Your involvement is essential to our success! Help HESSCO make a difference for consumers in South Norfolk County. We are a vital link for area elders, individuals living  with a disability and their caregivers in support of safe and independent living at home.



HESSCO provides support for elders and those who care for them. Services include but are not limited to: home care services, caregiver support, nutrition and nutrition counseling, information and referral, money management and more.



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Eldercare Q&A April, 2017 Getting Older, Staying In Shape

By |March 27th, 2017|

Q: As I get older, does it really matter to stay physically active?

A: Absolutely. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. There are many benefits from physical activity:

Eldercare Q&A March, 2017 Getting The Most From Your Drug Plan

By |March 27th, 2017|

Q: Is there more to using a drug plan than just selecting one?

A: Yes. Many people select a drug plan and then forget about it. But older adults report that medication costs and not understanding their drug benefits are major challenges. Seniors want simple information on cost, coverage and provider networks  to get the most out of their drug benefits.

People on Medicare are receiving their new prescription drug plan materials. It may be a Medicare Part D plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), but you can save money and avoid medication mistakes by understanding your benefit.  Q&A ElderCare March, 2017 Getting the Most From Your Drug Plan

Eldercare Q&A February 2017 Helping the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

By |March 27th, 2017|

Q:What’s the difference between hard of hearing and deaf?

Hard of hearing (HOH) refers to people who still have some useful hearing, and can understand spoken language in some situations, with or without amplification.  QA Feb 2017 Helping the Deaf Hard of Hearing

Eldercare Q & A Helping the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

By |January 11th, 2017|

Q:What’s the difference between hard of hearing and deaf?

Hard of hearing (HOH) refers to people who still have some useful hearing, and can understand spoken language in some situations, with or without amplification. Most HOH people can use the phone and use hearing aids. Deaf people, on the other hand, have little or no hearing. They may use sign language of speech reading, and a hearing aid may help make speech understandable. People who use spoken English to communicate are called “oral deaf.” Most deaf people lost their hearing before they learned spoken language, and they see hearing loss not as a medical condition that needs to be corrected, but as a cultural distinction.

People who are “late-deafened” are those who lost all or most of their hearing during or after their teen years. Most need sign language or speech reading to understand conversation, and cannot use the telephone. In many cases doctors can’t determine what causes deafness later in life, but some common causes include: exposure to loud noise, aging, meningitis, accidents/trauma, virus, Meniere’s disease, and tumors of the acoustic nerve. If you experience a sudden drop in hearing, unexpected dizziness, drainage from your ear, or significant pain in your ear or head—contact your doctor.

Acquired deafness is a traumatic loss, especially for people who lose their hearing suddenly. People who are born deaf never feel this overwhelming sense of loss, because they never experienced hearing. But for adults who become deaf, the sense of loss can be devastating. They may go through a grieving process that lasts months or even years. This loss also strikes people who gradually experience hearing loss.

Newly-deafened people often report a feeling of isolation and loneliness. But deafness does not mean that your recreational or social life has to stop. You can still do many of the same things you used to do, just do them differently.

There are some special concerns for the elderly. The incidence of hearing loss increases dramatically with age. One third of all people over the age of 60 and 50% of people over 80 have some form of hearing loss. Hearing impairment in the elderly can seriously affect their safety, quality of life, and ability to live independently. Some seniors are not comfortable with new technologies like assistive listening devices or close captioned TV. The small controls on hearing aids may be hard to use. Seniors may be anxious about being able to remain living at home, and may be unaware of safety alerting devices and other assistive technology.

The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing can be used as a central point of contact for seniors and their caregivers. Their website is Much of the information in this column is taken from The Commission’s publication, The Savvy  Consumer’s Guide To Hearing Loss. This publication lists organizations that offer support services, medical help, financial assistance and benefits programs, communications options, assistive technologies, and real life coping skills. Call 1-800-882-1155, or 617-740-1700 (TTY) to get a copy of this book.

Caring for Elderly Parents? There’s an App for That

By |December 16th, 2016|

New InfoSAGE app will assist multiple family caregivers coordinate care of loved one

This former journalist helps caregivers get to know who their patients once were, before dementia took hold

By |December 16th, 2016|

This former journalist helps caregivers get to know who their patients once were, before dementia took hold

Eldercare Q&A January 2017 – The Importance of Vaccines for the Elderly

By |December 7th, 2016|

Q: Is it important for seniors to keep up on their vaccines?

A: Yes. A number of diseases which can be prevented with vaccines can cause significant illness, hospitalization, disability, and even death.

Older adults are more affected than most people by these diseases. According to the Alliance for Aging Research, more than half of the annual flu-related hospitalizations, and 90% of the annual flu deaths, are in people age 65 or over. Roughly half of the 1 million annual cases of shingles in the U.S. are in people over the age of 60. Even though seniors are hit harder by these illnesses, vaccination rates among the elderly are low.  Q&A Jan 2017 Vaccines and the Elderly

The Alzheimer’s Laboratory

By |November 28th, 2016|

An extended family in Colombia with a genetic mutation causing Alzheimer’s may help scientists prevent the disease someday. Lesley Stahl reports on the groundbreaking study.

Care for the Caregiver The Journey Fall 2016

By |November 10th, 2016|

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The Journey Fall 2016

Eldercare Q&A December, 2016 Drug Abuse & The Elderly

By |October 27th, 2016|

Q: Is drug abuse an issue with older people?

A: Yes.  Little attention has been paid to the issue of substance abuse—both legal and illegal drugs–among the elderly. But recent data demonstrates that drug abuse is increasing among elders, and is a larger proportion of all substance abuse among this population.

One study in 2011 reported that 6.3% of those age 50 to 59 reported they had used illicit drugs in the past month, more than twice the rate recorded in 2002. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) haved a lifetime rate of illicit drug use higher than those of people older than them. The number of older adults needing treatment for substance abuse is estmated to increase from 1.7 million in 2000 to 4.4 million by 2020.

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs among people 50 years and older is predicted to increase to 2.7 million American by 2020, and one recent study of elderly men in hospital emergency rooms showed that 11.6%  involved opioid use—a rate nearly 5 times higher than marijuana, and 6 times higher than cocaine.

One large study of emergency department admissions in 2008 for illicit substance abuse among adults over age 50 years noted that nearly 60% were aged 50 to 54 years, while only 1.5% were over age 75 years. Substance abusers were 70%  male. The substances most commonly abused include cocaine (50%–60% of cases), heroin( 25%), and marijuana ( 20%).

Researchers define “early onset users” as  individuals with a long history of substance abuse, who continue to abuse as they age. “Late-onset” substance abuse is a less common pattern, accounting for less than 10% of substance abuse among the elderly. Some elders who start abusing drugs do so because of medical factors, like higher rates of painful medical conditions that push the elder toward self-medication, and the development of psychiatric conditions like  depression or dementia. Older adults also suffer from higher rates of many of the same risk factors found in younger adults—like bereavement, social isolation, financial difficulties, or poor support systems

Some studies suggest that in recent years prescription opioids have replaced heroin as the opioid of choice, including among the elderly. But among people who were early users of illicit drugs,  heroin has been a drug of choice for so long that changing trends are not immediately reflected among elderly users.

The most common addiction among the elderly is with legal substances, like nicotine and alcohol. Psychoactive prescription drugs come in third, and illegal drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, or narcotics, come in fourth. One study of alcohol use in assisted living  found that 60% of residents drank alcochol, 34% drank daily, 19% had health impacts from drinking, and 12% had physical or psychosocial harm from alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a risk factor for a psychiatric illness: older adults are 3 times as likely to develop as mental disorder if they have a lifetime diagnosis of alcohol abuse.

Some studies recommend that every 60 year old should be screened for alcohol and prescription drug use/abuse as part of their routine  physical exam. But diagnosis of elder drug abuse is a challenge for primary care doctors. Older patients may feel compelled to hide their abuse. Doctors  may become absorbed with other medical concerns and neglect to explore the possibility of substance abuse. Bringing more attention to elderly drug abuse will hopefully encourage physicians to become more comfortable learning about treating older substance abusers.