Senior Planning and Caring Forum

Panels and workshops were held Saturday, April 28  at the North Oakland Senior Center to provide residents with resources to help seniors and their caregivers plan for the future. “As the average age of the population increases, the importance of a caregiver becomes increasingly significant,” said Supervisor Keith Carson, who sponsored the event along with Alameda Alliance for Health, Kaiser Permanente and the Socially Responsible Network. The Planning and Caring for Aging Loved Ones Forum was attended by more than 150 community members and featured two panels focused on important topics and trends in the senior community. During the “Aging in Place” panel, Andra Lichtenstein from the Ashby Village in Berkeley described the “volunteer first” support network that allows elders to remain in their homes and receive services to help with transportation, house repairs, shopping and other daily tasks. “Volunteerism is at the heart of the village model,” said Sandra Davidson of the North Oakland Village.  The group’s  office in the Rockridge shopping center is an intergenerational hub for community members to offer mutual support and referrals. John Damonico of the Center Elders Independence described the organization’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) health plan for seniors age 55 and older who remain at home but need additional support because of health problems. “Seniors live a more fulfilled life” with the PACE program, Damonico explained, “because they get to stay at home with their family, speak their own language and also get the support they need.” Technology experts from Vital Link and American Baptist Homes of the West presented information on the latest medical alert systems that can detect not just falls but also whether a loved one has taken her medication or is sleep walking. Audience members shared their frustration with today’s complicated computer and mobile technologies, which often confuse seniors with technical terminology and lackluster customer service. “Everyone needs an advocate,” Srinoi Rousseau told the attendees at the workshop on planning for legal issues.  Rousseau is an attorney with Camp Rousseau Montgomery, LLP and an expert in helping families prepare powers of attorney and trusts.  Seniors should pay attention to the details and make sure they appoint someone who they can trust with financial and medical affairs, she advised the attendees. Delane Sims of Senior Moments told participants in the “Healthy Eating and Living” workshop her father’s secret to good health and longevity.  “What is his secret to living to 113?   He loves to tell a joke.  He is surrounded by people who love him and give him respect,” she said.  
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