The Chamber of Commerce was pleased last year to introduce a new benefit to our members and the community.

We hosted two panel discussions during 2013.

Our first was held in May focusing on the topic "Taking Your Business To The Next Level."

Our panel comprised experts in the fields of accounting, banking, economic development, insurance, law and marketing.

Our second panel discussion, "Navigating The New Health Insurance Environment," was held in November.

Experts from Access Health, New Milford Hospital, and financial industry were on hand to educate audience members about the new health insurance environment as well as answer questions and address concerns.

Since the panel discussions proved to be a welcome and valuable benefit to our members and the community, we are happy to announce we will continue offering these discussions in 2014.

Our third panel discussion, "Solving The Puzzle: Answers For You And Your Aging Parents," will be held March 25 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the railroad station on Railroad Street.

The panel will consist of experts in elder law, Veterans Affairs benefits, assisted living facilities, housing options, insurance, home care needs and hospital and hospice services.

The Senior Care Resources Group presented this information as a Chamber Lunch & Learn Seminar in November.

The timeliness of the seminar and information I took away was truly a blessing as my mother's brother was declining in health and I was able to offer some specific, concrete guidance to my parents to help them deal with my uncle's situation.

In addition, I learned a number of things that would not only help me better manage family members when the time comes, but would also help me make the process easier for my children when it's my time to be managed.

I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about a topic that will affect us all at some point in our lives.

Below is specific information about the discussion put together by professionals who have joined forces to create the Senior Care Resources Group:

If you are dealing with an elderly parent or wanting to put plans in place for yourself as you age, before a major event or crisis occurs, the Senior Care Resources Group can help.

The group of area professionals focuses on helping the senior population and offers solutions, such as living options, health insurance programs, area medical services, opportunities at the senior center and information on probate needs.

For example, an elder law attorney will help you develop a blueprint or "planning strategy" and make sure you have the right tools in place for carrying out the plan or choosing someone else to carry it out for you.

The group's members will explain housing options available for those aged over 55 and help you understand the differences among active 55 communities, congregate housing, subsidized senior housing, assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities.

The group will also provide answers on Medicare, supplemental insurance, long-term care insurance, Medicaid/Title 19 benefits and the Connecticut Home Care programs.

Participants in the group include an expert on VA benefits for people at home and in assisted living facilities and another expert on reverse mortgages.

Professionals with information regarding dementias, meeting home-care needs, and hospital and hospice services are involved in the group as well.

To sign up, contact the chamber office at 860-354-6080 or email nmcc@newmilford-chamber.com by March 24.