Region IV Area Agency on Aging Claims Major National Innovation Award

A dynamic program designed to provide opioid education and medication management for older adults in our region has scored the highest honor possible for the Region IV Area Agency on Aging from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), sending cheers reverberating through the local agency that proudly created it.

The Region IV Area Agency on Aging has been told that their program, “Opioids: Safe use, Safe Storage, a Healthier You,” has received the top 2020 Aging Innovations Award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the highest honor presented by n4a to any member agency in the country.

“Opioids: Safe use, Safe Storage, a Healthier You,” is a program created in partnership with the Berrien County Health Department that provides opioid education and medication management for older adults residing in senior housing complexes. The program received the first-place award among 44 aging programs around the country to receive honors during the n4a Virtual Conference & Tradeshow held earlier today, Tuesday, September 22nd.

The n4a Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards recognizes n4a’s Area Agencies on Aging and Title VI Native American aging programs members that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities and their family caregivers.

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Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer of n4a, says, “n4a is thrilled to present the Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards to a diverse and remarkable group of Area Agencies on Aging. We salute all those who have enhanced the prestige of this awards program by sharing their innovative initiatives with their peers in the Aging Network.” Markwood adds, “Meeting the needs of older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers has been at the heart of what the nation’s network of AAAs and Title VI Native American aging programs have done for nearly 50 years—and is more critical now, in light of the impact COVID-19 is having on the communities these agencies serve.”

To make the program a reality, Region IV Area Agency on Aging pioneered a trailblazing partnership with Berrien County Health Department and housing authorities to develop and launch “Opioids: Safe use, Safe Storage, a Healthier You.” The program deploys a Certified Addiction Prevention Specialist with a laser-focus on combating senior opioid use disorder, preventing opioid theft, connecting seniors to alternative pain management options, addiction treatment and other supportive services – and delivers the programming directly in the seniors’ place of residence.

Lynn Kellogg, AAA’s CEO says, “We are honored deeply with this award. The personal empowerment that comes with knowledge knows no age bounds. Initially targeting housing without significant support staff, the response of participants quickly prompted broader thinking. We give thanks for a spirit of community partnership that fosters collaborations of common vision, energy, and can-do thinking with amazing results.”

Courtney Davis, Deputy Health Officer for the Berrien County Health Department, says, “The Health Department has been honored to be able to develop this initiative in partnership with the AAA,” and adds, “We have observed the negative impacts of opioids in our community and this initiative is a critical piece of addressing a community health need through the empowerment of knowledge and resources to our older and senior community members.”

Kerri Teachout, Certified Prevention Specialist for the Berrien County Health Department, adds, “Being able to meet people where they are and develop this initiative over the past year and a half has been rewarding and a unique way for me to continue to address substance use disorders in my own community. I’ve had participants share their own personal struggles with medication – from confusion, to fear, to addiction at times – and how the information presented through this program helped to empower them to seek help.”

The 2020 n4a Aging Innovations Awards honored traditional and new strategies in a range of categories including Advocacy, Agency Operations, Caregiving, Health-LTSS Integration, Healthy Aging, Housing, Intergenerational Programs, Nutrition and Social Engagement.

All winners are showcased in the n4a 2020 AIA awards book at this link:

2020-Aging-Innovations-and-Achievement-Awards

Region IV Area Agency on Aging is a non-profit organization offering comprehensive and coordinated services to assist older persons and other vulnerable adults in maintaining independence in their homes and communities. For general information or for help with an aging or disability question you can call (800) 654-2810 or visit online at:  http://AreaAgencyonAging.org