Casa Companion San Diego Homecare AidesThis week, we bring you some inspiring stories about your San Diego community, and the ways it’s reaching out to support seniors, loved ones and caregivers.

Technology baffles many of us, regardless of age, but seniors and smartphones are usually like oil and water – they just don’t mix well. Ramona Girl Scout Troop 8731 tried to change that last month when they held a “Smartphone Education Class Especially for Senior Citizens”. The class, open to all, was the Scout troop’s community action project, just one of the requirements for scouting’s highest honor, the Gold Star. Seniors and teenagers met at the Ramona Library, where the Scouts drew a standing-room-only crowd! Feedback from the seniors was effusive, and the troop has already received requests for another session. Ramona’s seniors hope this is a trend that catches on with the kids!

The Elizabeth Hospice, founded in 1978, serves San Diego and south Riverside County caregivers and families during the care journey. Its services include hospice and palliative care, counseling and veteran-specific services. All these services are important to caregivers and loved ones at various points in their lives, and the Elizabeth Hospice is a non-profit agency that provides care to everyone, without respect to their ability to pay. This worthy and vital organization received two large donations in 2017 that will support its service to the San Diego community. First, the Legacy Endowment Community Foundation gave a $5000 grant from its Elisabeth S. Wilson fund to support hospice care and bereavement services. Then, the New York Life Foundation gave a $15,000 Grief Reach grant to the hospice’s school bereavement program, which sends professional counselors to eleven school districts around San Diego and Riverside counties. The counselors lead eight-week-long bereavement support groups in certain schools for students who don’t have access to private counseling. Both grants will support the work that the Elizabeth Hospice does in the San Diego community for residents throughout the care journey.

A new dental clinic in downtown San Diego, located on the second floor of the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, now offers dental treatment to seniors on a sliding pay scale. Seniors with limited income often have problematic teeth because Medicare doesn’t cover dental work. Denti-Cal, California’s low-income dental coverage, is rarely accepted by dentists because the reimbursement rate is so low. Dental care is often at the bottom of the list of medical priorities, but more than 70% of today’s seniors have gum disease, and a full 25% of those over 60 have no natural teeth left. So cavities, gum disease and even lost teeth are common problems among the clinic’s patients, and the bone loss that comes with age is a contributing factor. The Gary and Mary West Foundation funded the Wellness Center, and has been collecting data on the effectiveness of the program since it opened last June.  The Foundation hopes that the clinic will begin to sustain itself, and change the quality of life for many of San Diego’s seniors.