REMINDER: MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW FOR THE APRIL 8 AMBASSADORS MEETING WHEN OUR FIRST SPEAKER WILL BE MAYOR JEFF WILLIAMS AND OUR SECOND SPEAKER WILL BE COUNTY JUDGE GLEN WHITLEY. WE USUALLY PACK THE ROOM WHEN THE MAYOR SPEAKS.
To open the March 11 meeting, Elva Roy thanked Darla Peznell, Freedom Hospice, for the wonderful refreshments provided for today's meeting.
Member Jim Rivers was invited to the mic to talk about the Silver Haired Legislature and to request members to sign his petition for him to be appointed to the Silver Haired Legislature lobbying group. This will enable him to go to Austin several times a year to advocate for and to introduce Bills favorable to Tarrant/Texas older adults. Elva expressed the Ambassadors' gratitude for this selfless volunteer service that Jim is offering, where will he pay his own travel expenses when he must be in Austin, sometimes staying overnight.
Next up to the mic was Jennifer Flynn from Meals on Wheels who spoke about their program called "Friend to Friend" and she asked for volunteers who would be willing to be a "friendly visitor" to MOW clients living in Arlington who are isolated and lonely. This is a serious need among elders which is largely unrecognized unless one's profession is Social Worker or medical provider. Loneliness and isolation is one of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) which many research studies are showing cut years off of a person's longevity. SDoH is getting many inches of press attention and includes not only loneliness, but the need for transportation, fresh food, environmental concerns, financial issues, and housing. When people are dealing with such issues, it affects not only their mental health but also their physical health which leads to more illness/spending than would otherwise be expected.
Anthony Pworek, Environmental Health Specialist, City of Arlington, spoke about how Arlington does food inspections in restaurants, schools, sports stadia, senior living facilities where food is served, food trucks, etc. Some statistics Anthony quoted: 48M Americans get sick from food borne illnesses every year and 3,000 die. The 5 biggest risk factors: (1) was the food/ingredient acquired from a "safe, approved" source; (2) improper holding times/temperatures; (3) inadequate cooking temperature; (4) contaminated equipment/cross contamination--for instance a cutting board used for fish or poultry that isn't properly cleaned before something else is placed on the same cutting board, or cross-contaminated utensils; (5) poor personal hygiene (hand washing with soap must continue for a good 20 seconds to be effective). We learned about HSP (highly susceptible population: elders, pregnant women, young children) where no uncooked food can be served...no sushi, no steak tartare, etc.). No bare hand contact with food is permitted unless an establishment applies for and is granted a waiver (otherwise, gloved hands). The most common food borne illness is not e-coli or salmonella, but is norovirus. Arlington establishments are inspected at least annually, and those serving the HSP (defined above) get inspected 2x each year. From a member's question during Q&A, Elva learned about "pasteurized" eggs which she was not aware of until this discussion at the meeting. She will be looking for pasteurized eggs (heated to kill bacteria) designated by a "P" with a circle around it. Hopefully, at our meetings every member learns at least one thing (s)he didn't know before. That's our goal as we "educate and advocate."
Charlotte Canion was our second speaker. She wrote the book called You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying: How to Parent Your Parent. This time she gave a talk called "How to Re-invent Yourself After Retirement." Charlotte told us about how during and after her career/caregiving stint, she re-invented herself as published author, Master Gardener, and more. She encouraged everyone to follow their passion because retirement gives each of us the time to be whatever we want to be.
Elva Roy is the Founder & Lead Ambassador of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.