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Newsletter

Fall Newsletter 2021

September 2021
 
A letter from Dawn Dixon
ConnectAbility, Executive Director
 

Summer has come and gone and Autumn is here. We are all looking forward to some cooler temperatures! We were saddened that we had to cancel our Flash Back to the ’80s and ’90s event in September, but our first priority is to keep everyone safe. We hope to have an in-person Holiday event in early December, so stay tuned. 

We currently offer our support groups virtually, and are eagerly awaiting the “green light” so we can begin to host support groups and other activities at our offices. Please continue to visit our website www.myconnectability.org to see the latest ConnectAbility events, blogs, and calendars. In this newsletter, we highlight some of our offerings for Caregivers.
 
We continue to strive to keep us all connected during this unprecedented time and look forward to the day when we can all be in the same room and celebrate!
 
We look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, stay safe and connected!
 
Cheers!
 
Dawn Dixon

HERO SPOTLIGHT
Raquel Resendez

Raquel Resendez had a limb amputation in November 2019. She went to the hospital after being in pain. It started with an infection on her toe. She was scared and didn’t know how she could pay her hospital bills. In her rehabilitation at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, she was told that she was very strong. While in the hospital, Raquel’s Case Manager referred her to ConnectAbility.
 
“God was so good to me.”
 
ConnectAbility set Raquel up with Care Coordinator Lisa. She helped her complete the application for funding a prosthetic. Raquel had no insurance and was no longer able to do the job that she was trained to do, which was housekeeping. She was living by herself in an upstairs apartment.
 
Raquel had to scoot down the stairs to get to the first floor of my apartment building. Her brother would leave her wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs. But when she was alone, or during the summer when the stairs were too hot, she had no way to get downstairs. Lisa worked with Raquel and her apartment manager to move Raquel to a first floor apartment, allowing her to get around easier. Lisa also helped her follow through and understand the Social Security Disability process.

“I think God sent an angel to me. Lisa was so good to me. She would hear me out. I was just living my normal life, but then my life turned upside down. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. With Lisa’s help, I met Irene at Martinez Street Women’s Center, who helped me get to doctor’s appointments and supplies that I needed. I was so lonely and Lisa was right there holding my hand. I’m so grateful for both Lisa and Irene.”

“Today, I am able to depend on myself. I am able to get around using my prosthetic leg. I am able to water my plants, walk to the restroom, and take care of my home. I would like for those who read my story to know that if it wasn’t for ConnectAbility, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Raquel_1

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT
Laura Ramos

“I am very blessed with this job. AACOG is a great family and I am part of a wonderful team of ladies under Benefits Counseling. Each one of us has a different level of expertise, different backgrounds and situations that we continuously learn from, and work together to share and help the people that we serve.”
Laura Ramos has worked with Health and Human Services Commission for over 20 years under various programs including Department of Aging and Disability Services (formerly known as DADS); Community Based Alternatives (formerly CBA, which transitioned to StarPlus Waiver Medicaid); Medicaid for the Elderly and Disabled, and she has worked with Nursing Facility applications and other programs as well.
In 2015, she started working as Benefits Counselor with the Area agency on Aging, providing assistance with Medicare issues, plan comparisons, enrollments and, with Medicare cost share savings benefits such as Medicare Savings Programs; Extra Help; SNAP Food Stamps; Long Term Care Medicaid to cover Provider services; Nursing Facility Medicaid; StarPlus Waiver Medicaid; Weatherization; LIHEAP and guidance or referrals for other applicable benefits. AACOG partners with different community agencies, and if what the client needs is out of their hands, they will try to connect them to other agencies and services that may be able to help them.
ConnectAbility is one of AACOG’s partners. They come alongside with us to help patients understand and get through the Medicare maze. Families going through a stressful situation with illness, compounded by mounting medical bills need that connection. The ConnectAbility staff have been very vital in empowering patients and collaborating with us to advocate and assist with applications and benefits the patients may be eligible for.
9AM – 12PM: In-Person abilitySTRONG Parade @ Hemisfair park 2PM – 6PM: Virtual AccessAbility fest (Online and App Access)
The 15th Annual AccessAbility fest will kick-off virtually, October 2nd at 2:00 PM featuring numerous information sessions, and exhibitors with information, products, programs and services that promote independence and inclusion where individuals with disabilities live, work and play.

Caregiver Groups

Join us every month to share, learn, and find support with other caregivers who also care for someone with a disability.

2nd Tuesday 7 PM – 8 PM
4th Tuesday 7 PM – 8 PM

Meet the Facilitators

Mari Garcia was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, the place she still calls home. Mari joined ConnectAbility as a volunteer in 2018, supporting and advocating for caregivers after her mother suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012. 
 
Mari shares responsibilities with her family in caring for her mother. She is passionate about reaching other caregivers and providing education and resources to families and the individuals they care for. Mari has been in the field of community social work for 20 years and currently works as a full time Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the community. 
Ryan Pflipsen, MS, MSW, LCSW was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where his parents still live. He is a private practitioner, consultant, speaker, and advocate for people with disabilities and their family members & caregivers in San Antonio, Texas, where he has lived since 1996.  
 
Ryan joined ConnectAbility as a consultant in 2018 and helped launch the in-person and online caregiver support and social groups. As a person with a disability, born with spina bifida, Ryan assists disabilitySA in advocacy efforts and also works to make San Antonio more physically accessible. 

Upcoming Events

Bingo
Wednesday, Oct. 6
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
 
Join Club Connect for virtual bingo! There are prizes for winners!
Medicare Tune-Up
Tuesday, Oct. 19
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
 
Gilda Castro will discuss the changes for 2022 Medicare and how this could affect you and your benefits.
Categories
Blog

Taylor’d For You Fashion Show: Fashion-ABILITY

The annual Taylor’d For You Fashion Show celebrates a range of boutiques and designers while empowering people of all ages to embrace style trends tailored to their body types.

This year, the show was virtual. One of the designers presenting her collection is Kay Simpson, owner/designer of Fashion-ABILILTY. Her stylish clothing is individually adapted to the needs of women with mobility challenges.

Fashion-ABILITY models include several people from the ConnectAbility community!

Shelia Brown, Support Group Coordinator/Peer Mentoring Coordinator

Amber Gorman, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida support group

Mona Patel, Executive Director, San Antonio Amputee Foundation

Proceeds from the show benefitted Meals on Wheels San Antonio.

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Categories
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Dual Eligibility/Medicaid

Jonathan Delarosa of the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries (PABSS) Program presented on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Dual Eligibility/Medicaid.

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Categories
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Social Security Disability Insurance and Dual Eligibility/Medicaid

Jonathan Delarosa of the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries (PABSS) Program presented on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Dual Eligibility/Medicaid.

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Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Nutrition and the Brain – The Microbiome Partner

In this Neuro Support Group on 8/18/21, Dr. Guido discussed the importance of nutrition and the microbiome for the health of our brain.

To join Neuro Support Group or Annie Munoz Parkinson’s Exercise Group, please call Melinda at 210-7244296 or email mrodriguez@accessqualitycare.com.

Neuro Support Group meets via Zoom on the 3rd Wednesday of the month 11:35 AM – 12:35 PM.

Annie Munoz Parkinson’s Exercise Group meets via Zoom every Thursday 11 – 11:30 AM and Saturday 12 – 12:30 PM. You do not need to have Parkinson’s to join the group. 

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Categories
Blog

Making Safer Connections

Contributor Andre Greene

At this time, all ConnectAbility support groups and events are virtual. We look forward to meeting in person again once it is safer to do so. 

Prior to the COVID pandemic, ConnectAbility hosted over 20 support groups in our space. We provided a meeting place for several local organizations to facilitate groups that serve the disability community. In addition, we hosted our own events geared to support the disability community, which ranged from social groups to educational speaker presentations.

As we plan for individuals to physically return to groups and events in our space, ConnectAbility will be limiting the number of attendees to accommodate for social distancing and requiring all attendees to wear masks. Every group and event will require a registration or RSVP for those who wish to attend in person.

Those who wish to continue to access the groups and events virtually can simply join as they have during the pandemic. Executive director, Dawn Dixon, says, “This will allow people to attend however they feel most comfortable and will continue to provide the connections we have established with many during the pandemic.”

The virtual home meetings have allowed those from the disability community, who perhaps couldn’t attend group discussions previously, to become more involved, creating a sense of virtual community.  Joseph Saucedo is a regular attendee of the various virtual groups that ConnectAbility facilitated during the pandemic. His mother Mary, stated, “At first, we were worried about not having access to resources because of the pandemic, but he has been involved in many different programs on a regular basis.”  To ensure that continues, “the ConnectAbility strategy will be to offer groups both in person and virtually,” Dixon said. 

The team at ConnectAbility will adhere to the recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance so that attendees’ safety remains a priority. Tables will be sanitized between each group, all food and beverages will be individually prepackaged, and masks will be worn at all times. “Since we are housed in a rehabilitation hospital, we are following the protocols put in place by the hospital, which are somewhat more stringent than other types of businesses,” says Dixon.

Staff members of ConnectAbility will begin visiting people again in hospitals for care coordination, as hospitals allow visitors.  Home visits will return as well if the client feels comfortable.  Care Coordinators will conduct a COVID-19 screening prior to the going into any home and will be wearing masks at all times. 

Lockdowns over the past 17 months have forced many from the ConnectAbility community to “home experiment,” as in person meetings came to a standstill. ConnectAbility will continue serving the entire San Antonio community by linking people with life-altering disabilities to the resources they need.  Saucedo believes being able to make virtual meetings has allowed him to become more involved with the “virtual” community. Saucedo’s mother said it may be a bit of a physical challenge, but looks forward to joining in person ConnectAbility events as well.

Now as many places continue to open, while COVID-19 cases also increase, many organizations and institutions that serve the disability community are considering a “hybrid” model for the ability to continue making connections. This would allow for those who are ready and able to return to groups in person to physically attend, while also providing those who are unable or uncomfortable to attend in person the ability to still join virtually. 

 
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Categories
Newsletter

Summer Newsletter 2021

Updates, Resources, and a Dance Party!

July 2021
 
A letter from Dawn Dixon
ConnectAbility, Executive Director
 
Summer is here and at ConnectAbility we are thrilled to welcome you back into our offices in early August! We will begin to have support groups, workshops, Club Connect and other activities in our space, with safety protocols in place. Be sure to check your inbox in August to stay up to date with our in-person events! 
 
We will also be hosting a Flash Back to the 80’s and 90’s Dance Party event at Morgan’s Wonderland for our ConnectAbility members and a guest. This event will be a celebration of our coming back together as a community of people who truly enjoy being together, learning, having fun, and supporting one another.
 
We look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, stay safe and connected!
 
Cheers!
 
Dawn Dixon

HERO SPOTLIGHT
Jose Ricardo Serrano

Rosa Serrano is above all, Jose Ricardo’s mother and his primary caregiver. She is also like his therapist because she does everything possible to teach him how to say, pronounce, and write words. She teaches him to distinguish objects and what they are used for.
 
“It has taken a lot of patience and time, but God has given me the patience and wisdom to help him. My wish and my dream is for him to be able to talk and walk again. I know he won’t be like he was before because I know his brain will still be affected in some way. He suffers from a lot of headaches.”
 
Rosa says her Care Coordinator, Vinerys Rodriguez, has been an angel to her and her son. Vinerys supports them by always caring and checking on Jose and his progress. She considers that a sort of medicine for her son.
“I don’t ever stop thanking God because my son continues to recover little by little. The doctors told me my son wasn’t going to be able to talk nor walk, but for God everything is possible.
 
Always trust in God and reach out for help at ConnectAbility. Speak with them. They have been a tremendous support. God has put them in our lives to offer their support to help us continue the fight to help our loved ones.”

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT
Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services has been helping thousands of families with non-medical in-home care and assisted living referral services since 1996. Owners Wendy & Patrick O’Kane, who are San Antonio residents, have been taking care of families in our community for over 4 years with warm, compassionate, and professional care when seniors and members of our community need it most.
 
“It is the biggest blessing to work with ConnectAbility, who go above and beyond in providing truly excellent assistance to the clients they come alongside, and together we have experienced wonderful outcomes for clients we have partnered with to serve. This foundation profoundly changes lives for the better and inspires us to bring excellence in all we do!”
 
Always Best Care is a bonded and insured company with thoroughly screened and trained caregivers. They are ready and willing to serve all your special care needs today. Their hearts are big; Texas-sized big, and they love to share that joy with all they serve.
Debbie Trone – CALM, CDP, ADC – Director of Business Development
 
Debbie’s passion for senior care, patient advocacy, and a specialty in dementia care, has grown Always Best Care to incorporate care to not only seniors, but also those needing assistance at various stages of life with physical and cognitive needs.
 
With a background of Directing Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities, she specializes in coordinating and establishing care for those residing at home and community settings, to ensure the highest level of care and exceptional standards of service when care is needed.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 8 roma tomatoes, diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Rinse the chickpeas and kidney beans.

2. Finely chop the onion and parsley

3. Dice the cucumber and tomatoes.
 
4. Combine everything in a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.
 
5. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
 
The salad is best if you make it a few hours before serving. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Together we are creating a Virtual Cook Book that features easy and healthy recipes.
We would love to include yours! Send yours to contact@myconnectability.org!

EVENTS
Taylor'd For You Fashion Show

The annual Taylor’d For You Fashion Show celebrates a range of boutiques and designers while empowering people of all ages to embrace style trends tailored to their body types. This year, the show will be virtual. One of the designers presenting her collection is Kay Simpson, owner/designer of Fashion-ABILILTY. Her stylish clothing is individually adapted to the needs of women with mobility challenges.

Fashion-ABILITY models will include several people from the ConnectAbility community!

  • Shelia Brown, Support Group Coordinator/Peer Mentoring Coordinator
  • Mona Patel, Executive Director, San Antonio Amputee Foundation
  • Amber Gorman, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida support group

RESOURCES
Meditation

Meditation can help you find peace, strength, and resilience. There are many types – try and see what work best for you!
Categories
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: VIA Updates

In this Knowledge Series discussion on June 29, 2021, we heard from VIA and VIA Transit to discuss: What’s Happening Now & Upcoming Changes.

The presentation was led by Sylvia Castillo (Manager of Paratransit Operations) and Mike Dominguez (Community Engagement Specialist).

Categories
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Staying Healthy in Summer Sun

In this Bridging the Gap meeting on June 7, 2021, Dr. Brett Helmonds, D.O. shared information about staying safe in the heat of summer. He discussed: – CDC Recommendations – Heat Related Illness (Heat Stroke v. Heat Exhaustion) – Sunburns – Sunscreen – Dehyrdration – Pool Safety – Sunglasses

Categories
Blog

Exercising at Home

Contributor Andre Greene

Social distancing, self-quarantining, and the closure of many gyms made it more difficult to exercise over the past year. Even as more people get vaccinated and opportunities open up, there is great value in exercising at home. The heat of summer is already starting here in San Antonio, with temperatures too hot to safely exercise outside. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can incorporate exercise into your everyday routine at home.

How often do you exercise?

Daily exercise can improve your strength and mobility, decrease pain, and even improve independence according to Alejandra Garcia, physical therapist for Results Physiotherapy.

It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. As yoga teacher Adriene Mishler says, a little goes a long way. 

According to helpguide.com exercise and physical therapy can help ease depression, stress, anxiety, and aid in the management of chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

By finding new ways to get moving and stay motivated, you can take charge of your mood and well-being and regain a sense of control during this time of great uncertainty.

Garcia suggests the infographic below for some general chair exercises to help stay active and strong. 

Garcia recommends consulting your physician before starting any new exercise program. According to the Cleveland Clinic, patients who need assistance to move, are at risk for falls, have a movement disorder, or have a neurological injury with a functional deficit should continue in-person physical therapy, if possible. 

Exercise can be a form of Self Care

If you use exercise to keep up your energy and spirits in trying times such as these, you might be less inclined to turn to unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking too much, which can wear down your immune system.

Each week in our Events emails, we share yoga and meditation videos from the free Youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene. There are over 500 videos with varying lengths and focuses. Many of them focus on taking care of yourself, however you are today. Even a few minutes of mindful movement will benefit your overall wellbeing. 

The playlist below has seated yoga practices. 

Exercise outdoors

Scripps Health promotes getting fresh air while you exercise, by going out for a walk near your home, or at a park or trail near you. Just make sure its a location where you can keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others. Wear a mask if social distancing is difficult.

It is not safe to exercise outside when the weather is very hot or humid, so as summer approaches, you may need to schedule your outside exercise for early mornings or evenings.  Be sure to bring water with you!

Exercise with others

Daily exercise, even just a few minutes, is good for your mind and body. But sometimes it’s hard to get yourself motivated. You can find support and accountability by working out with others!

Whether in-person, through Zoom, FaceTime, or even just in spirit, knowing that someone else is exercising with you can be very motivational and fun!

ConnectAbility offers several exercise groups via Zoom each week that are free to join.

Annie Muñoz Parkinson’s Exercise Group

11 – 11:30 AM on Wednesday and 12 – 12:30 PM on Saturday

This exercise group was created in memory of Annie Muñoz.
 
You do not need to have Parkinson’s to participate.
 
To register, email Shelia at sbrown@myconnectability.org.
Hatha Yoga
11:45 AM – 12:45 PM on Wednesday (Except the 3rd Wednesday of the month)
 
Reduce stress and increase strength by joining the breath, mind, and body.
 
This practice is for all levels and will include standing, balance, and seated postures.
 
Meeting ID: 962 1932 6157
One tap mobile +13462487799,,96219326157# 
Dial-in: +1 (346) 248-7799
Meeting ID: 962 1932 6157
Chair Yoga
3 – 4 PM on Thursday
 
All are welcome to join this seated yoga practice. No experience needed!
 
Meeting ID: 929 7029 4308
One tap mobile +13462487799,,92970294308#
Dial-in: +1 (346) 248 7799
Meeting ID: 929 7029 4308
 
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