Stepping up to protect Seniors: a Family Service committment for 40 years

big 300 logoFamily Service Association is at work year ‘round to protect our vulnerable senior citizens. Our outreach  includes in-home personal care services for older adults; counseling; case management; and resources referral for professionals and families to identify resources for the best individual care.

Every day, dozens of trained Senior In-Home Personal Care assistants fan out to homes and apartments throughout our city to help frail, ill and disabled senior folks maintain their independence. These Family Service employees have a mission. “It’s my calling,” says Sherry Gonzalez, who recently saved a client’s life.

IMG_8253November 22, 2013 seemed  like an ordinary day. Sherry had scheduled her weekly appointment to help Mrs. Jackson with light housework, errands, cooking and personal care. But Mrs. Jackson didn’t answer the door or the phone or respond to Sherry’s insistent knocking on the bedroom window. “I saw her car in the parking lot and I knew she was home and knew she must be in trouble,” Sherry said.

Sherry begged the apartment management to open Mrs. Jackson’s door and refused to leave until they checked on her client. Eventually, her persistence, coupled with the intervention of her supervisor, won out and the manager forced entry into Mrs. Jackson’s apartment. There they found her in a diabetic coma. EMS was called and sprang into action, stabilizing her and transporting her to the hospital where she remained under observation for four days.

“My blood sugar was 20, my body temperature was 76, my potassium level was 1.2 and I was delirious and close to death,” Mrs. Jackson tells us. “It’s a miracle. Sherry saved my life.”

Every day, we receive calls from frantic children, spouses and clergy who are worried about a senior family member or friend. As an agency with multiple services, we can either help them directly … or give them referrals to agencies that can answer their concerns.

“Family Service has been meeting the needs of the community for 111 years and we have been providing in-home services to seniors for 40 years. Our longevity sets us apart, and our commitment is extraordinary. Everyone who does this job at our agency feels the mission in our hearts. We love what we’re doing and we care deeply about our clients. They are like family to us,” says Director of Senior Services of Family Service, Ron Flores.

For more information about Family Service and Senior Services, call 210-299-2443 or visit


Turning 65? Know your Medicare options

Humana green logoApproximately 11,000 adults become eligible for Medicare every day, reflecting a dramatically increasing senior population, and that number is only going to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts there will be nearly 47 million seniors age 65 and up in 2015 and about 72.1 million seniors – nearly 20 percent of the population – by 2030.[i], [ii]

Here in Texas, the 65 and older population is expected to increase from 11.7 percent of the overall population in 2014 to 15.6 percent of the overall population by 2030.[iii]

Health concerns are a major issue for seniors, with nine of 10 older adults living with at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension or lung disease, according to the National Council on Aging.[iv] Making matters worse, these conditions place a significant financial burden on seniors and, sometimes, their caregivers. As a result, there’s a clear need for access to affordable health care that meets the needs of individuals as they age.

As San Antonio residents approach their 65th birthday, it is important for them to know their Medicare options, including when they can enroll and the types of health plans available.

Seniors should keep an eye out for materials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the months leading up to their 65th birthday. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to pull information together to prepare. Following are tips to help seniors and their caregivers as they begin the Medicare plan selection process:

Know Your Options. You will want to find a plan that provides the health care coverage you need and maximizes your health care dollars. In general, your options include:

  • Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is a federal insurance program that offers basic coverage for hospital care and medical expenses and no coverage for prescriptions. Beneficiaries typically must pay a premium for Part B coverage. Many find they need additional coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare.
  • Medicare Supplement plans pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including deductibles and coinsurance. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • A Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), or Medicare Part D, provides prescription drug coverage, helps lower prescription drug expenses and protects against higher costs in the future. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) typically provides extra benefits, services and often prescription drug coverage. Beneficiaries may or may not pay an additional premium.

Know Your Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Enrollment Timeframe. This year, during the Annual Election Period (AEP) from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, seniors who are eligible for Medicare can review Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan options and select health care coverage for 2015. However, people turning 65 before October can enroll earlier in the year. In fact, they have a seven-month window – known as the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – to enroll. This includes the three months before their 65th birthday, the month of their birthday and the three following months. If a 64-year-old enrolls in the first three months of their IEP, their benefits kick in on the first day of the month of their birthday.[v] If they enroll during the remainder of their IEP, their benefits will be effective on the first day of the following month.

Know Your Medical Cost History. Review your records to see how much you spent on health care during the past year. This should include hospital expenses, pharmacy costs and doctor bills. Then, determine if the previous year was typical, and try to calculate your best estimate for health care costs in the year ahead.

Know Your Resources. If you are considering a Medicare Advantage plan, research the costs, benefits and network of doctors and hospitals associated with each plan. Take advantage of resources available to help you with the research to make an informed choice. The government’s Medicare website,, is a good resource that lets you find and compare Medicare health and prescription drug plans in your area. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services make it easier to navigate the Medicare landscape by rating health plans on a five-star assessment grade.

Compare Benefits. Insurers often offer multiple Medicare Advantage plans from which beneficiaries can choose to fit their specific life, income and health situations. Benefits from these plans may include primary care and specialty office visits, routine physical and preventive care, unlimited medically necessary inpatient hospital days and worldwide emergency care. Some plans include membership in fitness classes and lifestyle enrichment programs.

Guard Against Fraud. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prohibit Medicare Advantage carriers from proactively contacting you by phone or in-person. They can only reach out to you once you have initiated contact. To protect yourself from potential scams, don’t give personal information to any uninvited home visitors or solicitors who call selling Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan products.If you’re approaching your 65th birthday, it is important to start considering Medicare options to select the plan that best fits all of your needs.

By Dan Tufto

Dan Tufto is President of Senior Products for Humana in Texas with responsibility for the overall strategic direction and growth of Humana’s Medicare Advantage business in the state.

[i] Administration on Aging, 2008 data

[ii] Administration on Aging, 2008 data

[iii] Administration on Aging, 2005 data

[iv] National Council on Aging, 2011 fact sheet

[v], no date

SSFCU donates to two San Antonio Nonprofits serving women and seniors

Security Services Federal Credit UnionSecurity Service Charitable Foundation recently presented San Antonio’s Southwest Outreach for Older People (SWOOP) with a grant of $5,000 and the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of Bexar County with a grant of $10,000.

SWOOP serves seniors in southwest San Antonio as a free transportation service that helps them get to doctors, pharmacies, banks and grocery stores. It’s a door-through-door service in safe, private vehicles for seniors who have no friends or family to rely on. SWOOP currently serves 230 seniors in just its second year of operation, and the grant funds will be used to support its volunteer program, including mileage reimbursement and training for this dynamic program.

SWOOP_SSFCUFrom left: Eileen Mares, SWOOP treasurer/secretary and SSFCU branch manager; Joan Fisher, SWOOP executive director; Dottye Williams, Ph.D., SWOOP president, and Jim Laffoon: SSFCU President and CEO

The Battered Women and Children’s Shelter is the only shelter in Bexar County for abused women and children. In recent months, the shelter has reached nearly 200 people a month – turning no one away. The grant will be used to provide victims of family violence a place of safety and help transitioning to self-sufficiency.

BatteredWomen's Shelter_SSFCUFrom left:  Mark Jimenez,  SSFCU assistant vice president of network engineering  and support, Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of the Battered Women’s Shelter, and Jim Laffoon, SSFCU president and CEO. 

“It is our great joy and honor to be able to help organizations like SWOOP and the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter that are grounded in building a better future for the most vulnerable in our community, providing important systems and supports to make life easier,” said Jim Laffoon, president of the Security Service Charitable Foundation and president and chief executive officer for Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU).

The Security Service Charitable Foundation helps further SSFCU’s corporate goal of community service by contributing to deserving organizations and causes in the credit union’s market areas.

About Security Service Federal Credit Union
Security Service Federal Credit Union offers competitive, affordable financial products and services designed to meet the needs of its members. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, Security Service is an industry-leading financial institution with $7.5 billion in assets and 70 locations in Texas, Colorado and Utah. The credit union is among the top 10 credit unions in the nation. Security Service strives to be America’s best credit union and provides the true benefits of credit union membership with financial services of the highest quality and value. Learn more at or call 1-888-415-7878. presents new technology for older adult care at National LeadingAge Annual Conference

MM Main logoThe imminent tidal wave of baby boomers is here. The oldest baby boomers have already turned 65, and the older population of the U.S. is beginning to swell. The age-65-and-older population grew 18 percent between 2000 and 2011 to 41.4 million senior citizens, according to a recent Administration on Aging report. These numbers are expected to further balloon over the coming decade as baby boomers continue to reach traditional retirement age. So, how will we care for these seemingly unfathomable numbers of older adults? One of the answers to how to care for our seniors as they age is in the empowerment of caregivers through technology., a program of Morningside Ministries, provides free online video training for family caregivers, pastoral care providers and healthcare professionals caring for seniors. Developed in 2006, offers over 300 free online training programs for caregivers of older adults. Thousands of viewers have taken Web courses, read blogs or watched online videos about geriatric care. One such program is a series called “Ask the Geriatrician,” developed to address the shortage of geriatric physicians available to older adults and their caregivers in the United States. Geriatricians specialize in preventing and treating health issues in adults ages 65 and older, yet many caregivers never have an opportunity to speak with one. bridges the gap between seniors, caregivers and physicians with online training and educational videos that improve the quality of care received by older adults.

LeadingAge is a national association comprised of non-profit organizations that provide services to seniors. To expand the world of possibilities for aging, LeadingAge members and affiliates touch the lives of 4 million individuals, families, employees and volunteers every day. The LeadingAge community ( includes 6,000 not-for-profit organizations in the United States, 39 state partners, hundreds of businesses, research partners, consumer organizations, foundations and a broad global network of aging services organizations that reach over 30 countries.

Maria Wellisch, V.P. of Corporate Training, will present on Online Education and Training for Caregivers on Sunday, October 27, 2013 between 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. at the LeadingAge Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas.

About Morningside Ministries
Morningside Ministries is San Antonio’s oldest and largest not-for profit, faith-based, senior care organization dedicated with the specific mission of “Caring For Those Who Cared For Us.” Morningside Ministries has served the San Antonio community since 1961 with Morningside Ministries at the Meadows, Morningside Ministries at The Manor and Morningside Ministries at Chandler Estate. In May of 2004, Morningside Ministries extended the ministry to induce Morningside Ministries at Menger Springs in Boerne. Today we continue to serve over 800 residents in retirement, assisted living, nursing and memory care and a senior community center.

Morningside Ministries helping seniors take the next step

MM Main logoIt is hard to not be concerned with the amount of fraud and theft that is being suffered by our elders. According to the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Their strategies and tactics may differ, but these organizations are most interested in taking financial advantage of unsuspecting, trusting individuals.

Driven to better inform seniors, Morningside Ministries has partnered with authorities in the retirement industry from Elder Resource Group, Senior Living Choices, Generations Senior Moving & Transportation Services and Elder Law Attorney, Carol Bertsch. With their combined knowledge and experience, the stage is set for an exciting and informative session on the next step for seniors.

The event will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2013 between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Morningside Ministries at The Manor – Kaulbach Assisted Living (602 Babcock rd., San Antonio, TX 78201). Please R.S.V.P. to Becky at (210) 731-1204 by August 22, 2013.

Many seniors are burdened with San Antonio homes they cannot sell due to a lack of expertise, time or resources. Speaker John Nelson, from Elder Resource Group will open our session by discussing an overview of the real-estate market and when it’s time to consider retirement living. Self proclaimed, “Realtors by trade – Transition Specialist by choice,” Elder Resource Group has a mission to make moving as easy & profitable for seniors as possible. Peggy Brown, a senior relocation specialist, will discuss tips on moving and how to become better organized for a move.

Kameron Chicoine will be joining us to discuss the processes in choosing the right retirement community. Chicoine owns and operates Senior Living Choices, a comprehensive retirement locating guide, serving the Texas Hill Country and Central Texas has been serving the area for over 13 years. Elder Law Attorney, Carol Bertch will be closing the afternoon session with a conversation about directives on elder and disability law. Her firm focuses on elder and disability law, providing an umbrella of services to advise and counsel seniors and their families so that they can make informed decisions to achieve their desired outcome. Bertch follows her goal to assist seniors in finding positive solutions to complex challenges so they can maintain dignity, control and, most of all, peace of mind.

About Morningside Ministries
Morningside Ministries is San Antonio’s oldest and largest not-for profit, faith-based, senior care organization dedicated with the specific mission of “Caring for Those Who Cared for Us.” Morningside Ministries has served the San Antonio community since 1961 with Morningside Ministries at the Meadows, Morningside Ministries at The Manor and Morningside Ministries at Chandler Estate. In May of 2004, Morningside Ministries extended the ministry to include Morningside Ministries at Menger Springs in Boerne. Today we continue to serve over 800 residents in retirement, assisted living, nursing and memory care and a senior community center.