Dec. 31, 2020, and have incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $23,606 per year for a single person, or $31,894 for a household of two. Eligible seniors can contact their local Senior FMNP Agency for additional information regarding how to apply for vouchers. Women and children ages 1-4 who are participating in WIC are eligible to receive vouchers under the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program. These vouchers are being distributed to eligible recipients either through the mail or via a drop box at their local WIC agency. Each eligible recipient receives four $6 checks to spend throughout the season. Participants may redeem vouchers through Nov. 30, 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Pennsylvanians to take precautions to protect the health and well-being of ourselves and those around us and the attention to our nutritional needs should not stop in the midst of this crisis,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “In addition to washing our hands and wearing a mask, it is important to eat the proper foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While utilizing food assistance programs like the WIC program or FMNP, Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to learn, develop and form healthy eating habits that can have life-long benefits.”

Last year, the Department of Agriculture launched the FMNP Market Locator app for iOS and Android devices. The free app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Once loaded on a mobile device, users can either enable their location services on the phone or manually enter a location (city, town, ZIP code) to find participating markets or farm stands nearby. The app will show the market location, address, directions, phone number and hours.

“Knowing how important fresh produce is for a family’s well-being, we encourage vendors who participate in the FMNP, and have even launched a SNAP Market Match,” said Tri County Community Action executive director Jennifer Wintermyer. “Meaning, families who spend $10 of their EBT credit will receive an additional $10 in Market tokens to use for eligible produce. The combination of FMNP, SNAP and Market Match can make a huge impact on a family’s budget and overall health, all while supporting local growers and vendors.”

Vendors are eligible to apply for the Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund, announced by Gov. Tom Wolf, to make infrastructure improvements to effectively mitigate against COVID-19 and provide improved access to fresh, nutritious foods for the community they serve. The market would be prioritized as a result of their service to a low-income and black, indigenous and minority community. 

Visit agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity for more information.


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