May recognized as ‘Older Americans Month’

Published 2:29 pm Friday, May 21, 2021

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Emma Dixon, president of Bogalusa AARP Chapter 4032, and its partners Nancy McBeth, executive director of the Washington Parish Council on Aging; Sheila Seal, community outreach nurse for Our Lady of the Angels Hospital; Rene Ragas, CEO of Our Lady of the Angels Hospital; and JoAnna Frazier, president of the Bogalusa Retired Teachers Association, recently jointly announced recognition of May as “Older Americans Month” for 2021.

In addition to the proclamation issued on May 3 by President Joe Biden, Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette also issued a proclamation, stating and concurring that during Older Americans Month, we celebrate older Americans and the key role they play in sharing the wisdom and experience that informs today’s decisions and actions, and fostering the connections and engagement that builds strong, resilient communities. We also recognize our responsibility to ensure that every American has the opportunity to age with dignity.

Further, the proclamation states the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed tremendous hardships on the nation’s Older Americans. Older adults — particularly those from communities of color — have comprised the majority of COVID deaths, with more than 80 percent of all deaths to date occurring in persons 65 and older.

Many older Americans have also suffered extreme isolation from being separated from friends, family and community resources throughout the pandemic. In spite of this, older Americans have stepped up to support their families, friends and neighbors. They are among our essential workers, volunteers and donors, bolstering their communities and inspiring others to do the same. The president stated he is committed to ensuring older adults are central in our country’s recovery efforts.

Dixon stated that, in conversations with McBeth, there was concern on the issue of isolation and its effects of the elderly and older residents in Bogalusa. Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation, states we must normalize that nobody is doing “OK” from the pandemic, and we must raise awareness of social isolation and helpful resources at AARP Foundation connect

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Rural Voices of HAC Summer 2020 recently reported that every $1 invested in home repairs saves $19 in Medicare and Medicaid costs. Healthy homes mean healthy people, especially among rural America’s seniors. More information is available online at

Dixon also stated AARP proudly touts its partnership with USDA Rural Development and memorandum of understanding with QUAD Community Action Agency for home repairs. Dixon also strongly recommended residents more forward on their family successions to become eligible for housing programs to repair their homes and increase the value of their homes as an asset, and improve their family’s health and safety. Please contact Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) regarding family succession at the Covington office (985-893-0076) or the Hammond office (985-345-2130).

Volunteers of America Southeast also announced they will partner with the AARP Bogalusa Housing Repair Program for Seniors, through Payne Diaz, manager of Craftsman Home Improvement, a division of Volunteers of America. The referral was made by Victor Smeltz, executive vice president of Housing Development for Volunteers of America New Orleans. Smeltz made a presentation to the Bogalusa Rotary Club at Dixon’s invitation when she was a member, a few years ago. Craftsman will do estimates for clients’ homes that qualify for the USDA Washington Parish home repair program.

President Biden stated his administration recognizes the value of older adults and supports the issues most important to them, such as Medicare, Social Security, lowering the price of prescription drugs, and long-term care options including Medicaid home and community-based services programs. The American Rescue Plan puts the needs of older Americans at the forefront of our country’s path to recovery, starting by mounting a national vaccination program to quickly and efficiently deliver life-saving vaccines, prioritizing our older Americans. Dixon said AARP Bogalusa salutes the work of Our Lady of the Angels Hospital and recognizes the efforts of Sheila Seal in outreach to Bogalusa senior citizens to assure they are immunized.

AARP Bogalusa also recognizes and presents a Certificate of Award to Mattie Reynolds Craig of Humana for her meritorious and outstanding service to the senior citizens of Bogalusa by providing links and referrals to the valuable services of Humana, including the Humana Healthy Foods Card, Silver Sneakers and Humana At Home services, including transportation to doctor and dental appointments to their members.

The Bogalusa AARP’s partnership with the Bogalusa Retired Teachers is of significant importance as the founder of AARP National, Ethel Percy Andrus, was a former teacher and principal. Bogalusa AARP thanks the Bogalusa Retired Teachers for their contribution.