Showing up at City Council meeting on Tuesday night for the second time in a month was definitely worth the effort The rezoning of a parcel of land on West Harris Road, just east of Cooper Street, (south Arlington) from "light industrial" to "multifamily" (age restricted 55+) passed unanimously on Tuesday night. A unanimous vote was required to overturn the P&Z denial of developer Bonner Carrington's application for the zoning change, due to deadlines imposed by the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs, having to do with tax credits required to make the project economically feasible to the developer.
The Ambassadors showed up in force for two City Council meetings over the last 30 days to voice our support for the re-zoning application so that "affordable" zenior apartments will be built in Arlington.
Several Ambassadors members spoke to Mayor & City Council in support of this application and I'm sure we made a difference, so thank you to all who made the effort to don your red (or whatever) t-shirts and drag yourselves to the Council Meeting. It was worth our time. Even if none of us plans to live in the Mariposa zenior apartments, the apartment homes will be there in the future for our fellow zeniors.
SO THANK YOU!
Elva Roy welcomed the members to the meeting. Because Elva provided the refreshments, as is our tradition, she took 5 minutes at the microphone to remind the audience that we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Ambassadors For Aging Well this month.
Mariposa Apartment Homes. Next was a presentation about affordable "zenior" apartments in Arlington. We need more "affordable" zenior housing in Arlington. The proposed "Mariposa Apartment Homes" to be built on Harris Rd, just east of Cooper in south Arlington will provide some affordable apartments for people 55+. 180 units total (some at "market rate" rents and some at lower "affordable" rents). See the developer's website at www.bonnercarrington.com for info about the other Mariposa "zenior" complexes they have built in Texas. They are a Texas company and all of their developments are in Texas, which were constructed and are managed by them. They have never sold any of their complexes to another company, as we learned from their very helpful and competent Community Outreach Liaison, Emily Protine, who has spent a lot of time in Arlington educating residents and City Council about their proposed project. Some of us took the opportunity speak to City Council about why more affordable zenior housing is needed in Arlington (and all over Tarrant County for that mattwer).
[Note: we had a great turnout at the City Council meeting where it was "do or die" about whether to hold a "public hearing" to consider overturning the P&Z's denial of the re-zoning request." We have one more step before it's final and it's now imperative that we turn up one more time at the Sep 10 City Council meeting at 6:30 and sign a "green support card" or choose to speak in favor of the rezoning.]
Know Your Neighbor. Diana Dring came forward as our meeting's volunteer to share something about herself so that we could know her a little better. She drew 3 cards from the deck of 300 questions and answered them. She also mentioned that her mother recently moved to a facility and that Diana has one bedroom left that she would like to rent to a compatible roommate. This is a new twist at our monthly meetings so that we can find common interests and know something about each other that we didn't know when we walked into the meeting. Thank you to Dr. Ed Ferbur and to Diana Dring, our first two volunteers. Will you be next?
Update on new world-class senior activity center to be constructed on W. Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington. Alf Bumgardner, City of Arlington Construction Manager, called Elva Roy to let the Ambassadors know that an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for architectural services was just released and within the next few weeks, an architect should be selected. Later on, public hearings will be held to get input from "zeniors" on the design, etc. Elva subsequently had a conversation with Councilwoman Moise who confirmed what Lemuel Randolph (Director of Parks & Recreation) and City Manager Trey Yelverton had said that the delay is due to other capital projects ahead of the senior center (such as the multigenerational recreation facility to be built in south Arlington which was approved by the citizens by a bond election before the senior center bond). Many residents of south Arlington were making sure that their project was not superseded by the senior center. What's fair is fair. No issue with the schedule. It is what it is.
Texas Health Resources speaker, Dr. Venkat Rapuri, M.D., was unfortunately "on call" on the day of our meeting so his surrogate, Samantha Church, R.N., was kind enough to step in for Dr. Rapuri, to talk about "joint pain" and what to do about it. There was a mixup on time to start, so we didn't get to hear a full presentation as expected. We hope to get Dr. Rapuri to reschedule for a meeting in 2020 but thank Celinda Sowell and Nurse Church for being here with us and sharing knowledge in the limited available time.
Chris Turner, Texas State Representative for east Arlington and Grand Prairie, spoke about what happened at the legislative session ending on 5/31/19. Chris serves as Chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Redistricting, and as a member of the House Committee on Insurance. His interests are expanding educational opportunity, increasing access to affordable health care, improving the economic well-being of all Texans, and broadening civic participation. Citizens are invited to attend Chris' Town Hall meeting at the Arlington Municipal Airport on S. Collins St. on Saturday, Sep 7, 10:00-11:30am. RSVP docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfPygiNrzwukpFpb8aB2GOabeQbjATnVqx8mGL4ecytbyjjhg/viewform
Your input is critical.
You know that I don't bother you with a lot of emails, but your help is needed for this. I spoke at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting last night to express support for a 180-unit affordable senior apartment community to be built on Harris Rd just east of Cooper. The Commissioner most in opposition said that "warehouse/storage space" is in high demand in Arlington, so why would they support a zoning change from Light Industrial to Multi-Family. They're putting "warehouse/storage space" ahead of the needs for seniors to have "affordable apartments" when we're ready to downsize when the taxes/maintenance become too much for us to manage.
My request to you is to send an email to the Arlington Mayor and City Council expressing your support for the "Mariposa Senior Apartments, Zoning Case PD19-7" and express your outrage that the P&Z Commission would put "warehouse/storage units" ABOVE affordable apartments for Arlington's seniors (which are scarce!).
Please send an email to Stephanie.Dimas@arlingtontx.gov expressing your support for the Mariposa Senior Apartments on Harris Road, Zoning Case PD 19-7 and outrage that the P&Z Commission denied the zoning change from IM (Industrial Manufacturing) to RMF-22 (Multi-Family).
And come to the Ambassadors meeting on August 12 at 1:00 pm. 700 E. Abram St., Arlington, to hear more about this project.
Elva Roy welcomed members to the meeting and thanked Blythe Williamson from Safer Senior Life for the refreshments. www.saferseniorlife.com To make homes safe for seniors, his company provides equipment such as ramps, walk-in showers, raised toilets, grab bars, etc.
Know Your Neighbor. We started a new "Know Your Neighbor" game at the meeting with the expectation that we will get to know a little more about each other in order to make "connections." Elva asked for a volunteer to come to the microphone, draw 3 cards out of a deck of 300 questions. The first brave member to raise his hand was Dr. Ed Furber, M.D., who drew a card asking whether he had any advanced schooling and, if so, what did he study and where was it? Ee told where he went to medical school. Another question was whether he remembered where he and his wife went on their first date. Ed's reply was that his wife, Jeannie, passed away about 18 months ago, and he met her at the hospital where they both worked and that their first date was probably in the hospital's cafeteria. (Elva should have taken better notes because she doesn't recall the third question...will try to do better next month.) Elva's hope is that when a member shares a bit of personal information about his/her life, that other members will make it a point to talk to them after the meeting about what you heard.
DFW Friendship Coalition Update. Elva reported that the "test" Friendship Table she ordered and painted was too large (48" diameter) to fit into her Kia (wouldn't go in through the back door or through the hatchback). See photo above. So she wasn't able to haul it to a City park with a sign that said "Friendship Table. Let's chat." Possibly a restaurant might use it on their patio or we'll find some use for it. Since we didn't get an bids from concrete companies who were willing to build outdoor concrete Friendship Tables, Elva plans to initiate conversations with local restaurants, explain the problem of rampant loneliness to the owner, and see if the restaurant will designate one table in the restaurant as a "Friendship Table" and have the host/hostess steer solo diners (or couples) who would like to eat with someone else or who are willing to "Be a Friend" to the Friendship Table. Elva serves on an advisory board at UNT Health Sciences Center in F.W. and on 6/19/19 attended a celebratory luncheon hosted by UNTHSC at a restaurant called Piola Italian Restaurant & Garden. Before the meeting started, Elva had a conversation with Piola's owner about the loneliness issue and asked the owner if he would consider putting a Friendship Table in his restaurant and his response was "Of course!" So maybe we will just use existing tables in restaurants and use a "kelly green" tablecloth for consistency, put a sign on the table, have a laminated sheet which explains the purpose, with perhaps a few suggested "ice breaker" questions to get a conversation started.
In a town in the U.K., the police department decided to hang a sign on benches like the one in the photo above ("Happy to Chat" bench).
Elva mentioned that she had made it a point to stop by a "CareMore Health Center" at 512 W. Rosedale, F.W. because she read an article in Scientific American about Dr. Jain, CEO of CareMore, and his efforts to reduce loneliness. He said that in their clinics (located in 9 States, but F.W. is the only one in TX), some lonely patients make appointments to see the doctor when there's no medical problem. The patient makes up a reason to see the doctor because it's the only human contact they have all month. So he is changing the waiting rooms to have "round" tables which are conducive for conversation (instead of chairs lined up around the walls), and he is inviting anyone who wants to come in and just "hang out" in the waiting room to do so.
If everyone does a "little bit," we can make a big dent in the loneliness epidemic.
Upcoming Speakers. At our next meeting, we can look forward to hearing from THR's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Vankat Rapuri, who will speak about options to help joint pain before surgery is considered. State Representative Chris Turner will give an update on the legislative session that closed on 5/31/19. And in future meetings, we will have a speaker on CBD Oil (as requested by a member), a THR registered nurse who will speak about social determinants of health and the grant awarded by THR, the head honcho of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, and others.
Tips and Tricks.
Guest Speakers [Note: both speakers today were invited to speak as a result of a member putting a request into the Suggestion Box on the table at the back of the Meeting Room near the sign-in sheet.]
1. Mina McWhorter, Veterans Options Navigator, Area Agency on Aging, United Way, email@example.com Office ph (817) 258-8078, spoke about pensions and "aid & attendance" benefits (in-home help for frail or disabled vet/spouse), available for some veterans and his/her spouse. She spoke about several situations where the veteran had no idea that benefits were available. She helps the vet identify the benefits that might be available and helps with completing the applications.
)2. Stephen Raeside, Sr. Director of Development, Tarrant Area Food Bank, firstname.lastname@example.org We learned about the good work that the Food Bank does in the community, how they partner with various distribution sites to distribute "fresh" food (in addition to some canned/packaged foods, but they make it a priority to get fresh (healthy) food to low-income residents). They have a big warehouse and kitchen where they train a certain number of apprentices in the food business. They receive truckloads of food from grocer wholesalers and some grocery stores. They don't accept food from restaurants because health regulations prohibit them from accepting "prepared" foods. Stephen said some restaurants are able to donate their surplus cooked food to shelters who can serve it within a day or so. The Food Bank is always looking for volunteers and more info about volunteering can be found on their website.
**** MORE ABOUT HELP WITH PAYING UTILITY BILLS
The City of Fort Worth Community Action Partners program currently has a significant amount of funding available to pay utility assistance on behalf of very low income clients. This help can be for up to 8 payments, and could be available through the end of this year. Frankly, we have a grant deadline to meet – we know there are many in our community who need the help, so we are doing everything we can to get the word out through the social services network to reach new clients who may not have received this service before.
Clients with incomes under 150% of poverty are eligible – that is $18,735 for a household of one person. The full income eligibility chart is located at the below link. Legal Residency is required.
The application can be done online, at the following link, so case managers can handle the application process for their clients and upload the supporting documents, to speed up the eligibility determinations .
An application can also be downloaded, filled out, and mailed in – here is the link to download the mail-in application.
Corey Callaway, CFS Advisors LLC, www.callawayfinancial.com/ email email@example.com spoke about the book Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving Today's Big Disruptions, by Mark Penn. amzn.to/2F6ARPq The first thing Corey mentioned was the chapter titled "Graying Bachelors" which got everyone's attention. "The newest, hottest, and most in-demand bachelor is the guy in his sixties, seventies, and even eighties who is single, often from divorce, and has found renewal in later-stage dating....by age 64, there are only 62 unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women." [Note: this is not news to us older women, right?] One consequence of "renewal in later-stage dating" among older adults is "a huge climb in sexually-transmitted diseases." So be careful out there, Ambassadors men and women, but live your life and have fun. It's impossible to recap everything Corey talked about but you can buy the book from Amazon or check it out from the Arlington Library which has 3 copies, 2 of which were "in" and available for reserve/pickup as of the morning of 6/13.
Alicia Hoang from "Don't Forget to Feed Me," non-profit pet food bank
www.df2fm.org told us about the work her organization does. They provide free pet food (never a charge) to local partner agencies to help people who might have to give up their pet because they can't afford the food bill, and they also provide food to people who have suffered some sort of "disaster" so they don't lose their pets, plus do other good works. They seek volunteers to help at their facility and also solicit donations to help buy the food (mostly dry food for dogs and cats). Check out their website at the link above, or you can give them a call at (817) 334-0727.
NEXT AMBASSADORS MEETING WILL BE ON MONDAY, JULY 8, 1:00-3:00, 700 E. ABRAM ST., ARLINGTON, 1ST FLOOR MEETING ROOM. SPEAKERS WILL TALK ABOUT VETERANS' BENEFITS AND TARRANT AREA FOOD BANK.
Refreshments. Elva Roy thanked Melissa Chamberlin and Acapella In-Home Care acappellainhomecare.com/ for providing refreshments for today's meeting.
Kennedale. Sara Cotton, a zenior from Kennedale (who is working to establish a group similar to the Ambassadors group in Kennedale), invited Elva to attend a concert-in-the-park performed for Kennedale zeniors by the Kennedale High School Jazz Band on May 10. Elva was amazed by the talent displayed by these h.s. students when one after another stood to play a completely unrehearsed solo "riff" which they just "made up on the spot." Many kudos belong to Mr. Erol Oktay, Kennedale's band director for the last 17 years. How did a small town come up with so many talented youngsters? Mr. Oktay is the obvious answer.
DFW Friendship Coalition - New. AFAW, AARP, and City of Dallas Senior Affairs Commission will work together with other partners throughout DFW to play a small part in alleviating loneliness, and supporting intergenerational "mingling." Two ways we will do this is by donating free tickets to various local events and/or restaurants for distribution by doctors/hospitals to patients who could benefit by being more social. While "you" might not be lonely, there are plenty of people around us who are (and they are not always easily identifiable). And it's not only "older" people who are lonely, as you will see if you care to click on this link called "The Loneliness Project." tinyurl.com/y56ho2f4 Or Google "social determinants of health." The second project to be undertaken is to create "Friendship Tables" to be placed around DFW which would be identifiable by the "design" with "signs" also explaining what a "Friendship Table" is meant to be. The idea is that anybody and everybody is welcome to sit down if there is an open seat at a Friendship Table. Nobody has to ask, "Do you mind if I sit down?" because "you" are NOT intruding, and you are welcome to sit down without asking and to participate in anything happening at that table (conversation, sharing of Girl Scout cookies, or whatever). Our intent is to bring people out of their silos and get people to know others who are NOT "just like me." This goes along with Arlington's Mayor's "Kindness" initiative and we'll place "This is a kindness zone" sign near the Friendship Tables (at least in Arlington). Hopefully, these tables will be installed on the property of hospitals, clinics, shopping centers, churches, walkable commercial areas, arts districts, etc. Elva's initial vision for the table top design to be something like shown in this YouTube video using "acrylic pour" technique (but on a concrete table top, not wood).
Caregiver Teleconnection. For caregivers (paid or unpaid), Elva recommends tuning into the free telephone conferences hosted by WellMed. While Elva no longer cares for her mother (dementia, died in 2006), she still tries to tune in to these telephone conferences and finds them interesting. AFAW members can get on the email list to get a list of the weekly calls from WellMed by calling (866) 390-6491 or going to the website www.caregiverteleconnection.org
Neighbors of Randol Mill Park--Shout Out to Joanne Stewart. Joanne Stewart does such a great service for her neighborhood (and people like Elva who aren't in her immediate neighborhood) with her newsletters and more. Elva always learns something about Arlington she didn't know when she receives an emailed "NORMP" newsletter. If you want to be on the email list, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in current activity or crime statistics published by the Arlington Police Department? These websites were mentioned in NORMP's latest newsletter which Elva found interesting! https://arlingtonpd.org/webapps/policeincidents and
crime statistics here arlingtonpd.org/WebApps/CrimeData
Joanne's newsletter also had a link to a video of how you can get a real time reading of your Arlington water meter. tinyurl.com/y42pydk8
Roommates? Considerations when thinking of sharing a home with a roommate are discussed in a free 42-page "HomeShare Toolkit" which is is available at this site if you think you might ever consider living with a roommate. burlingtonagefriendly.ca/publications
Sixty & Better Event. Healthy Aging Symposium. June 4, 8:30 am - 2:00 pm. Trinity River Campus of Tarrant County College. Jeff Harsh from Sixty and Better assured me that parking will be a breeze for this event so don't let that stop you. More info and registration here https://www.sixtyandbetter.org/
GUEST SPEAKERS FOR OUR MEETING
1. Lori Varnell, Assistant District Attorney, Chief of Elder Financial Fraud division, and Michael Gresham, Detective, Arlington Police Department. Michael and Lori explained to our members the kinds of cases which are prevalent in Tarrant County and which prey on zeniors (roaming scammers who promise to do work, collect upfront money, and then disappear; sweetheart swindlers; one ring calls to get you to call back; grandson is in jail--send bond money; IRS scare; jury duty scare, etc.). It was distressing to hear about our neighbors who have been scammed out of their life savings. Lori's and Michael's recommendation is never to hire someone who knocks on your door, and if you don't recognize the number on your caller ID, don't answer your phone. If you pick up a call and it's someone claiming to want to "help" you and you didn't ask them to call you, don't engage--HANG UP. And never, ever wire money anywhere or buy/send gift cards...such a request is a dead giveaway that it's a scam. If you suspect a scam (perpetrated on yourself or another zenior), you are urged to report it to the Financial Exploitation Prevention Center of Tarrant County, phone number (817) 720-6556. If you suspect physical abuse or neglect of a zenior, please report that to Adult Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400.
Tracey Willingham, LMSW, Senior Program Director, Cancer Care Services. cancercareservices.org/ Tracey explained that the mission of Cancer Care Services is to support Tarrant County (and nearby counties) residents of any age who are living with a cancer diagnosis, survivors of cancer, and the unheralded, heroic care partners who care for their sick loved ones. The organization does not charge cancer patients for services and provides lots of opportunities for people with the same diagnosis to meet and talk, opportunities to socialize, summer kids' camp, etc. A big event coming up on Sunday, June 2, 2:00-4:00 pm is "The Greatest Life on Earth," which is a free event for cancer survivors, family, and caregivers. Food, fun, games, Survivor Stroll, photos, and more. Location: Resource Connection of Tarrant County Gymnasium, 2300 Circle Dr., Fort Worth 76119. Registration was to end by May 17, but if you call Megan at (817) 921-0653, it might still be possible to RSVP.
SPEAKERS FOR JUNE 10 MEETING
1:00 Corey Callaway, Callaway Financial Services, will speak on "Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving Today's Big Disruptions."
2:00 Alicia Hoang, Don't Forget to Feed Me, will speak about services available and how to ensure that our pets are well cared for.
See you at the June 10 meeting, 700 E. Abram St., 1:00 sharp.
Thank You. Elva Roy thanked Gena Long from Town Village Crossing, senior independent living community, for the wonderful, over-the-top refreshments prepared by their chef. More info at bit.ly/2UqOAKX .
Elva also thanked member Charles Clay for the many reams of copy paper he has provided over the last several years to help Elva offset some of the printing expense for our meetings.
Visitors Welcomed. A warm welcome was extended to Sara Cotton from "Kennedale Senior Outreach" who is establishing a group in Kennedale which will be similar in function to our Ambassadors group (and Sara suggested that maybe a second chapter of Ambassadors would be appropriate). Elva welcomed Ana Comacho from Dallas Senior Affairs Commission. They are looking at ways that the Commission and Ambassadors can collaborate on matters important to "Zeniors." Ann Williams, Elva Roy, Sandee Reutebuch, and Sharron Merrill, representing the Ambassadors will attend the Commission's meeting at Dallas City Hall on 4/22/19.
Hearing Aid. A 30x personal sound amplification system was donated by Elva who had purchased it from Amazon for $20 to try. Elva found that it was easy to use, no batteries because it came with a charging stand, and easy to operate (two buttons only: on/off and a dialer for sound level 1-4). But there was no sound cancellation for extraneous noise, which supposedly the $300 units have. Elva didn't like hearing the "wind swoosh" sound through the device so she put it on the back table in the meeting room and invited anyone who wanted to try it out, to take it home and keep it. Someone took it. Maybe it will be more helpful to them than it was to Elva.
Zeniors. Sociologists and others have labored for at least five years trying to come up with a descriptive word to replace "seniors/senior citizens" because their research shows that people 50+ don't like to be called "senior citizens." Various contests have been run with prizes of $1000+ to incentivize people to come up with a word to replace "senior." One contest paid out $2,000 for "PrimeTimer" as the winning word. But that went nowhere (though it's used by various church groups for their retirees). So Elva is proposing that we try to popularize the word "Zenior" to differentiate our cohort from high school "seniors" and "zenior" is similar to the word "zenith" which means "the time at which something is most powerful or successful." That's us! Zeniors!
Re-Serve. The National Director of Re-Serve out of New York City headquarters, Dawn Mastoridis, was in Fort Worth and Austin last week to expand their horizons and they met with Easter Seals in F.W. and Austin. Denise Wilkerson, J.D., of Easter Seals suggested to Dawn that she reach out to Elva because Re-Serve is looking for partners. The primary service that Re-Serve provides is matching up talented Zeniors with non-profit organizations who need help but can't pay for it. Re-Serve will pay Zeniors to work at non-profits. Dawn told Elva that they pay at least minimum wage but when I told her that is $7.25 in Texas, she said, "Oh, we would never pay less than $10/hour (and occasionally more, depending on the skill level needed). Re-Serve gets grant money to help pay the stipend offered to Zeniors. Sometimes these are temporary positions or part time. Any job accepted by a Zenior is purely voluntary and hours can be usually be flexible. As soon as Elva has more information, she will distribute it to the Ambassadors members (several have expressed interest). Check out Re-Serve's website here www.reserveinc.org/
Buddy Pool. Elva reported that we have 23 Ambassadors members on the Buddy Pool list to provide rides to/from doctors/dentists for members who will be anesthetized (put to sleep). Sometimes Zeniors are surprised when they show up for an outpatient procedure and if they don't have a friend or family member to drive them home afterwards, they're told that the surgery will have to be re-scheduled (no ride share like Uber, Via, or Lyft is acceptable because the driver must accompany the patient into their homes and make sure they are settled and are okay before leaving--ride share companies don't provide that service). That's a job for Buddies. Elva was delighted to report that she will be a Buddy driver for an Ambassador member on April 12.
Free WellMed Teleconferences for Care Partners. Flyers were on the back table for the free "Caregiver Teleconnection" sessions offered by WellMed. Elva has participated in some of these free telephone education calls and found them worthwhile. Anyone who would like to get on WellMed's email list in order to be invited to join the phone calls with experts in caregiving can call WellMed toll free (866) 390-6491 or visit their website here www.caregiverteleconnection.org
Arlington Candidates Forum by League of Women Voters. April 15, 6:30-9:00, Pantego Lion's Club, 3535 Marathon St., Pantego/Arlington. Hear from the candidates we will vote for in Arlington on May 4.
Community Legal Fair. Tuesday, April 23, 9a-2p at Lena Pope, 3200 Sanguinet St., Fort Worth, Free event providing Zeniors and caregivers with legal awareness and access to community resources in Tarrant County. No charge to attend, but registration required. Call (817)921-0499 ext 105.
Health Expo at Downtown Arlington Library. Presented by Tarrant County Nursing Students. Friday, April 12. 9a-4p. More info at this link bit.ly/2VBCfQC
Social Determinants of Health. As we have discussed at previous meetings, social determinants (food insecurity, lack of transportation, financial insecurity, loneliness/isolation) will affect our physical health. A primary issue among Zeniors is loneliness/isolation. This does not mean that every Zenior feels lonely or is isolated but a large percentage of Zeniors feel lonely "sometimes" and some Zeniors feel lonely all the time. Research has shown that those who do feel lonely frequently will have their longevity shortened by seven years. So the Ambassadors Leadership team wants to figure out how the Ambassadors might address this problem, not only for our members, but for our greater community. One way we think will help is to persuade local shop owners to allow us to place "Friendship Tables" on their property. The idea is that where you see a Friendship Table (easily identifiable because of the bright yellow paint), you know that you're invited to sit down and join in whatever is happening at that table...join the conversation, share some cookies that someone might have, etc. Let's get out of our silos and mix/mingle with people who are NOT "just like us. Let's talk to people of different age, culture, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic class. No telling what we might learn from each other. There is still work to be done to make this happen, but progress is being made. So stay tuned.
NEXT MEETING--put it on your calendar now: Monday, May 13, 1:00-3:00 pm. 700 E. Abram St., Arlington. Speakers Lori Varnell, Assistant District Attorney in charge of elder abuse/exploitation cases; and Tracey Willingham, Cancer Care Services (free services for cancer patients).
TIPS & TRICKS
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.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Elva Roy thanked Gena Long from Town Village Crossing senior living for providing refreshments for the meeting.
Elva spoke briefly about how newer research has shown that social determinants of health (SDoH) are very important for maintaining a healthy body at any age. Doctors, hospitals, insurers, and social workers are very interested in educating people about how important SDoH are, one of which is loneliness and isolation. Here is a link to a Dec. 11, 2018, article entitled "The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone." on.wsj.com/2ryjKz8 And here is another link from a recent Cigna study entitled "Research Puts Spotlight on the Impact of Loneliness in the U.S. and Potential Root Causes." bit.ly/2jkwFk3
Connect Here Project. The leadership team (Ann Williams, Darla Peznell, Elva Roy, Kay Reynolds, Peggy Masters, Sandee Reutebuch, Sharron Merrill) of Ambassadors met to discuss if there is any way we could help alleviate loneliness and isolation in Arlington and we're thinking that collaborating with others to set up some "Connect Here" tables and benches in different places around town could help. Anytime you see one of the "Connect Here" tables, you know that you're automatically invited to sit down and join in whatever is happening at that table...the conversation mostly, but maybe someone will have cookies to share. Bring your book and your water in case there is no one sitting there yet, and hopefully someone will happen along to sit down for a chat. If you're lucky it will be someone different from those you normally associate with. We need to get out of our silos and meet people who are not "just like us." In our publicity campaign, we would designate a certain color for the tables/benches that would be consistent and identifiable. The items below are just samples of what could be. Details are to be worked out.
Patient Safety Week. The Ambassadors would like to sponsor/collaborate on a Patient Safety Week, similar to what Canada has done. Further information can be seen at this link which explains the concept. bit.ly/2tjz978 This project might spill over to become a project for next year. We'll have just see how things go.
Buddy Pool. Elva is still collecting names of people who live alone who might want an Ambassadors member to go with them to an appointment where they might not be able to drive themselves home. Examples are after they've had anesthesia for dental or other outpatient services. Doctors will not release a patient to drive themselves home nor will they permit the patient to use a ride share service like Uber because they want someone to make sure you get comfortable inside your home afterwards and that someone will stay with you until the anesthesia has worn off. Email Elva at email@example.com if you would like to be added to the Buddy Pool list.
Local Senior Housing Update. When Elva tried to do a drive-by of the new Secretariat senior apartments at 1121 Debbie Ln, Arlington, she didn't find Secretariat (still under construction) but she did find the Ladera Mansfield independent 55+ community on Debbie Ln. Looks like a lovely place to live if you can afford it (single, detached houses). More info at this link to their website bit.ly/2GIiuSw
Medicare Doctor Recommendation? One of our members is seeking a new Medicare doctor. If you have one that you highly recommend, please pass that name to Elva at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can pass it along.
Arlington's Aging Well Expo on Feb. 21, 9:00-2:00. E-Sports Stadium (formerly Arlington Convention Center), 1200 Ballpark Way, Arlington 76011. Elva will be a speaker at 1:30 with a talk entitled "New Solutions to Help Pay for Your Long-Term Health Care (including at-home custodial care)--You Don't Know What You Don't know." Elva would be happy to see you in the audience. There is no charge to attend the Expo.
Mona Bailey, Silver Haired Legislators, asked me to announce that she is looking for Tarrant County volunteers to serve. They do important lobbying work for us older adults. The term would start in July. Anyone interested is encouraged to call Mona at (817) 542-4486 for more details.
TIPS & TRICKS
Privacy. Elva wanted members to be aware of how "big data" is scraping information about every American to sell to corporations for not only targeted advertising but also to help insurance companies set rates, etc. It's a long-known fact that your physicians and hospitals and other providers report your medical diagnoses, treatments, etc. to the MIB (medical information bureau) but "data companies" are scrubbing through your social media and your web browser to determine your buying habits, reading habits, tv watching habits, grocery purchases, clothing purchases, in order to make assumptions about you. The risk is that some information that is being collected is inaccurate or should not be used to make assumptions about a person. For example, Elva is interested in Alzheimer's/dementia, mainly so she can share information with people who want to know about it, and insurers could wrongly assume that she's worried that she has Alzheimer's which is not the case. "Scrapers" will know that Elva buys plus-size clothing so insurers could assume that she has high blood pressure (not true) or high cholesterol (not true). One "big data" company which collects info about us is Lexis Nexis. Consumers can "opt out" by clicking on this link bit.ly/2GP05nt We consumers have no idea what information about us is being used to set prices for various things so there's no way to refute the accuracy except that some data companies such as Lexis. One good article about it can be found at this link bit.ly/2NnbLgX
While you're on the ProPublica site at the previous link, you might want to check "Dollars for Docs" to see what conflicts of interest your doctor might have, or at least see who is paying him/her to prescribe certain meds. Here is that link bit.ly/1JmXJHk
Oncor Power Outage Notification. If you want to be notified by text message to your smart phone when Oncor experiences a power outage, you can sign up by texting "REG" to 66267 or by visiting Oncor's website here "My Oncor Alerts" bit.ly/1JmXJHk The advantage is that you can see if someone else has already reported the outage to Oncor and Oncor will text you with the estimated restoration time and tell you when power is back on (in case you're away from home).
John Roland, M.D., spoke about functional medicine and stem cell therapy, Dr. Roland had lived and practiced medicine in Arlington and Cleburne as a Family Medicine doctor, and then emergency medicine before he became interested in helping patients by using stem cells. As she has done several times before, Elva encourages members to do your own deep research before you decide that stem cell therapy is right for you. Please try to speak to others who have had the same treatment that you are contemplating. In spite of some claims that there is no "downside" or "side effects," the media has reported some bad outcomes. Mostly the negative press about stem cells is that they don't work. But some people have been helped so there isn't one answer for everybody. As an interesting aside, for those of you who know Bowie Hogg or Sue Hogg here in Arlington, Bowie let me know that Dr. Roland is his uncle. Here's a link to Dr. Roland's practice bit.ly/2GnJJ5P
Debra Kerper, Owner of Easy Access Travel, who is a double amputee (but doesn't let that slow her down) gave an excellent talk about how to travel with a disability. She has been on 100+ cruises (ocean liners as well as river cruises), and is a frequent flier (prefers Southwest Airlines). She recommended that if you're going to travel by air, to call "TSA Cares" at (866) 787-2227. She said that TSA will furnish an agent to go through the TSA check point with you. Here's a link to Debra's company and she welcomes questions bit.ly/2TLW7zm
NEXT MEETING: Monday, March 11, 1:00, 700 E. Abram St. See you there!
Elva (Roy) - cell (817) 557-5700 Feel free to call me or text any time.
A member of Ambassadors sent the link below to an article about stem cell therapy which is in line with the cautionary messages I have given to our group from time to time to not believe everything you read or see on tv about stem cell therapy. It is not approved by the FDA and not covered by any insurance including Medicare. It's imperative to do your own research because there is fraud taking place in many cities where consumers are being bilked out of thousands of dollars. Because at least one of our members has a sister living in Dallas who claims to have been helped enormously by stem cell therapy, I decided to invite Dr. John Roland, M.D., who offers stem cell therapy, to speak at our Feb. 11 meeting. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and experimental treatments, especially any which claim unproven "miraculous cures."
If you're interesting in learning about stem cell therapy, here is a link to one article which I encourage you to read prior to attending our February 11 Ambassadors For Aging Well meeting. bit.ly/2Czleyc