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Scam Summit Set for August 8

Plan to spend three hours learning about ways to protect yourself from fraudsters at the upcoming TARCOG Scam Summit 2024.

The event is scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bob Harrison Wellness and Advocacy Center, 6156 Pulaski Pike, in Huntsville.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at TARCOG empowers and assists Medicare beneficiaries their families and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors and abuse. The Scam Summit will also provide an overview of scams and fraud in Alabama and cover topics like:

·      Cyber security

·      Financial scams

·      Consumer fraud

·      Legal implications

In addition, exhibitors from state programs, community partners, nonprofit and community organizations and area businesses in the TARCOG region from DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties will be there to share educational information and valuable resources to attendees. For more information contact 256-830-0818 or email Teresa Hazzard at


July — Celebrating more than Independence Day

Celebrating the impact of  Independence Day, Older Americans Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicare and Medicaid & How TARCOG Helps

The Fourth of July may be one of the oldest celebrations for the entire country, but there have been other significant actions that are also important to recognize because of the impact on the nation’s older people and those with disabilities.

These laws and programs are among the reasons TARCOG exists to provide services to help the communities of DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties.

59th Anniversary of the Older Americans Act

On July 14, 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act authorizes a wide array of service programs through a nationwide network of Area Agencies on Aging (like Aging and Disability Services) and is a major source of federal funding.

The OAA, last amended and reauthorized on March 25, 2020, helps millions of our most vulnerable elders rely on the OAA for their health, economic security, and independence every year. Services include home-delivered and congregate meals; information and referral, counseling, and respite care for family caregivers; preventive health services; personal and home care services; transportation; legal assistance; elder abuse prevention; and other programs that help people grow old in their own homes. That’s where the majority of people want to live as they age.

The OAA is currently being discussed in Congress for reauthorization. With so many older adults in our population today and forecast in the next decade, more funding is needed.

34th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. The ADA is an important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services, and has led to greater societal understanding of disability, though there is still more to do to ensure all people with disabilities have equal access to everything enjoyed by people without disabilities.

Ever since July 1990, July has been known as Disability Pride Month. It is an opportunity to honor the history, achievements, experiences, and struggles of the disability community.

59th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which protect the health and wellbeing of millions of families throughout our country and improve the economic security of our nation.


Medicare is a health insurance program for people aged 65 or older as well as some who are younger who have permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. To sign up, go to and select “Apply for Medicare Only.”

For those with a disability, you have to sign up for Social Security Disability (SSD). Social Security has to approve you for a disability. Then once approved for SSD and after two years of being on disability you automatically will receive a Medicare card.


Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides low- or no-cost health insurance benefits for low-income people of all ages. Medicaid is solely based on a person’s income and assets.

The Alabama Medicaid Agency began operations on Jan. 1, 1970. It is a state and federal program that pays for medical and long-term care services for low-income pregnant women, children, certain people on Medicare, disabled individuals and nursing home residents. The individuals must meet certain income and other requirements. Many of the programs have transformed over the years, but the state’s vision and values have remained the same.


TARCOG was created in 1968. A year later when the Alabama State Legislature authorized creation of substate regional planing and development communions, the TARCOG area was already formed and functioning. In 1970, TARCOG became the sixth of 12 regional councils to have an Area Agency on Aging.

TARCOG can help you! How? Apply for Medicaid Waiver Services by calling TARCOG at 256-830-0818.

Acumen DCI Training Opportunity

If you are a Personal Choices Program participant, TARCOG is offering in-person, one-on-one, training sessions on the Acumen DCI Time Entry Training for Employers and Employees.

Each training session covers time entry and management options in the mobile app, web portal, mobile web, and phone (IVR).

If you would like to participate in the training, no reservations are required. Stop by the TARCOG office any time between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, June 17. A Personal Choices Counselor will conduct the training on a first-come, first-served basis.

The TARCOG office is located in the Research Park Office Center, 7037 Old Madison Pike, Suite 450, Huntsville. The trainings will take place in the Large Conference Room at the office entrance.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month


How Everyone Can Make a Difference

Looking forward to a future where older adults are treated with dignity, respect and compassion is TARCOG’s goal for observing World Elder Abuse Month throughout June, and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on Saturday, June 15.

“This year, we want to raise awareness about elder abuse, a pressing issue affecting our olde population,” TARCOG’s Area Agency on Aging Director Sheila Dessau-Ivey said. “Elder abuse is an act that harms our seniors and is often perpetrated by those they trust.”

Elder abuse is everyone’s business, Sheila said.

An aging adult has different internal and societal pressures for self-care. They have spent their adult life not only caring for themselves, but in most cases, being responsible for the care of others.

Sheila said adults moving into a phase of life where they need assistance to be independent can experience a challenge to self-identity and self-worth. Asking for help can be difficult.

Often, Sheila said many older adults who experience a decline in their ability to take care of day-to-day matters fear that asking for help will lead to loss of independence and possible placement in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Sheila said that by accepting help, a person will become more capable of maintaining their independence and living at home.

Sheila said TARCOG is here to provide and coordinate services to elders and others, which enable them to continue living at home and in their communities. Help is available by calling 256-830-0818.

TARCOG’s Elder Law Attorney LaTanya Rhines said older adults throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation. Elder abuse also creates health care and legal costs for our society. If you’re interested in learning how to can change this, visit

LaTanya said community education, supportive communities and accessible resources are essential to engaging older adults and preventing abuse. To learn more, visit

“Educating our communities on how to prevent abuse requires us all to do our part,” LaTanya said. “Recognizing abuse is the first step. It is also essential to know how to report and knowing what resources are available to help those being abused. Finally, you have to speak up – if you see something, say something.”

LaTanya said an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

“Working together, we can raise awareness and foster action to end elder abuse. Let’s work to keep everyone safe as we age,” LaTanya added.

If you suspect elder self-neglect or other abuse, you can call the Alabama Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214.

In an emergency, call 9-1-1

Medicare Fraud Prevention Week

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Each year, the week of 6/5, is observed as Medicare Fraud Prevention Week.

It’s important because Medicare loses an estimated $60 billion each year due to fraud, errors, and abuse. Every day, these issues affect people across the country and can lead to identity theft and cost you money.

“Medicare fraud has a devastating impact on both beneficiaries and the Medicare program,” said TARCOG’S Area Agency on Aging Director Sheila Dessau-Ivey, who oversees the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). “We teach people how to avoid experiencing Medicare fraud. By preventing fraud from happening, this program helps individuals and protects the Medicare program for generations to come.”

Sheila encourages the community members to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones with some simple tips.

Watch for warning signs of a scam.

  • Unsolicited calls, emails, or visits – someone contacting you out of the blue, claiming to be from Medicare and offering free services.
  • Requests for personal information – a demand for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or other personal information.
  • Pressure to act quickly – any threat that you’ll lose benefits or face other consequences if you don’t comply with a deadline, often by paying or providing personal information.
  • Billings with errors – charges for services or supplies that weren’t ordered, were never received, or that Medicare already covered.
  • Suspicious websites or mailings – fake websites created to look like official ones but that have inconsistencies, errors, or other odd elements.

How to Reduce your risk

  • Only share your Medicare and Social Security numbers with people you trust.
  • Carry your Medicare card only when you need it.
  • Keep a record of all your medical visits and procedures.
  • Carefully review Medicare statements for mistakes and charges you don’t recognize.
  • Trust your instincts and report any suspected fraud.

Ask for help

If you have questions about how to protect yourself, need to report fraud, or want help determining whether you’ve been a victim, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) can help. Call TARCOG at 256-830-0818.

SenioRx Is Saving Millions

Nearly $2 million in savings occurred for 90 new clients of the SenioRx program in the first half of TARCOG’s fiscal year.

Director of Aging Programs Sheila Dessau-Ivey said this type of savings on medications can make a big difference in the lives of those with disabilities or who are age 55 and older.

“Too often we hear from clients that they are choosing between buying their medications or food and this program allows us to help alleviate that pressure with our staff assisting them find a program for a lower cost or free medication that they need,” Sheila said.

What is SenioRx?

While the name of the program is SenioRx, it is not just for seniors. It is for anyone with a disability, regardless of age, or those who are 55 and older. The prescription medication assistance program has helped thousands of Alabamians receive free or low-cost prescription medications from pharmaceutical companies.

Eligible clients may receive a three-month supply of medication from pharmaceutical companies either free or at a reduced cost. Medication refills are permitted as long as the participant remains eligible for the program.

How to qualify?

To qualify for SenioRx assistance through TARCOG, an individual must be an Alabama resident of DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison or Marshall counties, and meet some of the following:

  • Age 55 or any age with a disability, if you have been deemed disabled by social security, have applied for disability, and are awaiting a decision, have a doctor’s declaration of disability, or you are in the 24-month Medicare waiting period.
  • Have a chronic medical condition that you take daily medication for
  • Have no prescription drug insurance or limited prescription drug coverage
  • Meet certain income limits (which varies by company)
  • Medicare Part D recipients may be eligible
  • Meet pharmaceutical company eligibility requirements which differ by company

Who to call?

For more information or to see if you qualify, contact:

DeKalb County — 256-845-8590

Jackson County — 256-259-9911

Limestone County — 256-233-6412

Madison County — 256-830-0818

Marshall County — 256-571-7805



A big crowd celebrates Older Americans Month at the Alabama A&M Agribition Center on Tuesday, May 14.

When Willie Mae Baker of Athens arrived at the Alabama A&M Agribition Center in Huntsville on Tuesday morning, she knew a good time was in store at the TARCOG Senior Fun Fest.

“It’s a big old fun thing I’m used to coming to,” said Baker, who has been attending the annual Fun Fest for at least 10 years. “I love it. I love it.”

Willie Mae was among about 800 from Northeast Alabama who enjoyed musical and dance performances, games, refreshments, lunch, and door prizes to celebrate Older Americans Month at TARCOG’s Senior Fun Fest in Huntsville on Tuesday, May 14.

Willie Mae Baker arrives for TARCOG’s Senior Fun Fest on Tuesday, May 14.

One thing was different for the 37th Annual Fun Fest. For the first time in the event’s history, it wasn’t held at Sharon Johnston Park in New Market.

TARCOG Executive Director Michelle Jordan said it was a tough decision because everyone loves the park. But the forecasted rain and storms forced a last-minute change to the Agribition Center, where events could be safely held indoors.

Aside from a few sprinkles throughout the morning, participants from DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties got to have their celebration before forecasted rain and storms later in the afternoon.

Brenda Littrell, of Paint Rock, attended her first ever TARCOG Senior Fun Fest this week and had a blast enjoying the music and activities.

Brenda Littrell, of Paint Rock, and Linda Larcom, nutrition coordinator for the Jackson County Council on Aging at TARCOG’s 37th Annual Senior Fun Fest.

“I love it, I love it, I love it I’ll be here again when you have it,” she said near the end of the event.

Seniors participated in the Fun Fest from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The honorary co-chairs of the event were Nancy Robertson, TARCOG’s former executive director, and Rene Breland, the agency’s former director of aging programs. This was the first regional Fun Fest since 2019 and since both retired from the agency.

The event was co-sponsored by the Madison County Commission, with Commission Chair Mac McCutcheon and Commissioners Tom Brandon, Violet Edwards and Steve Haraway attending.

McCutcheon and Haraway are TARCOG board members. Other TARCOG board members who participated included Limestone County Commission Chair Colin Daly, Athens City Councilman James Lucas, Huntsville City Councilwoman Jennie Robinson and Helen Carter, an Athens resident.

The event was held in Brandon’s County Commission District, where Sharon Johnston Park and The Agribition Center are located. County parks and recreation staff helped throughout the months of planning and on event day, Michelle said. The Agribition Center staff were also integral in making the last-minute venue shift.

“It takes a team effort to pull off an event of this size for our seniors,” Michelle said.

There were about 40 vendors and exhibitors which added to the fun environment with giveaways, activities, and snacks. There was a cooking lesson, photo sessions, and opportunities for health screenings among the many offerings of the day.

“It was truly a fun day for our seniors,” Michelle said. “We saw a lot of smiling faces and that’s the whole goal of this Fun Fest. We want them to have a day that’s all about them, and a chance to feel like a kid again.”

Senior Employment Success!

Bunny Graves

At age 84, Bunny Graves enjoys working for extra money with a job she landed through TARCOG’s senior job training program.

“It has helped me tremendously especially the way prices keep going up and up,” Bunny said. She reached out to John Sanders, manager of TARCOG’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) back in September 2022 after learning about the program while donating to a local charity.

“During Covid, prices started going up and while I felt like I had enough to survive, I thought it would be nice to have some pin money,” Bunny said. “If you don’t know what pin money is, it’s from a long time ago when the ladies used to save all their money from selling their bread, eggs or vegetables from their gardens so they could buy steel sewing pins, and that’s why it’s called ‘pin’ money.”

She hadn’t worked anywhere since 2011, but John said she had a solid work history and a great attitude. Placement during the pandemic was challenging, but he had assignments to keep Bunny busy until a placement worked out.

Bunny remembers going on a couple of interviews that just didn’t work out. But then, she went to the Robert “Bob” Harrison Senior Wellness and Advocacy Center in north Huntsville. That’s where she went into training as a front desk clerk on Dec. 6. 2022. Recently, the center hired her before it was time for her to move to another worksite with the four-year training program.

Working part-time, she fills in for staff if they’re busy, makes out membership applications, gives tours around the building, and helps in any way she can.

“Ms. Bunny has been a joy to us and our customers here at the Bob Harrison Center and her enthusiasm and brightness has brightened my days,” said Deitrick Smart, the center manager.

Bunny was the first SCSEP placement for the Harrison Center, but Deitrick said he’s expecting another trainee to assist with the Nutrition Program starting in June.

“It’s working out great for us,” he said.

John said the senior employment training program is a “win-win” for both sides. In Bunny’s situation, she will work 20 hours each week and her new job netted her a 29 percent pay increase. The senior center gained an employee with a proven track record.

LOCATION CHANGE for Senior Fun Fest

New Location: Alabama A&M Agribition Center, 4925 Moores Mill Road, Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE — Rain may be in the forecast but TARCOG’s Senior Fun Fest will go on rain or shine. The event location, however, is changing. For the first time in 37 years, Senior Fun Fest will be held at the Alabama A&M Agribition Center on Moores Mill Road in Huntsville, not at Sharon Johnston Park in New Market.

“This is our first regional Fun Fest since 2019, before the pandemic, and we do not want to disappoint those planning to come to our biggest event of the year to celebrate Older Americans Month” said TARCOG Executive Director Michelle Jordan. “After the damaging storms we experienced this week, and looking at the rain chances for next week, our team searched for a suitable indoor space rather than canceling.”

Jordan said the lineup and schedule will remain the same, except there won’t be an opportunity to fish.

“We will all miss the park, it’s a beautiful setting for a celebration,” Jordan said. “The important thing is that we won’t have to cancel Senior Fun Fest. It’s going to be a fun day of celebration that everyone who attends is sure to enjoy.”

Seniors will be coming to town from the entire TARCOG Region including DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties. Fun Fest is sponsored annually by TARCOG and the Madison County Commission, with ticket sales and other local businesses also providing financial support to offset costs.

Tickets are $7 and may be purchased at the event, which will be Tuesday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

While participants are arriving between 9 to 9:45 a.m., a Tai Chi for Arthritis class will be held before the festivities begin. Snacks and a boxed lunch will be served, and there will be entertainment, a photo booth, and activities like BINGO, Corn Hole, Nerf Ball Throw, Frisbee Throw, and more — plus door prizes.

More information is available by calling 256-830-0818, or