The importance of listening to the person with dementia

We need to hear well before the voice is silenced by the disease

By Mike Good for Next Avenue

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(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series examining and interpreting a commonly used “bill of rights” for dementia patients.) 

People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are an invaluable part of our society. Millions of them are brilliant, wise and actively advocating for their rights and needs.

As my friend with Alzheimer’s, David Kramer said, “It’s not something that necessarily makes us idiots.” No it doesn’t, but unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t understand the disease, and therefore, don’t know how to listen to the person with dementia.

Just like anyone else with unique challenges and special needs, people with dementia need to be able to communicate their needs, wants and fears without being judged.


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It happens to the best of us: I’m not cool anymore

Despair turns to hope during a humdrum trip to the grocery store

By Peter Gerstenzang for Next Avenue

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A few mornings ago, I saw a reflection of myself and had to summon every bit of strength to keep from shrieking. What was staring back at me, from a darkened winter window, was sad, morally repugnant and just plain creepy.

As I caught a glimpse of myself on the NordicTrack, wearing a velour sweatsuit and horn-rimmed glasses so I could watch CNBC, I had the most unsettling epiphany: I’m not cool anymore.

I looked beyond the window at my snow-covered suburban lawn and wondered what had happened to my rebellious nature. Where was the guy who once wore mirror shades and motorcycle boots, whose long hair was held in place by a bandana? How did he morph into the guy who was exercising before dawn? Who chugged prune juice? And now dressed like senile mobster, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante? I did not know. And I was bummed about it.


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Art and friendship make powerful tools to fight ageism

College students and older adults become ‘pals’ in this creative arts program

By Linda Bernstein for Next Avenue

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Credit: paletteprogram.org Caption: PALETTE participants bridge the generations

“Whom would I meet? What would I say? Would I seem dorky?” These were Rena Berlin’s concerns before she met her Partner in Art Learning, the new “pal” she’d been matched with through a program that pairs a college student with an older adult to create art.

“For the first time in my life I really felt like a senior,” says the 68-year-old educator from Richmond, Va., with a laugh. “They were transporting a small group of us from the Weinstein Jewish Community Center in a van to the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. A van. That mean’s you’re getting old. I was also nervous.”

It turns out she had nothing to worry about. “After my PAL and I got started, it was amazing,” she says.


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The secret to a long marriage

Our relationship is different from our parents’ but just as lasting

By Candy Schulman for Next Avenue

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When I mention I recently celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary, friends stare incredulously as if to say, “How is that possible?” I joke that I was a child bride in an arranged marriage, sold with a dowry to the highest bidder. The truth is I did vow “I do” at 23.

My husband, Steve, and I married young and had a child late.


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4 life lessons from Tony Bennett and other 89-year-olds

Bennett and Dick Van Dyke are going strong and happy

By Liz Fedor for Next Avenue

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Caption: Tony with his son Danny, 2007 Grammy Awards

Singer Tony Bennett, at 89, isn’t resting on his laurels.

He recently released a new album, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. In an interview with NPR, he recalled how much he loved singing for his relatives as a boy. “It created a passion in my life that exists to this moment as I speak to you, that is stronger now at 89 than in my whole life,” Bennett said. “I still feel that I can get better somehow. And I search for it all of the time.”

Bennett’s not the only 89-year-old who is defying stereotypes of older age.  Actor Dick Van Dyke  just wrote a memoir titled Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging.  Queen Elizabeth continues to carry out the royal responsibilities she inherited in 1952. And Marilyn Hagerty, my friend and former colleague, continues to write regularly for the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald.

Their daily lives offer four lessons for all people of all ages:


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Presbyterian Village to host voter registration drive

shutterstock_177445370 Fort Scott Presbyterian Village will host a voter registration drive at the campus, 2401 S. Horton, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 16 for all legal citizens age 18 or older.

American democracy was built on the idea that every citizen has a voice in government through their vote at the poll. Throughout our country’s history, different classifications of people had to fight to get that right recognized.

“All citizens have a right to vote and be heard,” said Ginger Nance, executive director at Presbyterian Village. “It’s important that we utilize that right and actually get out and vote.”

In order to be eligible to vote, each citizen must be registered in advance of the election. Those who have changed addresses need to re-register to vote with their new address.  The voter registration drive will give people another opportunity to register before the deadline for November’s presidential election.

To register, bring proof of citizenship. Accepted forms include a birth certificate or passport. Driver’s licenses are not accepted.

For more information about Presbyterian Village call 620-223-5550 or email gnance@pmma.org.

Fiftysomething diet: 7 trendy (and healthy?) foods

They are getting a lot of attention and may even be good for you

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue

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In the never-ending parade of new food products that make headlines every year, there are always a few that catch on and become trendy, almost fashionable. They are options that beg to be included in any healthy diet.

The question is: Are they worth bringing to the table? Put another way, will they help you age more gracefully and do they have unique nutritional benefits?

Here’s a look at seven of the trendiest edible offerings that people are talking about around the water cooler, at book clubs and in the coffee shop, along with details on what they do and don’t offer when it comes to health, nutrition and disease prevention:


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Dad’s gone but his travels to Africa still inspire me

His pictures from the other side of the world set me off on an unexpected path

By Wendy Walleigh for Next Avenue

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Credit: Getty Images

Africa has had a special place in my heart ever since I was a little girl looking at my father’s World War II photos. Dad had been a 24-year-old Air Force cargo pilot in multiple countries in east, west and central Africa. And while on the continent in 1942 and ’43, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine.

He sent his photos of these locales home to my mother, who lovingly preserved them, mostly black-and-white, affixing them to the black pages of a photo album with sticky corner-frames. I liked to sit with him looking at these pictures as he told me the stories that accompanied them.


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How is your hearing health?

shutterstock_149436230If you’re having trouble hearing conversations, you’re not alone. About one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 75, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2.

Fort Scott Presbyterian Village will host a free Hearing Health Seminar at 9:30 a.m. September 30 for seniors in the Fort Scott area. Meagan Morris, ARNP with Baker Clinic, will discuss some of the reasons for hearing loss in seniors and possible solutions available.

At the end of the presentation, she will offer a cerumen removal procedure using a special technique that causes no damage to the ear drum. People who have this procedure often experience noticeably improved hearing. Those wishing to receive the procedure will need to supply a copy of their insurance information for billing purposes.

You can’t reverse hearing loss. However, you don’t have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. “Finding Solutions to Senior Hearing Loss” is part of Fort Scott Presbyterian Village’s Just Ask series, a free, ongoing, life-long learning program featuring information from local and regional experts on topics of interest to older adults and their families. A free lunch will be served to attendees at 11:45 a.m.

Call in advance to reserve your seat for this program as seating is limited. Call the Presbyterian Village business office at 620-223- 5550 or email gnance@pmma.org.