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Calistoga seniors let their voices be heard in a recent senior needs survey conducted by a coalition of senior citizen organizations, an official with a senior commission said.

“There was an incredible response from seniors in Calistoga,” said Naomi Dreskin-Anderson, a member of the Napa County Commission on Aging, which held a special meeting in Calistoga on March 23.

“There is wonderful advocacy here,” she said.

About 25 percent of Calistoga’s population is aged 60 or older, according to a recent U.S. Census. A 2014 study, paid for by a grant obtained by Calistoga Affordable Housing, found that 82 percent of the senior citizens living in the mobile home parks in the city classify as lower income with 29 percent in the extremely low category and 31 percent in the very low category.

The 2015 Commission on Aging survey, produced by the Healthy Aging Population Initiative (HAPI), and other issues involving senior citizens in Napa County were discussed at the well-attended meeting held at the Community Center.

There will be another survey later focused on provider needs for seniors, Dreskin-Anderson said.

Caregivers are of special interest and importance to seniors in the county, and UpValley Family Services (UVFC) – which has offices in Calistoga and St. Helena – said Jenny Ocon, executive director of the organization.

The nonprofit organization receives “many inquiries from seniors” asking for help, she said, but the demand for qualified caregivers and those who hold a caregiver permit is greater than the local supply. To help close the gap, UVFC recently partnered with Area Agency on Aging to give an orientation and assist with the application process for caregiver permits, Ocon said.

Two of the applicants who could not afford the cost of the permit were provided with financial assistance through UVFC.

“Finding caregivers to work in Calistoga is always difficult,” said Yvonne Baginski of Share the Care and Born to Age publication.

Paying for a permitted caregiver typically requires a four-hour minimum, but some of the needs of seniors are “so small” that it isn’t financially feasible or necessary to pay for a professional caregiver, Baginski said.

That’s where groups like Share the Care and Molly’s Angels step in, seek and train volunteers who can help out with small things that allow seniors who need minimal assistance to stay in their own homes, and out of assisted care living.

Both groups are always on the lookout for community volunteers who can help out with simple things such as driving a homebound senior to a doctor appointment, or picking up a few grocery items once in a while. Sometimes the need is as simple as stopping in to say hello and be a friendly face, or check that medications are being taken on a regular basis.

“We do whatever is necessary to help people stay (in their home),” Baginski said.

Another example of the type of help some Calistoga seniors need was demonstrated in early March when Calistoga Police Chief Mitch Celaya and a team of volunteers came to the rescue of two seniors in Rancho de Calistoga who needed a variety of yard work done at their homes.

Celaya organized a crew of about a dozen locals and spent an afternoon doing simple yard work such as raking, pulling weeds, trimming bushes and hauling away rubbish. It was work the seniors needed to have done or they would have faced fines from park management to have it done.

SNAP

Napa County has one of the lowest participation rates of CalFresh, the federally known program SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and the commission is working on ways to help people make wise choices in food purchases, and “learn how to buy fruits and vegetables on a budget,” said Dreskin-Anderson.

Senior centers such as Rianda House in St. Helena provide education on food purchases, and in April and May, a joint program on “Healthier Living” sponsored by UVFC, Partners in Care, and Area Agency on Aging, will be held at the Palisades Community Room, 42 Brannan St.

The free workshop will provide information on tips to better manage health, ways to control pain, stress and anxiety, how to talk with doctors, family and friends, goal-setting and problem solving, and healthy eating and ways to keep moving.

Each workshop will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays – April 9, 16, 23 and 30, and May 7 and 14. Participants are encouraged to attend all six sessions.

To register call Elena Mendez at UVFC at 341-3185. For information go to CaHealthierLiving.org.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

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