Professional group shares ideas, support

LEWISTOWN – The Geriatric Interest Network is a group for professionals and certified volunteers with a particular interest in the geriatric community and it now meets once a month in Burnham.

The meetings are held at 11:30 a.m. on the second Friday of each month and provide an opportunity for those in a field serving senior citizens to connect and share ideas.

“We all have to work together,” said Janet Snyder, vice president of Geriatric Interest Network of Mifflin and Juniata Counties. “Everybody’s got their own niche.”

It’s not just for those in the health care industry either; the group is meant for any professional or certified volunteer who assists or provides professional services to the geriatric population. This could include members of the banking and real estate industries, lawyers, funeral directors, senior center managers, pharmacists and tax-preparation volunteers to name a few.

The group has held a few meetings already, with attendance of more than 20 people. Outreach Coordinator Beth Kauffman said discussions cover a range of topics. Changes in Medicare, nursing home or personal care home guidelines might be reviewed and minutes later, community involvement could be the subject at hand, with a call for volunteers to man a health screening or even a food stand at a fundraiser.

Either way, the goal of the group is for the professionals who work with seniors in the area to get to know, not only one another, but the services provided by their respective agencies. Those professionals can then aid the senior community with a better understanding of resources available, from small issues – like needing help with yard work – to those of great concern, such as elder abuse or an immediate need for supervised housing. Networking provides the contacts needed for fast reactions and solutions.

“We need to help the seniors. They need to know what their resources are,” Snyder said.

As a registered nurse with experience in home health services, Snyder said these connections are important because they help seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible.

“That’s what they want,” she said. “They want to be at home.”

The group’s next meeting is Friday at the Burnham OIP. Participants may purchase their own lunches. For more information, call Kaufmann at 248-1814.