What is IRIS?

IRIS Include, Respect, I Self-Direct is Wisconsin's Self-Directed Supports Program for older people and adults with disabilities.

In IRIS you determine the combination of supports and services you need, including who will provide the services and when and how they will be provided. Your IRIS supports are available at every step to help you build the life you choose.

Learn more about the IRIS program >

November is National Family Caregivers Month

Across the country, there are more than 65 million Americans who care for the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, wounded veterans, and other members of our society who have a physical or developmental disability. Since 1997, recognizing and celebrating family caregivers has become an annual month-long tradition. By presidential proclamation, November has been designated as a time to thank, support, educate, and empower family caregivers and individuals providing care.

According to the website CaregiverAction.org:

  • Family caregivers provide approximately $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year.  
  • 80% of caregivers believe that their role has given them more meaning in their lives.
  • Over 15 million people care for loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • 2 out of every 5 adults are family caregivers.
  • Both men and women almost equally fill the role and over 1/3 are younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 29.

There are multiple opportunities this month to partake in this national recognition:

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF), in recognition of National Caregivers Month provides resources for caregivers and people living with Parkinson’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association in coordination with November’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is also recognizing National Family Caregiver Month by offering an “add a personal tribute” to their website for individuals who would like to personally honor and thank a caregiver.

Many organizations, including the National Family Caregiver Association (NFCA) are encouraging people who are not caregivers to reach out and offer to help those who are. "Most family caregivers won't ask for help," said NFCA president and CEO Suzanne Mintz. "For some it is about privacy and not letting others know the personal details of their lives. For others it is about an admission of failure. But nothing could be further from the truth," she added. For more information visit: www.CaregiverAction.org

One final note: It is important for the caregiver to take care of themselves first. Many caregivers who don’t care for themselves often end up with a stress-related illness or even loss of life.

Below are just a few of the many caregiver resources available:

Health Tips: Staying Fit and Healthy

CDC: Disability and Health

Medicare.gov: Caregiving

Huffington Post: Caregiving

National Cancer Institute: Caring for the Caregiver

Family Caregiver Alliance

Caregiver Action Network

Caregiver Resource Network

Tea Leaves: A Memoir of Mothers and Daughters by Janet Mason

Wisconsin Photo ID Cards NOT Required to Vote

UPDATE: On October 9, the Supreme Court ruled that a voter ID is not necessary for this election, but may be required in future elections. 

As always, Disability Vote is a great resource to all interested voters in Wisconsin. You can contact them with questions about voting by calling 1-844-DIS-VOTE (1-844-347-8683).

Mission Possible: 2014 Self-Determination Conference

UPDATE: Registration for the SD Conference has been extended to October 24.

The theme for this year's Self-Determination Conference, “Mission Possible: Discovering the Potential in our Communities”, explores life in our communities. What does it mean to belong? How does one get involved? What can we contribute to our communities?

The Mission

Every good mission has a plan, expert consultants, help from everyday citizens, and a few good tools. The Self-Determination Conference is uniquely designed to bring the experiences of self-advocates together and guide people with the help of professionals, family members, and support staff. Learn from their experiences and imagine the possibilities! The Conference offers creative tools to help individuals with disabilities get the support they need to get the life they want. Self-determination and self-directed supports offer opportunities to look beyond traditional ways of support.

“This Conference changed my life. There are so many things I've learned. But now I think I can do it! You can feel the energy!”  - 2013 Conference Attendee

Discover the untapped potential of your community, create opportunities to participate, and stretch your ideas of a meaningful life.

Who can attend?

Adults and transition-aged youth with disabilities and their family members, service providers, educators, state employees, IRIS staff, MCO staff, ADRC staff, county staff, and support brokers can attend.

Conference Highlights

•Monday (November 10): four pre-conference sessions followed by the “Mission Possible: Making Connections Kick-Off” that brings people together in a creative and fun way to help individuals expand their personal and professional connections.

•Tuesday (November 11) and Wednesday (November 12): powerful keynote presentations from self-advocate Alisha Cloutier, international consultant, Darcy Elks, AIDD Commissioner Aaron Bishop, DHS Deputy Administrator Beth Wroblewski, and a special mystery guest.

•Tuesday Evening: back by popular demand, the fabulous Talent Show and Open Mic, where everyone is invited to share their talents.

More information about the conference - including the keynote speakers, events, and sessions - can be found on the conference website. Registration for the website is available online, as well. People interested in a scholarship can register on the conference site.

If you have questions please contact Fil Clissa at fil.clissa@wisconsin.gov and 608-266-5395.

Heating and Energy Assistance

The summer is a great time to plan for winter heating costs. The Wisconsin Heating and Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) is now processing applications for heating assistance. This is a federally-funded program that can help eligible households pay for heating, electricity, energy crisis situations, and furnace assistance. The amount of assistance depends on household income, heating costs, and household size.

The program usually offers benefits from October 1 to May 15. Because of last year’s propane shortage, applications can be submitted immediately. For people using propane, the program will estimate the amount of heating benefits a person will receive for the winter and lock in a lower summer price with a propane dealer.

25,000 energy assistance participants who use propane will receive letters requesting their applications as soon as possible.

Many factors, such as poor weather and a late corn harvest, caused an unusually high demand for propane last year, increasing prices to over $4.00 per gallon. Currently, the average propane price is $1.69 per gallon. 

Last year, the program assisted 224,731 households with heating assistance. For more information on WHEAP, call 1-866-432-8947 or visit www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Insurance and Medicare Dates

Are you interested in signing up for health care coverage from the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace? Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace will run from November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015. You can visit healthcare.gov for more information.

Also, people with Medicare Hospital or Medicare Medical Insurance (Parts A and/or B) can re-enroll in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or the Medicare Advantage Plan with Prescription Coverage (MA PD) from October 15, 2014 – December 7, 2014.

IRIS Community Data

On September 30, 2014 the following people were included in IRIS:

Illustration of a group of people
11,139 IRIS Participants

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