Friday, December 11, 2020


I & R Community Specialist Listen for the Good

I grew up hearing people say there are three things you are not supposed to talk about…

What are those three things you might ask? Politics, Religion and Money.

I don’t know who came up with those 3 but I do believe in 2020 people are talking about all of the above and then some. As a young adult I remember hearing this and wondering why I should avoid such topics. As I grew older it quickly became apparent as to why these conversations should be limited to a select few. Everyone has a different opinion regarding politics, religion and money. These three topics invoke a lot of emotion, they can encourage as well as destroy relationships.

The list of things you’re not supposed to talk about gets even longer when you mention gender identity, racism, and defunding the police. Can’t we all just sit around the fire sing America the Beautiful, roast marshmallow, eat s’mores and drink hot cocoa? Yes we can, in order to make America “great again” we need to have positive respect toward people from all backgrounds and circumstances.

When we are engaged in a good healthy conversation in a safe and or courageous space good ideas emerge. In our role as Community Resource Specialist we often get tossed the hot potato of politics, religion and money over the phone. Section 9 of the AIRS 2020 Manual does an excellent job defining and describing our role serving diverse communities.

I won’t waste your time paraphrasing the entire section in this blog. However I couldn’t resist inserting my favorite quote from page 193.

“Awareness of one’s self is the first step to understanding others. People who are secure in their own identity can act with freedom, flexibility and openness toward people from different backgrounds…

Knowing this means knowing that you always have to work at it.”

We are human. We bring ourselves into every call and the tone in which we respond is regulated by the AIRS Standards. The I &R service requires us to respond in a professional, nonjudgmental, culturally-appropriate and timely manner. In my six years of being on the phones with clients I have had to attentively listen without offering my personal opinion on topics of politics, religion and money.  In fact, asking a client what is the source of their monthly income can spark an unwarranted conversation about money. Dare I mention the intake process requires specialist to ask a client’s race, ethnicity and military status. And just like that the specialist is knee deep in a conversation about politics and religion.

Over the last 4 years I have had to govern my conversations in the office and over the phone by one of my favorite scripters. Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Oops I just slipped in the topic of religion.

As we close out this year, in the midst of a raging pandemic and plagued by racial divide, I hope you all will join me in my determination to check myself.  I’m walking into 2021 with self –awareness, more compassion for diverse groups and practicing self-care. Over the phone we don’t take sides but we seek to find value in the client’s experience.

In I & R we don’t talk in depth about politics, religion and money. Specialist have to attentively listen when callers need to vent their frustration. In that moment we have to toss aside our personal opinions and focus on the need. Often those hard conversations seem to last for an eternity but it’s in those moments I encourage my staff to listen for the good.

Happy Holiday & Happy New Year!!!

Jamie Saunders - December 2020 MAK AIRS blog

Thursday, November 5, 2020


Successful Aging: What words to use, which to avoid in describing the older generation

Many people have expressed dismay about the lack of a good term to describe aging boomers. “Senior citizen” and “golden ager” didn’t work. In a report “Words to Age By: A Brief Glossary on Tips and Usage,” Paul Kleyman, journalist at New America Media, surveyed nearly 100 journalists for the Journalist Exchange on Aging to get a sense of the language they used in covering issues of aging. Here are a few principles noted in the report.

Elderly. “Use this word carefully and sparingly.” The term is appropriate in phrases that do not refer to specific individuals such as “concern for the elderly or a home for the elderly.” It should not be used in reference to a person’s deteriorating condition.

Seniors. A style guide for one family of newspapers say that reporters should be specific when possible, reserving ‘seniors’ when no other descriptive will work.

Additionally journalists are urged to use adjectives that are accurate and avoid patronizing or demeaning words such as “feisty,” “spry,” “sweet,” “eccentric,” “feeble,” “senile” and “grandmotherly.”

Activity and relationships. Describing an older adult as “active” should also be avoided. This implies the older individual is an exception, suggesting that in general, older people are sedentary. Additionally, don’t mention relationships when they are irrelevant. An example of an inappropriate use of reference to a relationship is “Golda Meir, a doughty grandmother, told the Egyptians…”

Mentioning a person’s age. Don’t mention it unless it’s germane. A news story about an 84-year old truck driver who hit two cars should cite facts that his or her age was relevant to the accident.

Be aware of political spin. This applies to public policy aspects of a news story. For example, the use of the term “burden” can be misleading. We may read it causally such as the “burden” of Social Security or the “burden” of our aging society. It implies that the ills of America are primarily caused by our aging population.

Avoid the naïve sense of wonder. This is my favorite both in news stories and general conversations. Operative words are “remain” or “still.” Example: “At 76, Smith remains active as a teacher…gardener…or hang glider,” which assumes one typically is inactive at age 76. “Remains active” can be erroneously interpreted as a “vestige of one’s waning power,” Kleyman writes.

On a personal note, here are some questions often asked of me. “Are you ‘still’ working?” “Are you “still’ running?” “Are you ‘still’ doing yoga?” It’s yes, yes and yes, with appreciation for the interest and gratitude knowing that many cannot.

The most recent question is from an acquaintance who asked me what’s new in aging. After my rather comprehensive reply, she asked in all seriousness, “How is your memory?” My acquaintance was worried I would forget to remind her friend to take some packages home. There were no “remains” or “stills,” yet the expectation was clear.

Professional journals also have guidelines. A notice to those submitting papers to the “Gerontologist,” a highly regarded peer-reviewed journal on aging, reads, “Please avoid (using the terms) elders, older adults, or other words…” Caregivers, Alzheimer patients and study participants are more commonly used terms.

People’s response to age-related language can depend on their chronological age, generation, cultural community and personal preference. Avoiding preconceived notions and remaining neutral is important not only for journalists, but for each of us in our everyday lives.

So what are the words commonly used? I gravitate to the descriptor indicated as the most preferred among journalists: “older.” I also use terms such as “later life,” “the next chapter,” and the “older generation.”

The guidelines for journalists can help us become more aware of implied ageism through the subtle use of language. By astute listening and use of accurate words, each of us can debunk the stereotypes and erroneous assumptions about aging. Consider that a collective goal.                                                                  Helen Dennis,

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Did you get your stimulus check?

It’s not too late to get your Economic Impact Payment worth $1200 or more.  It has been extended till October 15, 2020.

Most people over 18 who make less than $99,000, got an Economic Impact Payment.

If you haven’t seen your money, go to now and use the Get My Payment tool.

·         It’s not taxable. You won’t need to pay it back

·         It won’t impact your benefits, or immigration status.

·         There is no late filing penalty if you don’t owe taxes

Getting your payment is easy. 

Simply file your tax return or use the Non-Filer tool at

Who should use Non-Filers?

Use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool if you do not normally and are not planning to file a federal income tax return for 2019 for any reason including:

  • Your income is less than $12,200
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400
  • You have no income

Information you will need to provide

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
    • Taxpayers who previously have been issued an Identity Protection PIN but lost it, must use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve their numbers
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child during 2019: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse


Help is available at 211,, or your local Area Agency on Aging



Wednesday, September 9, 2020


Dear colleagues in 211,

 MaryEllen Mendl, Executive Director of Vermont 211 recently posted the following on the AIRS 211 Directors/Managers area the other day:

“Several of you have mentioned experiencing an issue when folks dial 211 from their cell phone using wifi. We have been experiencing this in VT since March, when it first came to our attention responding to COVID. I spoke with Senator Sanders office this morning regarding this national issue. I encourage you to do two things:

1.     Contact your congressional offices if you are experiencing this issue (chances are you are but you don't know it). Let them know the FCC is working diligently to get 988 set up and free of this type of issue...we want parity. Let's get this circulating in DC.

2.     Send me a quick email letting me know if you are experiencing the issue so I can give some sense of the scope of this issue.

Thank you!”

So listen to MaryEllen, contact your federal representatives and email her at!

 In addition, MaryEllen alludes to the new rules being prepared by the FCC for the implementation of the 988 suicide prevention number. The FCC is endorsing a concept they call “ubiquitous deployment” which means that ALL wired, wireless and VoIP telecommunications providers MUST organize 988 dialing, they MUST get it done by a specific time, and they must do the work for FREE. These are great rules. We are happy that 988 will get that deserved implementation assistance. But we would also like those rules to also apply for 211.

Nearly everyone reading this has experienced problems with getting telco providers to properly translate to 211. The original FCC ruling only made it compulsory for wired services to switch and even then, it allowed them to charge a random fee for this service.

As a sector, we are preparing a formal request to the FCC for a rule change regarding 211.

We know that Verizon and AT&T are avoiding 211 dialing with their wifi service. We also know that many of you have experienced these and other switching problems.

So we want to hear about every instance over the last few years where you felt like tearing some hair out in dealing with 211 translation on any telecommunications medium (wired, wireless, VoIP, wifi). Sharing your stories strengthens our case!

So please, copy in any email!

 Looking forward to reading your horror stories …

 Clive Jones

AIRS Executive Director

Friday, June 5, 2020

Whatever it takes!

by: Jamie Saunders

Is COVID-19 a natural disaster?  If not, it sure feels like a tornado or earthquake hit all 50 states and the world at the same time. But like a good neighbor[MC1] , Information & Referrals Community Resource Specialists are here to help. Just like every Avenger film I’ve seen there is an army of dedicated[MC2] [S3]  essential workers behind the scenes with a team ready to make sure Captain America saves the day.

I am new to Marvel movies, but my 10 year old daughter makes sure I get caught up before going to see one. It’s my understanding that Avenger: Endgame was the highest grossing Marvel film of all time.  I know you’re like where is this MAC –AIRS blog going? If the coronavirus was a film, it would definitely be Endgame.  I & R’s across the country fearlessly stood behind the directives of the CDC, Health Departments, state and local task forces. Nobody has asked for our autograph, the media hasn’t given front line I & R staff recognition nor [MC4] five seconds [MC5] of fame.

Some of us had the option of working from home and others were going into the office every day because they were essential employees. I don’t know about you but the stress associated with this pandemic made our jobs that much more challenging. Information was fluid, changing from one staff meeting to the next one. It’s normal to have 3 or 4 team meetings in one day. Unlike a natural disaster, we could only use half of the policies and procedures already in place. In the midst of a pandemic we have created new policies, new procedures, tweaked the old ones and kept it moving.

I don’t know about you but right now I am on information overload. We all need a high five…retract that “No touching[MC6] [S7] [S8] ”! We all need a pat on the back…scratch that one too. We all need a sign outside our window or cubical that says, “An Information & Referral community Specialist Hero’s work here or lives here. I long for the day when my 10 year old tells my now 7th month old granddaughter how her grandma went to work every day during the pandemic THAT hit the entire world. COVID-19 isn’t over by any means, but today I want to give honor to those of us behind the scenes. We held it together under tremendous pressure to help those who were afraid.

Avenger: Endgame brought 11 years of storytelling to a close. My favorite quote from the film takes place in this scene. When their time travel device was perfected and their target timelines to retrieve the Infinity Stones confirmed, Cap decides to give his teammates one last motivational talk before carrying out their mission. Steve Rogers reminds the Avengers of why they are risking their lives on the singular chance that they can to bring their loved ones and the loved ones of the strangers they have sworn to protect back into existence, holding them to the promise that they will go to any means necessary to succeed.   

AIRS Community Resource Specialist we do, “Whatever it takes” – Steve Rogers

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New Abuse Icon on Nursing Home Compare
To better inform the public about nursing homes where abuse and neglect occurs the Nursing Home Compare website has a new red hand abuse icon (pictured here).
Every nursing home resident should receive safe care and be treated with respect at all times. Abuse and neglect are never acceptable. Beginning October 23, 2019, the red hand icon was added to the Nursing Home Compare website, whenever a facility is cited at inspection for: 1) abuse that led to harm of a resident within the past year; and/or 2) abuse that could have potentially led to harm of a resident in each of the last two years. To ensure the latest information is available to the public, the icon will be updated monthly, as inspection results are posted. Consumers will have this important information sooner as they consider their long-term care options.
Better public information, such as use of the icon, was prompted by requests from government oversight entities, congressional members and advocates. If you or someone you know is or has been abused in an adult care facility, report it to local law enforcement by calling 911 and to the Adult Abuse hotline in your state. In Kansas, call 1-800-842-0078. In Missouri, call 1-800-392-0210. In Arkansas, call 1-800-582-4887.  If it is an emergency, or a crime is suspected, call 911 immediately.
Abuse is defined as the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish. Abuse may be verbal, sexual, physical, mental and financial.
Nursing homes cited for abuse are required to take steps to protect their residents. If you’re considering a nursing home that’s been cited for abuse, we encourage you to ask the administrator and staff what corrections have been made, and what they’re doing to keep residents safe from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation.
Abuse or neglect can happen at any time. The icon is a very positive step in the right direction to alert residents and the public. It provides accountability by the nursing home where abuse or neglect has occurred. Here is the link for Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare:
Note: If a facility is NOT certified by Medicare or Medicaid, it is not included on Nursing Home Compare. Those nursing homes should be licensed by the state.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Missouri opens novel coronavirus information hotline
Media Contact:
Lisa Cox
Chief, Office of Public Information
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
JEFFERSON CITY, MO –The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) activated a statewide public hotline for citizens or providers needing guidance regarding the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. At 8 a.m. today, the hotline opened and can be reached at 877-435-8411. The hotline is being operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Communication is vital to our response to this rapidly-evolving situation,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “For several weeks, our COVID-19 webpage has been and continues to be a great resource for the public, but having the hotline as an additional resource will likely be invaluable as citizens seek guidance for their concerns.”
To date, 46 patients in Missouri have been tested for the virus that causes COVID-19; one of those has tested positive.
“It is important to know what to do if you have concerns about an illness during this outbreak,” said Williams. “For those who may be at risk for COVID-19, we encourage them to utilize this hotline or call their health care provider or local public health agency to inform them of their travel history and symptoms. They’ll be instructed on how to receive care without exposing others to the possible illness.” 
Simple preventive actions that help prevent the spread of all types of respiratory viruses include:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
For more information, visit or the CDC’s COVID-19 website.