“Ouch,” but with a smile Annamarie Padula gets her cholesterol screening at Senior Health Forum. Photo by Marshall Smith

Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone hosted a senior health forum in Idyllwild, bringing with him representatives from the county Office on Aging, Office of Emergency Services and the Riverside County Adult Protective Services CARE program. Prime Care provided on-site cholesterol screening and blood pressure checks. The tests proved popular among attendees.


Of particular interest to Idyllwild seniors is a transportation assistance program, TRIP (Transportation Reimbursement and Information Project) offered through the Office on Aging, for seniors over 60 and people with developmental disabilities. Run by Riverside based nonprofit Independent Living Partnership, TRIP, which originated in Riverside, is now a national program available in many communities. It relies on volunteers to provide rides to eligible people needing transportation to doctor’s appointments, shopping and other needs.

Volunteers receive mileage assistance for trips provided to eligible people, currently at a rate of 32 cents a mile. Richard Smith, Independent Living Partnership executive director and TRIP general manager, said TRIP is already serving Idyllwild residents. In the program, riders choose their own drivers, usually friends or neighbors with whom they feel secure and comfortable. Riders schedule rides as needed with their volunteer drivers and the program’s database records the assistance and issues mileage reimbursements.

Smith pointed out that users of TRIP report their quality of life and overall health and happiness improve because of the program.

“By the end of this year, TRIP Riverside will have provided nearly 100,000 trips for people who would not have had adequate health service access or, in some cases, would not have been able to continue to live in their own homes. Travel with volunteer escorts of their choice is free to TRIP riders. What makes TRIP different from other volunteer drivers programs is the belief that older adults can be self-reliant when given the tools that are needed.” Direct inquiries to the county’s Office on Aging Help Line at (800) 510-2020.

Around 50 Idyllwild area residents attended the senior health forum, held on Wednesday, June 27, at the Idyllwild Nature Center.

The atmosphere was fun and festive although much of the information delivered was cautionary and designed to improve seniors’ quality of life, emergency preparedness and protection from scam artists and con artists that target seniors. Speakers included Office of Aging’s Assistant Director Michele Wilham who spoke about aging well and living longer; Ryan Uhlenkott, regional manager of Adult Protective Services, who spoke on preventing and reporting abuse, fraud and neglect of older adults; and Zuzzette Bricker and Alia Rodriguez from OES who discussed disaster preparedness on a budget. Complimentary starter disaster preparedness kits for seniors were distributed.

In introductory remarks, Stone, a pharmacist by training and trade, spoke of the county’s multi-agency coordination in providing information and services to its older adults. He characterized the Office on Aging as the gatekeeper for issues affecting seniors, the place to start to find assistance for a broad range of issues.

Stone spoke about the county’s activity in recovering money on behalf of elderly fraud victims. Adult Protective Services CARE (Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly) program, working with the county’s district attorney has recovered $39,485,000 of defrauded seniors’ money and saved $53,220,000 of seniors’ funds from being taken by fraud through intervention actions.

For a complete list of services provided through the county’s Office on Aging, visit their website at www.rcaging.org/opencms/services/index.html, or call the Help Line at (800) 510-2020.