Thursday, May 4, 2017

Good Visit Pilot Program Needs Volunteers

Koochiching Aging Options is inviting area volunteers to participate in its Koochiching Good Visit Program pilot project. Volunteers will contact Good Visit participants for regular check-ins, socializing and sharing of activities. Volunteers will have an interview, background check and training. For more information call Koochiching Aging Options at 283-7057 or email

Friday, February 10, 2017

Low Vision Presentation February 22

How to better cope with vision loss is the subject of a free public presentation by the Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss. The event, hosted by Koochiching Aging Options, will be held Wednesday, February 22, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Backus Community Center. This presentation will explore a variety of topics, including easier ways to read, organize medicines, and manage in the kitchen. Hands-on demonstrations will provide an opportunity to try a variety of low vision aids. Call Koochiching Aging Options with questions at 283-7084.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dementia Friends in Birchdale Nov 16

Residents of the area are invited to a Dementia Friends training following a fellowship potluck at the Birchdale Community Center at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Koochiching Aging Options will offer the free one-hour community training following lunch. Participants become a Dementia Friend, learning a bit about what it is like to live with dementia and then turning that learning into action.
Dementia Friends is an initiative of ACT on Alzheimer’s, a statewide collaborative promoting better understanding and action around the growing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Those with questions may contact Koochiching Aging Options at (218) 283-7030 or (800) 950-4630. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Alzheimer's: Legalities and Finances plus the Basics

Some of the greatest concerns that follow a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia revolve around finances and legal concerns. These issues will be addressed at “Dementia: Finances and Legalities,” a free public presentation to be held at Backus Community Center on Wednesday March 23 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Two featured guest speakers will share their expertise, Jenna Herbig of the Alzheimer’s Association and Rob Raplinger from the Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota.
The guest speakers will offer information to the general public as well as to those who have been diagnosed with a dementia and their care partners, according to Koochiching Aging Options, the organizer of the presentation along with the Greater International Falls ACT on Alzheimer’s initiative.
Herbig will also present Thursday March 24 on the basics of Alzheimer’s at the Northome City Community Center at 11 a.m. and at Littlefork Lutheran Church at 2 p.m.
Presenter Jenna Herbig will offer a general overview of the financial and legal repercussions prompted by a diagnosis. She brings the latest information on the topic as developed by the Alzheimer’s Association.
                “If you or someone you know is affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the time for legal and financial planning is now,” according to Herbig. “’Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease’ is a workshop for anyone who would like to know more about legal and financial issues to consider and how to put plans in place. Topics covered will include how to find legal and financial assistance, making legal plans that fit your needs and practical strategies for making a long-term plan of care.” 
             Herbig is a Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and has over eight years of experience working with families and caregivers in a variety of settings. She draws upon her professional and personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease to educate and support professional and family caregivers of individuals with dementia throughout Northern Minnesota.
Raplinger’s presentation will provide an overview of some of the legal issues that confront those planning for their future. He will focus in particular on the treatment of assets. “I hope to help people understand why advanced planning is important,” he said.  
Raplinger is a staff attorney with Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota’s Senior Law Project. His office is in Virginia, Minnesota. The Senior Law Project serves St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Carlton, Itasca, Koochiching and Aitkin counties.
Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota provides free legal advice and representation to those in social and economic need who live in Northeastern Minnesota. This nonprofit corporation informs clients of their legal rights and responsibilities as well as pursuing changes in law where its effect is deemed unjust.
            These events are made possible in part with funding from the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging. The two-hour presentation will be held in Room 101 of the Backus Community Center in International Falls, located at 900 Fifth Street. Coffee and cookies will be provided. Call Koochiching Aging Options with questions at 283-7030 or email

Monday, October 5, 2015

Learn About Alzheimer's Disease

     To help understand Alzheimer’s Disease and to learn how it affects communication, Koochiching Aging Options and ACT on Alzheimer’s are hosting a free public presentation by the Alzheimer’s Association the evening of October 15. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the theatre of Rainy River Community College, 1501 Highway 71 in the Falls.
            The presentation is for anyone who would like to know more about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Those who attend will learn about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia and how they affect the brain.
            Addressed in the presentation will be risk factors, diagnosis and states of the disease as well as treatment and hope for the future. A second part of the presentation will address communication, behavior and memory loss and how the disease impacts communication. The prevention of negative reactions during communication will be discussed.
            The presenter will be Deborah Richman, vice president for education and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She has presented at the national, state and local level for a variety of professional health related organizations and community groups. She has provided project consultation and training in the areas of communication and memory loss, dementia related behaviors and therapeutic program development as well as training for direct care staff in residential care settings. Among other qualifications, she is certified by the Alzheimer’s Association to offer Foundations of Dementia Care.
            Alzheimer’s Disease and related forms of dementia are affecting increasing numbers of families in Koochiching County and across the country. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. Estimates are that one in nine persons age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. Numbers affected are expected to increase as the Baby Boomers age.

            Call Koochiching Aging Options at 218-283-7030 with questions. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Caregivers Provide Invaluable Support

According to an AARP Public Policy Institute study, 40 million non-professional caregivers, usually family or friends, provide up to 37 billion hours of assistance to care receivers. This breaks down to those 40 million people providing an average of 18 hours a week helping friends and loved ones with health care needs. Perhaps most amazingly, according to that same study this accounts for over a whopping $470 BILLION in savings to family, the health care industry, and federal and state agencies. 

This type of caregiving can come in many forms: getting groceries for a relative—helping someone with a walker into or out of a car—shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway—taking a loved one to a medical appointment—or even simply calling your grandfather to remind him to take his pills—these are all caregiving situations that may seem small, but are in all actuality great benefits to people’s lives. 

Given the above statistics from AARP’s study on caregiving and the United States’ increasingly older population, the role of non-professional caregivers is only going to become more important. Thus, there will likely also be an increase in the potential stress and strain on caregivers in the coming years.

As the Minnesota Board on Aging comments in their Caregiver Resource Guide, “each caregiving experience is unique. You will have changing needs, feelings, trials and rewards. Your experience will change over time. Yet, one thing is for sure. All caregivers need to find balance.” Finding balance, and reducing caregiver “burnout,” is an essential component in maintaining and increasing the important role of caregivers in helping to improve the quality of life for America’s aging population.

Koochiching Aging Options (KAO) has a number of resources designed to help caregivers in their personal journeys. From guides, such as the Minnesota Board on Aging booklet; to services for older adults; to legal briefs and forms such as Power of Attorney; to our on-staff Caregiver Consultant; KAO’s resources are there to offer caregivers, and the invaluable work they do, a needed helping hand. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

KAO’s Web-site Gets Update

Koochiching Aging Options has a new digital media outlet. KAO staff has been working to give the organization’s web-site an update and the results are a slimmed-down site that provides more information in a straightforward manner. Visitors to the site at can find information on how the organization was founded, services available to older adults in Koochiching County, how to volunteer, how to donate and information on past and upcoming events. Check out the new site the next time you are wandering around our digital neighborhood.