Porter County Aging and Community Services

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on October 13, 2021 with No Comments

Online options now available to schedule your ride 

Diana Iltzsche leads a recent session of the WISE program.

By Bruce Lindner, executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services

While the transportation program continues to serve Porter County residents as a door-to-door demand response service, there are now more ways to schedule a ride.

PCACS has transitioned to RideCo, which is an on-demand transit software service. 

PCACS bus riders will be able to schedule a same-day ride – if available – through an app or online through the PCACS RideCo website: www.book.pcacs.rideco.com.  

While you can still call into our transportation department, you now have the opportunity to schedule a ride on your phone or laptop. 

The biggest benefit is that the software tracks our buses in real-time, so riders will not have to schedule appointments days in advance. This should translate into transporting more community members to where they need to go.

You can find the app by searching for “Porter County ACS” and adding it to your phone or laptop. Besides going to the link above on your computer, we also have the link easily accessible on our website. Of course, you can still call our transportation department at 219-462-4302.

Service hours are Mon., Wed. and Fri. with a first pickup time at 6:30 a.m. and last drop-off at 5:00 p.m. On Tues. and Thurs., the first pickup is at 7:30 a.m. and last drop-off at 4:00 p.m.

The cost remains $1 for one way and $2 for a round trip. People with disabilities ride free. Seniors in need can apply for subsidies to cover the cost of transportation.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to incorporate this new process into our everyday operations.

For more information, visit www.portercountyacs.org/transportation-program.

Exploring aging

As a retired teacher and educator, Diana Iltzsche understands the power of education – even for community members over 50.

She leads WISE classes as the Prevention Education Coordinator for Older Adults through Porter Starke Services.

“Wellness education really describes this best,” she said. “The course covers issues that affect older adults, such as healthy aging, risk and resiliency, lifestyle choices, medication awareness and alcohol use.”

As a facilitator of the Wellness Initiative for Senior Education, she teaches the six-week course with each session at two hours. She teaches along with other presenters and partners with local organizations to host the course, such as the Valparaiso YMCA and Banta Senior Center.

At the core of the program are the possible challenges that individuals face as they age. Activities and discussions help provide ways to navigate these new challenges and live a happy and healthy life.  

“The medication lesson is very full of information from where to store medications to how alcohol affects certain medicine,” she said. “The addiction lesson goes over the effects of alcohol as we age and gambling – a growing issue for older adults as well.”

Iltzsche said while she has had to modify the class environment due to COVID, the group still meets in person and has open discussions for a level of peer learning.

“We have had groups that worked on how to talk to your doctor. We went over different options and participants shared their best ways,” she said. “It’s not just about telling and talking at the group. There are a lot of opportunities built into the program for sharing experiences and resources with one another, and they learn from each other. The nice thing is after meeting for six weeks some attendees develop new friendships and keep in touch with people.”

Iltzsche has been leading the program since last summer after Porter Starke sought out the grant through the State of Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. She covers Porter and Starke counties.

WISE is an evidence-based program that grew from increasing numbers of older adults misusing alcohol and substance abuse. Launched in 1996, WISE has research-backed outcomes, and the class is well received.

“This has been well researched,” she said. “It has a strong record to make a difference, and 83 percent of participants will make some kind of change to their lifestyle after taking the class. 

“As part of the risk and resiliency lesson, we look at the 10 causes of death and what impacts those. We can make lifestyle choices for healthy living.”

For Iltzsche, she was pulled back into work five years after retirement because of the goals of the program, which has really taken her full circle.

“The program had been so well researched that my ears really perked up that it was something worth doing,” she said. “I taught fifth grade for a number of years, and we would go over puberty and body changes for boys and girls and DARE always had strategies for keeping kids off drugs. WISE reminds me of those two programs put together as aging is not something that anyone really talks about, and there is so much information on many topics that affect older adults. 

“We are paying more attention to seniors as older adults are facing one of the fastest growing health issues in our country: the misuse of alcohol and drugs, including prescription medications.” 

You can schedule a WISE class for your group or organization of 50+ adults by contacting Diana Iltzsche at diltzsche@porterstarke.org or call 219-476-4678.

For more information on topics in this program, visit: www.porterstarke.org/resources/lifeonpurpose.

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About Bruce Lindner

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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