Legacy Link, Inc. Explores Assistive Technology

“For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. 

For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
IBM 1991 training manual

Legacy Link is the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for the Georgia Mountains region, which services a 13-county area that includes Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White.  We also serve additional counties in our Senior Employment, SOURCE, and Ombudsman Programs.  

Recently, we launched our Assistive Technology Lab that is open to our community for tours and assistance.  We have over 75 items on display. 

Assistive Technology (AT) is an item or piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life, including at school, at work, at home, and in the community.  These items range from low-tech like walkers and shower chairs to high-tech by using your smartphone or computer. Assistive Technology helps people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, walking, and many other challenges.  Different disabilities require different assistive technologies.

In collaboration with Georgia’s Division of Aging Services and Georgia Tech’s Tools for Life, our goal with the AT Lab is to advocate for our seniors to secure these devices to enable independence in their home and community. Georgia Tech’s Tools for Life has put together a resource page on their website that shows funding sources and strategies to obtain funding. Medicare may cover some of the medically necessary devices.  A shower bench, walker, or cane can ensure mobility independence.  A simple gadget like Reminder Rosie can remind individuals when to take their meds or to call their doctor.  The Mail Chime Alert can let you know when the mail has arrived.  The Amazon Echo can be programmed from all over the world with an app where an adult child living in California can program medication reminders for their older parents in Georgia. The ideas are endless of how we can use these tools to support independence!  

For more information about the Assistive Technology Lab in the Georgia Mountains area, please contact Ginger Ragans, 770-538-2651 or visit our website, www.legacylink.org.


Assistive Technology Curriculum

Low-Tech Tools

*Pencil grips
*Pens, pencils, crayons, markers with extra-wide shafts
*Raised line paper, grid paper
*Reading guide
*Slant Board
*Paper holder
*Non-slip surfaces
*Magnetic letters, tactile letters
*Bar magnifier
*Rubber stamps
*Sticky notes
*Moisture guard
*Head pointer/mouth pointer
*Dowel (held i fist)

Mid-Tech Tools

*Digital recorder
*Electronic dictionary & thesaurus
*Portable notetaker
*Audio book
*Talking book
*MP3 player
*Mini-book light
*Switch-operated small appliances
*Step-by-step communicators
*Inexpensive augmentative communication devices

High-Tech Tools

*Desktop computer
*Augmentative communication devices

River Valley Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging Kicks Off Fiscal Year With a Roar

Eight (8) CDSMP lay leaders were certified in August and were all ready to start teaching interested persons how to manage their chronic diseases. The Lay Leader class was taught on August 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th. The first person to teach a CDSMP community class was Katrina Tanner of the RVRC/AAA. Pictured left to right: Jessie Dawson, Marcella Bryant, Yolanda Thomas, Nicole Gaither, Katrina Tanner, LaTanjulla Benjamin, Betty Martin-Woods, Rodney Rawls, Franetta Miles, Marie Peterson

Katrina taught a class at Waverly Terrace Senior Apartments where nine (8) seniors completed the class. (see photo below).  The class dates were Oct, 24th, 31st, November 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th.

Left to Right: Lay Leader Katrina Tanner, class participants, Johnny King, Lena Woodall, Beverly Hines, Patsy Brown, Bobbie Hardge, Ruhnell Bankston. Not Pictured: Master Trainer, Franetta Miles, class participants, Virginia Bailey, Patricia Davidson and Arthur Moton.
Virginia Bailey
Virginia Bailey, participant at the CDSMP Community Class at Waverly Terrace Senior Apartments

While taking the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program I have learned so many things to improve my health. For starters, I’ve improved my eating habits by reading food labels before preparing meals. I also learned that exercise can be fun if you start off at a speed which is suitable for you and then increase your regimen. I plan to continue with my Action Planning because it makes me feel better. I appreciate the much needed information. -Virginia Bailey

Marie Peterson of the RVRC/AAA is scheduled to begin a CDSMP community class on January 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th February 6th and 13th. This will be taught at Arbor Point Cottages and the class is filling up quickly!  Additional lay leaders trained in August are planning classes for the new year which will allow all eight (8) lay leaders to be certified within the required timelines.

Master Trainer Franetta Miles and guest Master Trainer Ilona Preattle taught a Matter of Balance Coach Class on December 13th and 14th to six (6) completers.

Pictured standing left to right: Isom Williams, Katrina Tanner, Robin McCord, Mary Fluellen, Linda Adams and Dean Lemmon. Pictured seated left to right: Master Trainer, Franetta Miles and Master Trainer, Ilona Preattle.

Tai Chi Flows to Mainstream

About 10 years ago, a Wheeler County senior was asked if she had ever done Tai Chi or Yoga for exercise.  Her answer:  “I eats that sometimes.”  She was unfamiliar with Tai Chi and Yoga.  Fast forward time to the present where Tai Chi is taught weekly at various locations in the Heart of Georgia Altamaha area.  Today, if you asked the same senior, she would likely demonstrate some of the moves from her Tai Chi class.  The word is out about Tai Chi!

The Tai Chi program taught in our service area is Dr. Paul Lam’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention.” It is a Sun style form where the body is upright and the moves flow continually.  It is easy, enjoyable, and safe for people to learn.  Medical studies have shown the program to relieve pain for people with arthritis and improve their quality of lives, as well as, improving balance and preventing falls for older adults.  For this reason, the Arthritis Foundation, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in America, and the United States Administration on Aging are giving it their full support.

The HOGA Area Agency on Aging Wellness Program Coordinator, Jennifer Crosby has fostered new partnerships in the area by offering Tai Chi.   She instructs Tai Chi at a senior center to assist in their senior center redesign to attract new participants.  It is their goal to provide programs for people throughout the community while still serving their congregate meal clients.  Mrs. Crosby instructs Tai Chi at a hospital to help address one of their top reasons for admissions:  falls.  The hospital’s network of doctors encourage their patients to sign up for the 12 week class to achieve better balance.  A seated Tai Chi class is offered at a local nursing home.  This class focuses on breathing, instructing Tai Chi movements, and stimulating brain activity with music and verbal cues.  Another partnership is with a state park.  A Tai Chi class contributes to their objective of a healthier, more active community.  These partnerships would not be possible without Tai Chi being in the mainstream of the Western world.

The Chinese have understood the health benefits of Tai Chi since the 19th century.  Ever since, the popularity of this martial art has grown steadily.  Currently, Tai Chi is practiced all over the world with over 300 million participants.  Providing the opportunity to learn Tai Chi adds value to the community by offering a safe and effective exercise to a population that is living longer.

Preparing for the holiday season in Northeast Georgia

From Elberton to Athens to Covington . . .

The Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging  serves a 12-county region in Northeast Georgia, including the Granite Capital of the World (Elberton in Elbert County), the home of the Georgia Bulldogs (Athens in Clarke County), and our own film-ready town (Covington in Newton County – do you recognize scenes from Sweet Home Alabama or the Vampire Diaries?).

Each of our senior centers has its own unique personality, too! Examples of activities offered include Zumba, ceramics, gospel choir, Bridge, Bingo, quilting club, walking club, senior yoga, and more! Our older adults enjoy a variety of weekly activities and special events, such as grocery shopping day, outings to Mayfield Dairy or Gibbs Gardens, and tailgating cookouts or Varsity Hamburgers and Hotdogs. Our wonderful senior center directors give of their time, creativity, and resources to provide enriching experiences for all of the older adults in our region.  

We currently offer the Living Well Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, A Matter of Balance falls prevention program, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers in our region. These evidence-based programs help our older adults manage chronic conditions or feel empowered when caring for a loved one with chronic conditions.

We also provide a monthly newsletter to our senior centers and several community partners with articles about pertinent nutrition, physical activity, lifestyle management, and medication management topics – as well as a simple but yummy recipe! You’ll find sample articles from our November newsletter below focusing on preparing for the holiday season.

For more information about wellness programs in the Northeast Georgia area, visit www.negahealthmatters.org or call Whitney Bignell at (706) 542-4067.

Too Busy to Exercise

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us yet again (and aren’t we excited?)! Here are some ideas to help you fit in activity during this busy season.

Stepping It Up

You don’t need a treadmill or track to get in more aerobic activity. Walk around the perimeter of the mall or grocery store once before you start shopping to get in extra steps.

Going for the Stretch

Sitting in the car or standing in lines can lead to stiffness. Do shoulder rolls, look side-to-side for neck stretches, and bend your knees to stretch your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to stay limber while you wait.

Strength in Cooking

Before opening cans while preparing dinner, do a few bicep curls to strengthen your arms, or do a few squats while waiting on a timer.

Care for the Caregiver

Being the caregiver for a loved one or family member with a chronic or debilitating condition can take its toll on you physically and especially emotionally. Infusing joy back into your life can help you better deal with the stress of care giving.

 Here are some tips:

  1. Create a joyful journal and add joyous, funny memories or things you notice throughout your day that make you happy.
  2. Celebrate the little things and treat yourself well. Take time out to pamper yourself.
  3. Eat well. When you are always putting others first, you may rush through your meals, skip meals, or not eat nutritiously. Make time for healthy eating and self-care, which will make you a better caregiver in the long run.
  4. Exercise when you can. This will boost your mood and energy. Even a slow walk outside can have benefits physically and emotionally.
  5. Surround yourself with happy and supportive people.
  6. Talk joyfully around the person you are caring for. Recall happy or funny memories with them, even if they don’t respond. It helps to remind you that your life consists of more than care giving.
  7. Cultivate gratitude. Research has shown that gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Your life may be full of uncertainties and difficult emotions, but finding things to be thankful for can help improve your mood.

Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes (Serves 8)

With the holiday season upon us, it’s nice to have at least a few “set it and forget it” recipes up our sleeves for busy shopping and decorating days. This delicious Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes is perfect for cooler evenings – and you’ll probably have enough for leftovers the next day! (Recipe courtesy of delish.com)


  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter


  1. Season chicken with basil, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; drain excess fat and set chicken aside.
  3. Place potatoes into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in olive oil, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the slow cooker in an even layer.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165° F.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and garnished with parsley, if desired.

Welcome to Georgia HealthMatters!

We at the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services and The University of Georgia Department of Foods and Nutrition are excited to announce the launch of our new website, Georgia HealthMatters! 

Our new website serves as a hub of information for our evidence-based health and wellness programs. You’ll be able to discover information about each of the programs in the Workshops tab here, as well as find workshops near you here.

If you’ve participated in a workshop previously and would like to become a facilitator, you can find information about our training programs here. We’ve found that the best lay leaders are those who have experienced change after attending a workshop, and we would love to help you serve as a leader!

We’re always looking for host sites for our workshops, so if your organization is interested in hosting a workshop, you can find information here.

You can keep up with our latest announcements by checking out our news and events tab, and we’ve also provided a list of resources to help you live healthy and live well.

We hope that you enjoy our new website and appreciate any comments and suggestions! Please feel free to e-mail us here.


Live Well!