2011 News

December 31, 2011

Safe Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps Outside of Health Care Settings

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives tips for safely disposing (getting rid of) needles and other sharp devices that are used outside of health care settings. Patients and caregivers should keep these tips in mind when at home, at work, and while traveling.

Used needles and other sharps are dangerous to people and pets if not disposed of safely because they can injure people and spread infections that cause serious health conditions. The most common infections are:

Hepatitis B (HBV),
Hepatitis C (HCV), and

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Safe sharps disposal is important whether you are at home, at work, at school, traveling, or in other public places such as hotels, parks, and restaurants.

Never place loose needles and other sharps (those that are not placed in a sharps disposal container) in the household or public trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet. This puts trash and sewage workers, janitors, housekeepers, household members, and children at risk of being harmed.

Pet owners who use needles to give medicine to their pets should follow the same sharps disposal guidelines used for humans.

More from the FDA

What are Sharps?
What to Do If You Are Accidently Stuck By a Used Needle or

Other Sharp  
The FDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Governor Dayton Proclaims November as Family Caregivers Month

November is recognized as National Family Caregivers Month in Minnesota.  Minnesota’s 679,000 family and informal caregivers are the foundation of our health and long-term care system.  It is a time to celebrate the important contributions of family caregivers and to recognize the impact of services and support for Minnesota’s caregivers.  See the Caregiver page for information and resources, as well as the Caregiver Communications Kit.

Read Governor Dayton's Proclamation

Senior LinkAge Line: A One Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors Launched

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson announced an expanded Senior LinkAge Line® service as a “One Stop Shop for Seniors” Thursday during Seniors Day at the Minnesota State Fair.

The expansion is a significant change for the Senior LinkAge Line®, which is operated by the Minnesota Board on Aging and the six Area Agencies on Aging. The service primarily assisted people with health insurance and long-term care services-related questions. Now when Minnesota seniors call the Senior LinkAge Line®, they will be connected to a live person who will help them with any government service-related questions. Staff use a secure chat system, connecting them to representatives from many state agencies and providing instant access to answers for callers. In the near future, the service will provide connections to volunteer and employment opportunities that tap the talents of older Minnesotans.

“Throughout the campaign, Governor Mark Dayton and I heard a need from seniors and their families for a better way to connect with government and receive answers to critical issues,” said Prettner Solon. With the expansion, she said, Senior LinkAge Line® will become a true-one stop shop, helping to ensure the right supports are in place so Minnesota will continue to be a great place to age and live well.

In introducing the lieutenant governor, Jesson noted the long partnership between DHS and the Board on Aging to help Minnesota seniors get the help and the resources they need to remain independent in their homes and communities. “Today we are excited to announce a substantial expansion of a service the Board on Aging provides that I think will really make a difference in the lives of older Minnesotans,” she said.

The launch at the Minnesota Board on Aging booth in the fair’s Education Building, included demonstrations by Minnesota Board on Aging volunteers and staff, including Tom Gossett, who developed and led the demonstration.

The Senior LinkAge Line®, 1-800-333-2433, covers all 87 Minnesota counties. The service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The service can also be accessed via a chat line at www.MinnesotaHelp.info.

Demonstration by Senior LinkAge Line® staff Chad Wojchik (far right) and Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging Certified Health Insurance Counselor volunteer Marilyn Olson (second on the right) while DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (left) and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon (second on the left) look on.

Read press release from the Office of the Governor

Minnesota Board on Aging at the Great Minnesota Get Together, 2011.

Long Term Care Consultation Expansion

Learn about a 2011 Legislative initiative that is being implemented through the MinnesotaHelp Network™, the Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Board on Aging

and its six area agencies on aging. Changes to the Long Term Care Consultation (LTCC) statutes were made during the Legislative Special Session in July 2011. This initiative is an expansion of long term care consultation and long term care options counseling and is available to people of all ages who want to move into a Registered housing with services establishment. The expanded LTCC service will offer long-term care options counseling services to people who are considering a move to Registered housing with services which is estimated to be 30,000 Minnesotans per year. The service is being implemented through the Senior LinkAge Line® and the MinnesotaHelp Network™. An update about the Return to Community initiative will also be provided.

Who: Housing with service providers, Adult Foster Care providers, Nursing Home Social Workers, Home and Community Based Service providers, County Social Workers, LTC Consultants, Health Plans, Hospital Discharge Planners, County Directors, General Public

What: The purpose of these presentations will be to learn more about this effort. The objectives of the training are:

Overview of changes made to the Long Term Care Consultation (LTCC) statutes ;
Acknowledge audience as key players in these initiative;
Why we are here and how we are in this together;
Focus on new requirements and opportunities for housing with services providers, counties, providers, and the Senior LinkAge Line® to work together;
Receive an update on the Return to Community initiative which was implemented in April 2010.


Date: Thursday, August 18, 2011
City: Marshall
Time: 8:30am-10:30am
Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
300 S. Bruce Street
3rd Floor Education Room
Marshall, MN 56258

Date: Thursday, August 18, 2011
City: Mankato
Time: 2:30pm-4:30pm
Old Main Village Retirement Community
301 South 5th Street
Mankato, MN 56001

Date: Thursday, August 25, 2011
City: St Cloud
Time: 2:30pm-4:30pm
St Benedicts Center
Woodlawn Hall
1810 Minnesota Blvd SE
St Cloud, MN 56304

Date: Friday, August 26, 2011
City: Brainerd
Time: 9:00am-11:00am
Good Samaritan Chapel-Bethany Campus
804 Wright St.
Brainerd, MN 56401

Date: Monday, August 29, 2011
City: Rochester
Time: 9:00am-11:00am
Location: Ramada Hotel and Conference Center
1517 SW 16th Street
Rochester, MN 55902

Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
City: Duluth
Time: 1:30pm-3:30pm
Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center
2501 Rice Lake Road
Duluth, MN 55811

Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011
City: Fergus Falls
Time: 2:30pm-4:30pm
Broen Memorial Home
Light and Life Auditorium
824 S. Sheridan
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

Date: Friday, September 2, 2011
City: Crookston
Time: 9:00am-11:00am
Location: Mount Saint Benedict Monastery
620 Summit Avenue
Crookston, MN 56716

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011
City: Metro
Time: 9:00am-11:00am
Location: Augustana Health Care Center- Mpls
1007 E. 14th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011
City: Metro
Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm
Location: Shirley Chapman Sholom Home East
740 Kay Avenue
St Paul, MN 55102

Registration at information sessions is NOT needed.

If unable to make any of the sessions below, a videoconference will be held through the Aging and Adult Services Division of DHS on September 22, 2011 from 9:30am-12:00pm and 1:30-4:00pm. 

Love of Car: Transportation As We Age Wins Bronze from Mature Media

The National Mature Media Awards recently announced its 2011 award winners. Among the Bronze Award winners was Love of Car: Transportation As We Age.

The National Mature Media Awards is the nation’s largest awards program that annually recognizes the best marketing, communications, educational materials and programs for adults age 50 and older.

Additional broadcasts of Love of Car: Transportation As We Age will occur on the statewide MN Channel.  It is seen statewide via all six Minnesota public television stations (MPTA), over the air free for viewers, as well as on cable services.  Broadcast on the MN Channel are simultaneous - dates and times for the Twin Cities are the same for all other Minnesota stations.

Love of Car: Transportation As We Age will be repeated many times in the coming year and statewide on the MN Channel.  To receive over-the-air broadcasts, viewers will need a digital TV or a digital conversion box. It will also be generally available to all cable and DirecTV households.

The next statewide digital MN Channel showing is scheduled for:

Friday, August 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 2:00 AM
Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM
Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 2:00 PM

For information on upcoming broadcasts and quick access to viewing programs online, visit Love of Car: Transportation As We Age at


Order a copy of Love of Car DVD from the National Center on Senior Transportation.
Love of Car discussion guide (pdf)

Major partners in the project to bring Love of Car to Minnesotans included MN Board on Aging (MBA), AAA (Auto), MN Department of Transportation (MnDOT), and the MN Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Additional partners were MN Department of Health (MDH), MN State Council on Disability (MSCOD), MN Public Transit Association (MPTA), MN Partnership for Safe Mobility (MPSM), MN Association of Area Agencies on Aging (M4A), National Center for Senior Transportation (NCST), and the Kirby Puckett Education Center at the Phillips Eye Institute.

How To Live Forever Documentary Film Opening

What does it mean to grow old and what could it mean to live forever? Director Mark Wexler travels the world to try to answer the questions. Wexler interviews a 94-year-old exercise guru, a 101-year-old chain-smoking, beer-drinking marathoner as well as futurist Ray Kurzweil, a laughter yoga expert, and an elder porn star.

How To Live Forever is showing at the Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis for one week only starting July 29.

Visit How To Live Forever website to read more about Wexler and the people he interviewed.

US Senator Al Franken Conducts Forum in Brainerd

US Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) conducted a forum at Edgewood Brainerd Senior Living on the challenges facing seniors in retirement years. Ross Hutten, chief operations officer of Edgewood in Minnesota, welcomed Senator Franken, indicating, “We are thrilled to host this important forum on issues affecting our residents and residents of the surrounding community.” Ross also provided Senator Franken with a tour of the 98-bed assisted living establishment prior to the start of the forum. Approximately 50 citizens came to the afternoon forum focused on the unique challenges facing Minnesotans in the Brainerd lakes and surrounding communities.

The Central Minnesota Council on Aging, ably led by Lori Vrolson, arranged for the following panelists to speak at the forum: Joy Nerdby, Gloria Sawyer, and Bruce Winder.

Joy Nerdby, is a parish nurse with Good Samaritan Society – Woodland Campus in Brainerd. Good Samaritan is receiving federal Administration on Aging dollars through the Central MN Council on Aging to offer Living Well with Chronic Conditions and the matter of Balance workshops. These two evidence-based workshops have been shown to be effective in helping people with chronic conditions change their behaviors, improve their health status, and reduce their use of hospital care.

Gloria Sawyer from Pine River spoke on behalf of her husband, who has Alzheimer’s and stayed at home for years with the help of family and community services. Gloria attends the caregiver discussion group each month in Pine River. When her husband was at home, Cass Faith in Action provided volunteer-based respite care so she could attend the support group. Cass Faith in Action receives federal Older Americans Act funding from the Central MN Council on Aging to provide respite and facilitate support groups in Cass County.

Bruce Winder from Pine River is a certified State Health Insurance Program volunteer through the Senior LinkAge Line. Medicare Part D Open enrollment is just one thing he assists seniors from his community with and he understands the reforms needed under Medicare.

Dorothy Wash is a senior companion with Lutheran Social Services. She has eight clients that she volunteers with for up to 20 hours a week, taking them grocery shopping, to medical appointments, on errands and visiting.

After the panelists spoke, Senator Franken took questions from the audience, including one from an assisted living administrator who warned of the dire and unintended consequences of the proposed cuts to the elderly waiver program being discussed by the Minnesota Legislature. Senator Franken is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which is working on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) that funds many of the local services used by seniors. In 2010, Senator Franken conducted a series of meetings in 17 communities across the state to gather input on the effectiveness of the OAA and discuss possible changes.

Article written by Phil Manz, Care Providers of Minnesota.

Older Americans Month, 2011

This year's Older Americans Month theme is "Older Americans: Connecting the Community". The month long celebration reminds us of the many ways older adults inspire and bring continuity to our communities. Activities during the month also show us the ways technology is being used to help older people live longer and healthier lives.

Every May since 1963, people in towns and cities across the country have come together to celebrate the enormous contributions of older Americans—borne of wisdom, experience, and the will to realize their dreams and speak their minds. Older Americans Month is our chance to show our appreciation and support our seniors as they continue to enrich and strengthen our communities.

Older Americans are more active in community life than ever before, thanks in part to advances in health care, education, technology, and financial stability over the last several decades that have greatly increased their vitality and standard of living. Older adults are out and about giving back and making a difference in their community.

Our seniors are mentoring the leaders of tomorrow, taking to heart the need for intergenerational learning to guide and inspire young minds. They offer a take on times gone by not discussed in any history class—a unique perspective that sheds new light on contemporary issues.

Older Americans step up to help one another as well. Across the country, seniors connect with other seniors by delivering meals, helping with home repair, assisting with shopping, and offering companionship, counseling, and care. Their efforts remind us that when older adults are active and engaged in their communities, everyone benefits.

Help us celebrate Older Americans Month! Join your neighbors not only to recognize what older citizens bring to our communities, but also to help them continue playing a vital role in weaving a unique and lasting community fabric.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find out about volunteer opportunities with programs that provide services for seniors to improve health literacy, increase access to quality health services, deliver food and nutrition services, provide financial and housing counseling, sponsor social and civic activities, and more. We think you will discover that when you help seniors thrive in your community, you gain far more than you give.

Read Governor Dayton's proclamation (pdf)
Read President Obama's proclamation

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