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

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Groups offer volunteer opportunities

• RSVP of Spokane County: or contact Adam Borgman at or (509) 344-7787. Read more

Toasting longevity

Just live. Perhaps that’s the secret to living to age 100 – 20 years longer than the average life expectancy. The idea was to have local centenarians give advice to baby boomers, the generation just younger than most of their children, on how to age well and hit the 100 mark. Centenarians are still considered rare, but are becoming more common with advancements in medicine and health care. Read more

Downsizing matters

As people age, they often are “frozen” in place because the idea of downsizing is overwhelming and unimaginable. Spokane Realtor Kathy Bryant said that’s the biggest mistake seniors can make. Read more

Japanese students practice English, glean knowledge from Fairwood retirees

The word “quilt” just didn’t translate when Joan Nelson told her young Japanese visitors of her hobby, even when she used her hands to mimic sewing. “We had a real problem with that word,” Nelson, 77, laughed. “I don’t think they got the message.” Read more

A voice for the voiceless

From chewy bacon and hard-to-cut biscuits to encouraging a family to put their mother in a memory care unit, Michal Rosenberger has done it all in her year as a volunteer long-term care ombudsman. Several times a week, Rosenberger, a retired teacher and school counselor, visits residents at Brookdale Place at NorthPointe, the 120-bed assisted living facility around the corner from her house in north Spokane. Read more

Guidance through the health coverage maze

Before stumbling upon the free Medicare workshop last week, Toni Mastronarde spent three years feeling ashamed and beaten down because she couldn’t figure out her Medicare coverage and didn’t have enough money from Social Security to pay for medications and basic needs like food and heat. She carried so much stress in her muscles, her neck could hardly turn. The 69-year-old diabetic said she had mostly gone without insulin for months, canceled appointments with specialists and only eaten beans and split pea soup – never fresh fruits or vegetables. Her apartment is always cold because she fears the cost of heat. Read more

Master strokes

Underwater, anything is possible. Just ask the members of the Salvation Army Kroc Center masters swim club. For two of the oldest members, water is life. “I am water,” said Lorna Henry, 74, while taking a break from the 5 a.m. practice last week. “That’s who I am.” Read more

For seniors, minor slips can mean serious injury

The bruises are still visible on Ann Drake’s left arm and hip. The slightest movement causes intense pain from a dislocated shoulder, and a 2-inch gash, with dark blood caked along its edges, serves as an unintentional part in her gray hair. Read more

Studies look to long-term fall prevention

One out of every three seniors falls every year. Yet, though the problem is well known and preventive steps seem to help, researchers still struggle with the best methods of preventing harm long-term. Read more

Next time you’re tempted to shake a fist at an older driver, remember they might be safer behind the wheel than you

Despite stereotypes to the contrary, drivers 65 and older are among the safest on the road.    They are more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to drink or text while driving compared with any other age group, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Yet they are more likely to die if they are involved in a crash. The reasons are complicated by individual circumstances and medical conditions, but with 25 percent of all U.S. drivers expected to be 65 or older in just 10 years, balancing the health and mobility needs of an aging population with public safety is a topic of increasing interest. Read more

Aging boomers fuel Alaska statistics

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Aging baby boomers are significantly boosting Alaska’s senior population, while younger age groups are maintaining their numbers, according to the state Department of Labor. Alaska’s senior population – age 65 and older – in 2014 reached 71,080, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. Read more

Study explores secrets to old age

What prolongs your life or prevents dementia might not be what you expect. Claudia Kawas, a geriatric neurologist at UC Irvine, has been working on a longitudinal study of people age 90 and older since 2003 called the 90-plus study. Kawas spoke in front of a packed crowd of 200 at the Newport Beach Public Library recently about what she’s found in her research on what can help a person’s longevity and what can reduce a person’s risk for dementia. Read more

CCS branches out ACT 2 programs

Beginning ukulele lessons, computer classes, yoga, amateur radio and bagel making are just few of the classes for seniors in Colville, Ione, Newport and Republic thanks to the expansion of Community Colleges of Spokane’s ACT 2 program. “We are really excited to be working with local instructors and the local staff to really meet the needs of the communities,” said Jaclyn Jacot, director of ACT 2 and career transitions. Read more

Seniors take love for competitive basketball into golden years

Eddy Birrer loves basketball. It’s that simple. Age is irrelevant to the 70-year-old Gonzaga University accounting professor who has shot hoops since about age 7, when he got a sports set that included a rubber football, baseball and basketball. “I sometimes ask if anyone knows CPR before a game begins,” Birrer said in his dry tone. Read more

In brief: Workshops tackle care planning

Advance care planning facilitators have scheduled 13 workshops in Whitman County today through Feb.28 to help people make important decisions for themselves and loved ones, specifically creating, writing and saving these plans. Honoring Choices Whitman County is partnering with local libraries to put on these workshops that are for all adults. Read more

Depression takes a toll on seniors

Along with the typical health issues that aging Americans face, more than 6.5 million people older than 65 also are dealing with the repercussions of depression, experts say. “Sometimes, depression occurs for no one clear reason,” said Tina Krenn, a market practice specialist in WellMed’s Winter Park, Florida, office. Krenn notes that contributing factors can include anything from hormones to drug or alcohol intake, a loss or another illness. Read more

Longtime director of regional aging agency brings career values into his own retirement

Aging is Nick Beamer’s passion, which makes his retirement last week after nearly 28 years as executive director of Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington an interesting juxtaposition for a man who now must live what he’s preached. It’s his turn to live longer, healthier and remain in his home – the very goal of the five-county agency that provides a myriad of services for seniors 60 and older and younger people with disabilities. Read more