(Caption for photos above: First 3 photos above show stand-alone small houses (mostly 1 or 2 BR, 1 BA); the interior shot is of the Avion Village office; the open field shot is an open, undeveloped park area; the 2 red brick shots are apartment buildings (~20 buildings, I didn't count them); the last photo is the retail area across Belt Line Rd. from the apartments.)
Yesterday, in the swimming pool at The Summit (active senior activity center in Grand Prairie), I met a friendly woman who told me that she has lived in an Avion Village apartment (1 BR, 1 BA) for the last 8 years. She said the apartments are not all that nice, but they're quiet and safe, no issues among tenants, and she likes living there). She said over 8 years, her rent has increased only from $325/month to $375/month!
So I went to check out the "Village" and to document my findings for any interested Ambassadors. They don't advertise at all and have a wait list and Amanda in the office wouldn't say "how long the typical wait is" but when I asked if it's "like 2 years?," she said, "Oh, not THAT long." No vacancies now. When I asked about crime, Amanda said "Extremely minimal. Everybody knows their neighbors here and looks after each other."
Here is a link to their website www.avionvillage.net/ and an online Application Form can be found here. If you complete an Application Form and take them a $75 non-refundable Application Fee, when a vacancy opens, the Office will call you to view the available unit. There is no obligation to accept the vacancy. If you decline it, you will remain on the wait list for the next vacancy. Amanda said it's not like a typical lease agreement where you renew every year. Once you're in, you're in until you decide to leave (most of the vacancies are created by young people leaving to follow a job or to move to larger quarters due to growing family). When you want to leave, you provide 30 days' notice to the Office and that's it.
A bit more information can be found on their Facebook page at this link https://bit.ly/2Iz10dv
So here's the scoop.
We had a good workout today at the free Tai Chi lessons that we've been sponsoring, along with Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. A group of Chinese young men visiting UTA were walking by and two of them snapped selfies with Tai Chi participants in the background exclaiming "I want to show my friends in China that Americans do Tai Chi!" The free lessons continue on Saturdays through May 26 at 201 E. Abram Street, and then Greg Ellis, our master instructor, will continue free lessons on Saturday mornings starting at 8:00 am at Veterans Park at the bandshell stage there for the month of June.
Elva Roy made the following announcements:
1. Carol Marak, www.carolmarak.com , spoke about the various stages of aging and actions we need to take at the various stages, such as planning future living arrangements, care plans when assistance will be needed, etc. She invited any "elder orphans" to join her private Facebook page called "Elder Orphans." If you don't know the term "Elder Orphan," a synonym would be "solo ager." It describes someone who is aging alone and who doesn't have family or close friends to call on when help is needed. Carol emphasized the fact that we need to team up and take care of each other.
2. Jay Warren, Marketing Communications Manager for the City of Arlington, gave an update on various initiatives going on within the city. He invited us Ambassadors to become "digital ambassadors" by spreading the word about events and activities going on within the city. We can sign up by visiting this website www.arlingtontx.gov/dreamteam .
Lastly, Elva is seeking an Arlington veterinarian to come speak to us about caring for our pets in the hot summer months (flea/tick control, itching, etc.). This was a member's request from 2017. If you know a vet who would like to speak, please alert Elva at (817) 557-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard/Sharron Merrill / Proclamation "Older Adults Month" / Tai Chi
Tai Chi. Don't forget to come to Tai Chi beginner lessons on every Saturday in May, through May 26, 9:30 am - 10:30 am, 201 E. Abram St., Arlington.
Ambassadors. Also, you won't want to miss the regular monthly meeting of the Ambassadors on May 7, 1:00-3:00 pm, 700 E. Abram St., where we will have two good speakers. First up will be Carol Marak, writer and expert on senior issues, and creator of the "Elder Orphans/Solo Seniors" Facebook pages. Second speaker will be Jay Warren, former television news anchor and currently serves the City of Arlington as Manager of Communications.
Refreshments will be provided by Ambassadors' member Elizabeth McPherson. Thank you!
In Memoriam. Richard Merrill struggled with esophageal cancer and his suffering ended on Friday, 4/6/18, leaving behind his beloved wife of 55 years, Sharron. Elva Roy opened the Ambassadors meeting with 60 seconds of silence in memory of Richard and in support of Sharron as she endures Richard's absence and tries to adjust to her life which will be very different. Many members at the Monday's meeting expressed their sadness that we will no longer see Richard's smiling face at our meetings. He was on the Ambassadors' Leadership Team and was always "there" to do any task and to offer cogent ideas about various topics. We will all miss him greatly and Elva said that Richard was always one of her biggest supporters and also a vocal supporter of our Ambassadors group. He always "showed up" and is irreplaceable in our meetings and in our hearts.
Request your attendance at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 6:15 pm. Mayor Williams will present the Ambassadors a Proclamation where he proclaims the month of May as "Older Adults Month." Sponsored every May by the federal Administration on Aging. More info at this link https://bit.ly/2FHK9js
Elva hopes for a good turnout to receive the proclamation (red shirt if you have one, if not, no worries). It's your chance to see the new City Council chambers at 101 W. Abram St. (parking garage west of City Hall at 101 Center St., or along Front St). And...good news...proclamations are done at the beginning of the Council Meeting so you don't have to stay for the whole thing...you can be home before dark.
Reminder about change of meeting dates for May and June. Because the County needs the use of our regular Meeting Room on the 2nd Monday of May and June, our meeting schedule for those months was moved. In May, we will meet on the 1st Monday (5/7/18) and in June we will meet on the 3rd Monday (6/18/18). Same time (1:00-3:00 pm) and same 1st floor Meeting Room at the Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse, 700 E. Abram St. Mark your calendars now, please, so you won't waste a trip on the wrong date.
Tai Chi classes are on hold until a location is found. The Levitt Pavilion is not available due to their heavy entertainment schedule. More info to come.
Stem Cell Therapy. Elva took a vote from the members present at the meeting about whether they wanted to hear a speaker from Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas at a future meeting. Elva said that on the company's website, they were promoting stem cell therapy by chiropractors and Elva has made it no secret that she is skeptical of stem cell therapy claims. The members voted that they were not interested in having a speaker from this company so Elva will let them know that they don't fit the educational profile that we seek for our meetings.
Think Positive Thoughts About Getting Older. Elva mentioned some new research coming out of Yale University showing that a positive attitude about growing older can help stave off dementia. Anyone interested in reading more about it can click on this link bit.ly/2BPN8bc Elva reminded the group that one of the primary purposes of the Ambassadors is to reinforce the knowledge that growing older is both good and bad (just like every decade of human life). We need to keep a positive attitude about aging and it's not that hard to do because we can control our thoughts (regardless of what we see on television and magazines which try to convince us that aging is an unnatural thing that we must "fight"...how silly is that!). Every face is beautiful, with or without the newest anti-aging cream. We are made to look exactly how we look and it's good!
Smart Senior Series continues at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington, 2:00 pm. No charge. On April 19 the program is "Be Smart About Downsizing" and this session will be led by John and Ingrid Sullivan, members of this Ambassadors group, and new authors of a book titled The Ultimate Guide to Downsizing: Downsize Your Life to Upsize Your Lifestyle. Available on Amazon.
Tips & Tricks
1. Kimberley Maxwell, Urban Development Specialist, Arlington Housing Authority, email email@example.com or phone (817) 276-6742 . Kimberley spoke about programs for grants and/or "forgivable loans" for bringing homes of low-income residents up to City code compliance (central heat/air, plumbing, electrical, dilapidated fence, barrier removal for disabled persons including widening doorways, building ramps). Elderly and disabled persons receive priority on the wait list which currently is somewhere around 2.5 years. Exceptions may be available for "emergency repairs." To discuss a specific situation, reach out to Kimberley who will be glad to assist. Income limit examples are: Household size 1 person $40,000/year; 2 persons $45,700; 3 persons $51,400. "Income" is considered for qualification, not "assets."
Kimberley Maxwell from Arlington Housing Authority
2. Celia Brannon and Sharon ( ) from WellBridge Healthcare spoke about their programs. Their facility is at 6200 Overton Ridge Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76132. Their inpatient mental health facility is limited to people aged 50+. The outpatient facility is available to those aged 18+. They treat substance use disorder (alcohol, opioids, illegal drugs) and they also treat depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other disorders. A link to their website is here http://www.wellbridgefortworth.com/ Celia spoke for a few minutes about how to tell when professional help is called for versus just having a "down in the dumps" day or week. For further information, Celia's email address is Celia.Brannon@wellbridgehealthcare.com
Speakers. At Monday's meeting we had two very good speakers. I failed to get a photo of Martin Noto, President and CEO of First Financial Bank who spoke to us about exploitation of elders in Tarrant County. Very interesting talk. The District Attorney's office says that the #1 risk in Tarrant County is from gypsies (Roma) who come around asking to do yard work or other chores and then try to overcharge elders for the work performed and threaten them if they don't comply. He shared lots of other information, including who are the culprits who mostly bilk elders out of their life savings (No. 1 is a family member, and No. 2 is a caregiver). He emphasized the importance of getting help from a trusted person when taking care of financial matters becomes overwhelming or confusing. Don't be afraid to ask for help. He talked about a situation that happened just last Friday at his bank where one of their elder female customers came into the bank, talking on her cell phone, and she pushed a note to the personal banker saying that she needed nine Cashier's Checks, each for $1,000, and gave a payee name. The customer claimed that the IRS was on the phone and if she didn't send them the checks, they were sending the police to the woman's house. The banker had a hard time convincing the woman that it was a scam and to "hang up" but finally the woman hung up and the checks weren't sent ("this time"....but the customer's "fear" doesn't portend well for her financial security in the future). Never, ever, ever, send a cashier's check, wire transfer, cash, or any other payment to someone who calls you on the phone trying to scare you into sending them money (including to bail your grandchild out of jail or to get a friend of yours home from an international destination when her wallet was supposedly stolen). [Scammers who prey on vulnerable people should be strung up by their thumbs (Elva's rant)].
Denise Wilkerson, an Arlington attorney employed by Easter Seals, spoke about enforcement of accessibility laws/regulations. She gave an overview of the applicable federal and state laws on several disability subjects, excluding transit regulations, but otherwise including "service animals" (dogs are the only "service animals" under Texas law). She said retailers are allowed to ask only 2 questions if someone wants to bring a service animal into an establishment: (1) "Is this is service dog?" and (2) "What tasks is this dog trained to perform?" "Emotional support" animals are not "service animals" and are not allowed, regardless of the recent publicity about a silly lady trying to take a peacock onto an airplane as an "emotional support" animal. I'm not sure of the point the lady was trying to make but it has caused the airlines to amend their rules.
The Ambassadors found both topics interesting and had lots of questions for the experts which the speakers graciously answered.
Photo of Denise Wilkerson, J.D.
Master instructor Greg Ellis is in the green shirt at the front of the group.
And the doctors that Elva is phone/email buddies with, including Dr. Peter Whitehouse, M.D./PhD (author of the book The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, available at Amazon here https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Alzheimers-Todays-Dreaded-Diagnosis-ebook/dp/B000V770GE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1520980875&sr=8-3&keywords=peter+whitehouse) and Dr. Bill Thomas, M.D. (renowned geriatrician and author of 14 books on aging http://amzn.to/2Isup5t ) agree that it's much more important to furnish support to people living with dementia and to their care partners (offer respite care if you know someone living with dementia/care partner) than for a doctor to offer them a pill or patch.
Tai Chi at Levitt Pavilion (free) hosted by Arlington Downtown Management Corporation and Ambassadors For Aging Well. Greg Ellis, instructor.
We had a great turnout (approx. 60 people) for Tai Chi on Saturday, March 10.
This activity was suggested in response to a question posed by Aldo Fritz, CEO of the Arlington Downtown Management Corporation to Elva Roy about how to get more older adults to spend time downtown. Elva suggested 4 activities: (1) free Tai Chi lessons; (2) outdoor ping pong tables; (3) treasure hunt where downtown merchants would hide prizes for seniors to find; and (4) "Connection" tables (outdoor picnic tables) painted bright yellow which would be an open invitation for any passerby to sit down and share in whatever was happening at the table including conversation or food or games, etc.
The initial Tai Chi session was a rousing success so more sessions will be scheduled.
Elva Roy was the speaker on Saturday evening, 3/10/18, at First Christian Church in Arlington.
Bob Russell, leader of the adult evening supper group which meets at First Christian Church, asked Elva to speak to the group about the Ambassadors For Aging Well. Elva is happy to speak to any group and grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness about the good things already accomplished and envisioned for the future by the Ambassadors. Elva and Bob are acquainted as of 2 years ago when FCC's former pastor, Andy Mangam, referred Bob to Elva/Ambassadors to see if local seniors needed minor home repairs done which they couldn't afford to have done. Elva has referred 7 or 8 seniors to Bob to discuss work needed and Bob's group has responded with competent assistance with such things as replacing a toilet, installing grab bars, replacing an exterior door, etc. The don't charge for labor and the home owner just buys the supplies. The help is limited to seniors who We are most grateful for the work Bob has done for local seniors!
We had a good meeting with ~50 attendees. Our two speakers each had important information for us.
First, Mary Wilson, Adoptee Reunification Expert, spoke about her volunteer work over the last 20 years in reuniting adults who were adopted as infants/children with their biological parents (when all parties agree). She told some amazing stories of serendipity such as two Facebook friends who had never met but who turned out to be biological sisters, etc. One comment I heard after the meeting is "Mary's talk was so touching, it made tears flood my eyes." Mary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Then Mark Joeckel, community activist, Founder of Arlington Proud, and local television talk show host, spoke about the importance of walkability in quality-of- life of cities, and how the walkability score can be seen for Arlington at this link www.walkscore.com/TX/Arlington (score of 37). Mark encouraged each Ambassadors member to let our City Council representatives that good sidewalks are important to us, as well as a public park within a few blocks of where we live. Mark can be contacted at email@example.com .
Elva Roy thanked Rebecca Witte of Legend Senior Living for offering to provide refreshments, not only today, for each month for the rest of 2018. Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Their facility is not open in Mansfield quite yet but the grand opening will happen later this year.
Elva gave an update on two on-going projects that the Ambassadors are working on.
1) Take Me Home project to enable first responders to quickly return a lost, diff-abled, non-verbal, person to their home, hopefully without the necessity of involving Adult Protective Services (example, Alzheimer's disease) or Child Protective Services (example, autistic teenager). Commissioner Andy Nguyen called a meeting of stakeholders who met on February 5 to discuss the project. It was the unanimous decision that such a program is necessary and advisable to cover Tarrant County instead of implementing it on a city-by-city basis. Attendees at the meeting in addition to Commissioner Nguyen and Elva Roy, were Sheriff Bill Waybourn, representatives from Tarrant County's IT Department including a project manager who has been assigned, Arlington and Fort Worth police department representatives, Sixty & Better, Linda Abel from Fort Worth First United Methodist Church who is running a series of Alzheimer's classes, Helping Restore Ability Exec. Director and she brought the mother of an autistic teenager. The County's IT Department decided that the free Take Me Home software made available to any law enforcement agency does not meet Tarrant County standards so another solution will be found, provided funding can be found through grants and possible contributions from local governmental entities. Below is a photo taken at the Feb. 5 meeting.
Other meetings to promote the Ambassadors' interests described by Elva:
Lastly, Elva mentioned that she responded to a plea on Facebook from a mother whose car had broken down, she didn't have $2,000 to get it repaired, and therefore, she had no way to get her 7 year old son to school and back. After watching some people who tried to refer the mother to Uber ($24/day) and Taxis4Kids ($150 month), Elva volunteered to provide a free ride to school and back until the Mom is able to make better arrangements (when she gets her income tax refund). It has turned out to be a very enriching experience for Elva and this precious little boy is just the cutest little guy who is teaching Elva all about Pokemon (how did Elva live for 72 years without knowing about this fascinating subject...which Pokemon characters are powerful, which are weak, what Pikachu can do, etc.). Elva made up a spelling game that she plays in the car with the boy during the commute to/from school. Very fun. Get with a kid if you have a chance. Elva had forgotten how much fun it is to be around a 7 y.o. boy since her three grandchildren are all girls. Brings back fun memories of when Elva's three sons were 7 years old.
See you next month on March 12, 1:00, 700 E. Abram St.
Trey Yelverton, Arlington City Manager. Everyone who attended yesterday's meeting left as a better informed citizen after Arlington's City Manager, Trey Yelverton, spoke for over an hour about various City business. We received an updated status of the new active senior center which the City will cause to be constructed for use by Arlington's citizens aged 50+. Currently, ribbon cutting is expected to be in the 2021-2022 time frame. He specifically said that City Council can change the order of 46 capital projects currently on the City's "to do" list scheduled for completion at some future time (he handed out the list). He said the Ambassadors will definitely be invited to participate in deciding on amenities/interior design based on the budget available at the appropriate time. He said town halls will likely be held to be sure that our citizen's have an opportunity to give input. He said that the Ambassadors will want to pay special attention to the 2018 Capital Plan, usually presented to City Council in February (2018) because we will want to make sure that the funds for design and initial engineering work is slotted into the Capital Plan. In February 2019, the 2019 Capital Plan should have funds for architecture and more engineering and this is when money is actually allocated to the project. Construction could then start in 2020.
Mr. Yelverton said that the City is in discussion with a Houston senior housing developer who will likely be contracted to build a senior living complex adjacent to the new active senior center and it's possible (though not decided) that the operations of the new senior center could be outsourced to a third party, just like Arlington outsources it trash and ambulance services. Elva Roy asked whether it's possible that the City would direct the developer to build "affordable" apartments for seniors since there is such a dearth of available affordable senior housing in Arlington. He said "Sure, if that's the way Council wants to go." He asked the 50-ish members present how they feel about tax credit low-income apartments (no objection from the group); then he asked about Section 8 (groans). He said he would like to come back and explain more about Section 8 housing since he used to be Executive Director of the Arlington Housing Authority and has some expertise in that area. "Many people misunderstand Section 8 housing." Elva pointed out that while crime is an issue in some Section 8 apartments, that when a complex is "age qualified," that crime doesn't materialize because we "outgrow" being troublemakers and older people desire a quieter/gentler lifestyle than younger people sometimes want. Elva will definitely book Mr. Yelverton back as a speaker so we can all learn something we don't know today about "affordable housing." Maybe we can get a "panel" together to hear various perspectives for that meeting.
A decision has not yet been made about whether the City-owned land at the Pierce Burch property set aside for the new active senior center will be "sold" or "leased" to a developer/operator. Elva asked whether the City's Request for Proposal (RFP) would have to be amended and re-released since the original RFP only garnered two responses. It required a 50-year-lease after which time the land would revert to the City and it specifically said that "no changes can be made to the RFP" (e.g., a responder would have to agree to a 50-year-lease if they responded to the RFP and the City could "accept" the proposal exactly as submitted with no further negotiation if the City so chose). If a submitter had known that the City would, indeed, have considered a proposal for a land "sale" instead of "lease," perhaps the RFP would have been more competitive (and responders wouldn't have to worry about being non-compliant). Mr. Yelverton said he didn't think the RFP would be amended and re-released.
An engaged group of Ambassadors in the room had a litany of interests and Mr. Yelverton was kind enough to stay beyond his scheduled time to be sure that all of our questions were answered. Anthony Nagy shared some interesting statistics regarding the increase in Arlington's population of people 60+ and he asked Mr. Yelverton if the City is paying attention to the changing demographics and the aging population. Mr. Yelverton said that the City is aware, but then stated that Arlington is a "young" city. We know that's the image the Arlington would like to project for economic development (we all know that only the demographic of 25-34 counts) with our "entertainment district" but Elva said that Arlington can make our city a good place to live for all ages if we all work together instead of retiring to our stereotypical silos.
[Note: after the meeting, Elva sent a "thank you" email to Mr. Yelverton for his time yesterday and she asked for a meeting sometime in the next few weeks to discuss who the developer in Houston is, talk about convincing the City Council to require the developer of the senior living facility to be "affordable" for seniors and for Elva to make a 10-minute pitch about Universal Design Principles (UDP) to be required in new residential construction since Mr. Yelverton was not present when we made our initial pitch and he said he could use some education regarding UDP. Elva is waiting to hear back about a date for such a meeting.]
Peggy Masters, the Ambassadors' representative on the Mayor's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), gave a 15-minute overview of the Committee's final recommendations as presented to the City Council on Sep 26. She explained the "corridors" within the City and how a ride-share service using vans or similar might be the mid-term solutions. The final report of the TAC is available at this link for any who care to read it in its entirety. http://www.arlington-tx.gov/tac
See you all in 2018 unless I run into you before then (maybe at the Oct. 26 meeting or someplace else). Peace Out.
BOOK REVIEW. Elva gave a short review of a new book (released 8/22/17) she just finished reading entitled The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen, M.D. (neuroscientist and professor at UCLA, Buck Institute). Dr. Bredesen claims to have reversed completely or at least significantly reversed symptoms of dementia for people in the early/mid-stage of Alzheimer's disease who follow his rather strict protocol which he calls the "ReCODE" (Reverse Cognitive Decline) protocol.
Some of the components of the ReCODE protocol involve diet (low carb, no processed food), physical exercise, brain exercise, detox poisons from your body (eat cilantro, sweat out toxins in a sauna, etc.), and he recommends getting your DNA report from "23andMe.com" to determine whether you might have one or two copies of the ApoE4 gene variant (can inherit one copy from each parent...some people inherited none, some inherited one copy and some inherited two copies). If you were unlucky enough to have inherited one or two copies of this gene, your chances of getting dementia increase.
Elva consulted with Dr. Peter Whitehouse, M.D./PhD (author of The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You're Not Being Told About the Most Dreaded Diagnosis) to get his opinion about Bredesen's book. Dr. Whitehouse's opinion and Elva's opinion are the same. It's a very optimistic view/title and won't work for everyone (because our individual body chemistry is very different) but everything on the protocol contributes to a healthy lifestyle and certainly won't harm anybody, so why not try the protocol? Dr. Bredesen does make the point that it won't do to "go halfway" on the protocol. You need to follow it to the letter to get the expected results. Elva noted that at least Dr. Bredesen is not "selling" herbs/supplements even though he recommends taking some.
1. Member Kay Reynolds, recently retired school teacher and healthy lifestyle promoter extraordinaire, talked to the group about harmful chemicals which are present in our everyday lives. She recommended that we learn about how to avoid some of the worst chemicals by reviewing the website maintained by the "Environmental Working Group" and sponsored by the USDA. The link to their free website is www.ewg.org and there is valuable information housed there, including a free water report for review by putting in your own zip code. I found Arlington's water report at this link http://bit.ly/2fb8baT
2. Boomer Benefits VP and Medicare expert, Danielle Kunkle, unpacked some of Medicare's complexities for us. She explained the differences between original Medicare, original Medicare with a Supplement Plan (aka "Medigap), Prescription Drug Plan, and Medicare Advantage (including some plans which include vision, hearing, and dental insurance for an extra premium). She explained why she normally recommends Medigap Plan G instead of Plan F (same coverage except for 2017, Plan G has a deductible of $183 and Plan F has $0.0 deductible but the monthly premium is higher for Plan F). The net savings is ~$300/yr to buy Plan G instead of Plan F but she said some people opt for Plan F, even knowing that it will cost more because they want the peace of mind that they will not be receiving a bill for any of their medical coverage, not even a $183 one-time bill). We all learned a lot, and after her talk, Danielle stuck around to answer individual questions on a one-to-one basis.
Elva Roy is the Lead Ambassador of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.