“What’s an advanced directive? Who keeps track of it? How many times can you change it?” Those are some of the questions seniors were asking during the question-and-answer session at the annual Senior Summit, an all-day event, which took place Sept. 26 in Quincy at the Veterans Hall. Roughly 60 seniors were in attendance during all or part of the daylong event.
The countywide information session brought in healthcare professionals and others who work with seniors to give out information and answer questions on what services and planning seniors need as they face their later years and end-of-life decision-making. While more amplified sound and microphones were definitely needed, the medical professionals delivered on the answers seniors had for them during the medical panel.
Seniors present did learn what an advanced directive is and what a “do not resuscitate” order means. An advanced directive is essentially a living will, in which the writer specifies what the course of action should be if the person is incapacitated or not able to make medical decisions for themselves. Still questions abound. “What if someone just has DNR tattooed on their chest. Does that work?” “Do I give it to the hospital?” “Someone told me to put it in the freezer.”
For the record, copies of advanced directives should be with the appointed person, one’s doctor and some place clearly visible in case of an emergency.
The panel, consisting of April Shepherd; Chelsea Roth, LCSW; Edie O’Connor, PA; and Ann Holt, BSN, RN, PHN was moderated by Andrew Woodruff, Plumas County’s Public Health Agency director. The seniors asked questions ranging from when and how many vaccines against pneumonia and influenza were necessary, to keeping track of medications and having lists prepared and making sure they have a primary physician. Included was the discussion about what many find difficult to talk about with their families: end of life options. The panelist encouraged seniors to talk with their families and their doctors.
Aside from the panel, there were exhibitors around the room providing information on a variety of services available to seniors in the area. Everything from the Friends of the Library selecting large print books to transit services for seniors and when to know when to give up one’s license. Representatives from the District Attorney’s office, Angel Aid, Concierge Services, Veterans Services and other agencies and nonprofit organizations were present to let seniors know what their possibilities are in so far as services are concerned.
Patsy Roarty, a California Registered Medicare counselor with Passages Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP), also walked seniors through possible changes in their Medicare benefits and to be mindful of the upcoming open enrollment period that begins Monday, Oct. 15, and ends Dec. 7.
Seniors in breakout periods were encouraged to get up and visit with the exhibitors and ask questions and gather brochures of information.
There was also a session on “Elder Identity Theft” by David Hollister addressing how to avoid it and what to do if it occurs.
Nancy Presser presented “Laugh Yoga.” She is a “health and wellness” practitioner based in Indian Valley.
The event, hosted by the Plumas County Public Health Agency, also provided a lasagna lunch for the seniors.