Category Archives: Senior Living

Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy: What are the Differences?

 

By Peg Cochran, Holland Home

 

Has a doctor prescribed therapy for you or a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident?  There are three different types of therapy — physical, occupational and speech therapy — and it’s easy to be confused about the differences between them.

 

Physical Therapy

Most people are familiar with physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and inflammation, accelerate healing, strengthen muscles and increase range of motion—all the things that will help get you on your feet again. Physical therapy might also be used to help alleviate chronic pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or neuropathic sources. Physical therapy is often prescribed after surgery such as joint replacement or following an injury or prolonged illness.

 

Physical therapy is provided in many settings and may be started while the patient is still in the hospital. Physical therapy is often continued at a rehabilitation center, nursing home, outpatient clinic or in the patient’s own home.

 

In the hospital, rehabilitation center or nursing home, the goal of therapy is to improve the patient’s function and strength so that they can return home and to a level of independence.

 

Physical therapy in an outpatient facility is generally for more active people who are not home bound. However, physical therapy can also be administered in the home for those unable to leave for medical or logistical reasons.

 

With older patients, physical therapists can provide exercises to strengthen muscles and improve or maintain their ability to get out of bed, a chair, to walk with or without assistance and to help prevent falls.

 

Physical therapy utilizes several treatment methods including exercise, massage, joint mobilization, electrical stimulation and the application of heat or ice.

 

Occupational Therapy

In general, the purpose of occupational therapy is to assist the patient in improving or maintaining the ability to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, toileting and bathing.

 

Occupational therapy can provide support for older adults experiencing physical or cognitive changes and may also provide education for patients with chronic diseases, as well as guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapists are also skilled in evaluating a patient’s home and making recommendations for appropriate adaptive equipment such as eating and drinking aids, dressing and grooming aids, as well as products and ways to improve home safety.

 

Occupational therapy can be beneficial for patients who have been injured, have orthopedic conditions such as a joint replacement, suffer from arthritis or Parkinson’s or who have limitations following a stroke or heart attack.

 

The therapy can be performed in the hospital, a rehabilitation facility or in the patient’s home. Occupational therapists use a variety of treatment methods including stretching and strengthening exercises, practice of daily activities and instruction in the use of adaptive equipment.

 

Speech Therapy

Speech therapists deal with a person’s ability to communicate and swallow. Speech therapy can help someone who is having difficulty swallowing or eating, or who has language or cognitive-linguistic problems. Speech therapy is often prescribed after a stroke or for someone with progressive neurological conditions such as dementia. It can also be useful in treating breathing problems associated with lung diseases. In general, speech therapy is helpful in addressing the decline sometimes associated with the aging process.

 

Speech therapists work with patients in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in the patient’s own home. Speech therapists may use specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat, or cognitive exercises to help restore memory or improve sequencing and problem solving.

 

The use of one of the above therapies, or a combination of these various therapies, can be very useful in restoring and rehabilitating your life or that of a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident.

Helping Your Loved One Transition to Assisted Living

 

 

By Peg Cochran, Holland Home

 

Change is never easy. Change becomes even more difficult to manage as we get older and more set in our ways. One of life’s more difficult transitions is the move from independent living to an assisted living facility. Many seniors view this transition as the last move of their life and perhaps, their final chapter. Coming to terms with that knowledge can bring sadness and depression. There are many ways to help your loved one ease into this transition and manage the emotions that accompany it.

 

When to Move to Assisted Living

There are many reasons to make the move to assisted living. Many seniors are more than capable of managing in their own home with some outside help from family, friends or a paid caregiver. However, this is not always possible or even feasible. Following are some things to consider as you work to determine the best care option for your loved one.

  • They can no longer shower or bathe without help, or you are concerned about their safety in the tub or shower.
  • They are at risk for falls.
  • They forget to take medications ortake medications improperly.
  • They no longer cook nutritious meals for themselves and may be losing weight.
  • They can no longer drive and are becoming isolated.
  • They have been recently hospitalized and you are concerned about whether they can recover at home.

Breaking the Ice

Moving a parent or loved one to assisted living is stressful for everyone involved. Adults are accustomed to being self-sufficient and to keeping their own unique schedule. Giving up their home can leave them feeling frustrated, helpless or angry. In addition, it’s hard for the caregiver to see their loved one growing older, and you may be having difficulty accepting the change yourself.

 

Visit the chosen facility several times and give your loved one a chance to become accustomed to the idea of moving. When you visit, encourage your loved one to talk with as many of the residents as possible. Most facilities will allow you to join them for meals. You should also take the time to meet with the administrator and any relevant staff members. Spend some time with your loved one going over any brochures or written material you may have been given. Be sure to get a copy of the activities schedule and point out anything you think might interest your loved one.

 

Ask the facility about respite care. Many offer it, and it’s the perfect way for your loved one to try out their new lifestyle without making a long-term commitment.

 

“Respite stays can last from a few days to more than a month,” said Amy Thayer, senior living consultant for Holland Home. “It’s not unusual for one of our respite residents to decide to make the move after experiencing everything we offer.

 

“It’s important to choose a facility that offers the full continuum of care, if possible,” said Thayer. “That way, should a move to a higher level of care such as nursing be required, your loved one will only have to change floors as opposed to moving to a whole new facility.”

 

Making the Move

When it’s time to make the physical move to the new facility, planning is key. Make sure you have the dimensions of the new space. If possible, plan the furniture arrangement in advance. You will want to bring enough personal items and furniture to make the space feel like “home,” but chances are you will not need everything in your loved one’s current home. Special pieces can be passed down to family and friends. Knowing others will be enjoy treasured belongings can make parting with it easier.

 

Have a plan for arranging the furniture so that the movers set things up in a way that suits your loved one’s lifestyle and makes them feel more “at home”.  Placing knickknacks and pictures in the same or similar places will go a long way toward giving the new space a feeling of familiarity.

 

After Moving In

 One of the best ways to ease the transition to your loved one’s new way of life is to get to know neighbors. They’ve already “been there, and done that,” and can help the individual adapt to the change. One of the best parts about assisted living is that your senior will no longer be isolated, dependent on visits from family and friends to ease any loneliness. They will be surrounded by peers and will have access to a full calendar of specially planned events and outings.

 

Check the activities calendar as soon as they move in and plan on participating in at least a few of the scheduled events. You may find there are clubs to join, musical evenings, movie showings and bus trips. Getting involved will help your loved one meet people and make new friends.

 

In addition, they should familiarize themselves with their new surroundings—check out the library, the exercise room, and the laundry facilities. Knowing their way around will make things feel familiar more quickly.

 

Adjusting

Finally, encourage your loved one to give themselves time to adjust to their new lifestyle.  No matter how much they like it, there will most likely still be days when they feel sad or nostalgic for their old way of life.

 

“If those emotions persist,” said Thayer, “be sure to talk to the staff. Arrangements can be made for the individual to speak to a counselor who can help them ease into their new way of life.”

 

Most importantly, try to keep a positive mindset. Help your senior focus on the things they like about their new living situation and take advantage of all that it has to offer.

 

Caregivers Corner: Empowering Seniors with Technology

File photo

By Regina Salmi and Kendrick Heinlein, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

 

The use of smartphones, tablets and computers has become firmly integrated into our daily lives. Even the most resistant adopters of electronic devices in their daily lives often find themselves on the way to their local library or a family member’s house in order to ‘get online’ to complete an important task. Fast-moving technologies can make once simple tasks like banking or ordering from a catalog difficult for those who have not stayed up to date with changes.

 

While in many ways it can seem like technology has overtaken our lives, it has brought us many opportunities we previously didn’t have. Being able to place a video call to grandchildren who may live miles and miles away from us, or to consult with a physician and get help without an appointment, enriches our everyday experience. Using electronic devices can also empower us, increase our independence and safety, and reduce isolation by connecting us to our communities.

 

In May, the Pew Research Center (2017), released results on a study of the use of technology by older adults and the results indicated a significant increase of electronic devices in the few years. Since 2011, the use of smartphones among older adults increased 35%. Today 4 in 10 adults age 65+ own a smart phone. There were similar increases in tablet use. One third of seniors own a tablet, like an iPad, which is a 19% increase from 2010. These results indicate that older adults are just as connected as other age groups, yet for many older adults, their devices seem more a hindrance than a help in their daily lives.

 

While 75% of older adults surveyed in the Center’s study are online several times a day, only 26% of those same adults feel confident in their use of electronic devices. There are several factors that contribute to this experience, but one of the main ones is the feeling of disorientation that older adults sometimes experience when they first get a smartphone, tablet or computer. Well-meaning family members, may get a device for a family member, set it up for them with passwords and security questions they don’t share with the new owner, and then become impatient with them when the device isn’t working properly.

 

Seniors will often limit themselves to only using features of their devices that they are certain they know how to operate, like making a phone call or playing a favorite game, missing out on a world of functions and apps that can actually enhance their lives and help them continue to be independent.

 

There are many organizations working to help seniors become more comfortable and proficient on using electronic devices throughout the nation. Public libraries are a great resource for seniors to learn the basics about how to use computers and even tablets and smartphones. Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is developing a class to teach seniors how to use their devices, and show them specific applications available that can support their independence and connection to their communities. We’ll also teach seniors how to protect themselves from scams while on the internet.


On Tuesday, August 22nd from 1-3 pm as part of Family Caregiver University, AAAWM will be introducing our new technology class. On this day, participants will learn the best ways to integrate new technology into the lives of older adults, some of the assistive technologies built into many devices, review apps that can help caregivers manage their lives, as well as give a preview of an upcoming course designed specifically to help seniors use mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet. The class will take place at Area Agency on Aging located at 3215 Eaglecrest Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525.


For a full list of Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call 888.456.5664 or go here.


Caregiver’s Corner is provided as a public service of the Caregiver Resource Network. The Caregiver Resource Network is a collaboration of West Michigan organizations dedicated to providing for the needs and welfare of family and professional caregivers within the community. Funded by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan with Older American’s Act Title IIIE, Family Caregiver Support funds.

Alternatives in Motion enhances independence through access to mobility equipment

 

By Alternatives in Motion and C. Davis

 

Being disabled is tough enough, but imagine not having access to mobility equipment to get around. Thankfully, there’s a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford or fall through the cracks of health insurance.

 

Alternatives in Motion enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing independence through access to mobility equipment.

 

The nonprofit’s vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility devices for those in need. Alternatives in Motion had its beginnings in 1993, after the brother-in-law of founder George Ranville, a Grand Rapids native, got into a tragic accident. As Ranville struggled to help his brother-in-law attain proper — but expensive — equipment, he saw an opportunity to help the disabled community.

 

The new nonprofit began raising money and making its cause known, believing that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence for those in need. Since then, Alternatives in Motion, which remains entirely funded by independent donations, has continued to grow and strives to keep up with the need for mobility equipment.

 

The organization’s mission is to provide wheelchairs to individuals who do not qualify for other assistance and who could not obtain such equipment without financial aid. By creating access to mobility equipment and repair services for those in need, Alternatives in Motion gives them the independence and quality of life they deserve.

 

If you or someone you know needs mobility equipment, apply here. (You must live in West Michigan to qualify.) For more information go to the website or call 616.493.2620.

 

Your Community in Action: Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults

By ACSET Community Action Agency

 

Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool under the summer sun, but it is even more important for older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Medical conditions and medications can also make it hard for their bodies to regulate temperature or can cause dehydration. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the US were among people over 65.

 

It is important to know the signs of heat stroke so steps can be taken to treat it as soon as possible. Symptoms include:

  • Body temperature over 104 degrees
  • Changes in behavior, like acting confused or agitated
  • Dry, red skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
  • Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
  • Fainting

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, take steps to cool down and seek medical help. Use these tips to stay cool and prevent heat stroke this summer:

 

Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, be sure to drink plenty of cool water and avoid coffee and alcohol.

 

Eat light. Eat small portions of cold meals like salads. Hot, heavy meals like pot roast can increase your body temperature.


Keep the house cool. You may avoid running the air conditioning to save money, but in a heat wave it can be a life-saver. Keep your air conditioner filters clean to help them run more efficiently. Close your blinds to keep sunlight out and decrease the need for the air conditioner to work as hard.


Keep yourself cool. Wet a towel with cool water and place it on your wrists, face and back of your neck. Sit with your feet in a pan of cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.

 

Visit a cooling center. If you can’t cool down at home, visit a public place with air conditioning to get some relief. A shopping mall, library or senior center are places to consider.

 

ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of programs to help keep seniors in Kent County health and safe. To learn more, go here.

 

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org.

A trip aboard the S.S. Badger offers passengers fun and treasured memories

By Terri Brown


The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. She has provided a fun, reliable and affordable shortcut across beautiful Lake Michigan for more than 60 years and has transported millions of passengers since her re-birth in 1992. In 2016, she received the nation’s highest historic honor when the Department of Interior officially designated the Badger as a National Historic Landmark (NHL). Additionally, the Badger is extremely unique in that she is an NHL that moves.


The 410-ft. S.S. BADGER can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles, including RVs, motorcycles, motor coaches, and commercial trucks during her sailing season. Originally designed primarily to transport railroad cars, this grand ship and the people who serve her have successfully adapted to the changing world since she first entered service in 1953.


Her unique and bold character takes you back to a period of time when things were simpler — offering valuable time to slow down, relax…and reconnect with those you love. She is the continuation of a unique and vital maritime tradition, and we celebrate that heritage on board in fun ways that educate and entertain. Although her mission has changed from the days of carrying railroad cars 365 days a year, the Badger’s role in the hearts of the areas she serves has not.


The Badger’s commitment to a fun experience offers traditional favorites including free Badger Bingo, free movies and satellite television, lounge areas, a toddler play area; free limited Wi-Fi, an onboard gift shop, an arcade, private staterooms, two separate food service areas, two bars, and sprawling outside decks for lounging or walking. Perhaps a romantic night crossing is more fitting for your style with spectacular sunsets and sparkling constellations for stargazers — making the Badger experience extra special.


A trip aboard the S.S. Badger offers passengers fun and treasured memories. Professional travelers have shared their experiences aboard the Badger with the world, and this grand ship has received great praise. The Badger was awarded in 2015 and 2016 a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and has a five-star rating with Travelocity.


The Badger experience allows a rare opportunity to explore a little history – and a lot of fun by taking a step back into the past on a journey that’s as important as the destination! Slow down, relax and reconnect on the Big Ship, More Fun.


From mid-May to mid-October the Badger sails daily between Manitowoc, Wisc. and Ludington, Mich., Located about an hour from Milwaukee, Wisc. and Muskegon, Mich. For additional information, call 800.841.4243 or visit www.ssbadger.com.

 

Staying out of the closet: Reaching out to LGBT seniors

By Regina Salmi, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

 

Over the past few years, our society’s acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has changed rapidly, particularly with the Supreme Court decision around marriage. We have openly gay people as neighbors, friends, grandchildren, children, service professionals — over the past 20 years, LGBT people have become steadily more visible in our society. While society has taken great strides toward acceptance of LGBT citizens, what remains invisible are the issues and challenges that LGBT elders face as begin to require services.


There are currently about 1.5 million people age 65+ who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. According to SAGE, an Advocacy and Services Organization for LGBT Elders, poverty rates among LGBT elders is higher than their heterosexual counterparts, mainly due to past employment discrimination, conflict with family over coming out, and a lack of marriage and Social Security survivor benefits.


There are also many aging LGBT people who live alone, without family to help with the aging process. This puts many LGBT seniors in the position of requiring income-based aging services available in their communities. Needing to ask for help though is often a difficult experience for these seniors.


Unlike younger LGBT people, many of our LGBT seniors lived through times in our history when lesbians and gays were put in jail or mental institutions if it was discovered they were gay. Kendrick Heinlein, Contract Administrator with Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan stated, “These experiences of hostility are not always easily removed from LGBT senior’s memories. This lends itself to seniors not seeking medical services available to them which can lead to social isolation, chronic illness and premature death.”


Even today, older adults who are LGBT don’t often find a warm welcome when they begin to participate in aging services. Because many seniors don’t want to “go back into the closet”, they will avoid asking for help, which frequently ends in a health crisis.

 

“I have heard countless stories of LGBT seniors putting away pictures of their loved ones or hiding things in their homes due to the fear of being discriminated against by their in-home caretakers” Heinlein said. “There are stories of care providers refusing to work with LGBT older adults because they do not feel comfortable. Senior retirement or care facilities have refused services to LGBT seniors because of their religious views or moral beliefs. All of these events are not typical things that heterosexual older adults have to experience.”

 

This is why organizations like SAGE, the AARP and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan are working to reach out to LGBT seniors as well as service providers.


Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is partaking in a two-year project, funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund; Heinlein is heading up this project for the agency. The goal is to reduce the isolation LGBT seniors experience and improve the care provided to older adults who identify as LGBT.

 

“AAAWM is in the process building relationships with the local LGBT community,” Heinlein said. “We are also working to identify LGBT-affirming health service providers for older adults. We will be able to direct LGBT seniors to these service providers when they call AAAWM or visit our website.”

 

‘Gen Silent’ subject Krys Anne Hembrough

Ultimately, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan plans to develop a ‘How-To’ manual to share with other Area Agencies on Aging through the state, so LGBT elders always have a resource to locate services.


Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is not the only agency working to improve the aging climate for LGBT seniors. Agencies throughout Kent County are working to integrate LGBT seniors into the aging community.

 

Heinlein explained, “The Alzheimer’s Association has a LGBT support group which meets once a month to talk about any questions/issues that they see in the aging community. Samaritas Senior Living is having a viewing of the film Gen Silent, which examines the discrimination and fears LGBT seniors experience. I will host a discussion afterwards for everyone to share their thoughts about the aging LGBT community. Dr. Grace Huizinga, Assistant Professor from Grand Valley State University, will be helping lead the discussion at Samaritas as well.”

 

The film and discussion will take place on July 11th from 6–8:30 pm and is open to the public.

 

If you’d like to learn more about this project, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or email aaainfo@aaawm.org. To learn about their services you can visit their website: http://www.aaawm.org.

 

Check out the Senior Community Service Employment Program

Learning computer skills

By ACSET Community Action Agency

 

It is estimated that by 2020, 25% of the workforce will be made of workers 55 and older. But is this demographic qualified for the jobs that employers need to fill?

 

While employers give older workers high marks on characteristics such as judgement, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality, they can lack the skills necessary for today’s jobs.

 

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) was designed to help low-income, unemployed, older adults gain work experience. Participants are placed in community service positions, receive on-the-job training and earn a pay check. This gives them the skills and experience needed to enter the workforce.

 

Program FAQs

  • Experiences are provided at a variety of non-profit and public facilities
  • Participants work an average of 20 hours per week
  • Participants are paid minimum wage for their service
  • Individuals must be over 55, unemployed and meet income requirements to qualify

To learn more and find out if you are eligible to participate in SCSEP, contact the local AARP Foundation office at 616-649-0310.

 
Everyone should have access to jobs and other basic needs like food, shelter and healthcare. ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) is dedicated to helping Kent County residents of all ages meet basic needs. If you or someone you know is having trouble making ends meet, contact ACSET CAA at 616-336-4000.

 

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org.

Caregivers need time off to take care of themselves

By Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


Being a caregiver is one of the most difficult roles to fulfill, yet with the population of people age 60+ continuing to grow, it is a role that 1 in 3 people find themselves taking on. Some of us are thrust into caregiving due to an illness or an accident. Oftentimes though, we discover that the caregiving role has crept in and slowly taken over our lives.


It might start out simple — taking a loved one to the grocery store on occasion. Then occasionally turns into every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. along with doctors’ appointments several times a month. On these trips you notice difficulties with money or paperwork, so you double-check their bills, discover they are overpaying, and now you’re a shopper, bill payer, and health advocate. Sarah Sobel, LMSW, Caregiver Resource Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan said, “When I talk with caregivers, often times I go through some daily living tasks and I ask them about how much assistance they are providing to their loved one with these activities. Many caregivers don’t realize how much they are providing assistance on a daily basis until it is reflected back to them.”


We discover we’ve become a caregiver and didn’t even know it.


What starts out as lending a hand gradually grows into another job. The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that caregivers spend at least 20 hours per week caring for a loved one. Yet, many people in this position still don’t consider themselves caregivers, especially if their loved one continues to reside in their own home. We regard these tasks as the duties or responsibilities that a spouse, a child, a parent or even a friend undertakes for a person they love, so we juggle the caregiver role with other parts of our lives, like our career, family and social life.


Fulfilling the duties of caregiver without recognizing that we are a caregiver can result in stress, anger and ultimately burnout, putting our own health and well-being at risk.


Sobel said, “This is why I encourage caregivers to build a village — whether formal or informal — for the times when caregiving becomes hard to handle. Do they have a friend they can call to sit with their loved one, while they take a walk? Maybe their loved one is a good candidate for an adult day program — where they might receive some attention and the caregiver can have some time off to take care of themselves.”


When we recognize ourselves as caregivers, we embrace that we are going above and beyond typical expectations, and we also then come to understand that taking care of ourselves is paramount to our being able to take care of others.


This realization also opens doors to resources that can help support us in our new role.


“An important part of my work at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan,” Sobel shared, “is to provide the caregivers with education. These classes are a great way for caregivers to come together and learn about some of the issues they are facing.”


Taking advantage of the resources available in our communities helps caregivers build that “village” Sobel said is important, “In these classes, caregivers can come together — to share with each other about their experiences” and begin building a support network. Getting connected to resources early can also help us assess the growing needs of the person we’re caring for and, if necessary, get connected to professional caregiving services.


If you’re interested in understanding more about caregiving and the resources available, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or email aaainfo@aaawm.org. You can also visit the Caregiver Resource Network website. Caregiver Resource Network and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan can be found on Facebook.

Aging In Place: How older adults can maintain independence

Your Community in Action!

By ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA)

 

According to US Census data, persons 65 years or older represented 14.5% of the U.S. population in 2014; they are expected to represent 21.7% by 2040. Nearly all seniors want to stay in their homes or “age in place.” Unfortunately, there are many factors that can make living independently a challenge.


When our loved ones can no longer get dressed, fix a meal or remember to take their medications, small home modifications, transportation or in-home services may be all that is needed to help them stay in their homes. Here are some resources that can help older adults live where they choose for as long as possible.


ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) offers services tailored just for seniors. These include nutritious meals and door-to-door transportation. To learn more about CAA’s senior services, visit their website here.


The Michigan Aging & Adult Services Agency offers an online database of aging resources. To find supports and services near you click here and search by location or service type.


MI Choice Waiver Program is an option for older adults and disabled persons who need additional help caring for themselves. The program provides in-home services covered by Medicaid to income-eligible adults. Click here to learn more about services and eligibility.


If you or a family member are starting to have trouble doing everyday tasks, check out the National Institute on Aging’s tip sheet, There’s No Place Like Home — For Growing Old. This sheet can help you develop a plan today to maintain independence in the future.


Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org

Poverty simulation at Metro Health asks, “What could we do differently?”

Health professionals gather in “families” in preparation to experience a “month” in poverty. Photo by Ellie Walburg

By Ellie Walburg, Access of West Michigan

 

Reading a news article about someone living in poverty is one thing.

 

Actually experiencing it is another.

 

Metro Health Hospital Services recently hosted a poverty simulation workshop with Access of West Michigan. The goal of the poverty education program is to create awareness of the realities of poverty and bring inspiration for change in an experiential way.

 

Participants in the ‘Living on the Edge’ poverty simulation at Metro Health were assigned profiles detailing their name, age, family, income level and other related details. Each “family” then completed four weeks, made up of 15-minute increments, in providing groceries, paying bills, attending doctor’s appointments and other requirements as outlined on their profiles.

 

Afterwards, participants engaged in small group discussions to debrief and learn from one another’s insights.

 

Linda Bos is a registered nurse with Metro Health and attended the workshop. She, along with Heather Rayman, were given the roles of a 75- and 72-year-old couple struggling to make ends meet. Bos, playing the role of Anthony Xanthos, and Rayman playing his wife, Zelda, spent each “week” trying to keep up on their mortgage payments, provide $50 for food and make it to expensive doctor appointments.

 

At one point during the four weeks, they couldn’t buy groceries. Towards the end of the month, they were evicted from their home as they couldn’t provide proof of their mortgage payment.

 

Mobility was also a major issue for them.

 

‘We were struck that we were always concerned about traveling places,” Bos said. “We were never together — it split us up. We never did things together.”

 

Conversations about how they were doing or if they wanted to plan a vacation never arose during their time of balancing their meager budget and keep all their bills afloat “We sure didn’t talk about anything fun,” Bos added.

 

To accompany the small social assistance check they received for the month, Bos sought out other options.

 

“I also tried to get a job, but there was age discrimination,” she said. “There were forms to fill out that were difficult.”

 

Access of West Michigan Staffers share their own story of poverty during group discussions. Photo by Ellie Walburg

Not having an opportunity for additional income made balancing finances even more troublesome.

 

“There was no way out for us,” Bos said. “Neither one of us could get a job.”

 

Rayman was reminded, “Don’t forget we have to eat at some point in our life,” as she recalled the struggle of purchasing weekly groceries.

 

For both Bos and Rayman, living life as an elderly couple with little money was an eye-opening experience.

 

“Everything was tension-producing rather than pleasurable,” Bos noted.

 

That tension is something Bos knows first-hand. While currently employed and doing well, she has felt that same stress.

 

“There was a time when I didn’t have money to buy diapers, when we didn’t have money to pay the mortgage,” she said

 

Bos and Rayman agreed that this simulation could change the way they work with their patients and others they encounter.

 

“I think for me, I’ll be much more cognizant of transportation needs,” Bos said. “I’ll think, ‘What can I do to relieve some of those transportation issues.’”

 

Bos’s work as a nurse involves serving moms and newborns.

 

“I try to be very intentional with younger moms,” she said. “I’ll ask, ‘Do you need anything else for your child?’ ‘Do you have diapers?’ ‘Do you have formula?’”

 

She said she anticipates building upon that intention with those she sees.

 

“I think so often we don’t want to offend people,” she added. “But it’s really just about asking, ‘I want to help, what is it that you need?’” That intention, she said, can come through her following up with her clients through phone calls or other additional conversations.

 

Staffers Candice and Cindy are ready at their “health clinic” table to help participants. Photo by Ellie Walburg

Rayman added, “I feel like this makes me much more aware of things like transportation, medication, samples, getting them to a care manager or something like that — things I didn’t really think of before.”

 

As the simulation event drew to a close, attendees were reminded that while they stopped playing a role in a fictitious family, there are so many in the community who must continue with that difficult reality everyday. And now that the participants had experienced the frustration and stress of living in poverty, they, and all, are left with the question Bos wondered, “What might you do differently?”

 

To learn more about poverty education and the Living On The Edge poverty simulation workshops, please visit http://accessofwestmichigan.org/about-us/poverty-education/.

“Aging in Place” is the topic of the February Health Forum of West Michigan

Helping senior citizens “age in place” longer and successfully will be the topic of the February Health Forum of West Michigan held at Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

 

“Aging in Place” is set for Friday, Feb. 3, from 8-9:30 a.m. in the DeVos Center, 401 W. Fulton St. A light breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m.

 

Panelists are Julie Alicki, social work consultant with West Michigan Area Agency on Aging, and Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids; Dr. Iris Boettcher, geriatrics, Spectrum Health Medical Group; Mina Breuker, CEO and president of Holland Home; and Richard Kline, senior deputy director of the State of Michigan Aging and Adult Services Agency. Rebecca Davis, professor of nursing, Kirkhof College of Nursing, will serve as moderator.

 

The event is free and open to the public; RSVP online at www.gvsu.edu/vphealth. Free parking is available in Grand Valley’s Seward Street lot.

 

Discussion will focus on area programs and resources that help seniors age in place, and the support that’s needed. Kline will discuss the state’s plan to provide services for this population.

 

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/vphealth.

Living a musical life; Kentwood man part of St. Cecilia community band 

John Weitzel, who lived in Kentwood for almost 30 years, has spent the last two years as part of St. Cecilia Music Center’s Grand Band. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

John Weitzel, who lived in Kentwood for almost 30 years, has been a musician for the majority of his 92 years — as a musical student, teacher and high school band leader. And he has no intention of stopping.

 

The St. Cecilia Grand Band in rehearsal at the music center’s Royce Auditorium. (WKTV)

So, with is baritone horn in hand, John has spent the last two years as part of St. Cecilia Music Center’s Grand Band, one of a series of community youth and adult music programs offered by the center.

 

“I was one of those people who started playing early in my life, I was eight years old when I first started playing the trumpet, became a member of the high school band a little early and had quite an experience there. Then I went to college and played trumpet there,” John said in a recent interview during a break in rehearsal with the band.

 

He has a masters degree in music from Columbia University in New York, still majoring in trumpet. Then became a high school band director in Alliance, Ohio, and was there for 35 years, as director of the band and supervisor of music. “After I retired from that, my wife and I moved to Grand Rapids and I joined up with several bands and have been in the (St. Cecilia) Grand Band for a couple years. It has been a great experience.”

 

His life has been full of great musical experiences, however. One of his fondest is his relationship with world-famous composer, conductor and arranger Henry Mancini.

 

Friends in music, life

 

“We met when we were in junior high school in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. We were both 12 years old. We hit it off right away because we were both only children,” John said. “He had quite a personality, even at that age, and I was attracted to him. We had quite an experience together, in high school, through our music. He was a life-long friend.”

 

Even when Mancini was at the top of his fame, and John a high school band director, they shared musical moments.

 

“He played a concert at Blossom Hills, Ohio, with the Cleveland Orchestra, and he was kind enough to introduce me during that concert,” John said. “Then we met after, in the Green Room, and we were able to renew our friendship at that point. … unfortunately, he passed away at just 70 years old. I was always curious about the music he might have written had he been allowed to live a little longer.”

 

And speaking of long life, John credits his continuing love of music as one reason for his longevity.

 

“I just feel that physically, and mentally, it is a great outlet,” he said. “I have been extremely happy, in my old age, playing in three different bands and I feel that the Grand Band is my favorite. … (it was) attractive to me for a lot of reasons: the atmosphere, the fact that we play on the same stage where world-class musicians perform, great directors. It is a fund band, and I have met a lot of friends.”

 

Weitzel’s attraction to the band is shared by other members, as is the feeling that it helps senior players keep or renew their musical skills.

 

Many members, many musical stories

 

Tom Ennis, a 70-year-old trumpet player, also started playing when he was eight and played through high school. But then life got in the way.

 

Tom Ennis is a trumpet player with the Grand Band. (WKTV)

“I joined the Army. Went over to Vietnam, and then got stationed in California and raised my family there. I kind of fell out of it,” Tom said. “When I retired from work, out in California, I wanted to play my horn again, but they don’t have community bands out there. When we moved back to Michigan, I found out about the Grand Band.

 

“For myself, I think you can continue to improve and improve, as you get older and older, you don’t have to just stagnate. … but, like anything, it is very hard if you just do it by yourself. You can’t play a trumpet by yourself and enjoy it a whole lot. The enjoyment comes with playing with a full band.”

 

Weitzel’s and Ennis’ stories are just two of the many stories of the St. Cecilia music programs, according to Grand Band director Paul Keen.

 

St. Cecilia Music Center Grand Band director Paul Keen. (WKTV)

“There is a wide variety of musical talents in this band,” Keen said. “It is not exclusively an elder band, we invite musicians of all ages. In fact, the young person … (in the band) is home schooled. He is the son of one of our percussionists, and we welcome him.”

 

But Keen, 70, sees special benefit to older musicians.

 

“It is an opportunity to continue to socialize with people with similar interests. There is also a benefit in terms of cognitive functioning,” her said. “If people, as they get older, stimulate their brains, whether it is through board games, through art, music, other intellectual pursuits, it really does help our frame of mind, our physical and mental wellbeing. I know from my own personal situation, all the aches and pains I feel, I never seem to feel them when I am playing an instrument or standing up here (leading the band).”

 

St. Cecilia Music Center. (WKTV)

The St. Cecilia Music Center’s Grand Band rehearses Monday mornings and performed in concert in December. The Grand String Orchestra, conducted by Cyndi Betts, rehearses on Wednesday evenings. No auditions are needed for either group. For more information about joining one of the adult ensembles visit SCMC-online.org or call the education director at 616-459-2224.

 

2017 will bring three new services for Kent County older adults

Amanda Haberlein

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

 

The Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) was passed in 1998 as a way to help older adults live in their own homes. Now in its 19th year, the millage has grown to offer more than 51 unique services, with three new services starting in January 2017; Handy Helen, Community Food Club, and Dental Services.

 

The KCSM services are available to Kent County residents age 60 and over and may require individuals to pay part of the cost (based on their income). The three new services below will help meet the diverse needs of a growing senior population.

 

Community Food Club: Some older adults with low incomes have difficulty affording groceries; especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Others without the means to afford food simply skip meals and go without. The Community Food Club (CFC) is designed to help meet nutritional needs, reduce the use of emergency food resources and make sure people are not going hungry. Individuals pay a small membership fee to participate in the CFC and are then given a set number of points for the month. Members can shop at the CFC and spend their points for whatever grocery items they choose such as milk, eggs, fresh produce, meats and more. The CFC is set up like a regular grocery store and includes a check out where items are added up and the points spent are deducted from their monthly total. Members can come as many times as they would like in a month until their points are gone. For more information including how to become a CFC member, contact Community Food Club of Greater Grand Rapids at 616-288-5550.

 

Dental Care: Regular dental care can be expensive, causing older adults without coverage to delay or ignore recommended dental hygiene. When not dealt with, dental issues often affect the whole body and can cause additional complications and health issues. Exalta Health (formerly Health Intervention Services) will be providing dental care to eligible older adults. Services offered will include general dentistry such as teeth cleaning, examination, x-rays, fillings and tooth removals, root canal treatment to diminish pain or eliminate infection of the tooth or jawbone and dentures and partials for those needing to replace missing teeth. For more information, including eligibility requirements and appointment scheduling, contact Exalta Health at 616-988-4301.

 

Handy Helen: Due to traditional gender roles some older women may have relied on their husband to be the handyman around the house; fixing the leaky faucets and keeping up with the home maintenance. But, what happens when their husbands are not able to do these chores due to health or memory issues and the role of wife now also includes caregiver?  For some women, the added task of home repairs becomes an additional stress and expense. Handy Helen is a class designed to empower female caregivers (age 60 and over) with the skills they need to tackle minor home maintenance projects. Each interactive series will include instruction in minor plumbing, electrical and seasonal home maintenance. Participants will also learn how to use the more common tools in the toolbox and who to call when you can’t fix it yourself. Classes are offered by Home Repair Services. For more information, including class schedules and registration information, call Home Repair Service at 616-241-2601.

 

Each year the KCSM holds an open proposal process and proposals are reviewed by the Millage Review Committee, a group consisting of Kent County Commissioners and older adults that live in Kent County.  Agencies whose proposals are approved then make a presentation to the committee in the fall. Funding recommendations for KCSM services is determined by the Millage Review Committee and approved by the Kent County Board of Commissioners. This year the committee and the Commissioners approved adding the three new services above to an already robust list of services ranging from in-home care to healthy aging programs. Funding for the services come from taxes paid by Kent County homeowners and is anticipated to be over $10.2 million for 2017.

 

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan administers the KCSM, including a full list of KCSM services, visit www.aaawm.org/senior_millage.

ACSET provides a variety of services for the growing needs of elders

Senior Meal Kitchen

Your Community in Action!

 

By Community Action Partnership of Kent County

 

According to the National Institute on Aging, in 2010 13% of the population in the United States was 65 years of age or older. By 2030, it’s estimated that number will reach 20% of all Americans. Additionally, more people are living longer; Americans 85 years old and above are the fastest growing age group of elders.

 

How are communities addressing the growing needs of this group?

 

In Kent County, ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of services to assist individuals over the age of 60, including Latin American Services Senior Meals. These meals are designed to provide a healthy meal and social interaction for elders who may face a language barrier and isolation. Elders gather for delicious Latin American food and conversation every weekday. Home-bound elders can have meals delivered to their homes.

 

Mary with CAA staffer Ramona Alvarez

CAA has been serving meals to elders for 32 years; it has become a tradition for elders in our community and we’ve become good friends with many of them over the years. Our friend Mary announced at our Thanksgiving dinner that it would be her last meal with us. She plans to move to Florida to live with her daughter. With tears in her eyes, she said thank you and goodbye to many long-time friends. Mary has been a regular visitor for 20 years! We will miss her and wish her the best in sunny Florida.

 

Mary’s story illustrates how important social opportunities can be for elders. This is especially true around the holidays. We are hosting our annual Senior Holiday Party on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 11 am.

 

Our doors are open to those who want to enjoy a warm meal with friendly, familiar faces. Do you have a neighbor or family member that could benefit from our Senior Services? Learn more about our services and eligibility requirements at www.communityactionkent.org/programs/senior-services or call us at 616.336.4000.

Latin American Senior Holiday Party

When: Thursday, Dec. 15 at 11 am

Where: ASCET CAA – 121 Franklin St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, 1st floor of the DHHS building

What: Latin-inspired meal and conversation. A small donation is recommended but not required.

Who: Anyone over the age of 60 is welcome to attend

 

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org

Wyoming Senior Center welcomes new director 

Chad Boprie is the new director of the Wyoming Senior Center. (Supplied photo)
Chad Boprie is the new director of the Wyoming Senior Center. (Supplied photo)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Chad Boprie, the new director of the Wyoming Senior Center, has been at the facility for two weeks now but his history with the center actually goes back more than 10 years.

 

Boprie, a graduate of Grand Valley State University’s Therapeutic Recreation program who most recently worked a supervisor of therapeutic recreation services for Hope Network, did a student placement at the Wyoming Senior Center in 2006.

 

“So I am familiar with the programming, with the City of Wyoming,” he said Monday. “I really enjoyed my time there.”

 

But he is still in the early phases of his learning mode this time around, after starting Oct. 31.

 

“It has been good,” he said. “I have been learning the processes the program. Getting to know the members and the participants. As I go along, I will look for things we can make better, but right now I am just learning.”

 

Part of the City of Wyoming’s Parks and Recreation Department, Boprie will oversee recreation programming for older adults as well as facility operations center.

 

“The Center is an invaluable community asset that greatly impacts our residents,” Boprie said in supplied material. “I look forward to contributing to its continued success.”

 

The WSC is an 18,000-square-foot facility that serves more than 200 daily, and offers participants fitness, creative arts, technology, and social activities.

 

For more information, please contact the city’s Parks and Recreation Department at 616-530-3164 or parks_info@wyomingmi.gov or visit wyomingmi.gov/ParksRec/parks-recreation

Senior Living: Thanks and Giving: Volunteer opportunities for older adults

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By Amanda Haberlein

Public Relations/Communications Coordinator

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

 

This time of year many may reflect on what they have to be thankful for and for some, this includes a desire to volunteer their time to help others. While older adults are able and welcome to volunteer anywhere, some find it more appealing to volunteer with organizations that cater specifically to older adults. The following agencies either utilize senior volunteers throughout the community or use volunteers to serve older adults specifically.

 

Friendly Visitor Program – This program pairs volunteers with older adults who feel extremely isolated, lonely or are homebound. Volunteers make weekly social visits with the goal of providing companionship and helping seniors remain mentally and physically active and connected to their community. The Friendly Visitor program accepts volunteers of all ages who want to make a positive impact on the life of a senior. They are partnered with an older adult for flexible one hour weekly visits and are encouraged to commit to at least one year with the program, although many build lasting relationships

 

To find out more, contact Spectrum Health Visiting Nurse Association Volunteer Services at 616-486-3956.

 

Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – This organization pairs older adult volunteers with non-profit agencies within Kent County.  Senior volunteers can work in a number of ways including transporting older adults to medical appointments, providing other older adults with companionship, serving in food pantries and tutoring early elementary grade students to increase literacy, and much more. RSVP staff can help volunteers identifying opportunities within these focus areas that best match with their interests and/or skills.

 

For more information, contact Senior Neighbors’ RSVP program at 616-459-9509

 

congregate_20meal_20high_20res-2Senior Companion Program –The program trains and provides a stipend for low-income seniors to care for older adults who are homebound, frail or who have mental and/or physical disabilities. Volunteers may come to the home to provide companionship for the senior, a break for a family caregiver, or companionship and support at a congregate meal site where seniors eat together. These visits often help older adults overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation some older adults experience.

 

For more information on this program, contact Senior Neighbors at 616-459-6019.

 

Meal Drivers and Packers – Meals on Wheels Western Michigan is always looking for volunteers to either help package or deliver home delivered meals. Volunteers can be any age and ability who are interested in helping provide nutritious meals to homebound seniors.

 

For more information on this program, contact Meals on Wheels West Michigan at 616-459-3111.

 

Still want to volunteer, but none of the above opportunities seem like a good fit for you? Check out Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Volunteer Center for opportunities organized by topic, location and keywords. For more information, visit http://connect.hwmuw.org/

 

For more details on Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan or services specific to older adults, visit www.aaawm.org or call at 616-456-5664.

Metro Health Village: Go the extra mile for better health

metro-health-a-great-place-to-walkWalking is as simple as it gets for a gentle, low-impact exercise that just about anyone can enjoy. In fact, walking can help prevent and improve many common health issues like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression, to name a few. All you need is a good, supportive pair of walking shoes and a safe place to walk, like Metro Health Village, 5900 Byron Center Avenue in Wyoming.

 

Metro Health Village has a number of walking routes and even a bike trail — all perfect for an afternoon stroll with the kids or a quick, weeknight workout. Download a Walking/Bike Route map here.

 

Need a little push to get started? Check out the Couch to 5K Training Program. Even if you’re not looking to set any world records, this program will have you up and active in no time!

 

Motivation is key when starting a new physical activity. Here are some ideas to help you stay focused and interested every day:

  • Wear a pedometer. Increase your steps a little every day until you reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
  • Get a walking partner – a friend, spouse, child, even the dog!
  • Sign up for a race or charity walk like the Metro Way 5K & Family Fun Run or the American Heart Association Heart Walk. An upcoming event gives you a goal to reach.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park farther from the door when running errands.
  • Plan a walking meeting at work.

Walking Safety Tips

Above all, it’s important to stay safe, no matter where or when you walk.

  • Walk with a buddy whenever possible.
  • Carry your name, address and a friend or relative’s phone number in your shoe or pocket.
  • Wear a medical bracelet if you have diabetes, an allergy or other condition.
  • Carry a cell phone, and let someone know you’re walking routes.
  • Avoid deserted or unlit streets, especially after dark.
  • Do not use headsets that prevent you from hearing traffic.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.

 

Senior Living: Open Enrollment Season for Medicare Starts Oct. 15

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By Amanda Haberlein,

Public Relations/Communications Coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

 

Each year Medicare offers an Open Enrollment period for those who have a Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15 and lasts through Dec. 7 and is the time when Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to review their current plan and determine if it is still the best option to fit their current needs. This is the only time during the year that beneficiaries can make changes to their prescription coverage so it’s important that they review all the factors when making their decision.

 

areaonagingIn fact, the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) which utilizes volunteers to help people make informed health care decisions, including choosing a prescription coverage plan, recommends people follow the five steps below during Open Enrollment.

 

Five Steps to Choosing the Best Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage:

 

Review your current plan. Experts recommend that everyone reviews their current plan, even if you are happy with the coverage you have received. Plan information can change each year resulting in changes to medications that are covered, premium prices and even the co-pay amounts. Just because your current plan has met your needs, doesn’t mean it will continue to for the next year. Make note of any changes you see in your current plan and if they don’t work for you be sure to look at the other options available. If you are still happy with your current plan after you’ve reviewed any updates, simply do nothing and you will remain enrolled in the same plan.

 

Consider ALL your medications. It’s not uncommon to be prescribed a medication that you weren’t taking at this same time last year. Be sure to have a current list of all the medications you are taking and check each one against the plan you are considering to see if it’s covered and what the cost will be. Don’t assume that just because it is a low cost medication or well known drug that it will be covered in all plans. A simple way to start is to visit www.medicare.gov and input all your medications. They will then generate a list of plans that will cover those prescriptions. Again, you need to review those plans for things such as premiums, co-pays and coverage amounts before making a final decision.

 

See if you qualify for help. Experts encourage those on a fixed income to see if they qualify for help through the Extra Help, Medicare Savings or the Medigap Subsidy Program. Extra Help is a Social Security program that helps to reduce or eliminate prescription plan premiums, deductibles and copays for covered medications. The income limit for the Extra Help program is $1,505 for a single and $2,023 for a couple (asset limits of $13,640 for single and $27,250 for a couple). The Medicare Savings Program is a Medicaid program that will pay the Medicare Part B premium, with income limits of $1,010 for single and $1,355 for a couple (assets must be below $7,280 for single and $10,930 for a couple). The Medigap Subsidy Program through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund will provide assistance with Medigap premiums if the beneficiary has a participating policy. The income limits for this program are $1,485 for a single and $2,003 for a couple, with no asset limit. The financial assistance plans can make prescription costs more affordable for those on fixed incomes. Experts say often people are unaware that these programs are available to help and can often make a big difference for those who qualify.

 

Don’t procrastinate!  Even though Open Enrollment seems like a long time, experts encourage people not to procrastinate and to start researching early. “We encourage people to start right away, this way if they run into questions they have time to get their questions answered and they aren’t left scrambling,” said Bob Callery, Program Coordinator at MMAP. “During Open Enrollment, our volunteers across the state as well as those that work at Medicare receive a lot of phone calls and it may take a day or two to return calls and sometimes longer, depending on the call volume. Any technical glitches with the medicare.gov website can make people anxious, so we always encourage starting early.”

 

Ask questions! Changes to your Medicare Prescription coverage can only be made during open enrollment, which means if you make a mistake you will be stuck for the rest of the year. Mistakes can translate into increased costs and confusion about coverage.  Experts encourage asking questions to make sure you understand your coverage. “Medicare and the Prescription Drug Plans can be confusing for a lot of people, which is why we have volunteers to help,” said Callery. “If you have questions, you can look at the Medicare.gov website, call Medicare directly or call MMAP. We just ask that you understand we may not be able to return your phone call the same day, depending on call volume, but we do everything we can to answer all the questions that come to us.”

 

Experts also encourage those with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Legacy Medigap plans to contact MMAP today as Blue Cross Blue Shield announced this summer that they are raising the monthly premium for these plans starting January 2017.  For many people, these premium prices can be a significant increase to their monthly budget.  MMAP volunteers can help individuals review their options if they are enrolled in one of the BCBSM Legacy plans and wish to find a better option.

 

The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is a free and unbiased statewide program made up of volunteers who can help you sort through Part D information. Volunteer counselors have gone through extensive training and can help navigate the maze of Medicare and Medicaid. To speak with a counselor, contact 1-800-803-7174.

 

Have questions on services for older adults and caregivers? Contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 616-456-5664 or 888-456-5664 or visit  www.aaawm.org for more information and resources.

 

Lunch is on Wyoming residents as way to say thanks to police, fire

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Two special luncheons were not only designed to say thank you to the many first responders who helped with a July 15 fire, but also an opportunity for residents of Bayberry Farms Apartments to heal.

 

“We really wanted to show our appreciation for all that the Wyoming police officers and firefighters did for us,” said Catherine Kooyers, a resident of Bayberry Farms Apartments and one of the organizers of the event that took place earlier this month.

 

img_6099“By being able to say thank you, the residents are able to put closure on what happened and heal from the entire event.”

 

It was July 15 when a call went out that there was a fire at the Bayberry Farms Apartments, a Wyoming senior-living complex located at 2520 56th St. SW. “Earlier that day, we had just had the fire department here but it turned out to be nothing,” Kooyers said. However, the mid-afternoon fire was much more serious as smoke started to fill the apartment complex. Kooyers, who lives in an apartment that was near where the fire started, ran through the building knocking on doors and trying to get people out.

 

“Because of the earlier incident, some people didn’t think the second situation was all that serious,” Kooyers said.

 

Along with tenants, firefighters and police, workers from the nearby businesses came over to help with the evacuation.

 

“I heard a knock on the door but didn’t pay that much attention to it,” said resident Ellen Vining. “I heard another knock, much harder and decided I needed to answer it.

 

“There was a young lady telling me that I needed to get out. She was all dressed in blue so I thought she was one of the firefighters.”

 

Vining later learned that person was a Monelli’s employee who was coming in for her shift when she saw the smoke and came over to help.

 

“I learned a very valuable lesson that day,” Vining said with a chuckle. “Don’t ignore a knock on the door.”

 

Because of the organization of the tenants it made it easier for the department to assess who was missing which in turned meant the lost of only a pet, said Wyoming Deputy Chief Brian Bennett. Three people were taken to the hospital to be checked out. Three units suffered the most damage with the entire building having smoke and water damage.

 

img_6098It has taken several months, but most of the residents have been able to move back home and with the fire behind them, the tenants felt now was a good time to show their appreciation to the police officers and firefighters with the special luncheons.

 

“It is always nice when you are able to come back and visit with those who you were able to help and learn what has happened since the fire,” Bennett said. “A lot of times, we are in and out and we do not get that chance to talk to the residents and see how they are doing afterwards.”

 

“I am so impressed with all of them,” Vining said. “They all have such compassion which I guess that is why they became firefighters.”

Discounted Go!Bus Ticket Program gets seniors where they need to go

go busAre you 60 or older? Need a ride to a medical appointment or other local destination?

 

The Rapid’s Go!Bus Ticket Program offers a door-to-door transportation service for seniors age 65+ and persons with disabilities who cannot ride a fixed-route bus.

 

GO!Bus is a shared ride, advanced reservation, ADA paratransit service. GO!Bus riders share trips traveling in the same direction at the same time. Trips are scheduled without regard to the purpose of the trip. The Rapid also provides GO!Bus service to non-disabled seniors (NDS) aged 65 and older.

 

Non-disabled senior citizens must present proof of age (i.e., copy of driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.) with their completed application. To use the service due to disability, you must complete an ADA application AND ‘Professional Verification of Functional Disability’ form.

 

Once you’re approved, the GO!Bus provides service in the same area and at the same days and times as The Rapid fixed-route buses. Go!Bus is also available to companions of qualified riders, personal care attendants (PCAs) and service animals. To ensure there is a seat available for companions, be sure to notify GO!Bus that you will have someone accompanying you when you make your reservation. Read the Go!Bus rider’s guide here.

 

Reduced-price tickets for the Inter-urban Transit Partnership (ITP) Go!Bus service are available to Kent County residents who are approved Go!Bus riders, thanks to funding by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. If you are 60 or older, live in Kent County and are an approved Go!Bus rider, you may apply to purchase the discounted tickets at the Wyoming Senior Center. Please call the Wyoming Senior Center at 616.530.3190 or email mywsc@wyomingmi.gov. More info about Go!Bus here.

 

 

Adrenaline junkies will find plenty of adventure in West Michigan

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Attention all adrenaline junkies: West Michigan offers endless opportunities to stimulate all five senses. With zip lining, kayaking, skydiving and more, travelers can get their fill of active fun all within the breathtaking natural beauty that is West Michigan.

glider-02Southern Region

If you are a thrill seeker, come to Marshall and take to the skies! Go for a Glider Ride and release 3,000 feet about Marshall lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Or, for an even bigger thrill, skydiving is also available in the area. And if something a little calmer is more your speed, take a ride and see the skies in a hot air balloon. In Marshall, the sky’s the limit… literally.

 

There’s no feeling like the excitement of experiencing beautiful West Michigan while enjoying live outdoor music. This September, Allegan County Fair has a series of fun concerts lined up:

  • Friday, September 9th at 6:00 pm — “ROCK THE GRANDSTAND” — with Bret Michaels, RATT, Warrant, FireHouse & LA Guns.
  • Saturday, September 10th at 5:00 pm — BREW ROCK — With Wayland, Royal Bliss & Mutual Live.
  • Sunday, September 11th at 7:00 pm — CHRIS STAPLETON with Aubrie Sellers
  • Monday, September 12th  at 7:00 pm is the PARADE (Free)
  • Tuesday, September 13th at 7:00 pm — X AMBASSADORS, Rachel Platten & A Great Big World
  • Wednesday, September 14th at 7:00 pm — TRACTOR PULLS
  • Thursday, September 15th at 7:00 pm — RODEO (Grandstand is Free for this event)
  • Friday, September 16th at 7:00 pm — RASCAL FLATTS , Kelsea Ballerini, & Chris Lane
  • Saturday, September 17th at 6:30 pm — DEMOLITION DERBY

 

more south haven

South Haven is the ideal location for action water sports during the summer months. Rental shops supply everything from jet skis to stand up paddle boards, so all your water adventure needs are covered. The Van Buren State Park has an abundance of dunes and scenic nature trails for travelers to hike or bike through. The state park is located just minutes outside of downtown, making it convenient to travel to.

 

Additional thrills in South West Michigan:

more amtrakCentral Region

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Amtrak may have the solution for you. Something Michiganders and Chicagoans alike have grown to appreciate, the Pere Marquette is the perfect way to travel West Michigan’s breathtaking coastline. Plus, up to two kids ages 2–12 can ride free with each adult rail fare for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday travel between Grand Rapids and Chicago. Leave the traffic and the city behind and have yourself an unforgettable West Michigan adventure.

 

Take in 10,000 years of Michigan History as you walk along a trail through the woods at Michigan’s Heritage Park in Whitehall. Visit a Native American Wigwam Village, learn about the art of the trade at the Fur Trader’s Post, explore a Civil War Camp and stretch out on a bunk in the lumbering shanty. Park admission is charged: $10 for adults, $8 for 65 and older, and $5 for 2–12. For more information including hours and directions, contact Lakeshore Museum Center.

 

Muskegon Countymichigan adventure is graced with 26 miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan beachfront and many beautiful smaller lakes, which allows for many opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, paddle boarding, and more! There are numerous kayak, boat and more water adventure rentals available to make the most of your time on the water. And, after you’ve had your fill of natural adventures (if that’s possible!), travelers can still get their adrenaline fix at Michigan’s Adventure Amusement and Water Park and take on over 60 rides and attractions featuring roller coasters, wave pools, rafting rides, and more! Or, head over to Muskegon Winter Sports Complex and check out their new fiberglass luge, the only wheeled luge in North America.

 

Life is more fun in the trees! Just outside the booming city of Grand Rapids lies Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park. For those adrenaline junkies, they offer more than just zip lines, but an aerial high tops adventure course where visitors are taught how to use their gear, full body harness and belay system. With a three-hour climbing experience at heights of 10-40 feet, this is truly a one-of-a-kind adventure opportunity in central West Michigan.

 

Additional thrills in Central West Michigan:

charlevoixNorthern Region

Traverse City is a top destination for “silent sports” – the kind of outdoor actives where the only sound you make is the rustle of footprints, the swish of skis, or the splash of a paddle cleaving the water. No matter the season, the Grand Traverse area commits itself to that concept, and much of summer recreation is centered on Grand Traverse Bay attracting fishermen, yachtsmen, and more. Hikers and mountain bikers can tackle backwood trails, forests, and dunes, while cyclists can enjoy miles of lightly traveled country roads along the Lake Michigan shoreline. For those who don’t mind getting a little wet, paddlers are drawn to the many rivers, lakes and bays each with their own difficulty. Plus, within an hour of the city limits, anglers can find miles of blue ribbon trout streams and prime areas for lake trout, steelhead, perch, walleye, and more.

 

Charlevoix offers thrill seekers amazing opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping. Try skydiving over Charlevoix and enjoy a free fall at 120mph and fantastic views of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Charlevoix, Mackinac Island and Beaver Island — truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Or, enjoy a canopy tour at Michigan’s largest outdoor zip line adventure. With 9 zip lines and 5 sky bridges, an average speed of 40mph and a grand finale of a 1200 feet triple racing zip line, this is one adventure we’re positive you’ll never forget.

tall ship sailing

Northern Michigan is blessed with umpteen opportunities to enjoy the Great Lakes. Here, you’re invited to turn off your cell phone, set your email on auto-reply and set sail on the inland seas for one of the multi-day excursions aboard the tall ship schooner Manitou. The Traverse City Tall Ship Company is offering a series of educational and entertaining cruises throughout September and October. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Northern Michigan shoreline while reaching ultimate relaxation levels.

 

In Bellaireeach day a new adventure awaits! Stop at one of their local wineries to enjoy some wine while you hit golf balls at their 130 yard driving range. Plus, get a hole-in-one and win a bottle! Or, experience Torch Lake and its surrounding chain of lakes aboard a beautiful Bennington or Premier tritoon or the day and enjoy the “Caribbean of the North!” And, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay to get the most out of your trip, Shanty Creek Resorts is the ideal place for your family after a day of sunshine and water adventure.

 

Do you want to be a water sports enthusiast, but need a little help? Now’s your chance. Check out Hotel Walloon:Barefoot

  • Take lessons from Tommy’s Ski and Wake School, just next door to Hotel Walloon! Try your hand at wake boarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, kneeboarding, tubing, and more!  Schedule your lesson today.  Or, for a different water experience, Tommy’s has boat rentals including speed boats and pontoons.
  • Classes featuring yoga on paddle boards will be offered at different times throughout the summer from Thrive, the new wellness center that Vogue Salon and Spa has opened.
  • Visit Walloon’s new shop: Wookiee’s Place, specializing in kayak rentals, lake-lifestyle goodies, doggie accessories, and fun!

 

Additional thrills in Northern West Michigan:

 

 

West Michigan offers endless things to do with Dad on Father’s Day

shanty creek resorts
Shanty Creek Resorts

Father’s Day is June 19ththis Sunday! — and the West Michigan Tourist Association has some excellent suggestions for making it the perfect day for any father in your life. Enjoy great meals, fun events, and give gifts DADicated to that special man. Show your appreciation for your dad 365 days a year, but make sure to celebrate in style on June 19th with Father’s Day in West Michigan.

 

Golf
Here’s just one idea: Take dad for a round of golf at one of the four championship courses at Shanty Creek Resorts. The tight fairways, formidable doglegs, and elevation changes will challenge any golfer. Or if you’re looking for a new unique way to experience golf, why not try FootGolf at Shanty Creek’s Summit Golf Course. This hybrid between soccer and golf has you trying to kick a soccer ball into a 21-inch diameter cup.

 

The Heatherwoods Course at the Charlevoix Country Club is another ideal place for golfing with dad. Their Father’s Day special includes $29 for 18 holes and $15 for 8 holes. Their Golf & Dine special is perfect for making this an all inclusive day of golf. The dining package is valid at both Sports Grill and the Triple C Clubhouse Dining Room. Book your tee times online at their website.

 

coldwater country locomotives
Coldwater Country Locomotive

Family Fun

Enjoy a trip through the countryside on the historic Little River Railroad steam locomotives in Coldwater Country. Dads ride free with purchase of a regular ticket. The round trip train ride lasts an hour and forty five minutes and takes you from Coldwater to Quincy where you’re given the opportunity to see the locomotive switch around for your return trip. For times and reservations, visit their website.

 

South Haven’s Harborfest falls on Father’s Day weekend. Bring the whole family to enjoy live music by the river, dragon boat races, a classic boat show, and more. If you want to give the gift of relaxation, the beaches of South Haven offer a great “no agenda” day to enjoy with dad.

 

harborfest
Harborfest

The Port City Princess in Muskegon will have a special Father’s Day cruise to celebrate dads all over the world. Enjoy a champagne brunch with local microbrew beers and a live bluegrass band. You’ll also be able to watch the powerboat races that are going on all weekend.

 

St. Ignace is perfect for planning a trip for Father’s Day. Take a day trip to Mackinac Island and enjoy the summer weather. Then spend the day in St. Ignace, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. Plan a golf or fishing trip during your stay.

 

GaylordLockheed_C-130_Hercules-1024x731 offers family fun year-round, and Father’s Day is no exception. Head to Gaylord to experience the Air Show with jaw-dropping aerobatic aerial performances, jets and vintage war birds performing and on display.

 

The 38th Annual White Lake Area Father’s Day Arts & Crafts Festival will be June 18th and 19th at Goodrich Park in Whitehall. The family favorite festival features 75 talented artists, crafters, food vendors, live entertainment, and children’s activities.

 

great-turtle-kayak-tours-Hit the waters of Mackinac Island with dad at Great Turtle Kayak Tours. Choose between kayaking or standup paddle boarding and explore the waters together. This is a fun and outdoor family activity that everybody can participate in. For more information and reservation options, visit their website.

 

The Historic Charlton Park hosts their 35th Annual Father’s Day Car Show on Sunday, June 19th. Admire vintage cars and the craftsmanship of yesteryear throughout the park’s 310 acres. You know you’re getting the best of the best when every car is from 1990 or earlier and must be able to drive itself to the park.

 

hackley and humeThe Muskegon CVB also wants you to celebrate Father’s Day with them. On June 19th, dads enjoy a free tour of the Hackley & Hume Historic Site. Explore the grounds and see the beauty that went into this historic location. If powerboats are more your speed, then check out the Chase Charity Powerboat Event from June 17th to the 19th at the Muskegon Yacht Club. You can either race or watch the boats while enjoying refreshments at the club.

 

Charlevoix is ready to help you create special moments with dad for Father’s Day. Take a hiking trip through their great trail system or golf on one of their five area courses. Kayak or boat on the lakes and rivers where you can go fishing. There is also skydiving, trail biking, and more adventures to be discovered and had.

 

This photo was taken during a calm summer day from Lake Michigan Beach. For such a plain looking lighthouse, it is surprisingly very photogenic, thanks to the sleek profile of the south pier and beautiful background sunsets.
Charlevoix Lighthouse

Lemon Creek Winery’s 32nd Annual Father’s Day Festival features live music, a classic Corvette car show, kids’ games, hayrides and more. Of course, food and wine will play a big part in the celebration. The entry fee is $12 for adults 21 and older and includes free parking, admission to the event, a souvenir wine glass, and three free wine tastings. Those under 21 get in free when accompanied by a family member over 21.

 

Beer, Dine, & Wine

Head out to the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula this Father’s Day to try some award-winning wines from nine distinct wineries along the peninsula. Each of the nine wineries has their own distinct tasting rooms, patios, and beautiful decks. Stop by all of them and find which one you like the best.

 

Journeyman Distillery will be hosting a Father’s Day brunch and Three Oaks Single Malt release on June 19th from 10am to 10pm. There will be both a special steak sandwich that has shaved prime rib and a full brunch menu to choose your meal. The whiskey won’t last long on the shelves, so make sure to check out this special release while you’re at it. For more information on the event and the Three Oaks Single Malt, visit their website.

 

lemon creek winery

Food is on the mind of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance for Father’s Day weekend. Their farmers market will be open June 18th and is great to get some fresh produce for cooking your Father’s Day feast. If dining out is more your style, Schuler’s Restaurant will have their Father’s Day Brunch on June 19th from 9:30am to 2pm. The dinner menu begins at 1pm if you would rather have an evening meal together.

 

Arcadia Brewing Company in Kalamazoo celebrates Father’s Day the best way they know how: delicious beer and meat-centric food dishes. All Father’s Day long, dads can enjoy $5 off growler fills of any draft beer. At 5pm, live entertainment will be provided by Roma Ransom who traveled all the way from Colorado to perform.

 

Gifts

Give dad a membership to Club Mich for Father’s Day. A membership to the Michigan Breweries T-Shirt Club is a perfect gift for dads who love craft beer. As a member, he’ll receive a shirt every month featuring a different Michigan brewery. You can buy it as a monthly plan or purchase the plan in various increments.

 

club michThe Art Gallery of Algoma will be having a Father’s Day Gallery Shop Sale from June 14th to June 18th. Get dad the perfect gift or get him an AGA Membership which helps support the gallery and its efforts. Or you could visit the gallery and take a tour with your loved ones. Check out the Art Gallery of Algoma when you are out shopping and planning for Father’s Day.

 

A Little Bit of Everything

Treat dad to the perfect day at Crystal Mountain. If he loves golf, send him to the Callaway Club Fitting from 10am to 3pm on June 18th for a 15-minute fitting. Then, on June 19th, buckets of driving range balls are buy one, get one free! Plus you can golf at Mountain Ridge for $45 and Betsie Valley for $35. If golf isn’t his thing, on Father’s Day, dads get free entrance into the pool, a free Alpine Slide Pass, or free bike rental with purchase of a child pass or rental.

 

Crystal_mnt_resort

Pierce Cedar Creek has a great Father’s Day dinner, program, and artist’s reception on June 19th. Enjoy dinner at 5pm expertly prepared by Chef Paul. After dinner, artist Laura Christensen will present her photography titled “The Wildlife and Waters of Barry County.” Enjoy a reception and an optional hike out to Cedar Creek afterward for an evening view of the Institute’s wetlands. There is a fee for dinner, but the program, reception, and hike are free and do not require attendance at dinner to be enjoyed.

 

No matter what you end up doing, you’re sure to have tons of fun!

Visit a Senior, Meet a Pilot or a Teacher, or an Artist

Kelloggsville High School senior Thu Nguyen plays bingo with a resident
Kelloggsville High School senior Thu Nguyen plays bingo with a resident

By: Erin Albanese — School News Network

 

High school students have learned many interesting tidbits about the residents they are getting to know at American House Senior Living Community in Kentwood.

 

Each resident has a story, they’ve learned: Betty Reynolds was the first teacher at Battle Creek Christian School; Lois Laffey was a pilot. Margie Halstead is an artist who has 10 children, 35 grandchildren and 53 great-grandchildren. Margaret Gazella’s husband had to leave on their wedding day to fight in World War II.

 

“I love talking to the residents,” said Kelloggsville freshman Miles Thomas-Mohammad, while crafting glittery cardboard flowers with several ladies, and learning even more details about their lives. “They are so nice.”

 

They’ve learned other things as well while joining residents for crafts, games and snacks. Kelloggsvile senior Thu Nguyen, who is from Vietnam, said special moments happen over Bingo and just getting to know each other. “I want to make them feel happy so they don’t feel lonely,” she said.

 

And residents like it too. “It makes you feel young again,” said Elaine Wigger.

 

Added Ginger Kay, “It’s nice to have young people here, because they are so positive.”

 

Kelloggsville freshman Miles Thomas-Mohammad sets up crafts for senior citizens
Kelloggsville freshman Miles Thomas-Mohammad sets up crafts for senior citizens

A group of about eight Kelloggsville students, many who are English-language learners, visit the assisted-living and memory-care facilities monthly to spend time with seniors. Coordinated by EL teacher Susan Faulk, the volunteering opportunity is a way for students to give back and step out of their comfort zones and get to know others.

 

“The students gain patience and confidence as they work with the seniors,” Faulk said. “Many students are really shy and feel awkward around the seniors at first. I see their confidence grow as they realize that they are able to help someone else. I also see them having to learn patience, as a game of Skip-Bo and Rummikub can take a long time with a senior who has to think for a long time before taking action.”

 

For the past two years, Faulk has also coordinated a volunteer group at Women At Risk International Volunteer Center, a Grandville-based nonprofit organization that unites and educates women and children in areas of human trafficking and sexual slavery.

 

American House staff said the visits are very meaningful to residents.

 

Kelloggsville High School senior Dim Ciin eyes her Bingo board
Kelloggsville High School senior Dim Ciin eyes her Bingo board

“It’s always exciting to see people cross age barriers relationally,” said Susan Faulk’s husband, Steven Faulk, American House chaplain.

 

Activities assistant Betty Torres said the residents “love relating to the younger crowd. They have a lot of good stories to tell, our residents. They get so exited about a group coming in. It fulfills their whole being.”

 

Be sure to check out School News Network for more stories about our great students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan!

WKTV’s new associate anchor falters big-time, then disappears

grave marker for Nigel

 

[Obligatory April Fool’s story.]

 

In the beginning, he was WKTV’s mascot, always cheerful and unassuming. He often stayed into the wee hours of the night after everyone else had gone home. For months, we marveled at his always-sunny, can-do attitude, which is no mean feat in today’s dangerously depressing world. No matter what, Nigel was consistent in his utterances and deeds.

 

Lesser folk would have run chittering from the building, but Nigel put up with the station’s less-than-ideal working conditions like a champ. Our station director’s temper tantrums didn’t faze Nigel. He tolerated the bizarre antics of our managing editor. Even the newest CJ reporter’s grammar Nazi tirades didn’t crack him.

 

cricketIronically, it was a well-deserved promotion that did him in.

 

In his capacity as station mascot, Nigel thrived and excelled. His attendance was exemplary. When things got crazy around here, his easy-going manner and uplifting chirps kept the station on course. And he never got in anyone’s way.

 

Then we began taking him for granted. As often happens with mild-mannered folk in the corporate realm, Nigel was overlooked for plum assignments. He seemed happy enough. His chirps seemed genuine. But at WKTV, we do not stand for the status quo. We celebrate each team member’s strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses.

 

I believe it was on a Wednesday we first realized that Nigel’s talents were being wasted in such a limited role. The community needed to know about him, about what he stood for, about his very existence. Nigel needed to be celebrated and exalted for his simplicity and love for nature. It was sure to be a win-win.

 

And so we promoted him to broadcasting associate.

Bye gravestone

 

There is always a learning curve with any new position, and Nigel put up a brave front. He appeared to soak up new knowledge like a sponge, and we coached him in his new role. But it soon became apparent that Nigel, for all of his seemingly extroverted traits, was an introvert at heart. In his new, highly visible role, Nigel faltered. He couldn’t bring himself to attend meetings. I remember seeing him once by a pipe close to the window, but when I tried to talk to him, he quickly escaped down a tiny black hole.

 

No amount of persuasion could entice Nigel to contribute to our on-air broadcasts. He began wandering around the office, unseen. But we heard him. He chirped incessantly.

 

In any other situation, one might have considered Nigel mentally ill, but we knew better. Nigel was a unique individual, and at WKTV, we celebrate diversity. However, when someone’s happiness is at stake, swift action is required.

 

And so Nigel returned to the position where he was happiest, as our mascot. Two days later, he disappeared.

 

We believe a wolf spider sealed poor Nigel’s fate.

 

Click here to listen to an interview with Nigel. (Before he went missing.)

 

APRIL FOOL’S!

 

Post-script: Nigel was real. He was the office cricket.

WKTV program showcases the women who helped build ‘a league of their own’

Former player Marie Legman, who once played for the Rockford and Fort Wayne clubs.
Former player Marie Wegman, who once played for the Rockford and Fort Wayne clubs, discusses a call with an umpire.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

For a young pre-teen girl whose family was struggling to survive the Great Depression, baseball – specifically the teams that made up the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association – brought a little bit of hope to Marilyn Jenkins.

 

Jenkins was living on the south side of Grand Rapids in the 1940s, near the corner of Cass and Hall Street “which was about a long block and a railroad track from South Field where the ‘Chicks’ played,” she said during a 2008 interview for the documentary “A Team of Their Own: The First Professional Baseball League for Women.” There is a screening of the documentary set for Wednesday, March 23, at noon at Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Dr., Allendale. Also on Wednesday, March 23, at 8 p.m. and again Saturday, March 26, at 1 p.m., WKTV will be airing “Women in Baseball, a Veterans Oral History Special,” featuring a panel of women who played on the Grand Rapids Chicks during World War II.

 

For Jenkins, baseball was the one thing she had to do. “I knew there was no money to go to college. There weren’t scholarships and all that business, and in what? I wasn’t qualified,” she said. “I was a good student in hight school [Jenkins attend South High School], but anyway, I had to play ball.”

 

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was started by Philip Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, during World War II to fill the void left by the departure of most of the male baseball players for military service. Female players were recruited from across the country, and the league was successful enough to be able to continue on after the war. The league had teams based in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, and operated between 1943 and 1954. The 1954 season ended with only the Fort Wayne, South Bend, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Rockford teams remaining. The League gave more than 600 women athletes the opportunity to play professional baseball. Many of the players went on to successful careers, and the league itself provided an important precedent for later efforts to promote women’s sports.

 

For Jenkins, who developed her love of the game through her father, the experience was profound. She went from helping with the grounds at age 11 to batgirl at age 13 to playing for the team right out of high school. She would be one of the last players when the league ended in 1954. Jenkins would stay in Grand Rapids,  earning an associate degree to become a radiologist and later working in an attorney’s office.

 

Jenkins said she enjoyed her time as a “Chick” and has continued as a member of the AAGPBL, but knew at some point it would end.

 

“…there were good ball players, but there are today too, but the skirts, the uniform, the time, it’s in a little pocket of history, where it fit in perfectly and I don’t know where you’re going to find another pocket like that…,” she said.

 

For more on the documentary “A Team of Their Own: The first Professional Baseball League for Women” visit gvsu.edu/wibdoc. For the full interviews with the AAGPBL players, visit www.gvsu.edu/vethistory. For WKTV programming, visit wktk.org.

 

It’s time to get active with Wyoming’s first Health & Wellness Expo

CH & W ExpoWith spring just around the corner, a time when many people take advantage of the warmer weather and head outdoors, the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the first ever Wyoming Community Health & Wellness Expo Saturday, March 5.

 

“Spring is a great time to focus on health and wellness,” said Rebecca Rynbrandt, director of community services for the City of Wyoming. “This event was created to inspire the community to prioritize their well-being, and connect them to local resources.

 

The free event will run from 1 – 3 pm. at the Wyoming Senior Center, 2380 DeHoop Ave. SW. About 20 different businesses, clubs and organizations from the Wyoming area will host tables and hand out samples, coupons, and other goodies. Fitness demonstrations, nutritious snacks, speakers, and health screenings will be some of the activities.

 

The Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department will be offering a sampling of its fitness programs such as yoga, Zumba and line dancing, said Valarie Mester, a recreation programmer for the department.

 

“We offer a number of programs through our offerings at the senior center and through our youth and family programs,” Mester said, adding this is a chance for people to try these programs and see what they are like.

 

Also on hand will be Shape for Life Studios, 1290 36th St. SW. Through its partnership with the recreation department, Shape for Life Studios offers spin classes and personal training. Mester said the studio representatives will be bringing in spin bikes for participants to try. Another recreation department partner is Metro Health, which will be providing health information.

 

Several other city departments will be at the expo such as the city’s water department, which will be covering the topic of clean water, and both the fire and police departments will be on hand to talk about related health and safety issues.

 

“It’s really about getting people more active, thinking about the food that they are eating and making sure they are visiting their physicians for regular check ups and screenings,” Mester said.

 

While a brand new event, Mester said organizers are expecting between 200 to 400 participants this year which is based on the number of current participants in the Parks and Recreation Department’s programs.

 

“The event is free and open to anyone, both residents and non-residents,” Mester said.

 

For more about the Wyoming Community Health and Wellness Expo or other programs offered by the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department, visit www.wyomingmi.gov or call 616-530-3164.

Partial lineup for the Wyoming Concerts in the Parks released

Kalamazoo's Big Boss Blues makes its first Concerts in the Park appearance this year.
Kalamazoo’s Big Boss Blues makes its first Concerts in the Park appearance this year.

After that brief encounter of chilly weather this past week, about everyone’s thoughts have turned to warmer weather. Well here’s something to warm you up: there is only 105 days before Wyoming’s Concerts in the Park returns to Lamar Park.

 

O.K., so it is a little more than three months, but to put together a 10-week concert series, the planning has to start almost when the last series ended. The Wyoming Community Enrichment Commission, which oversees the series, has been hard at work, lining up the performers for the 2016 Concerts in the Park and even have begun releasing a few teasers as to who is coming on the Wyoming Concerts in the Park Facebook page.

 

“We like to say that we are continuing the tradition of good entertainment at Lamar Park,” said Brandon Simmons, who is on the Wyoming Community Enrichment Commission. Simmons is referring to Lamar Park’s history of hosting the rodeo at Fort Wyoming which was located at Lamar Park. The site also was host to numerous concerts featuring Bob Hope, The Oakridge Boys, Crystal Gale, and Huey Lewis & the News.

 

The Concerts in the Park series has done well attracting some of the most popular regional stars with this year’s line-up including the very popular folk/rock band The Crane Wives, Kalamazoo’s Big Boss Blues, Grand Rapids honky tonk group Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys, rock ‘n’ roll group Foolish Plezyer, country group Kari Lynch Band, Tejano/Mexican/Conjunto music group Grupo Viento and The Legal Immigrants.

 

According to Simmons, more than 10,000 people were in attendance to last year’s fireworks show, always the Tuesday before July 4. This year’s fireworks will be on June 28 and feature two bands, one of which is Foolish Plezyer.

 

A total of 11 groups will perform over the 10 weeks. Simmons said the complete lineup should be available in March and that there is some big news to this year’s concert series, so make sure to be checking the series’ Facebook page and WKTV’s Wyoming/Kentwood NOW.

 

Also, the Wyoming Community Enrichment Commission hosts the Music & More August event designed to give residents a last summer hurrah with three concerts, food dancing games and activities all in one night. For more on the August event, click here to visit its Facebook page.

 

Concerts in the Park is free. Lamar Park is located at 2561 Porter St. SW.

President’s Day: Adventures with POTUS and Technology

AbeLincolnBy: Deidre Doezema-Burkholder

 

President’s Day, a federal holiday originally meant as a day to remember our first President, George Washington, now is a day in which we remember all presidents that have served the office. In the over 200 years that our country has had a President, technology has evolved. In the interest of this holiday and technology, and with 2016 being a presidential election year, here are a few factoids about technology and the leader of the free world.

 

President Andrew Jackson, the 7th man to hold the position, was the first president to travel by train in June of 1833. President Jackson traveled a few miles down the road, 12 to be exact, from Relay to Mt. Claire Depot, Maryland.

 

While many of us are familiar with President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th to serve our country, did you know he is the only one to hold a patent? Patent #6469, “A device for buoying vessels over shoals” was revised by Honest Abe May of 1849. A couple of trips on waterways, including the Great Lakes, led him to his invention. You can see the patent details here.

 

Interesting enough it wasn’t until 1891 that the White House was wired for electricity. We owe our 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison, for pushing ahead with this form of technology. According to The White House Historical Association, while President Harrison may have installed the electricity, it didn’t mean he trusted the fairly new invention. The President and First Lady had the domestic staff operate the switches over the fear they might get shocked.

 

With social media and cell phones being such an integral part to election campaigns in 2016, I found it interesting that President William McKinley, our 25th president, was the first president to campaign using the telephone.

FDR

 

We blast into the twentieth century with number 26, President Theodore Roosevelt. This Rough Rider seemed to embrace new technologies. The first president to been seen in a car, the first to ride in an airplane and the first president to be filmed on the job.

 

It wasn’t until June in 1922 that the voice of the President, in this case 29th president Warren G Harding, was transmitted and heard on the radio. Those who listened heard the President dedicating a memorial for Francis Scott Key, the man who gave us our National Anthem.

 

It was nearly 20 years later that we were able to see the president on a television. In April of 1939, in beautiful black and white, we were able to watch President Franklin D. Roosevelt open the World’s Fair. We would have to wait until 1955 to see the President in “living color.”

 

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter was responsible for being forward thinking and installed solar-panels on the White House roof. Way to be green, number 39!

BillClinton

 

Do you wear contact lenses? So did your 40th President Ronald Regan, the first president to do so.

 

Finally, President Bill Clinton and the internet. He was the first president to have a White House website, to send an e-mail via the internet, and hold an online chat. Interestingly enough, his relationship with a White House intern broke online. You could read the article online before you could see it in print.

 

Happy President’s Day!

 

Deidre owns and operates Organisum: Technology Services, a business serving the West Michigan area. In her free time she likes to hike & bike local trails with friends and family when she isn’t pinning, instagram’ing or Netflix’ing.

Secretary of State offices to be closed for Presidents Day

Secretary of State BannerSecretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents that all branch offices and the Office of the Great Seal will be closed in observance of Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 15. So, make sure to plan your responsibilities accordingly!

 

The Secretary of State’s Office mails notices to motorists 45 days before their driver’s license or license plates expire to give them ample time to renew.  Licenses and plates that expire on a day when state offices are closed, such as a holiday or weekend, can be renewed the following day without penalty.

 

Most people renewing license plates, driver’s licenses and ID cards can do business online at www.ExpressSOS.com or by mail.  Easy to follow instructions can be found with the renewal notice. Additional services can be done online as well.

 

License plate tabs can also be renewed at Self-Service Stations, many of which are available around the clock. Visit the Branch Office Locator at www.michigan.gov/SOS to find a Self-Service Station near you.

 

With the exception of holidays, offices are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Smaller offices may close for the lunch hour. On Wednesdays most offices are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with those in city centers open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  PLUS offices and SUPER!Centers are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.  SUPER!Centers also provide Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to noon.

Take Date Night to a Whole New Level

Like-Water-for-ChocolateTreat yourself or your loved one to an unforgettable night of food-focused entertainment. Enjoy the classic romance film, Like Water for Chocolate in the UICA Movie Theater. Then, head to the Downtown Market where market chefs will put together a delectable sixcourse dinner inspired by the food featured in the movie complete with drink pairings.

 

 Chef’s Dinner:

– Cocktail: Mezcal, pineapple, chile, honey, cinnamon, and lime
– Green salad with crispy pork, avocado, and tomato
– Vinho verde rose
– Chiles in walnut sauce
– Chateau L’Aqueria Tavel
– Quail in rose-petal sauce
– Adelsheim Pinot Noir
– Turkey mole
– Langmeil Shiraz-viognier
– Oaxacan cream fritters
– Cocktail: tepache, blanco tequila, wild thyme, and lemon

like water for chocolate needs cropping

 

About Like Water for Chocolate:
The youngest daughter in her family, the beautiful Tita (Lumi Cavazos) is forbidden to marry her true love, Pedro (Marco Leonardi) because tradition dictates that Tita must care for her mother. So, Pedro weds her older sister, Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi), though he still loves Tita. The situation creates much tension in the family, and Tita’s powerful emotions begin to surface in fantastical ways through her cooking. As the years pass, unusual circumstances test the enduring love of Pedro and Tita.

 

$75 per person

 

Includes six-course chef dinner, drink pairings, and movie.

 

Like Water for Chocolate
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Movie: 3:00 pm
Class/Dinner: 5:30 pm

 

Reserve your tickets today.

How to Avoid Flu Like the Plague

August 29, 2013, Atlanta, GA - Chris Summerrow (left), Director of Business and Continuity Management, UPS, speaks with Dr. Ali Khan, Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, in the Emergency Operations Center at the CDC.

By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (with a little help from Victoria Mullen)

 

Hey! Happy New Year, Grand Rapids! We start out the year by making it onto yet another top-20 list, but this one’s nothing to brag about. According to the Huffington Post, Grand Rapids ranked 19th among the 20 cities most likely to experience the worst cold and flu season in 2016.

 

Great job, guys. Way to go. (Well, at least we weren’t #1 but still, among millions of cities, coming in at 19th?)

 

Both dreaded and dreadful, flu season can begin as early as October, but most of the time it peaks between December and February. Sometimes it can last as late as May. That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say, and they’re the experts.

flu don't touch your face
Wash your hands!

 

Suffice it to say that the exact timing and duration of each flu season varies. About half of the U.S. population gets a flu shot each year, but those nasty little viruses can still pack a punch. Flu is responsible for nearly 17 million lost workdays and costs the U.S. more than $87 billion annually. Tens of thousands of people get sick enough to be hospitalized, and thousands die from flu-related illnesses each year in the U.S.

 

Children are the most likely to become infected with flu, and children younger than five years of age are among those who are at high risk of serious flu complications.

 

Think about that the next time you go to hug your sweet little petri dish.

How to spread the flu

It’s easy! Just cough, sneeze or merely talk, and those nasty viruses will spread through itty-bitty, teeny-tiny little droplets. Flu also spreads when people touch something with the virus on it and then touch their nose, mouth or eyes.

 

Here’s the thing: if you’re infected with flu, you can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That’s right, you can spread the flu to someone else before you even know you’re sick (in addition to doing so while you are sick).

 

Young children, people who are very ill and those with severely compromised immune systems can infect others for longer than 5-7 days.

flu
We needn’t go this far… unless there’s a pandemic.
Symptoms of the flu

How do you know you have the flu? Uh, you’ll feel lousy. Specifically, you may have:

 

– Fever or feeling feverish (note that not everyone with flu will have a fever)

– Chills

– Cough

– Sore throat

– Runny or stuffy nose

– Muscle or body aches

– Headache

– Fatigue

– Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than in adults

 

Most people will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some may develop complications (such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and even deadly.

 

The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

Emergency_roomWhen to go to the emergency room:

In children

– Fast breathing or trouble breathing

– Bluish skin color

– Not drinking enough fluids

– Not waking up or not interacting

– Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

– Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

– Fever with a rash

 

In adults

– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

– Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

– Sudden dizziness

– Confusion

– Severe or persistent vomiting

– Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

– Being unable to eat

– Has trouble breathing

– Has no tears when crying

– Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

flu_virus
Isn’t it pretty? Looks like an art project, but it’s not.
The best way to prevent flu

Get your annual flu shot every fall, say the CDC. Their statistics show that during the 2012-2013 flu season, an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. population got vaccinated and helped to prevent an estimated 6.6 million flu-related illnesses, 3.2 million flu-related mediation visits and 79,000 hospitalizations. (How they came up with these numbers is a mystery, but there you have it.)

 

People at high risk (such as children younger than 2 years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, people who have medical conditions) or are very sick (such as those hospitalized because of flu) should get antiviral drugs

 

The flu vaccine protects against several different flu viruses, providing protection all season long. Flu viruses can change from season to season and immunity declines over time so it is important to get vaccinated each year.

 

CDC plays a major role in deciding which flu viruses the annual flu vaccine will protect against, so be nice to them.

cover your coughHow to protect yourself from the flu:
  • Stay away from sick people (not a problem for introverts) and don’t be offended when they stay away from you when you’re sick (tit for tat)
  • Wash your hands to reduce the spread of germs
  • If you or your kid is sick with flu, stay home from work or school at least 24 hours after the fever is gone to prevent spreading flu to others (one exception: you may go out to get medical care or for necessities but keep your distance from others). No cheating: The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth (germs love to spread this way)
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs (such as doorknobs, phones, and computer keyboards/iPads, you get the idea)
  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible
  • Follow public health advice, which may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures. (I would think that if we ever reach this point, it wouldn’t hurt to wear a necklace of garlic.)
swine-kissFun Fact:

The title of ‘peak month of flu activity’ is bestowed upon the month with the highest percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus infection. February is typically the top peak month, so happy birthday out there to all you Aquarians!

 

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

102-Year-Old Dynamo

Photo Courtesy of WZZM-TV
Photo Courtesy of WZZM-TV

By: Dorothy Simon-Tibbe

 

Gladys Misiewicz ran a 5k race at the ripe, young age of 100 in a benefit of Oasis of Hope Center, sponsored by Grand Valley medical students. She is now 102, and still running up and down the many stairs of the six building complex of Villa Maria Senior Living Center on Walker Ave.

 

This petite lady looks more like a 75-year-old as she runs through the building with no cane, no walker, nor any other type of aid. She exercises daily in her room and in the Physical Therapy Department. Her doctor comes to her apartment in the Villa Maria complex once a month to check her general health, which is excellent except for glaucoma. No grass grows under this plus-two centenarian’s feet!

 

Gladys was born as a part of the Dubis family in East Chicago on October 31, 1913. One of her earliest memories was the noisy celebration of Armistice Day, which frightened her so badly she hid under the kitchen table. That same day, her mother gave birth to her brother Stan, so she was unavailable to calm little Gladys’ fears.

 

The Dubis family moved to Hammond, Indiana, and then made their way north to the Twin Lake area near Muskegon, Michigan. While in Michigan, they lived on a farm, with no heat source except a wood burning kitchen range, one bedroom, and a path to the out-house. Her father worked in Grand Rapids, only coming home every two weeks.

 

Both of Gladys’ parents were Polish immigrants. She taught her father to read and write so he could attain citizenship and vote. Since her mother became a U.S. citizen when her husband’s paper were processed, she never learned to speak English well and she couldn’t read or write. The family spoke Polish within the home,

 

St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church became home for the Dubis family by the time Gladys began school, where she attended through the eighth grade.

 

Her family sustained themselves during the Depression Years by doing piece work for the String Factory by inserting string through paper tags to mark prices on goods for sale. The entire family of six children, with their parents, sat at their kitchen table each evening to string the tags. Once the tags were completed, they were delivered to the factory the next day and a new supply was picked up in their little wagon.

 

Mrs. Dubis worked as a dishwasher in a local restaurant where she was given left over food for her family when it was available.

 

Gladys began high school at Union, but she did not fit in with the life style and teaching methods of public school. So, she quit there and went to Davis Tech.

 

By obtaining a work permit at age 16, she was able to work at Steketee’s Department Store. While working at Steketee’s, a former teacher gifted her with the ‘fortune of $500′ to be used to go to college. Before college, she had to complete her high school courses, which she did with several classes each morning until her graduation at age 22.

 

Her family never considered education important, and none of her family attended her graduation.

 

Gladys attended her first year of college at Catholic Junior College, now called Aquinas College. While there, she played the roll of a very grumpy Mother Superior performed at Ladies Literary Club. Every minute of practice, rehearsal, and performance was cherished.

 

The following year, Gladys moved on to Western State Teacher’s College to follow her dream path as a teacher. Unfortunately, that dream never materialized because of a call from home; “Come home immediately. Your mother is very sick and in the hospital having surgery. We need you to take care of the house and children.”

 

There was no hesitation to answer the urgent call to aid her family, but as soon as her mother’s health returned, her dad demanded she pay rent or move out.

 

She chose to move out to a farm that had 800 Leghorn chickens. In exchange for room and board, she cleaned the chicken house each morning, gathered eggs, and then delivered the eggs to local hospitals before gong to work as a secretary in a law firm.

 

By December of 1941, Gladys became the Insurance Adjuster for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Chicago. She married Army Engineer Chester Misiewicz in May of 1945. He was career Army for 23 years, while Gladys remained stateside performing various nursing duties and raising her three children – Kevin, now 70, Karen, age 67, and Lynee, age 64 – and continuing her self-taught scheduled learning and exercise.

 

Gladys’ father was later diagnosed with leukemia, and once again she gave up home and hearth to move closer to care for her family. She moved with her three small children to live with her in-laws, who lived within a mile of her ailing father. She would walk over each day to bathe and care for him, and would sit beside his bed for hours just to be close and reassure him that she cared.

 

This ‘young’, 102-year-old dynamo radiates energy, love, and happiness along with a sharp, intelligent mind. She assists at Mass in the Villa Chapel, lights Altar candles, and leads the singing with a clear and pleasant voice. She is an avid reader, especially of historical and medical topics, and enjoys line dancing. She enjoys listening to lectures by noted doctors, especially Dr. Sinja Gupta and Fareed Sakaria. Her favorite fiction author is Nicholas Sparks.

 

“As long as I can remember, I have always believed that Jesus was close, guiding me, blessing me with good mental and physical health,” remarks Gladys as she looks back over a century of life. “Today is the most important day of my life. I must make the most of it. With my daily thanks, I use these blessing to influence and help others to make the most of their day.”

 

Gladys has a wonderful attitude on life, which may be the secret to her longevity. She is content in her space in this world

First & Main of Metro Health Village: A Groundbreaking Concept that Caters to Seniors

First and MainBy Victoria Mullen

Getting old can really suck if you’re not in the greatest shape. Aching, stiff joints. Decreased mobility. And moving from one’s beloved, long-time home into a retirement community or assisted living facility isn’t a pleasant thought either. For some, this transition is especially traumatic. My mom’s experience was no different: It’s an understatement to say that she wasn’t too keen on moving to a retirement community.

“I don’t want to live around a bunch of old people,” she repeatedly said. At the time, she was 80 years old, but I knew what she meant. Mom is very young at heart. After months of persuasion, though, she finally acquiesced, and we found a fabulous community for her. Now she wishes that she would have moved there sooner. On the day she moved in, she met the love of her life, and these days she reassures me often with, “It’s never too late to find a man.”

Uh, thanks, but I’m fine. Really.

Granted, people normally don’t transition to a senior community and find their true love; my mother’s experience is the exception. But it serves to illustrate that life is full of surprises and one should approach this huge milestone with an open mind.

Back in 2006, when I was searching for a retirement community suitable for my mother’s needs, First & Main, 5812 Village Drive SW, Wyoming, Mich.–the upscale residential component of Metro Health Village–was still being developed. Gary Granger, president and CEO of Granger Group, had been planning the community since 2003 and this past September 23, the Wyoming senior community welcomed its first resident.

“Care is a very important piece of every assisted living community because that is the foundation of what makes this so necessary,” said Granger in a press release. “We try to do that maybe in a little bit different way. … Even though the average age is in the mid-80s, people still want to feel valued and feel like they are tied into the community. The wellness component of our program is probably going to be the biggest area of emphasis for us, because the two most important things for wellness and health are diet and exercise.”The entryway into a First & Main development is designed to have a community feel and features an open atrium and café bookstore. Courtesy Granger Group

First & Main is a 102-unit senior living community with a 170-resident capacity. It is designed with a marketplace atmosphere that is evocative of a town center. The first two floors provide assisted-living options and the third floor is for memory care.

The 180-acre healthcare village is not only home to the first suburban hospital in the region, it’s an entire community of support services, retail shops, a grocery store, restaurants and more with Metro Health Hospital at its core. There are also an in-house chapel, theater, salon, bistro and patio, fitness center, and a courtyard with a putting green and raised gardens.

I had noticed components of Metro Health Village slowly appearing over the years—doctors’ offices, the Pain Clinic, Metro Health Hospital, and now the most recent addition, the residential community. There’s also Family Fare grocery store, which I thought had been an odd placement, but now it all makes sense.

Every building in Metro Health Village is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, focusing on energy conservation, recycling and storm water management. The village also integrates the natural environment to provide a healthy, calm, healing setting to serve patients, families and neighbors nearby.

First & Main boasts some newfangled technology that makes life easier for its residents. Instead of door keys, residents use digitally encoded, radio-frequency wristbands to unlock their suites. Also featured is interactive engagement software called ‘It’s Never Too Late,’ which can be used for a variety of activities such as trivia games, vintage radio shows, and using Street View to tour a resident’s hometown.

“The wellness program, hospitality and community engagement are part of the goal to support residents’ lifestyles,” according to Granger. “Several of the programs and services offered in the new development will incorporate third-party providers, such as hair stylists in the salon, bringing in health experts for diet and exercise training classes, and yoga and fitness instructors.”

Other amenities include 24-hour staffing, transportation to physician appointments, housekeeping, activities and wellness, chef-prepared meals, apartment and suite maintenance, assistance with digital communication and reminders and assistance to dinner.

First and Main 2Some features may take getting used to, especially for people who are used to being self-sufficient. For example, ‘Point of Care Solution,’ a handheld mobile device, provides real-time documentation for staff so that more time can be spent with residents; ‘Quiet Care’ determines residents’ nighttime behavior patterns and alerts staff when that pattern changes; ‘Real Time Location Service Pendants’ alert staff to a resident’s location if assistance is needed; LG CNS Electronic Health Records and Medication Management Systems provide a detailed electronic record for each resident; and special spectrum lighting helps reset the natural Circadian rhythms for memory care.

Metro Health Village is a groundbreaking concept and the first of its kind in the nation. Granger has plans to build similar villages in other areas of Michigan as well as in Ohio. We can thank the Baby Boomer generation for this trend as more and more cohorts from that population transition to retirement communities.

For more information, call 616.622.2420 or visit the website.

Images courtesy of Granger Group

Chili Cook-off and a Cornbread Recipe to Boot!

Ruby RobertsEvery year as the chills of fall set in, seniors compete in the coveted Bayberry Farms Village Chili Cook-Off. The steaming hot pots of chili presented for the  October 23, 2015 competition included white and tomato based chilies, hot to mild.

This year’s lighthearted competition was judged by a team of jovial, yet highly-respected, Wyoming Firefighters. The winner of the 2015 Annual Bayberry Farms Village Chili Cook-Off was Ms. Ruby Roberts. After winning Second Place for two years in a row, Ruby tweaked her delicious white chili recipe to make it become the favorite chili of the day! Her mixture of chicken, white beans, cheeses and secret ingredients was the hands down favorite. Congratulations, Ruby!

Ruby intends to keep her recipe secret at this time as she is determined to win future competitions!

However, another big hit and highly requested recipe was “Catherine’s Cornbread.” It is not dry like a typical cornbread and not as fluid as a corn casserole. When firefighters ask for the recipe, you know it is good!

Catherine’s Cornbread

Ingredients:

Two Jumbo Eggs (Or Three Large Eggs)
1 Can Cream Corn
1 Can Drained Whole Corn
¼ Cup Sugar
2 Packages Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Splash of Milk

Directions:

Mix the eggs, both corns and sugar together until well blended. Stir in the corn muffin mix. If too thick, add a splash of milk.

Pour into a greased 9 x 11 dish.
Bake at 350 (325 for glass dish) until toothpick in center comes out clean (around 20 or so minutes) and top is golden brown.
Do not over bake.

Enjoy!