NIAASC NEWSLETTER


NIAASC EXTENDS SEASONS GREETINGS AND PEACEFUL AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2003TO ALL

7 Roberta Avenue, Farmingville, NY 11738 WINTER 2002-03 ISSUE Editors: Rajeshwar Prasad & Ashwin Pandya MD

Web Site: www.niaasc.org E-mail: niaasc@aol.com Telephone # 1-866-6-NIAASC ( 1-866-664-2272)

( Since its inception, NIAASC has published its newsletters and/or progress reports. They are interchangeable. This newsletter is the ninth in the series)

BRIEF HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF NIAASC:

The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC), incorporated in early 1999, is a nonprofit 501C3 organization. Its mission is to serve seniors through information, referral and advocacy services. NIAASC has organized five full-day conferences and subjects covered included: Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare and Medicaid Basics, Long Term Care, Transportation, Family Conflicts & Compromises Faced by Seniors, Senior Housing, Respite Care, Process of Knowing and Availing Services for Seniors, and Elder Law. NIAASC through formal surveys, informal discussions and observations, has identified problems faced by Indian seniors in USA, their needs and aspirations. It has periodically published its newsletter and/or progress reports. Its representatives have appeared on television, written articles of interest to seniors and their families. Its pamphlet 'How to Set Up Senior Citizen Program' is available on request. Its collaborative efforts with the Hindu Temple Society of North America, India Association of Long Island, United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center, Seniors Group of New York which meets monthly at the Vaishnav Temple, and others have provided rich and valuable feedback on issues of seniors of Indian origin. Its Board of Directors is composed of individuals with dedication and professionalism in different fields. It provides a continuity of efforts by virtue of the fact that only one-third of its members retire every year, though eligible to be reelected. Its membership is open to all but decision-making rests with members 50 years of age and over. NIAASC remains to be an information, referral and advocacy entity without reinventing wheels and bringing to the attention of seniors and their families services available in their local communities and encouraging them to utilize the same.

NIAASC 2003 BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Officers:
Rajeshwar Prasad, president (631-698-0512), Ashwin Pandya MD, vice president (516-292-9741), Ashok Satkalmi Ph.D., vice president (718-343-9038), Mathew Koshi, secretary (718-441-7797), Romesh Tewari, treasurer ( 732-727-9456)
Board Members:
Sushila Gidwani-Buschi: Dobbs Ferry NY, Purushottam Karra: Edison NJ, Tara Kotecha*: Bellmore, NY, Kamla Motihar: Flushing NY, Manoj K. Patel Esq.: Jersey City NJ, M.K.Ramasubramanian: Fresh Meadows NY, Asha Samant DMD: Livingston NJ, V.N.Sehgal MD: Jackson Heights NY, Suprabhat Sengupta*: Flushing, NY, Chandrakant Shah: Floral Park NY, Vipin Shah: Old Bridge NJ, E.M.Stephen: Elmont NY, Satish Varma MD: New Hyde Park NY.

(* They are new Board members: Kotecha is a music lover and performer and Sengupta is a community activist with civil engineering background)

ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE SUMMER 2002

The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens has progressed steadily during the last few months and below is a capsule picture of its progress in different areas:

Information & Referral:

NIAASC produced its article, 'Front Line Support for Seniors' (appears in this newsletter also), which was published in various Indian Weekly newspapers, and posted on our and other web sites. The article 'Issues and Aspirations of Seniors in USA' produced earlier was modified and posted on the NIAASC web site. The findings for this article were based on surveys at various conferences and observations and inquiries received during various interviews and discussions in different settings. For the first time two NIAASC Board members appeared on October 28, 2002 on a WB cable TV in Queens, principally catering to Caribbean Indian community. Another TV appearance on December 05 was on a 'Live and Call-In' program at the ITV station as a part of ongoing series 'Aging in America'. During the last two years our web site has been browsed by about 950 visitors, and generated some calls on our toll free telephone. During the last six months we have received about two dozen telephone calls which were researched by NIAASC volunteers for appropriate referral or response. In all we have received about 60 calls in the last two years the toll free number has been in operation. The NIAASC organized its fifth 'Conference on Seniors' on Elder Law and Its Implications to Seniorson November 02, 2002. A report of the conference appears in this newsletter.

Collaborations:

NIAASC provided logistic and technical support to the Hindu Temple Society of North America (Society) which had the kickoff for a senior center at the Hindu Temple in Flushing, New York, on September 22, 2002. The keynote speaker on this occasion was Chan Jamoona, executive director of the United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center. She outlined the process of developing a program for seniors based on her experience when she started with seven seniors and currently serving about 120 seniors five days a week. Her program, the only one for Indian Americans, is now funded by the New York City government. NIAASC also helped the Society in their next informational meeting on Social Security on November 10, 2002. The Society plans to designate two apartments as seniors' center in an 8-apartment building under renovation.

NIAASC vice president, Dr. Ashwin Pandya, served on the panel of the fourth Senior luncheon program arranged by the India Association of Long Island on September 29, 2002.

NIAASC maintained an ongoing collaborative and working relationship with the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center (Center), and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. In this context representatives of the Center and NIAASC met with the Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi on November 14 followed by another meeting with Sharon Mullon, commissioner of the department of Senior Citizen Affairs, on November 18, 2002. At the November 14 meeting representatives had an opportunity to meet with other county officials who were invited by Suozzi to join. Among these officials were deputy county executive, Jack Gallaghar and executive director of health and human services, Mitchell E. Sahn.


FRONT LINE SUPPORT FOR SENIORS:

Appears under 'Articles of Interest' on the Web site



SENIORS OF INDIAN ORIGIN: A RESEARCH STUDY

The following brief summary of methodology, findings and recommendations of a study undertaken by Jyotsna Kalavar Ph.D. underscores the fact that a challenge lies ahead for the Indian community leaders to appropriately address issues of recent senior immigrants from India. Once details of the study are finalized, NIAASC will urge Dr. Kalavar to let the Indian community in USA know its salient points.

Recent Senior Immigrants from India
By Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar

This study involved telephone interviews with a sample of 100 older adults from India who relocated to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Further, case study methodology was employed with a sub sample of five individuals through follow-up interviews during home visits. Findings suggest that parents of adult immigrants often choose to immigrate late in life primarily for purposes of family reunification. A sizable percent of the sample were Hindus (83%), male (53%), widowed (57%), with a mean reported age of 72 years. The average length of residence in the United States was 5.7 years. The mean age at immigration was 66 years, 86% reported having some form of health insurance, and 95% reported an individual annual income of $6500 or less. This contrasted sharply with estimates of household income provided by the seniors, an important consideration since the majority of them lived in multi-generation households. This suggests that individual income rather than estimates of household income are an important consideration with this group.

Self-reported health ratings were negatively correlated with age, but positively correlated with individual income. What this means is that as age increased, the health rating became poorer. Those who reported higher incomes reported more favorable health ratings than those with lower incomes. Education and English proficiency are positively correlated with one another, and they are negatively related to level of acculturative stress. In short, those with higher education were fluent in English and these seniors also reported low levels of acculturative stress. Acculturative stress refers to stress associated with the demands of a new culture. Acculturative stress levels are an important consideration since they seem to be closely related to depression.

On open-ended questions about life in the United States, the main theme was isolation. This was linked to limited transportation access, minimal social opportunities, and reported language barriers. Concerns with health coverage, inter generational relationships and role reversal were also expressed.

What does this all mean?
1. Seniors who desire to immigrate to the United States should be educated on the lifestyle here, the challenges they face without English language fluency.
2. It is recommended that expectations between generations be clearly defined at the onset so the scope for misunderstanding or miscommunication is minimized.
3. By cultivating late life interests/hobbies, seniors can maintain reasonable activity levels.
4. Community integration is important. The Asian Indian community should take the initiative of developing senior networks/resource groups for seniors. Inter generational programs within the community (such as Adopt a Grandparent') are one of several such opportunities available. Such integration need not be limited to the Asian Indian community.

The findings highlight the need for gerontological research that is culturally attuned to the needs of Asian Indian elders so service delivery may be optimally provided.

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Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar is an Assistant Professor & Program Director of the Department of Human Development & Family Studies at Penn State University's New Kensington campus. Based on her graduate research, she is the author of a book, "The Asian Indian Elderly in America" that was published by Garland Publishers in 1998. She is a member of NIAASC and had been a speaker and a panelist at one of NIAASC conferences.
FIFTH CONFERENCE ON SENIORS: ELDER LAW

The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens had its fifth interactive full day 'Conference on Seniors' on Saturday, November 02, 2002 in Elmont, New York in collaboration with the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center.The subject was 'Elder Law and Its Implications to Seniors'. Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO president and E.M.Stephen, Center president had a leading role in the conference deliberations.

Glimpse of Attendees:

About 50 people attended the conference. A number of representatives from organizations involved with senior programs were represented; notably among them were: Chan Jamoona, executive director and founder president of the United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center in South Ozone Park, the only program funded by City of New York government and running five days a week serving more than 100 seniors; Nirmala Ramasubramanian, chairperson of the Senior Citizens Committee at the Hindu Temple in Flushing which had a kickoff of senior center on September 22, 2002; Dr. Ashwin Pandya and others from Senior Citizens Group of New York which meets monthly, at times twice a month, at the Vaishnav Temple in Holliswood, attended by about 60 seniors; Sudha Acharya, president of the South Asian Council for Social Services; Kris Kalra, MSW, from Queens Hospital Center, representing the Hindu Center in Flushing; Monica Nandan, an activist on senior issues from St. Joseph, Missouri; Ashok Satkalmi Ph.D. (president) and Sharad Narvekar from Nav Nirmaan; Avinash Suri, immediate past president of India Association of Long Island which has arranged four senior luncheons; and Dr. Uday Naval, a noted academician and ardent supporter of senior programs in USA. Almost all the above groups were cosponsors of the conference. In addition, the conference was financially supported by HOUSE OF SPICES (India) Inc., New York, Comprehensive Financial Services Inc. Dobbs Ferry, New York and Jessica Tour and Travel Enterprise: web site: www.travelwithjessie.com. Individuals sponsoring the conference included Dr. Ashvin Doshi, Chan Jamoona, Satpal Malhotra, Muthu G. Mudaliar, Dr. Ashwin Pandya, Dr. Anjali Pandya, Manoj Kumar Patel Esq., Rajeshwar Prasad, Prem N. Prasad DSW, Ashok Satkalmi Ph.D., Arundhati Satkalmi, Avinash Suri, Romesh Tewari, Asha Samant DMD and Dr. Arun Samant.

Keynote Speech and Panel Presentations and Discussions

In her keynote speech, Marianne Artusio, professor at the Law Center in Huntington, articulated that one should make decisions with regard to their legal, health-related and financial planning issues as early as possible. She emphasized that in absence of instruments such as power of attorney, living will, process after the death of a loved one can be very painful, costly and arduous for family members. At the panel presentation and discussion three more attorneys and counselors of law joined Artusio: Amy Siegel, Brian Andrew Tully and Manoj Kumar Patel. Step by step the panelists provided helpful information and underscored the importance of these issues: long term care planning, estate planning, impact of immigration on seniors and their families particularly in light of Welfare Reforms Act of 1996, health care proxy, Medicaid asset protection, durable power of attorney, real estate and joint bank accounts. Dr. Ashwin Pandya
in moderating the panel, stated that "by virtue of our nature and lethargy, we do not think of the unforeseen." Based on his professional expertise as a practicing psychiatrist and his personal experience he described that families go through a difficult and hardship phase after the death of a loved one. Their grief is aggravated by bureaucratic layers in their efforts of sorting out many issues.
In his brief remarks, Muthu G. Mudaliar, identified the importance of health insurance and affordable prescription drugs. He indicated that financial planning goes hand in hand with many components described at the conference.

Remarks by Chief Guest:

The conference participants were grateful to hear chief guest Honorable Uma Sengupta, an eminent personality, actively involved with state politics. She in her brief remarks outlined as to how she had developed a Montessori school and has been able to provide necessary tools and services to children and their parents. She asked that since there is a growing need for adult day care services for Indian seniors, NIAASC and other organizations should focus on that. She assured the audience of her full-fledged support in their ventures.

Helpful Understanding of Legal Terms:

A brief definition of legal terms/instruments below has been adapted from presentations made at the above Elder Law conference by Brian Andrew Tully Esq., Amy Siegel and Marianne Artusio Esq., and presentation made by Michael N. Connors Esq. at the fourth Senior Luncheon program by India Association of Long Island. It is recommended that one should seek guidance and advice of an attorney, preferably one specializing in Elder Law, for full explanation of these and other (not included here) legal terms and instruments. Other instruments may be Revocable or Irrevocable Trust, Long Term Care Planning Instrument including Medicaid Asset Protection.

Living Will:
A Living Will provides an unequivocal written declaration of your specific medical treatment preferences and provides the "clear and convincing evidence" required by law of an incapacitated individual's desire to receive or refuse medical treatment. If you complete a Health Care Proxy and also have a Living Will, the Living Will provides instructions for your Health Care Agent regarding treatment and will guide his or her decisions. The Living Will must specify and define the treatment being allowed or disallowed and must specify under what circumstances the treatment should or should not be administered. A Living Will must be signed and dated in the presence of two adult witnesses and remains in effect until specifically revoked.

Health Care Proxy:
A Health Care Proxy (proxy) allows you to appoint a Health Care Agent (agent) to make all health care decisions for you in the event that you can no longer make such decisions for yourself. You may also empower your agent to make decisions for you regarding life sustaining treatment. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow an agent's decisions as if those decisions made by you. For the proxy to be valid, the individual must be a competent adult when he or she signs the proxy and the individual must sign the document in the presence of two adult witnesses, neither of whom may be the persons appointed as agent. A proxy may remain in effect indefinitely or may expire upon a certain date or certain event.

Will:
A will is a written declaration, witnessed at least by two people, of how a person desires his or her real and personal property to be disposed of after his or her death. A will may be changed at any time during its maker's lifetime. A will takes effect only upon the death of the testator. Property passing under a will does not avoid probate. (Probate is a court procedure to prove a will is valid). Without a will, upon a person's death that person's assets are disposed of according to the state law.

Durable Power of Attorney:
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you (the "Principal") to name an agent, referred to as the "attorney-in-Fact" to manage your financial affairs, presently or in the future, should you no longer be able to do so yourself due to physical disability or mental incapacity. For a Durable Power of Attorney to be valid, the Principal must have legal capacity at the time it is executed, and the instrument must be acknowledged by the Principal before a notary public. It is important to note that the agent appointed under a Durable Power of Attorney is not empowered to make health care decisions for the Principal. For that you need another document called Health Care Proxy.

Joint Bank Accounts:
A joint bank account is a bank account held between two people. Upon the death of one joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant becomes absolute legal owner of the entire account, and probate is not required.

Kerala Center in Elmont Recognizes NIAASC President:

The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, at its 10th Annual Awards Dinner on November 16, 2002, recognized Rajeshwar Prasad, NIAASC president for his community service.In his comments, Prasad underscored the importance of different regional groups and associations coming together for betterment of community by "unifying our energy and resources". As a minority in the USA, we become weaker if we focus only on issues reflecting our region and province in India. Despite our rich social and cultural values of the region in India we come from our focus should be more as persons of Indian origin. He emphasized that presently many of us overlook that broad perspective and determination, and thus remain divided and weakened.

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Donors /Sponsors During the Year 2002

The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens acknowledges with gratitude financial support from the following corporations, associations and individuals during the year 2002. Without this help NIAASC would not have accomplished its tasks. We urge you to become members of NIAASC. The membership helps in expanding NIAASC work in other areas. Please fill out the membership/donation form in this newsletter and be a part of the group dedicated to provide information, referral and advocacy to seniors of Indian origin in this country.

$500 & Above Ashwin & Anjali Pandya

$ 250 to $499 House of Spices

$ 100 to $249 Comprehensive Financial Services (Sushila Gidwani-Buschi),
Global Organization of People of Indian Origin,
Indian American Cultural & Civic Center Kerala Center,
Jessica Tours & Travel Enterprise (Jessie Nagpal),
Rajeshwar & Prem Prasad , Anumolu Rao,
Ashok & Arundhati Satkalmi, Arun & Asha Samant.

$50 to $99 Ashvin Doshi Chan Jamoona Sat Paul Malhotra
Manoj Kumar Patel Muthu G. Mudaliar Rajul Shah
Avinash Suri Romesh Tewari

Under $50.00 Uday Naval Naginder Singh Annie Koshi
Samir Kumar Dutta

Professional Affiliations:

Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar, assistant professor at Penn State University completed her research on Indian seniors. The study was supported by National Institute on Aging. NIAASC had helped in sample and interview selection. (The draft study findings appear in this newsletter). NIAASC also collaborated with a project undertaken by C W Post University's department of Social Work & Center on Aging. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the pilot project is to train volunteers as caregivers for frail elderly in Long Beach, New York. NIAASC also provided information to the South Asian Public Health Association, based in Maryland, for an article 'Elderly Care' by Abhijit Ghosh MPH & Rashmi Gupta Ph.D., LMSW. The article has been recently published in the book: The Health of South Asians in the United States.

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This newsletter has been partly supported by Dr. Ashwin Pandya, a practicing psychiatrist and community leader. Ashwin has been involved with running senior programs at the Vaishnav Temple in Holliswood and at the Gujrati community hall in Queens.
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FACTS YOU MAY LIKE TO KNOW:

* Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $58.70 as of January 01, 2003. There are special State programs that can help you pay your premium and other medical costs, if you have low income and savings. You must have Medicare Part A. For more information, call 1-800-MEDICARE. You may also visit the web site: www.cms.hhs.gov/

* As of January 1, 03 Social Security and SSI Benefits increase by 1.4%

* Maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable income) is $87,000.00. This will result in an increase by $130.20 for each employee bringing the total deduction for tax to $5,394.00. For self-employed the increase will be $260.40 bringing the total tax to $10,788.00

* Note the new Social Security web site for East Asia, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. The web site takes you to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders: www.ssa.gov/aapi/

* Social Security provides interpreter services free of charge to people visiting their office. Just call six weeks ahead of time. The telephone number to call is : 1-800-772-1213.

* Beware of IDENTITY THEFT: If a thief steals your personal information, it can be devastating. Be careful with anything that contains your name, birth date, Social Security number, and Account number. These are the tools of the identity theft.

* Indian American community is the fastest growing community in the USA as per US Census 2000 - increasing by 106% in ten years reaching almost 1.7 million. More than half of the Indian Americans (about 990,000) live in the following five states: California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Texas. As per NIAASC estimates about 100,000 people in these five states are above the age of 60.

FIVE STATE UNITS ON AGING: (Source: National Association of Area Agencies on Aging)
As indicated in 'Front Line Support for Seniors' article, here are five State Units on Aging, where close to a million people of Indian origin live: You can also call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 for any state unit or AAA.

State Agency Name Address Telephone # of AAAs
(PIO* figures rounded)

California California Department 1600 K Street, Sacramento 916-322-3887 33
(315,000) of Aging CA 95814

New York New York State Office for the Empire State Plaza Agency 518-474-5731 63
(252,000) Aging Bldg. 2, Albany NY 12223 800-342-9871(instate)

New Jersey Division of Senior Affairs, P.O.Box 807 609-943-3345 21
(169,000) Dept. of Health & Senior 240 West State Street 800-792-8820(instate)
Services Trenton, NJ 08625

Illinois Illinois Department on Aging 421 E. Capitol Avenue #100 217-785-2870 13
(125,000) Springfield IL 62701 800-252-8966(instate)

Texas Texas Department on Aging P.O.Box 12786 512-424-6840 24
(129,000) Capitol Section (zip 78711) 800-252-9240
4900 N. Laman Blvd. 4th fl.
Austin, TX 78751
* People of India Origin

NIAASC MEETINGS: GENERAL BODY

Following the conference, NIAASC had its annual general body meeting. NIAASC president, Rajeshwar Prasad, gave progress report of NIAASC activities. He focused on collaborative working relations with a number of community groups such as the Hindu Temple Society of North America, United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center, India Association of Long Island in their efforts to address issues of seniors of Indian origin. He also elaborated on many inquiries received on the toll free telephone number of NIAASC and how NIAASC volunteers research those inquiries to the satisfaction of callers. He brought to the attention of participants a study just completed by Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar of Penn State University where NIAASC helped in facilitating sample selection and interviews with seniors in New Jersey and New York. He pointed out to an article developed by NIAASC 'Front Line Support for Seniors' which has appeared in many Indian weekly newspapers as well as on various web sites.
The NIAASC treasurer, Romesh Tewari, informed the NIAASC members that the annual financial statement ending March 31, 2002 had been mailed to all members in July 2002. New members can get copies of the statement. The chairman of the Nominating Committee, E.M.Stephen, presented its report. He informed that as per NIAASC Constitution and Bylaws, one-third of its Board members retire every year. Of the six members of the Board retiring on December 31, 2002, five had opted to continue and they were being recommended for reelection for a 3-year period. The committee has also selected two new members and recommended their election. They are Tara Kotecha, for a one-year term ending December 31, 2003, and Suprabhat Sengupta, for a term of two years ending December 31, 2004. The General Body approved recommendations made by the Nominating Committee. (Full roster of Board members as of 01/01/03 appears in this newsletter).

ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

As per NIAASC Constitution and Bylaws the first organizational meeting of the Board of Directors was chaired by the chairman of the Nominating Committee, E.M.Stephen. He was assisted by Dr. Ashvin Doshi in conducting the election of NIAASC officers. The current officers were unanimously elected for a 2-year term ending December 31, 2004.

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1. Bring to our attention senior person for his or her contributions and accomplishments.
2. If you know of any program for seniors in your area, please let us know with name(s), contact person, address, E-mail & telephone #. NIAASC will be pleased to contact the program person.
3. BE A MEMBER OF NIASSC: Together we all can do a better job. Let us expand the base of NIAASC.
4. If you know someone who will be interested to be on NIAASC mailing list, please let us know.
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BE A MEMBER OF NIAASC: FILL OUT THE MEMBERSHIP FORM AND MAIL TO

National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens Inc.
7 Roberta Avenue,
Farmingville, NY 11738

READ THE MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS, MISSION AND OBJECTIVES OF NIAASC ON THE WEB SITE.