By Dana Corwin RN
Here it is, December, and time for the holidays to really get started.
NY Connects is a great way to connect with several service gift ideas and an excellent way for families close and far to check in to see what services are available to assist Chautauqua County seniors. NY Connects is the single point of entry for a wide range of services available to those who may need long-term care and community supports. Home and community-based supports and services help people live as independently as possible. You can email NY Connects - CCNYC@co.chautauqua.ny.us. The contact numbers for NY Connects from each section of the county: Mayville 753-4582, Dunkirk 363-4582 and Jamestown 661-7582. There is a searchable database if you have Internet access as well. Go to www.nyconnects.ny.gov and follow the instructions provided.
How about a practical gift for the seniors in your life? Meals on Wheels is a program here in the county and you could set up a gift of regularly delivered meals for your loved one. If your loved ones are out and about in the county, we offer a dining out program to a few local restaurants in Chautauqua County. Tickets can be purchased from the Mayville office location. There are even some companies that specialize in individual-sized food products. You can see them on QVC or HSN or search on the Internet for ideas for gifts of foods. Private meal providers that can be accessed through the Internet can be contacted for delivered meals prepared. Single serving specialty foods can be a wonderful practical gift for someone living alone or needing smaller sizes for meal preparation. A gift card to the local grocery store is another great idea. Have extra time? You can receive a gift by giving of yourself in a volunteer position with Meals on Wheels or a friendly visitor position with the Office for the Aging.
A gift of services can be a practical and much appreciated gift to those who may struggle to take care of their homes. House cleaning, lawn care and snow removal, handyman services for annual to do lists, transportation services, shopping/errands assistance, gift certificates to a favorite beauty/barber shop are treats anytime of the year. Look at the senior's favorite service providers like beauty parlors and barbers. These gifts are very thoughtful and extremely practical. The Office for the Aging can provide information about local home care agencies as well as a private provider list that can be helpful in identifying local providers for a variety of services. There are a few spas locally geared to seniors as well. NY Connects can also get people in touch with support groups, adult day services and other agencies that can provide support to a loved one caring for another. The gift of time to relax and retool is invaluable to someone who is a primary caretaker for a spouse or other loved one. If you would like to be an Office for the Aging volunteer and give to others, you can call NY Connects and be directed to volunteer opportunities at holiday time and throughout the year.
The Chautauqua County Personal Monitoring program is a great gift idea. You can order and pay for a personal emergency alarm system to be used in the home for emergencies of any kind. It brings families peace of mind to know that if there is an emergency, the system can answer immediately and start emergency dispatch if needed to the home. Do you have any unused/old cellphones? The Office for the Aging collects these items, refurbishes them and then provides them to seniors as a 911 cellphone at no charge to the senior. You can call NY Connects or drop phones off at any Office for the Aging locations in Chautauqua County. Other options are the SafeLink and Assurance wireless programs. These are both cell phone programs that may be available and have income guidelines. Call NY Connects for more information for all these opportunities.
As you plan to visit family and are looking for gift ideas - think practical. Try to think of areas that are challenging for your family member. These are the areas they could need help with on a regular basis. These are great ideas for gifts of time and assistance that can mean the world to a loved one. The small extras we take for granted but may be difficult for some to do or afford. Remember if you are home visiting and see a need, call NY Connects for information about local programs and services for seniors. We are able to assess your needs and provide information and assistance with referrals for several programs.
Still stumped? How about looking past the holiday season to tax preparation. This is a great time to call about appointments for assistance with tax preparation. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA will take appointments as early as mid-December. The program is countywide and you can call NY Connects for more information and assistance scheduling appointments.
If you are a veteran, thank you for your service and contributions to our country. There is a gift available for veterans coordinated from the Chautauqua County Clerk's office that offers veterans discounts with local businesses. The Return the Favor program provides a photo identification card, free of charge, to honorably discharged veterans. The card can then be used at participating area businesses who have agreed to offer a discount or benefit to the veteran who presents the card. All the veteran needs is to have his or her DD214 military discharge papers on file with the County Clerk's office. If they're not already filed, they can bring them to the appointment and we'll file them then, take their picture and provide them with the Return the Favor card all in one visit. Appointments are required. Due to the overwhelming response to this program, veterans must make an appointment. Veterans may enroll in the program by contacting Deputy County Clerk Tracie Kaminski Haskin at 753-4977 to make an appointment. A list of participating businesses is available on the county clerk's website at www.co.chautauqua.ny.us/departments/clerk. Businesses wishing to become a partnering sponsor may visit the Chautauqua County Clerk's website for complete information and a merchant partner agreement form or contact the deputy county clerk. Information is also available on the Chautauqua County Clerk Facebook page. Veterans who have lost their discharge papers may contact the Chautauqua County Veterans Services Agency at 661-8255 in Jamestown or 363-3842 in Dunkirk for assistance in obtaining a duplicate.
NY Connects wishes you and yours a happy, healthy holiday season.
You can reach NY Connects by phone: Jamestown areas: 661-7582, Dunkirk/Fredonia areas: 363-4582 and Mayville areas/mid county: 753-4582, fax 753-4477, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can come and see us at 7 North Erie St.; Mayville. NY Connects is brought to you in cooperation from the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. Happy Holidays!