Aging Well in Maine

Achieve Healthy Aging

September is Healthy Aging Month! What does that mean to you? For me it’s about the whole package – mind, body and spirit. Reminding myself I’m never too old to make small positive changes and even reinvent myself if I am so inclined. Check out this list of 10 Healthy Aging & Reinventing Yourself ideas. Which ones speak to you?

1. Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like! What do remember as your best age? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but it goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself. (Tip: Don’t keep looking in the mirror, just FEEL IT!)

2. Be positive in your conversations and actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive. (Tip: Reading and writing positive affirmations daily can be uplifting!)

3. Don’t associate with negative people. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life, who are energetic, happy people. You’ll be happier too. (Tip: Smile often. It’s contagious!)

4. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling? (Tip: Strength and balance exercises can make a big difference)

5. Stand up as straight as you can! You can knock off a few years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. You will look great and feel better. (Tip: Your waistline will also look trimmer!)

6. How’s your smile? People who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your health as the rest of your body. Good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being. (Tip: Keep those regular dental exams and maybe look into teeth whitening)

7. Lonely? You don’t have to be. Call a friend or family member, volunteer your time, take a class, invite someone to meet for lunch or coffee. (Tip: SeniorsPlus has many volunteer opportunities and if you haven’t checked out our Education Center you owe it to yourself – do it today!)

8. Start walking – just a few extra steps a day can make a big difference. Fall is a beautiful time of year to get outside for a walk. (Tip: If you have a dog, take them for a walk with you!)

9. Make this the month you set up your annual physical and other health screenings. If you’re approaching 65 remember October starts Open Enrollment season for Medicare. SeniorsPlus is available to provide free assistance with navigating this often confusing process. Call us to schedule your personal appointment.

10. Last but not least, find your inner artist. You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped (Tip: Never think you are too old to reinvent yourself!)

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

Hello from Holly:

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” – Aristotle

Lifelong Learning is a phrase we hear so often these days. What exactly does that mean? Wikipedia defines it as “the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons while enhancing social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development which provides self-sustainability.”

Sounds pretty appealing, huh? If you answered yes, you are in luck! SeniorsPlus will be presenting their 9th annual Aging Well Living Well Expo on Friday, October 7, at Sunday River in Bethel. Join us for a full day of learning, exploring, and energizing at the beautiful Sunday River Resort. As a bonus, fall foliage should be at its peak!

What can you explore and learn? Explore important topics such as cognitive aging, marijuana as legal and useful medicine, facts about Lyme disease, and how our Legislative process works. Learn how to relax and the health benefits of Tai Chi, acupuncture, and aqua stretching. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to line dance or use your crockpot for healthy cooking? How about home brewing your own beer? Other fun and useful workshops will include photography using your smartphone, what color is your personality, and coloring books all grown up!

It will be a fun-filled day of learning and exploring, starting with the keynote address by long-time WCSH-TV weatherman Kevin Mannix and his wife Linda Rota as they share their life experiences highlighted in their book “Weathering Shame.”

The $25 admission is for the entire day and includes breakfast and lunch. Chondola rides to the North Peak Lodge will also be available for a nominal fee. Full brochures with workshop details and registration information are now available at SeniorsPlus and at www.seniorsplus.org/awlw. You may also register by phone using your credit card by calling 1-800-427-1241. Mark your calendar for October 7 — See you there!

Note: Holly Zielinski is the new Director of Community Services at SeniorsPlus

This is Good Bye From the Desk of Connie Jones

(June 2016)

In just a few days, I will be “retiring” from my job at SeniorsPlus. People have been asking – so what are you going to do next? How does it feel to be retiring? Well, to tell you the truth, I feel a bit scared! I’m excited, yes, I’m very sad, as I will miss my co-workers, but I’m a wee bit anxious about this big change. So I go back to my experts – people who have been there before me, my wise role models.

The other day I read: “Live each day like life was going to go on interminably.” So basically – don’t quit life now! Don’t give up on life this early, just keep taking part fully in life every day, like you were going to be around forever.

Along with that is the startling statistic that if you reached 65 and you’re pretty healthy, you can plan on another 30 years. Thirty years is a long time to sit around and rock in a chair, or smell the roses, or take naps! Instead there is enough time to reinvent yourself multiple times. My friend Nancy, at 60, decided to become a nurse practitioner. Now at 70, she is beginning to say – okay, maybe I should become a marine biologist next. Nancy’s well on her way to being like a cat with nine lives. I still have quite a few more to explore, for sure!

So if I have this much time left, it is an opportunity to challenge myself to things I never thought possible. Maybe my biggest barrier to overcome is my own self-perception. We make pretty strong statements about ourselves – “I don’t like working with my hands,” “I will never live in a city,” or “I hate cooking.” Hmmm. Maybe we need to challenge those boxes we’ve put ourselves in. We might be surprised at what we feel if we give it another chance.

My friends gave me one more piece of wisdom – every period of change and transition is a time of muddling. Life can feel fragile and like your world is tipping a bit. That is all normal. Just keep on muddling for a while longer, and if you’re open to the possibilities of change, a whole new exciting new life will appear.

Here’s to muddling and new lives!

Spotlight: Oxford County

Aging is thriving in all three of the counties we serve. This month I’d like to highlight some big happenings in Oxford County.

Shadagee Ramblers Benefit Meals on Wheels

Local band, Shadagee Ramblers, will perform on Sunday, May 22, at 2 to 5 PM at the American Legion Hall, 595 Gore Road, Locke Mills, as a benefit for Meals on Wheels Program in Oxford County. Live music, a 50/50 raffle, pie auction, refreshments and lots of good old fashioned fun. Admission is $10 at the door, those under 12 are free. Come join the fun, and support the Meals on Wheels program of SeniorsPlus. For more information, contact Valerie Cole at 513-3722.

Frauds and Scams: How to Protect Yourself

Scams and identity theft rob millions of Americans every year. Learn to recognize common scams and what you can do to avoid them. You’ll learn about useful resources and receive your own fraud prevention guide from AARP. Monday, May 16, at noon at the Peru Old Elementary School. To register for this workshop presented by Valerie Cole of SeniorsPlus, call 1-800-427-1241 to register.

Bethel, Newry, Woodstock and Greenwood Becoming Age Friendly

A group of forward-thinking community members in these four towns came together and are beginning the process of becoming age-friendly, or, a place where everyone can age in place. This group received a small AARP grant to start the community assessment process. Watch for big changes – and your chance to be part of this process. What changes do you feel are needed to make it possible to stay at home as long as possible in Bethel, Newry, Woodstock or Greenwood? Want more information or join the project? Call Allen Cressy at 824-0508.

Save The Date: Aging Well Living Well Expo

SeniorsPlus will hold its 10th Aging Well Living Well Expo at Sunday River on Friday, October 7. Mark your calendars now and watch for more information in July.

Eating Alone is Bad for Your Health!

One of the biggest risks older adults face is loneliness. Not only does it feel bad, but it can be bad for your health, causing depression which affects all parts of your body. Mealtime is one big culprit. Mealtime in our society is a very social event. Families gathered around a table, sharing their day, memories, insights, laughter, and love. As we age, the table often gets smaller – the kids grow up and move away, a spouse dies, friends move away, and soon, mealtime is more of a chore than a pleasure.

To protect your nutrition, you need to eat with others just as often as possible. SeniorsPlus offers a Community Dining program with places and opportunities for you to get together with friends, neighbors, and family to have a nutritious meal!

1. Lunch Plus Cafes, where you can gather once a week or more, and share a meal with others. Make a reservation and you’ll have a delicious hot meal ready and waiting for you! $3 donation requested. Locations are: Heritage Court and The Auburn Townhouse in Auburn, Meadowview Park in Lewiston, MTM Community Center in Lisbon Falls, Boofy Quimby Hall in Turner, Rangeley Town House in Rangeley, Nezinscot Village in Buckfield, and Muskie Center in Rumford.

2. Around Town Cafes. Get a voucher from us (suggested donation of $5), and use it anytime at a restaurant that partners with us in this program. When you go to the restaurant with your friends or family, ask for the SeniorsPlus menu. There you will have a great selection of entrees that fit our nutrition standards. Enjoy your meal, and “pay” for it with the voucher. Don’t forget that the tip is on you. Our restaurants include: Brickyard Café in Farmington, Campus Cuisine and Chick-a-Dee in Lewiston, Chuck Wagon in Livermore Falls, LaFleur’s in Jay, and Market Square in South Paris.

For more information, go to our website, www.seniorsplus.org/nutrition-services, or call us at 1-800-427-1241.

To good food and good health!

Your Help Needed

As you may know, SeniorsPlus is the area agency on aging covering Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties. One of our area agency on aging responsibilities is to produce a strategic plan for how we are going to better serve the residents of our area, during the next four years, 2017-2020. Our plan becomes part of the State’s plan, which then becomes part of the federal plan for serving older adults.

We want to listen closely to the voices and needs of people in our counties, before we write our plan. We want to know what you consider are the keys to making it possible for you to live and age well right where you are – in your own home.

1) What are the top three things needed by older adults so they can age well in their communities?

2) What are the top three things missing in your community that make it hard for you to remain in your own home?

3) What is your definition of “old”?

4) Which of the following is the correct list of services that SeniorsPlus provides to older adults and adults with disabilities? (Hint: there’s only one right answer here):
a) Meals on Wheels, Medicare counseling and fuel assistance?
b) Aging Well Living Well Expo, free dental care and caregiver support groups?
c) Money Minders, Medicare counseling, Meals on Wheels, caregiver support groups, Education Center, information and assistance, Aging Well Living Well Expo, Around Town restaurant voucher program, Long Distance Learning in Oxford and Franklin counties, early stages of dementia support group, Savvy Caregiver classes, and Matter of Balance and T’ai Chi classes.

If you would take a minute and let us know your answers to the above questions, it will help inform our strategic planning for the next four years. The best way to answer is to email me at cjones@seniorsplus.org. If you can’t get to a computer, you can call me and give me your answers. My phone number is 513-3705. If I’m not available, please leave me a voice mail. Thank you.

The Aging Well Living Well Expo Franklin County

Mark your calendars now and make plans to attend the Aging Well Living Well Expo Franklin County on Thursday, February 18, 8 AM to 1 PM, at the Kingfield Elementary School. (Snow date is Friday, February 19). Come for a free morning of learning and just plain old get-together.

If you are an older adult who understands the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle, then the Aging Well Living Well Expo is a “must attend” event. There will be:

• Workshops including
o Zumba Gold – Zumba® fuses Latin rhythms and easy moves to create a dynamic fitness program that will blow you away. Exercise you’ll want to do everyday and feel good about doing it!
o Frauds and Scams: How to Protect Yourself – the basic rules of how to protect yourself from being caught off-guard and falling victim to a current or future scam.
o Healthy Cooking – we are what we eat! How to eat healthy as we age.

• Keynote address: Aging Courageously and Outrageously – Let’s take aging by storm! This presentation will acknowledge that it takes courage to age well, and will share tips on how to do that. Then, we’ll turn to the outrageous side – let’s add a bit of pizzazz to the aging process, a little zing! Come enjoy a discussion on how to age well, with courage and vim and vigor.

• Exhibitors’ booths of local providers displaying a variety of services and information of interest to you.

• Continental breakfast (provided by the Orange Cat Cafe) and snacks throughout the morning.

Plan this morning out for yourself, bring a friend, and enjoy. To register, call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241. You must pre-register for this free event.

Towns across Maine are becoming Age Friendly

Towns across Maine are becoming aware of a new phenomenon – their towns are getting older. Forward-thinking towns such as Bethel, Litchfield, Rangeley, and Harpswell are joining a growing movement of towns becoming “Age Friendly.”

What does that mean? Why is it important? It’s a critical look at how easy or difficult it is for older adults (and those with disabilities of all ages) to remain in their own homes in their town and remain connected and involved in community life. Once the critical assessment of the town has happened, a community comes together to make changes that make life in Smalltown Maine better for everyone, This can include changes such as: looking at zoning to make sure smaller or shared housing is available close to downtown, establishing a Friendly Caller program to check on those who are homebound, recognizing the great wealth of talent available with retirees, and creating opportunities for volunteers to improve community by doing such things as help each other with home repairs, tutor children, or provide transportation to people who can’t drive.

SeniorsPlus has just received a Maine Health Access Foundation Thriving in Place grant, to work toward Age Friendliness with the towns of Rangeley and Farmington. Bethel has used an AARP community assessment tool, and is working with the local library to increase technology assistance for older adults, for example. Rangeley has already created a working group (HELP: Helping Elders Live in Place) and they have a Friendly Caller program in place and are close to opening a social Adult Day Program to give caregivers a break.

Times, they are a changing. Forward looking towns are understanding the need to look at their population and find ways to keep their community members well, healthy and connected. For a great tool to get you and your community started on the conversation about becoming Age Friendly, check out AARP’s Age Friendly Toolkit: www.aarp.org/livable-communities.

Review. Enroll. Beware.

Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15 through December 7. For those on Medicare, this is the time to check your prescription drug plan to see if it still works well for you. Your prescriptions may have changed, your current plan’s drug list may have changed, and as a result you may want to switch to another Part D plan to get better coverage for a lower cost. You can only do this switch during this Open Enrollment period. How can you check? Do this online at www.medicare.gov, or by calling the Medicare Hot Line, 1-800-633-4227. Don’t forget that deadline – December 7.

Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment is November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016. For those under age 65 who do not currently have health insurance, this is the opportunity to sign up for coverage through the Insurance Marketplace for 2016. Good health insurance coverage is not only sensible and practical, but for most Mainers (90%), there is financial help with payment. As an added note, by signing up for health insurance now you will avoid a tax penalty of 2.5% of your income or $695 per adult, whichever is greater. For help in signing up, visit www.enroll207.com, or call Consumers for Affordable Health Care at 1-800-965-7476. You can also do this yourself at www.Healthcare.gov. Don’t forget this important deadline – January 31, 2016.

Beware of Scammers Posing as SeniorsPlus employees. We have heard that scam artists are calling older adults, posing as a familiar SeniorsPlus employee either asking you to donate to some cause or needing some more information from you so they can assist you. Please be very careful. The general rule of thumb is – if you did not call us first, we most likely are not calling you. So if you get a call from a person posing as, for example, Connie Jones at SeniorsPlus, and you didn’t specifically ask us to call you – beware! Do not give any information, hang up, and call us directly (1-800-427-1241) to verify our call.

Give First So You Can Receive Later

 

Our bloomin’ Yankee independence sometimes can be our worst enemy. Case in point – when we’re trying to age well, in our own homes. We “don’t want to bother the children,” we don’t ask for help because “oh, they’ve got enough on their plates already,” or “someone else needs it more than I do.” All nice sentiments, but what they boil down to: We’re too independent to ask for help.

If you want to age well, in your own home, the stark reality is you have to have a support team. You cannot do it alone. But here’s the good thing – take the age old value of “it is better to give than receive,” change it up a bit to “give first, so you can receive,” and you’ve got a clearer, easier path to having to ask for help someday.

So think of your situation. Say, arbitrarily, you need five people to support you to stay at home well. Who can you count on for your community of support? And how can you give now so it’s easier to receive later?

What kind of support might you need?
• Transportation, when you can’t see to drive
• A friend to chat with on the phone a couple times a week
• Someone who can fix your computer glitches
• Home repairs when you can’t climb the ladder anymore

What kind of support could you give to someone else in your community?
• Be a friendly caller to someone who is homebound
• Be an emergency contact
• Share your garden produce with a neighbor
• Go with a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment to act as a second set of “ears”
• If you’re a computer whiz, be a computer fix-it person

Let’s age well. Let go of some of our independence and accept that we will have to ask for help. And then make it easier on ourselves by giving to others first.