Senior Nation’s Ask Irma: My 86 Year Old Mom is Falling More Often Now

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Senior Nation is committed to offering resources to help us deal with the challenges and opportunities of aging. To that end, we are launching a new monthly column called “Ask Irma” by Irma Toce, where we focus on all topics related to aging.

Dear Irma,

Mom has been falling more these past few weeks, should we place her in a nursing home? She is 86 and currently lives alone

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Thank you very much for your question.

First of all let’s have a look in mom’s home. Are there any trip hazards? Area rugs, lots of furniture, different flooring in different rooms, stairs etc.

Secondly how is mom’s diet? Is she eating well balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.

Does mom exercise, does she take yoga or balance classes?

Thirdly, and most importantly, is she drinking enough fluids throughout the day (8 glasses of water) Dehydration is a common cause for dizziness, urinary track infections etc. all of which can cause a person to fall. This is the season to hydrate even more because of the heat and humidity.

There could be numerous causes for a person to fall, I only mentioned a few but please have mom checked by her physician to rule out any medical issues.

Take care!

Irma

Irma Toce is the  CEO of Londonderry on the Tred Avon with over 25 years experience work with seniors. Her years of experience in the field is accompanied by BS in social work and an MA in health management, Irma not only leads the dynamic community of Londonderry, but she is also nationally recognized as an expert in the field of aging.

Senior Nation: A Sexagenarian’s Musings on “Aging in Place”

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One of my favorite movies is “The Thin Man,” based on the first of six mystery novels by Dashiell Hammett. Nick Charles is a retired detective who manages his wife’s inheritance; however, his wife’s adventurous spirit soon has them assisting the police in solving cases. The inspired casting of William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora made the series pure pleasure to watch.

In the first movie, “The Thin Man,” Nick and Nora are asked to help find a missing inventor who had shown signs of forgetfulness. During a New Year’s Eve party at the Charles’ apartment, the son of the inventor is surrounded by reporters asking questions about why his father would want to disappear. The overly erudite son answers “Well, he is a Sexagenarian.” One of the reporters exclaims “I can’t print THAT” and the camera pans to show Nick’s bemused face as he chuckles over the reporter’s limited vocabulary.

As this sexagenarian reaches another birthday this week, I am contemplating, even more, the challenges of “aging in place” in my early 20th-century farmhouse. Shortly after moving in, I removed the tub shower in my first-floor bath and modified the floor joists to slope the floor in the shower area. The added benefit is the extra floor space I now have in my small bathroom. I am currently designing my kitchen renovation with five feet between my galley kitchen layout for ADA clearance if that ever became an issue for me.

Whenever I design a new home or undertake a major renovation with a client, we discuss design features that would enable them to remain in their home as they grow older. Instead of the 36” wide hallways stipulated by the building code, 42” wide hallways are better for maneuvering a walker or wheelchair, and 36” wide doors make access to rooms easier. Stacking closets in a two-story house creates a shaft for a future elevator so the house could be fully accessible. Leaving space in an attached garage for future addition of a lift to the main floor eliminates the need for an exterior ramp. Many houses have three steps from a deck or porch to grade, and the code does not require a handrail. However, adding handrails is safer for people like me who need to grip a handrail for support when maneuvering steps.

I just completed a “Smart Home Technology” course as part of Continuing Education for renewal of my architectural license. This technology has had an enormous impact on home design and can be as simple or complex as you need. Voice-activated controls, security systems that can lock exterior doors and provide video of your exterior door areas, lights that can be voice or motion activated to eliminate the need of timers for lamps, etc., are all part of the technological integration of your personal devices with today’s technology to keep you independent as long as possible. It’s then easy to relax, pour one of Nick’s signature martinis and watch a great movie like “The Thin Man.”


Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Senior Nation: Home Instead Senior Care & Upper Shore Aging Start Joint Fundraising Effort

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Today, representatives for Home Instead Senior Care and Upper Shore Aging announced a joint fundraising effort aimed at helping area seniors get around town better and make those important medical and social appointments that help them stay active and healthy.

Representatives say they hope to raise $5000.00 in this unique, one of a kind matching grant program that focuses on seniors. Speaking for Upper Shore Aging, Childlene Brooks said, “We’re so excited to be able to work with Home Instead Senior Care Foundation to bring awareness and financial gifts to those who need it in our community. We know folks here in Talbot County are among the most generous in Maryland so we’re crossing our fingers that they’ll give Home Instead Senior Care a lot to match!”

“This is the second year we’ve promoted the GIVE65 program here on the Eastern Shore and what we really love about this program is that it encourages all of us to play an active role in the lives of our senior citizens and help those who need a little extra assistance without having to bother government to do it for us.” said Jenna Marchi, who along with her husband Ben Marchi, have owned the local Home Instead Senior Care office in Easton for the past 8 years.

Positive Impact on Seniors

Currently, about 25 seniors receive a monthly bus pass but Upper Shore Aging says that they are constantly receiving calls from their partner agencies and other individuals asking about availability and unfortunately, resources can be limited. With Upper Shore Aging opening a satellite location in St. Michaels, Brooks expects an uptick in the number of requests in the future and says these concerns highlight the importance of the GIVE65 fundraising event.

How GIVE65 works

The campaign is titled “Give65” as the fundraiser runs for a straight 65-hour period. Starting on July 1, you may schedule your donation at www.give65.org/uppershoreaging for the 65-hour period (that runs from 7AM July 10 to Midnight on July 12), and it will be matched. Only funds contributed between July 1st and July 12th will be counted toward the matching grant.

The Give65 Campaign is a fundraising campaign by Home Instead Senior Care Foundation. The Foundation is affiliated with Home Instead Senior Care – an international senior care company with a local office in Easton. The Give65 Campaign is a crowd-sourcing platform similar to the well-known Kickstarter, and it’s the first and only crowd-sourcing platform in the nation for senior resources and needs. The goal of the Upper Shore Aging, Inc,’s Give65 Campaign is to raise a total of $5,000 (All funds will be matched by the Home Instead Foundation). The funds from Give65 will be donated to Upper Shore Aging, Inc. to go toward funding the bus pass program for senior citizens in Talbot County.

Shelly LaRoque Appointed as Activity Director at The Dixon House

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The Dixon House Independent and Assisted Living in Easton, MD, has announced the appointment of Shelly LaRoque of Denton as its new Activity Director. LaRoque, who was previously activity coordinator at Baleigh Chase, is certified in activities for the elderly by the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals. She has worked with the elderly and children throughout her career. She also taught exercise classes for the Federalsburg Senior Center, Easton Adult Day Care, Londonderry, and St. Mark’s Village. She owned three Curves franchises from 2002 to 2011 in Delaware. She attended Chesapeake College.

LaRoque comments, “I have always enjoyed exercise. After my mom went into a rehabilitation facility, I had to be her advocate and got involved volunteering to do activities with other residents there. I really liked interacting with the seniors. I have a heart for aging residents. It has been a calling for me.”

As Activity Director at The Dixon House, LaRoque provides creative crafts, cooking activities, mind enhancing games, and monthly birthday parties; brings entertainment to residents, including musicians, Pets on Wheels, and other visiting performers; and also takes residents to church, on sightseeing tours, to lunch at local restaurants, and to attend musical performances. She also teaches daily chair exercise classes involving stretching and aerobics.

“I love the intimate and relaxed environment of The Dixon House. It’s family here and the staff strives to make the house feel welcoming,” she adds.

LaRoque is looking for volunteers to help with activities with The Dixon House residents. For further information, contact her at 410-822-6661.

Compass Regional Hospice’s Calendar of Events, July through September

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July…

Volunteer Training for Camp New Dawn — Tuesday, July 10, 6 to 9 p.m., at The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville. Camp New Dawn is a four-day, three-night grief retreat summer camp for children, teens and families, and is a program of Compass Regional Hospice. Camp New Dawn would not be possible without the support of Compass Regional Hospice’s specially trained volunteers. More than 100 volunteers help to make sure the camp is fun and full of friendship and learning. For more information, contact Courtney Williams at 443-262-4112 or cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

Estate Treasures Warehouse Sale — Saturday, July 21, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 106 Log Canoe Circle, Chesapeake Business Park, Stevensville. Come find deeply discounted furniture, tools, sports equipment, small appliances, lawn and garden items, silver pieces, precious moments figures, children’s items, art, area rugs, clothing and more. Proceeds will benefit Compass Regional Hospice. For more information, call Estate Treasures, an affiliation of Compass Regional Hospice, at 410-643-7360.

Volunteer Training for Camp New Dawn — Monday, July 30, 6 to 9 p.m., at The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville. Camp New Dawn is a four-day, three-night grief retreat summer camp for children, teens and families, and is a program of Compass Regional Hospice. Camp New Dawn would not be possible without the support of Compass Regional Hospice’s specially trained volunteers. More than 100 volunteers help to make sure the camp is fun and full of friendship and learning. For more information, contact Courtney Williams at 443-262-4112 or cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

August…

Camp New Dawn — Saturday, Aug. 18, through Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Camp Pecometh, 136 Bookers Wharf Road, Centreville. A four-day, three-night grief retreat summer camp for children, teens and families, through Compass Regional Hospice. For more information or to register, contact Rhonda Knotts at 443-262-4109 or rknotts@compassregionalhospice.org. For more information about volunteering, contact Courtney Williams at 443-262-4112 or cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

September…

Volunteer Training Session — An online/classroom hybrid where volunteers can complete their online classes before joining Compass Regional Hospice for the classroom segment. We will be meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays; Sept. 11, 18 and 25, at the Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville. Registration is required, and completing the entire class is necessary for volunteers who would like to work with patients and families. For more information about volunteering, contact Courtney Williams at 443-262-4112 or cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

Estate Treasures Art Auction — Saturday, Sept. 22, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Cascia Vineyards, 1200 Thompson Creek Road, Stevensville. Featuring silent and live auctions, including a variety of art, some created and signed by local artists whose work reflects scenes from the Eastern Shore. Enjoy light refreshments and a complimentary glass of Cascia Vineyards wine. Tickets are limited for this exclusive event and are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Compass Regional Hospice. Estate Treasures is an affiliate of Compass Regional Hospice. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Kenda Leager, at 443-262-4106 or kleager@compassregionalhospice.org.

Ongoing…

Bereaved Parent Grief Support Group — First Monday of each month; July 2, Aug. 6 and Sept. 3. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville. A drop-in group for individuals, 18 and older, dealing with the loss of a child. For more information, contact Rhonda Knotts at 443-262-4109 or rknotts@compassregionalhospice.org.

HALOS-Healing After a Loved One’s Suicide Grief Support Group — Second Wednesday of each month; July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville. A drop-in group for individuals, 18 and older, dealing with the loss of a loved one from suicide. For more information, contact Rhonda Knotts at 443-262-4109 or rknotts@compassregionalhospice.org, or Wayne Larrimore at 443-262-4108 or wlarrimore@compassregionalhospice.org.

Drug Overdose Grief Support Group — Third Thursday of each month; July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville.  A drop-in group for individuals, 18 and older, dealing with the loss of a loved one from drug overdose. For more information, contact Rhonda Knotts at 443-262-4109 or rknotts@compssregionalhospice.org, or Linda Turner at 443-262-4120 or lturner@compassregionalhospice.org.

All Losses Grief Support Group — Fourth Tuesday of each month; July 24, Aug. 28 and Sept. 25. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Caroline County Public Library, Federalsburg branch, 123 Morris Ave., Federalsburg. A drop-in group for individuals, 18 and older, who have experienced any type of loss. Please bring a lunch. For more information, contact Wayne Larrimore at 443-262-4108 or wlarrimore@compassregionalhospice.org.

Senior Nation: Technology and America’s Elders with Leslie Walker

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Typically, when modern technology is discussed concerning those over 65 years old, the general narrative is that many senior Americans are suffering from a significant disadvantage or gap, if you will, in their inability to access the internet.

Retired before the frequent use of email, web research, or enterprise-related software had entered the lives of the professional classes, these elders, the story goes, have been marginalized due to their lack of computer skills in a world that continues to find new uses for the world wide web.

In some ways, that impression is correct. Over one-third of Americans over 65 years old do not use the internet at all in their daily lives while 90% of all Americans find themselves online almost every day. But when you look more in-depth in the numbers, as the University of Maryland’s Leslie Walker has done over the last few years, those statistics can be misleading.

Walker, who recently spoke at the 3rd annual Senior Summit at the Talbot County Community Center, counters that this age gap is dramatically narrowing. Indeed, the rate of adoption to the internet is increasing every year with seniors.

That is just one of the many subjects that Professor Walker shares after a remarkable career in the development of online news at the Washington Post (she was the first editor of washingtonpost.com) and now teaches at the Merrill School of Journalism at College Park.

The Spy sat down with Leslie for a quick interview after her formal presentation to talk about the revolutionary use of technology for those in their senior years, ranging from telemedicine to voice recognition, which has the potential to radically improve the quality of life for millions as they grow older.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. 

Senior Nation: Talbot Senior Summit Draws Record Crowd

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Talbot Community Connections (TCC) and the Talbot County Department of Social Services recently held their third annual Talbot Senior Summit. This day-long program for seniors, children of seniors, caregivers, professionals and concerned citizens provided presentations and discussions on the issues that seniors face today.  Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and Mental Health Advocate Lynn Sanchez provided the remarks to open the day.

Pictured is Mental Health Advocate and keynote speaker Lynn Sanchez

In Sanchez’s keynote remarks, “Wine Isn’t the Only Thing That Improves with Age,” she said, “It’s the age of our spirit that matters as we age.” Sanchez went on to present three things she attributed to finding happiness and contentment with aging. She said we need something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to every day. By incorporating humor, Sanchez encouraged participants to keep wondering and to trust the journey.

Pictured are Summit attendees participating in the workshop, “Rising Strength: Self Defense,” conducted by Rachel Layer and Matt and Kathy Herron.

Over 200 participants listened to speakers on such topics as “Manage and Reduce Stress: Organize, Downsize, De-Clutter;” “How to Protect Yourself Against Insurance Fraud;” “Transitions: How Will  We Flourish in Midlife and Beyond;” “Rising Strength: Self Defense;” “Helping Seniors Navigate Our High-Tech World;” “Senior Fitness: Finding the Athlete Within;” “Yoga: Aging Positively;” and “The Importance of ‘Social Capital’ for Seniors.” A special Virtual Dementia Tour conducted by Christina Wingate-Spence from Bright Star was especially popular.

Pictured are staff of Avon Dixon Insurance Agency, one of the near 50 vendors at this year’s Talbot Senior Summit.

Participants were able to visit informational tables of almost 50 vendors with services and resources for seniors.  A healthy lunch was provided by Sprout.

Platinum sponsors for this year’s Senior Summit were the Star Democrat, Talbot County Department of Social Services, and Talbot County Government. Gold sponsors were the Talbot County Health Department, the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Maryland.

Photos by Calvin Jackson Photography

Senior Nation: The Very Best Senior Moment by Craig Fuller

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Returning from California where my younger brother – by two years – was married this past weekend, I reflected on the remarkable experience and emotions discovered in a “senior wedding.”

Truthfully, I have not been to many senior weddings in the past, yet each one I attended provided a wonderful spirit of love and commitment. While part of all weddings, the commitment of people in their 60s who elect to get married brings with it…well, more maturity.

Professional reputation has been built. The children have been raised and released into the world. Friendships have been built and nourished over decades. Then, added to all of that comes a strong and intentional passion to marry, again.

I shared with my brother and his beautiful wife a comment I’ve never forgotten from the woman my father married a few years after our mother passed. His new wife, who had survived two previous husbands, shared with me that marriage to our father was wonderfully different because they spent all of their time together.

The “senior marriage” is decidedly not about building a family, it’s about embracing two families. It’s not about building a career or two; it’s about enjoying the fruits of hard work over many years. It’s not about a process of finding yourself; it’s about a process of finding a new future with another.

For two days, my brother and his new wife brought together friends and family. We spoke of how we knew the bride or groom (or, in my case, both…but that is another story). We told stories about their past lives and laughed at experiences familiar to all of us. We truly celebrated a union of two fine people who know themselves and know they are happier, better and more fulfilled together.

Honestly, it was a weekend of pure joy and a sense of wishing the bride, the groom, along with their families and friends nothing but the best in the years they have together….where they really will be together.

This is one senior moment I hope can be shared by every couple finding perfect companionship in their later years.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Senior Nation: Maryland State Retirees Must Change Drug Coverage Soon

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A significant change in the Maryland retirement policy takes place at the end of the year is one that will separate prescription drug coverage from the state’s retiree health plan.

This is a very big deal for the thousands of Medicare-eligible state retirees who must enroll in its Part D medication coverage plan by December 31 to continue their drug coverage.

What makes this even more difficult is that official rates for those plans will not be announced until October just as open enrollment begins.  The good news is that  Maryland’s Insurance Assistance Programs staff in each Mid-Shore county will be offering workshops and individual consulting for those impacted.

The Spy state down with Talbot County’s program counselor Pam Limberry for a quick check in on this important revision in coverage.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Part D planning, please contact Pam at 410-822-2869 ext. 231 or plimberry@uppershoreaging.org for more information.