Volunteers take on new roles as funding lags for senior services

Volunteers are key to ensuring the region’s aging population, especially low-income seniors and people with disabilities, have the services they need, whether it’s a ride to the doctor, help deciphering Medicare, meals, or advocacy. As officials finalize the Area Plan on Aging and Long Term Care for the next four years in Spokane, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman counties, funding remains stagnant, and could decrease, depending on how much money is allocated by Congress this fall. Read more

Latest stories

Birthday party honors Medicare’s 50th

Medicare is turning 50 this year and the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans and other retiree and labor advocacy groups are having a party Thursday at Spokane Community College in the Lair Student Center. The free celebration includes birthday cake and live music by the band “8 Tracks.” People will share their personal stories of benefiting from Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older or younger people with certain disabilities. State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, will advocate for protecting the program. Read more

Conference to address adult guardianship issues

Families and professionals interested in improving adult guardianship in Washington are invited to attend the inaugural Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders conference Aug. 7 at the Wenatchee Valley College. The free one-day forum will focus on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the state’s current approach to adult guardianship, address key policy and practice issues and engage in outreach, education and training. Read more

White House streams today’s Conference on Aging

Local senior advocates are watching today’s White House Conference on Aging and will provide feedback about how to improve aging services. The public can watch a live feed of the conference, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., at https://www.whitehouse .gov/live. At press time, the White House hadn’t released an agenda. The event’s website is http://whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov. Read more

Idaho’s senior population increases

Idaho’s population is aging faster than the nation’s, with people 65 and older increasing by 19 percent in the last four years, according to estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The nation’s senior population grew by 14.2 percent.  In Kootenai County, the senior population grew by 17 percent between 2010 and 2014. Idaho’s total population was 1.6 million as of March 17. Read more

‘We’re about helping people’

REPUBLIC, Wash. – The power of a tiny rural town is that a spark of an idea can ignite into a large triumph in just a few weeks, without much fuss or formality. That’s what happened in Republic, where dwindling membership at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer jeopardized the historic building. Volunteer Nancy Morris hatched a plan to turn the hand-cut stone building into a senior center. Read more

All hands on tech: Savvy seniors receive schooling on Internet safety

Baby boomers are, in general, technologically savvy, Skyping grandkids, texting friends, shopping online and banking from laptops and smartphones. Yet these seniors, like the majority of Washington adults, often forsake security for the ease of logging on anytime or anyplace, especially through free Wi-Fi networks, said Doug Shadel, the state director of AARP Washington, during a cyber-safety presentation to about 200 seniors in the Spokane Valley last week. Read more

ACT 2 starts summer classes this week

The deadline is looming for seniors 50-plus to register for the summer session of ACT 2 classes offered by Community Colleges of Spokane. The summer session, in which some classes begin Tuesday, includes offerings focusing on retirement income planning for women, the revolution before the Renaissance, computer classes, exercise classes and Middle Eastern Style dance. Read more

Inland Northwest volunteer programs step in when caregivers need a break

Depression filled Lee Hendrickson’s life after a stroke eight years ago. She needed a purpose, a way to care for others and not dwell on her own health. That’s when she found the Senior Companion Program, run by the Panhandle Health District since 1987, while searching the Internet for volunteer opportunities for her Boy Scout grandson. Read more

Seniors feel federal pinch

For years, the Hunt family put the top of a picnic table over the front steps of their Lincoln Heights house as an impromptu ramp. It was rickety, unstable and dangerous yet necessary – it was the only way several of the family members, including 83-year-old matriarch Darlene Hunt, could get into their home. Cindy Howard, 59, married into the family in 2012. She had to get out of her power chair and let her husband, who has degenerative discs in his back, and his brother, who has developmental challenges, lift it onto the table top covering the stairs. It scared Howard. Read more

Studies show hope for Alzheimer’s treatments

PITTSBURGH – Alzheimer’s disease is one of the conditions that Americans are most afraid they will get, second only to cancer. Yet at least a generation of focused research has gone by without an effective treatment or sure advice on how to prevent it. University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s researchers are among those leading studies. And while huge challenges still exist in making progress, they see hope in recent reports. Read more

Local lawn bowlers enjoy camaraderie, competition

“Boys, don’t bowl on the green. The green is for the king, the king is for the queen …” This evening as we approach the bowling green, three peregrine falcons stop their dance on the putting greenlike surface and eye us suspiciously before flying to the top rail of the enclosure’s cyclone fence. They join a fourth falcon in the green cover of a large, leafy tree, and we unlock the gate to Spokane’s only remaining lawn bowling green. Read more

Spokane sailors complete 26,000-mile odyssey

Charlie Simon couldn’t imagine a better way to turn 60 than to sail around the world with his wife. So that’s what the retired Spokane couple did. They named their semi-custom ocean-going Taswell 58 sailboat “Celebrate” and headed out in January 2014 on a 15-month, 26,000-mile journey that took them to five continents, 16 countries and across three major oceans and many seas. Read more

In brief: Meeting to examine proposal for county hoarding task force

The public is invited to an organizational meeting June 2 for a proposed Spokane County Hoarding Task Force. Similar hoarding task forces exist across the country to provide a directed and managed response to hoarding cases. Organizers think forming a local hoarding task force, with collaborative efforts form community and human service professionals, is essential to ensure the health and safety of individuals suffering from and affected by hoarding. Read more

Community cornerstone: RSVP connects seniors with volunteer opportunities

Some people knit or crochet – hats for the homeless, slippers for day cares, blankets for the sick. Other people tutor young students or deliver hot meals, help at the local food bank or sort donations at the thrift shop that supports the American Cancer Society. Last year, the 208 volunteers in the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, of Spokane County contributed 41,260 hours of service to community programs. On average, the crew of recent retirees and anyone older than 55 donated 290 hours each to 29 different community programs. Some volunteers worked an hour a month while the top volunteer spent about 2,300 hours at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop on Garland Avenue. Read more