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AgeWise March_April 2020 Print

President's Message

Managing Your Mental Health Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

We have been bombarded with information on how we can best navigate through the Pandemic by addressing critical physical healthcare protocols.  Symptoms to monitor include coughing, fever, breathing difficulties and fatigue.   Frequent handwashing, social distancing, and quarantine measures  have been reiterated through media channels nationwide.

In comparison, little attention has been given to our mental health needs as we all grapple with major disruptions in our lives.  Of particular concern are the individuals who live with anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health disorders, as debilitating symptoms are exacerbated during times of crisis.  Additionally, many who live with the disease of addiction struggle with their recovery, and are more prone to relapse during troubled times.

Human beings are for the most part, creatures of habit and prefer structure, a sense of control and consistency in our daily lives.  When our lives become disrupted, we lose our sense of homeostasis, or balance, and this can affect us on emotional, physical, psychological and/or spiritual levels.  Typical reactions include increased anxiety, depression, worry and fear, frustration, anger, loneliness and can produce an increased desire to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, food and other addictive substances.

Currently, children are now home from school, shops and bars have closed, telecommuting is the norm, stock market changes are drastic and grocery store shelves are bare of many items.  These and many other changes to our routines have resulted in shaking up our mental psyche and sense of well-being. 


It is critically important for individuals to devote as much time on shoring up our mental health and wellness as it is for managing our physical healthcare needs.  During times of natural and man-made disasters, including infectious disease outbreaks, many experience the following:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and health of your loved ones;
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns;
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;
  • Worsening of chronic health problems; and
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs


People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19, children and teens, healthcare providers and first responders, and people who have existing mental health conditions including substance abuse.  People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

Things you can do to support your mental health and well being include taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media.  Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate and focus on the present moment.  Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and other drugs.  Factor in activities that you enjoy, such as painting, gardening, bicycle riding and reading.  Connect with others and talk to people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.  Reach out for professional support and counseling for additional support.  At LSF Health Systems, our Access to Care Line is available 24/7 and can assist with providing telehealth counseling resources and other available community assistance such as housing, food stamp information, etc.  Remember, it is a sign of strength to reach out for professional help when you feel it is needed. 

LSF Health Systems, Inc.
(877) 229-9098


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Census 2020 - Florida Counts

2020 Census Response Rate Map

The 2020 Census response rate map shows how cities and towns across the country are now responding. The map will be updated daily around 3 p.m. for everyone to see the response rate in their area and compare it to other areas across the nation. 

How the Census Bureau Protects Your Privacy

The U.S. Census Bureau and its employees must protect respondent privacy and confidentiality at every stage of the data lifecycle, from collection through processing, publication and storage.  The privacy law, in Title 13 of the United States Code, mandates that information about specific individuals, households and businesses is not revealed, even indirectly through our published statistics.

We All Benefit When We Respond to the Census

Your response to the 2020 Census can help shape your future and the future of your community.  Counting everyone helps communities receive funding needed for health care, education, emergency services, and more. Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions in our communities.

Tell Others to Respond

We have made it easy to tell everyone—your friends and family, your neighbors, and your co-workers—that you will complete the 2020 Census and why it's important that they respond too.

Challenge your friends! Download these pledge and challenge images—or create a custom image of your own—to share with your friends and followers. Check out the 2020 Census Community Benefits Toolkit, which is designed to help you inform your family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of responding to the 2020 Census.

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Companies, governments and non-profits of all sizes are scaling back some services, limiting or canceling travel and continuing to adjust to work-at-home or limited office hours for employees and volunteers.  How we operate is forever changed, and in some cases, it might be for the better. 

We have seen:

  • Bureaucratic ‘red tape’ be reduced in the interest of getting people served in the quickest way possible.
  • Unusual partnerships coming together to meet the needs of families, children, older adults and small businesses.
  • Increased recognition and respect for those frontline people who work jobs that provide us with comfort and the essentials, like the store clerk, delivery driver and home health care worker.
  • The embracing of new technology, learning how to work virtually and stay connected.
  • Pollsters FINALLY getting people to answer the phones.


Change is inevitable as we come back to the office, begin to travel, go to restaurants and participate in meetings with people again.  As we plan the return, there are many questions we are wondering about:

  • How will our community and business spaces reflect what we have gone through?
  • How will businesses alter their physical footprint now that we know people can work remotely?
  • How do we ensure the health and safety of the people we interact with regularly?
  • How do we plan for future hurricanes, pandemics and the unknown all at the same time?
  • How do we pull back services/support after the pandemic from those with demonstrated need?
  • How do we ‘let go’ of what has been demonstrated as no longer needed?
  • How can we be more flexible in our operations so that we can ‘pivot’ quickly, stay relevant and thrive?
  • How do we secure enough resources to weather whatever comes next?


Embrace what is happening now and begin planning and building the new reality.  The response to COVID-19 has been just that, a response.  Like hurricanes, we need to think about and plan for the next pandemic, downturn or other unknown factor that might impact operations.  We have changed, and the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for a very long time.  This is our chance to #BuildBackBetter.

Use this opportunity of change to experiment with new ideas.  Have you been thinking about implementing a paperless office?  What about a 4 day workweek?  Repainting or redecorating?  Can you build revenue with online programming?  Virtual fundraising? What about scaling a set of private pay or concierge services?

Get to know your employees and/or volunteers better.  Take the time to connect with everyone even if it is only a few minutes.  Talk to them about their work and how they are doing.  Everyone is experiencing stressors, this is the time to step up as a leader and build connections/keep those connections with your team.  Additionally, they may have some great ideas based on this experience.

Clean house or a give yourself a re-do.  If you have been delaying making difficult decisions about programming, staff or the business, now might be the time to implement changes.  We all have things we wish we did differently, now is the time to get a clean start and/or make changes that will drive your ‘updated’ business direction.  Also, literally, take the time to clean while things are quiet.  All of those little nagging tasks, piles of paper, filing cabinets of folders, and equipment you may have held onto, that you know just is not worth saving.  Refresh and renew your physical and mental space.

Let FCOA know how things are going using the #BuildBackBetter and posting to our Facebook page!


How to Ensure a Remote-Work Policy Succeeds

Tips for Leading Your Team Through Stressful Times

Three Ways to Measure Your Adaptability and How to Improve It—TedTalk

Special Report: How Companies Are Engaging Employees During COVID-19

Remote Workers and Telecommuting Practices for Nonprofits

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FCOA Advocacy Initiative 2020

FCOA is in their 12th year of taking an active roll in advocating on behalf of General Revenue funded home and community based programs.  These programs are an important component of the long-term care continuum.

In mid-September the Florida Department of Elder Affairs submitted their Legislative Budget Request to the Governor.  The Florida Council on Aging fully supported their request to serve people on the waitlist for services.   The General Revenue Programs waitlist for home and community programs, as of 8/27/19, was 64,441.  The proposed increase of $10.6 million would serve an additional 1,262 (2%) frail older adults from the waitlist.

The Legislative Session this year ended with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to spread in Florida.  FCOA was pleased to see that the final Budget Conference increases, as of March 14, 2020 were:

  • $4,219,444 increase to Community Care for the Elderly (CCE)
  • $600,000 increase to Home Care for the Elderly (HCE)
  • $2,839,911 increase to Alzheimer’s Respite Care (ADI)


The final budget has not made its way to Governor DeSantis as of the writing of this newsletter.   The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every sector, and the costs to combat the pandemic will be felt for a long time. 

Reduced state revenue, and how best to support Floridians will influence the lens the Governor views the proposed budget.  FCOA is continuing to work with advocates to request that Governor DeSantis include these increases in the final budget to support the programs that keep frail older adults and their families safe, healthy and in the least restrictive environment possible so that they can age in place with dignity.


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FCOA Celebrates 65 Year Anniversary

Join us as we take a look at our history!  The FCOA Facebook Page will feature a new audio segment and/or video every couple of weeks from the FCOA Board of Trustees and FCOA members discussing their first experience with the Florida Council on Aging and how being part of FCOA has helped them in their careers.  Do you want to share your own ‘What FCOA Means to Me’  video?  Use your phone and record a segment 10-40 seconds and send it to [email protected].

In 1965, focus continued on regional meetings and a conference on health, insurance, and medical care for the aging was held September 19-21 at East Ridge in Miami. Another major conference that year took place in Clearwater and featured a study in volunteer public service (the "Clearwater Study"). This focused on the role and use of volunteers in the community.

In 1966, AgeWise was on a more stable footing than ever before. Under Title IV of the Older Americans Act, FCOA was given a monetary grant for three years by the Commission on Aging, and this helped with publication costs, which had been a problem in years past.

The major project of 1967 was a regional conference on "Social Service Needs of Patients in Long Term Facilities", sponsored by the State Board of Health and other sponsoring agencies.

By 1969, FCOA had begun to reach out to local communities through cooperation with local agencies. In 1969 and 1970, plans for regional educational seminars, in addition to annual meetings, were built into the Council's planned activities. In 1971, FCOA passed a resolution which furthered legislation establishing a Florida State Licensure program for nursing home administrators. This action stimulated the already developing interest of the Council's membership in legislation and resulted in a standing committee on legislation being added to the Council's structure. 

In 1971, a seminar on retirement education, co-sponsored by FCOA and the Adult Education section of the Department of Education, resulted in an ongoing agreement between the Council and DOE on the educational needs of the elderly. Emmett Roberts, director of the Division of Family Services, gave FCOA $2,000 in 1971 to continue publishing AgeWise for two years.

A federal Title III grant "To Develop County Councils on Aging Throughout Florida" was provided to the Florida Council on Aging in 1972. The project started in March 1972, but was terminated December 31, 1972 because the feds charged that it was an illegal use of funds since such activities were a normal activity of the State Office on Aging. By the time the project was canceled, 32 county councils had been established. Another positive factor coming out of this project was that FCOA had to develop a sound personnel policy, which continued to be used when opportunities made it possible for the Council to hire staff.

During the sixties, and until 1974, FCOA held its annual meetings in conjunction with the Southern Gerontological Conference in Gainesville. In 1974, FCOA decided to hold the meeting elsewhere in order to encourage increased membership statewide.

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Grant and Funding Opportunities

Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Processes (PAR-19-249, National Institute on Aging, in conjunction with other agencies, application deadlines July 7, 2020; November 9, 2020; and March 8, 2021).  Together with the companion FOA (PAR-19-250) that focuses on how extreme weather and disaster events impact older adults, these FOAs will help to explicate the behavioral, biological, epigenetic, genetic, neurological and socioecological processes that affect the aging process. The ultimate goal is to improve the health and well-being of older adults via increased knowledge about extreme weather and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time.  Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly.

These micro-grants, $1,000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter's "trustees" and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.  Deadline: Open

Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative – Grants to States and Communities, (HHS-2020-ACL-AOA-ADPI-0379, application deadline May 13, 2020).  Cooperative agreements under this funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative (ADPI), are dedicated to the development and expansion of dementia-capable home and community-based service (HCBS) systems in States and Communities. There are two application options contained in this FOA, one for States (Option A) and the other for Communities (Option B). No entity would be eligible to apply for both State and Community options. The systems resulting from program activities under both program options will provide quality, person-centered services that help individuals remain independent and safe in their communities.

Application Date Extended to May 1, 2020.  In Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Community Care Corps will extend the deadline for submission of the Community Care Corps proposals by four weeks. The proposal due date is now May 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET.  Community Care Corps hopes this extension will help those organizations who are serving seniors and family caregivers during this emerging public health crisis. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected].

Proposals due Wednesday, June 10, 2020  The Brookdale Foundation Group has issued a Request for Proposals for the creation or expansion of supportive services to grandparents and other relatives raising children. Up to 15 programs will be selected to receive a seed grant of $15,000 ($10,000 and $5,000 respectively), contingent upon progress made during year one and potential for continuity in the future. Ongoing technical assistance will also be provided. Any 501(c)(3) or equivalent not-for-profit organizations can apply.  

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund "quick-action" projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology ("smart cities"), civic engagement and more.  Applications are due by May 15, 2020

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