DHSS Seeks Comment on State Plan on Aging at Two Public Hearings This Month

NEW CASTLE (April 17, 2020) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities will seek public comment on its proposed State Plan on Aging for the period of October 2020 through September 2024.

The state plan has been developed to meet requirements under Title III and Title VII of the Older Americans Act. The act provides funding for a variety of programs and services for older Delawareans and their caregivers, including supportive services, nutrition programs, disease prevention and health promotion initiatives, elder rights protection activities and caregiver support programs.

The state hearings, to be held virtually due to COVID-19 public gathering restrictions, will provide an opportunity for the public to offer comments and suggestions on the plan. The schedule is:

  • April 20, 2020, 1-3 p.m.
    Virtual Meeting Information: https://zoom.us/j/570333700
    By phone: 1 (646) 876-9923.
    Meeting ID: 570333700#
    One tap mobile +16468769923,,570333700#

  • April 22, 2020, 6-8 p.m.
    Virtual Meeting Information: https://zoom.us/j/551953654
    By phone: 1 (646) 876-9923.
    Meeting ID: 551953654#
    One tap mobile +16468769923,,551953654#

A copy of the draft plan may be obtained by following the links on the division’s website at: dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/index.html

The nation’s older population continues to increase in number, and Delaware’s current and projected demographics align with this national trend. Today, nearly one in four Delawareans is age 60 or older. By the year 2040, Delawareans who are age 60 and older will make up one-third of the state’s population, or more than 313,835 people. That same year, state’s population of people age 85 and older is projected to have grown by 171.6% since 2015.

“Public input is essential to the development of Delaware’s State Plan on Aging, to ensure that our programs, supports and services reflect the growing and changing needs of Delaware’s older adult population,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “We know that you want to age well; have access to information, supports and person-centered services that respond to your individual needs; and continue to thrive in your homes and communities. We are asking you to partner with us in shaping what that will look like over the next four years.”

The Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities will use the strategies in the State Plan on Aging to address the growing and changing needs of older Delawareans and persons with disabilities.

The 2020-2024 State Plan on Aging focuses on initiatives such as:

  • Developing and implementing best practices in person-centered case management and coordination of services and supports.
  • Collaborating with community partners to identify barriers, improve access, and facilitate coordination of cognitive health resources and services for persons with cognitive health needs.
  • Leading the effort to become a dementia-friendly state, ensuring that communities throughout Delaware are equipped to support persons living with dementia and their caregivers.
  • Promoting the development, expansion, and capacity of comprehensive and coordinated programs that serve and support caregivers.
  • Developing a collaborative approach with other agencies, inclusive of a multi-disciplinary team, to strengthen the abuse, neglect and exploitation response across the Delaware aging network.
  • Improving delivery of participant-directed services, empowering participants to make choices about service delivery.

Comments and suggestions on the Draft State Plan on Aging will be accepted until the close of business on Friday, May 8:

  • By survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DelawareStatePlanAgingPublicComments
  • By mail: DSAAPD Planning Unit, Department of Health and Social Services, 1901 N. DuPont Highway, Main Administration Building, First Floor Annex, New Castle, DE 19720
  • By email: DelawareADRC@delaware.gov
  • By fax: 302-255-4445


Healthy Lifestyle Habits Now May Lower Alzheimer’s Risk Later

DOVER – An estimated 17,000 Delawareans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is only expected to increase over the next several years. This represents 11% of the state’s senior population. Though research is still evolving, growing evidence shows that people can reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by making key lifestyle changes, including participating in regular physical and mental activity and maintaining good heart health.

As part of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) urges Delawareans to make lifestyle adjustments to help reduce their risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that has robbed too many Delawareans of their loved ones,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Between 2015 and 2025, the number of persons age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease in Delaware is expected to increase by over 35 percent to 23,000 people. As our senior population in Delaware continues to grow, it is imperative that we address this illness. We are collaboratively working with our sister agency, the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities to further educate, train and provide supports for those living with Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease involving parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. It often begins with mild memory loss possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment, and can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out activities of daily living. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). An estimated 5.8 million Americans are living with the disease. It is the fifth-leading cause of death for adults age 65 years and older, and the sixth-leading cause of death for all adults. Risk factors include aging, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking cigarettes and a family history of dementia.

Most people live an average of eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related dementias. However, some individuals can live with a form of dementia for as many as 20 years, placing increasingly intensive demands on, and negatively affecting the health of, caregivers, which can negatively impact their income and financial security.

“We are at a very crucial time for our aging population, and as the number continues to rise, our aging population will soon outnumber all other age brackets. Our division is continuing to research best practices to learn how we can continue to evolve the way we provide optimum care for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related dementias,” said Dava Newnam, director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD).

Two recent studies published earlier this year showed that actionable lifestyle changes could potentially counteract elevated risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers showed that participants with high genetic risk and poor health habits were about three times more likely to develop dementia versus those with low genetic risk and favorable health habits. Favorable health habits, according to the study, included healthy diet, adequate exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking.

While there is no known cure to Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias, there are steps individuals can take to promote healthy aging and brain health:

• Get active and stay active. Becoming more physically active also reduces the chance of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

• Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• Manage cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, call the Delaware Quitline at 1-866-409-1858.

• Learn new things and challenge yourself mentally with puzzles and games.

• Connect with family, friends and communities.

• Protect your head: “Fall-proof” your home, use a helmet when participating in sports, and wear a seat belt to protect your head in the event of a car crash.

In addition, DPH recommends all Delawareans follow the 5-2-1 Almost None concept: eating at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, watching no more than two hours of recreational screen time daily, getting one or more hours of physical activity each day, and drinking almost no sugar-sweetened drinks. For additional resources and tips to achieve a healthier, balanced life, visit https://www.healthydelaware.org.

DSAPPD looks at ways it can approach care holistically in addition to medicinal therapies. Earlier this year, the division, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association of Delaware Valley, the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, launched the Delaware Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (DECARD), www.decard.org. This website is a virtual hub of information to provide additional supports for individuals who are recently diagnosed, caregivers, or medical professionals. The site is expected to evolve as more is learned about Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementias.

“The wellness of the caregiver or caregivers is just as important as the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias,” said Newnam. “A Stanford University study found that 40% of caregivers who care for a person with Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias will pass away before the person diagnosed. In Delaware, we have Caregiver Resource Centers located all throughout the state. These sites can provide additional resources and supports, such as the Savvy Caregiver Program for the caregiver and the family unit. The work we do is not just for the person diagnosed, but also for the caregiver.”

To find aging and disability services in Delaware, contact the Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1-800-223-9074 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit http://delawareadrc.com/. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and services in Delaware, visit https://alz.org/delval, https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/alzheimers_toolkit.html, or www.decard.org.

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A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Volunteers Needed at Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna

The cotton candy booth run by volunteers from St. George’s Tech was popular at the 2017 Family & Friends Day at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill. Pictured are Hope Mintzer and Alyssa McGinnis.

NEW CASTLE (Aug. 21, 2019) – The Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill (DHCI) is seeking community volunteers to assist residents during its upcoming Family & Friends Day event at the facility’s grounds in Smyrna.

Volunteers are needed to help make sure all of the residents are able to enjoy the day’s activities. Groups and organizations are encouraged to volunteer. All of the events will be held Saturday, Sept. 14, at DHCI, 100 Sunnyside Road in Smyrna.

“Family and Friends Day at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill is truly an event that our residents look forward to year after year,” said Dava Newnam, Director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. “Each of our residents leaves an imprint on the hearts of our staff and volunteers as they gather to celebrate, connect, and have a great time. We are excited to work with our returning and new volunteers at this event.”

The Red, White & Blue themed party will include a BBQ lunch, water ice, popcorn and cotton candy. There will be plenty of activities for volunteers to help residents with and a DJ will provide music to go along with the day’s events.

“Volunteers help us make sure none of our residents feel alone, even those without family,” said Jennifer Bobel, volunteer services coordinator at DHCI. “For a day, these volunteers become family and friends, helping make the day a special one for all the residents.”

The Women’s Auxiliary Gift Shop will be open during the event. All proceeds from sales benefit the residents.

If you or your group is interested in volunteering for the Sept. 14 event, contact Jennifer Bobel, Volunteer Services Coordinator, at Jennifer.Bobel@delaware.gov or call 302-223-1011 no later than Aug. 26. Be sure to leave contact information.

Year-round volunteers also are needed to make a difference in the lives of residents with chronic illnesses who are receiving long-term care at DHCI. You can go to the DHCI website at www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/volopp.html to download an application packet and more information about volunteering.

Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill is a long-term care facility operated by DHSS. Admission requires both a financial and medical need.


Dementia Friendly Delaware to Support Those with Dementia, Their Families

Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) are hosting an event on Tuesday, April 30, in Dover to show what Dementia Friendly Delaware can offer for Delawareans living with dementia and their families.

Dementia Friendly Delaware (DFD) is a network of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to ensure that communities across Delaware are equipped to support people living with dementia and their caregivers. Dementia-friendly communities foster the ability of people living with dementia to remain in the community and engage and thrive in day-to-day living.

“As Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor, I am working with partners from around the state to take on our most pressing health care challenges, including behavioral health, in order to make Delaware a stronger and healthier place,” Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long said. “We all can join together to address these challenges. As awareness of dementia grows, we can take action to create dementia-friendly communities. Every part of the community, including your organization, has a unique role in supporting people with dementia and their family and friends.”

Delaware will offer a preview of the new Delaware Center for Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementia (DECARD), a virtual hub for resources and information on dementia, at the April 30 event at the Blue Hen Corporate Center at 655 Bay Road, Dover. Delaware is looking for municipalities, corporations and organizations to take the lead and become dementia friendly. If you or your agency are interested, please attend this event to learn more. It starts at 1:30 p.m.

The DECARD site will host tools that organizations can use to support staff who are caring for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia or who have been diagnosed themselves. Trainings, videos and guides for different community sectors will also be available on the site, which will be the virtual home to Dementia Friendly Delaware. This is part of a larger initiative, Dementia Friendly America (DFA). Visit www.dfamerica.org to learn more about DFA.

DSAAPD, one of DHSS’ 11 divisions, advocates for, provides access to, and coordinates long-term services and supports in the most appropriate setting. For more information about DSAAPD, call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1-800-223-9074.

If you cannot attend the event but would still like more information, please contact Julie.Devlin@delaware.gov.

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The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.