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Quote: Meals on Wheels are such a blessing to me. I appreciate everyone who helps make them possible – Juanita, Milton Quote: I don't have to worry anymore and Bill loves it. There couldn’t be a better place – for both of us. – Ursula, Pensacola Quote: There is no escaping aging issues. No one and no family is immune. If you or your family have not been affected, you will. Please give generously. C. Flack and Kathleen, Gulf Breeze Quote: I love being a Foster Grandparent. I almost fall to the ground every morning from the kids hugging me. - Queen, Pensacola Quote: Council on Aging of West Florida has been a big help to me. – Robert, Pensacola Quote: Thanks to the support groups, I know what is coming. Before, I didn’t. – Ray, Pace Quote: I volunteer with the Council on Aging of West Florida because I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping seniors, and making new friends! I feel we all need to help our senior citizens to 'pay back' what they have done for us in the past. – Ed, Pensacola

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Christmas Tree Safety December 9, 2016

Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Keep your holiday trees well-watered.  Dry and neglected trees can easily catch fire from a short in electrical lights or lit candles, lighters and matches.

Before your tree burns your house down, be smart with these fire-safe tips:

  • Place the tree away from heat sources and exits.
  • Use only non-flammable decorations.
  •  Inspect lights for frayed wires or other defects before use.
  • Don't leave lights unattended and turn off holiday lights at night. Keep natural tree stands filled with water at all times and don't let your holiday tree dry out.
  • If the tree becomes dry, discard it.

 Find extra holiday, Christmas tree and fire safety information, videos, and graphics on the U.S. Fire Administration Holiday Safety page.


Inclement Weather Tips for the Elderly November 28, 2016

With the likelihood of severe rain and the possibility of isolated tornadoes this week, the elderly and disabled can be particularly vulnerable to the inclement weather and its effects. It is important for both senior citizens and their caregivers to keep an eye on the weather and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Here are some tips to ensure your safety this week:

  • Complete an individual assessment of daily needs (special medical equipment, particular foods and liquids to meet dietary restrictions, step-by-step instructions for other caregivers, communications equipment such as adaptive hearing and sight devices, minimum two-week supply of medicine or prescriptions, mobility aids, service animals and related feeding).
  • Make medical arrangements. Create an emergency plan with with your regular service providers.
  • Keep abreast of community disaster plans by checking here regularly.
  • Reach out to family, friends or caregivers and explain to them any concerns you may have. Work as a team to prepare.
  • Keep emergency numbers, and your phone, nearby.
  • Contact your utility company about emergency procedures and make sure you know how and when to turn off water, gas and electrical switches or valves. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. 

Basic needs and supplies:

  • Water - one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation and 2-week supply for home) 
  • Food - it is a good idea to include foods that do not need cooking (canned, dried, etc.) (3-day supply for evacuation and 2-week supply for home) 
  • Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs (do not use candles) 
  • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio q First aid kit and manual q Medications (7-day supply) and medical items 
  • Multi-purpose tool (several tools that fold up into a pocketsized unit) 
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, plastic garbage bags) q
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies) 
  • Cell phone with an extra battery and charger(s) 
  • Family and friends' emergency contact information 
  • Cash and coins (ATMs may not be accessible) 
  • Emergency blanket 
  • Map(s) of the local area 
  • Whistle (to attract the attention of emergency personnel) 
  • One change of clothing 
  • Manual can opener 
  • Pet supplies (including food and vaccination records) 
  • Extra set of keys (car, house, etc.) 
  • Pack of cards to provide entertainment and pass the time

More exhaustive information can be found here.


Cold Weather Tips for the Elderly November 16, 2016

As winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop, the elderly will be particularly vulnerable and at risk for developing hypothermia, a deadly condition caused by a drop in body temperature. The best way to prevent hypothermia is to stay warm.

Here are some tips to ensure your safety this season:

  • Keep your home comfortably heated.
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing. Tight layers of clothing can keep your blood from flowing freely, which can lead to loss of body heat.
  • Wear a windproof and waterproof coat or jacket if you plan to be outdoors.
  • If your hands and feet are cold, put on a hat. This causes your body to send more warm blood to our hands and feet.
  • Use a scarf to cover your neck.
  • At night, use hot water bottles, heating pads and electric blankets to help keep you warm.

SPACE HEATER SAFETY TIPS:

  • Do not place heaters under desks or other enclosed areas.
  • Heaters must be monitored when in operation.
  • Plug heater directly into a wall receptacle. Never plug it into an extension cord.
  • Heaters need to be monitored daily. Those heaters missing guards, control knobs, feet, etc. must be taken out of service immediately and repaired by a competent person.
  • Do not use heaters in rooms that will not be continually occupied.
  • Keep doors and windows closed, including storm windows. This will help prevent freeze-ups.
  • Keep space heaters away from exit ways, walkways and paths of travel.
  • Do not use space heaters in wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Do not use portable space heaters if small children are expected in the area.

Council on Aging of West Florida is accepting monetary contributions and donations of new heaters and blankets for the elderly. Please drop off your donations at the Council on Aging office located at 875 Royce Street in Pensacola between the hours of 8am and 5pm, or call (850) 432-1475 for more information.

Council on Aging Seeking Donations of Heaters and Blankets


Impact Stories: Frances Toler and Eleanor Blunt October 26, 2016

Frances Toler, 60, is bright-eyed and full of life though she has progressive Alzheimer's and has lost ability to communicate verbally. Her smile contagious and joyful laugh fills the room, especially when her senior companion, Eleanor Blunt, comes to visit with her. 

Frances and Eleanor have been paired through Council on Aging of West Florida's Senior Companion Program for just over two months. Though it's only been for a short time, Eleanor has seen an impact of her being there. 

"I've noticed she has become more comfortable with me," said Eleanor, "Although she cannot speak with a voice, she'll now come up to me and smile and I can tell she is taking a liking to my presence."

On a typical day, the pair "go out in the backyard and seat and eat meals together." This allows for Frances's husband of 40 years, Andy Toler, to receive some much needed respite and prepare sermons for his church.

"It's a very positive impact for myself and Frances," said Andy, "She doesn't have to be around me the whole time and she is able to socialize with other people."

Andy has also been able to receive direct assistance from Eleanor with her past experience working with clients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

"Ms. Eleanor has really helped me out with the diet part for Frances," said Andy, "I tend to think about what I need to eat and now I know what Frances needs and the right amounts to give her."

The two have worked seamlessly together to provide adequate care for Frances. 

"I've always been surrounded by seniors and for some reason or the other," said Eleanor, "I understand her condition. I worked with previous clients with Alzheimer's. I've actually been able to help Mr. Toler and explain to him some things going on with Frances."

Eleanor has become part of the family very quickly and is not only thankful for the opportunity, but also the chance to care for a senior and provide some free time for Andy.

"He does a beautiful job with her," said Eleanor, "I compliment him all the time about that. I couldn't be in a better setting and really do thank God for that."



Coping with Hearing Loss September 22, 2016

One of the most common health conditions affecting older and elderly adults is hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss. Not only is hearing loss problematic while trying to follow a doctor's advice and responding to warning sounds, it can also be an embarrassing and frustrating ailment that causes disruptions with conversations and relationships.

How do I know if I'm experiencing hearing loss?

If you have experienced some of the following situations below, you may be have some form of hearing loss:

  •  I often ask people to repeat what they say
  •  I have trouble hearing in groups
  • I think other people mumble
  • Having particular difficulties hearing certain sounds, like high or low voices - or even bugs and birds
  • I cannot hear someone speaking behind me
  • I often turn up the volume on the television or in the car
  • I have difficulty hearing on the phone
  • I dread going to crowded restaurants and parties because of the noise

Communication is essential to us as human beings because we are social animals. When something disrupts our communication, we may isolate ourselves in order to cope. Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, once said, "Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people."

Communication is a two way street, and both the listener and their communication partner need to take a more assertive role during conversations when someone has hearing loss. Below are some communication strategies to keep in mind when speaking with someone who is hard of hearing:

  • Try to determine the source of your difficulty - For example, does the speaker have a soft voice or are they speaking too fast? Ask the speaker to speak up or more slowly. Speakers as well as listeners need to cooperate to improve communications.
  • Polish your concentration skills and focus on the conversation, even if you miss a few words or phrases
  • Admit your hearing loss so people are more likely to look directly at you while speaking
  • Use your eyes to pick up visual cues on the speaker's face
  • Be clear about what you missed instead of frequently saying, "What?" This allows the speaker to know what he or she has to reiterate
  • Verify what you think you heard
  • Have your hearing tested to determine your specific problem 
  • Use hearing-assistive technology such as hearing aids, which are more effective and less visible than ever



Impact Stories: Nellie Speights and Johnnie Holloway August 30, 2016

Nellie Speights has hair as white as snow and an even brighter personality at her age of 78. Her son and primary caregiver, Dr. Isaac Williams, is extremely thankful for the Senior Companion Program at Council on Aging of West Florida. When Ms. Nellie's health started to decline in Georgia with progressions in dementia, Dr. Williams sought to have his mother move to Pensacola, FL to live with him and his wife. Dr. Williams, a pastor, and his wife both working full time quickly realized they needed assistance and someone to help Ms. Nellie with everyday tasks.

"I think the program is very advantageous for my mother in that if she's home alone,"said Dr. Williams, "her mind will wonder and that's not good for her. I would love for her to be able to stay in her own home alone as well, but the doctor said she can't do that. By my mother having a senior companion, it keeps her active and independent."

Johnnie Holloway, 75, very much enjoys being a senior companion. Ms. Nellie has also taken quite the liking to Ms. Johnnie. "Both me and Ms. Johnnie are in the same boat,"said Ms. Nellie, "We get along so good. She is a sister to me."

The two ladies spend most of their days together going to the grocery store, spending time at the Cobb center, and conversing on the back porch. "Ms. Johnnie and my mother can relate and understand each other," said Dr. Williams, "She takes her to the doctor, takes her to get her medicine, go to the Cobb Center. They can talk about women stuff where I can't relate to her in that area."

Ms. Nellie has also shown an improvement in health since being paired with Ms. Johnnie as her senior companion. "When we brought my mama down to Pensacola about a year and a half ago, she was in pretty bad shape," said Dr. Williams, "The doctor said she looks remarkably well now and I think that's because of the Senior Companion Program and Ms. Johnnie. My mama's medicine used to be all mixed up. Ms. Johnnie insures my mother takes her medicine right and by having someone to help her with this, that keeps my mother looking and feeling good."

The Senior Companion Program has been described as a true blessing for everyone involved in Ms. Nellie's life. "I like that she has someone here while my wife and I are both working full time. I don't have to worry about her leaving the stove on or leaving the door open. You couldn't ask for a better person for my mother than Ms. Johnnie. She is caring, considerate, waits on her head on toe, cook her breakfast...whatever she needs, she is there for my mama. It's a tremendous burden off of me knowing my mama is in a safe place with a safe companion who treats her just like a sister."

To learn more about the Senior Companion Program, give us a call at (850) 432-1475.


September: National Fruits and Veggies Month August 26, 2016

For many of us, growing up was filled with our parents or guardians trying to keep us healthy. Brush your teeth, drink your milk, run around outside and get some fresh air and eat your fruits and vegetables. Although we may have gotten older, it is still often a challenge to remember this important healthy rule.

September is National Fruits and Veggies Month, a time to remember that the nutrients and fiber in fruits and vegetables can reduce high blood pressure, prevent some eye and digestion problems, and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. 

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a healthy diet consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. In a normal 2,000-calorie diet, approximately 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables should be eaten each day. You should also choose an assortment of different types and colors when shopping for fruits and vegetables in order to provide a variety of nutrients. 

Following a healthy diet can be difficult for a number of reasons, but every grocery list should include a variety of frozen, canned, and/or dried forms of fruits and vegetables. All of these options are still nutritious, often less expensive, and can be used to create quick meals. You can also add fruits and vegetables to your favorite dishes or display your produce so you are more likely to eat it.

People tend to eat less as they age for many reasons including a lessening of physical activity, fewer family meals, difficulty chewing, changes in taste, and changes in appetite. However much or little is eaten, the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet is an important element to self-care and healthy aging. Making the small effort to try new things and to cook some vegetarian dishes can lead to great improvements in health and overall quality of life. 

"Eat your fruits and vegetables" is as important a lesson at 65, 75, and 85 as it is for five-year-olds.


Senior Companion Program Improves Health in Senior July 22, 2016

Nellie Speights has hair as white as snow and an even brighter personality at her age of 78. Her son and primary caregiver, Dr. Isaac Williams, is extremely thankful for the Senior Companion Program at Council on Aging of West Florida. When Ms. Nellie's health started to decline in Georgia with progressions in dementia, Dr. Williams sought to have his mother move to Pensacola, FL to live with him and his wife. Dr. Williams, a pastor, and his wife both working full time quickly realized they needed assistance and someone to help Ms. Nellie with everyday tasks.

"I think the program is very advantageous for my mother in that if she's home alone," said Dr. Williams, "her mind will wonder and that's not good for her. I would love for her to be able to stay in her own home alone as well, but the doctor said she can't do that. By my mother having a senior companion, it keeps her active and independent."

Johnnie Holloway, 75, very much enjoys being a senior companion. Ms. Nellie has also taken quite the liking to Ms. Johnnie. "Both me and Ms. Johnnie are in the same boat," said Ms. Nellie, "We get along so good. She is a sister to me."

The two ladies spend most of their days together going to the grocery store, spending time at the Cobb center, and conversing on the back porch. "Ms. Johnnie and my mother can relate and understand each other," said Dr. Williams, "She takes her to the doctor, takes her to get her medicine, go to the Cobb Center. They can talk about women stuff where I can't relate to her in that area."

Ms. Nellie has also shown an improvement in health since being paired with Ms. Johnnie as her senior companion. "When we brought my mama down to Pensacola about a year and a half ago, she was in pretty bad shape," said Dr. Williams, "The doctor said she looks remarkably well now and I think that's because of the Senior Companion Program and Ms. Johnnie. My mama's medicine used to be all mixed up. Ms. Johnnie insures my mother takes her medicine right and by having someone to help her with this, that keeps my mother looking and feeling good."

The Senior Companion Program has been described as a true blessing for everyone involved in Ms. Nellie's life. "I like that she has someone here while my wife and I are both working full time. I don't have to worry about her leaving the stove on or leaving the door open. You couldn't ask for a better person for my mother than Ms. Johnnie. She is caring, considerate, waits on her head on toe, cook her breakfast...whatever she needs, she is there for my mama. It's a tremendous burden off of me knowing my mama is in a safe place with a safe companion who treats her just like a sister."

Learn more about the Senior Companion Program here: http://bit.ly/2a5J0G3


Disrupting the Aging Process July 18, 2016

Jo Ann Jenkins is the CEO of AARP and has recently released a new book that subverts some common myths about aging -- as well as some seemingly positive perspectives on the issue that may actually be unintentionally damaging.

In Disrupt Aging, Jo Ann Jenkins discusses health, life choices, money, experience and more in a book that's message is as colorful and entertaining as it is enriching and enlightening. The message? Every single year is a gift, so don't try to label as anything other than an opportunity to be who you fully are. It sounds simple, but as anyone who is 15 or 50 knows, putting it into action can be quite challenging. 

Luckily, Coming of Age was able to catch up with Jenkins and discuss some tangible steps we can take to realize our full potential and truly enjoy our golden years. This time of life offers many advantages if we'll just let ourselves lean into them and ignore the harmful connotations associated with aging. 

You speak a lot in your book about embracing age and not trying to rebrand it as "new youth." Why is this beneficial to the aging population? 

Jo Ann: I think a lot of it has to do with the personal value that comes from "owning"your age. I'll give you an example: we're all familiar with catchphrases along the lines of "50 is the new 30" and "60 is the new 40" and so on. I know they're well intended, but I think they've got it all wrong. Fifty is 50, 60 is 60, 70 is 70 and they are -- or can be -- great. As with 20/30/40, it's often what you make of it but it can be easy to lose sight of that. 

What are some advantages that senior citizens and other older members of society have at their disposal in everyday life? 

Jo Ann: Well, I think it varies from person to person and community to community, but one overarching advantage is our sheer growing numbers in society. Right now, there are approximately 100 million people age 50 and up in the U.S. and more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the U.S., a phenomenon that's going to keep happening -- every day -- until 2030. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) projects that the U.S. population of people 65 and up will double over the next three decades. Those are staggering numbers and while they present some formidable challenges, I think they hold an equal amount of promise.

Describe the process by which you came to embrace aging. 

Jo Ann: I've never paid much attention to labels, and I think that helped, but my personal experience upon turning 50 (I'm now 58) was kind of a pivotal moment. My husband threw a surprise party for me and it was a wonderful evening spent with lots of good friends, but I was deluged with cards and various well-wishes along the lines of "Over The Hill Now!" and "Next Stop: Old Folks Home" and so on. Obviously, they were all in good fun -- after all, that kind of ribbing is almost a tradition -- but, the funny thing was, I didn't feel all that old. It just got me thinking: what constitutes "old" and how much of it is self-determined? Our approach to aging is needlessly limiting -- it's not how I felt then, and it's not how I feel now...and I think that's true for a lot of people. Over time,that evolved into Disrupt Aging. 

How can we live in a way that shows mindfulness toward our health and wealth while still enjoying our golden years? 

Jo Ann: With longer life expectancy and technological advances opening new doors for self-growth and exploration, it's time to stop letting people say "you're too old for that"and time to change the conversation about aging. Disrupt aging requires us to re-examine our beliefs and attitudes about getting older. The way we are aging is changing for the better and we should be celebrating this. 

How can society improve in their opinions of older people? 

Jo Ann: Perhaps it's the recognition that if you're alive, you're "aging." As such, I suppose we're all "getting older." Expressing negative judgments of people based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation is no longer socially acceptable to most people, but doing the same thing around someone's age often still gets a pass. I think that will change, especially now that we have what amounts to an extended middle age, where you have some additional 20-plus years added to your life and the fastest growing age group is now 85 and up. We need to make sure that we have systems and programs in place support our longer lives. 

What are some tangible ways seniors can continue to value life and discover newness in every day? 

Jo Ann: I'll take it back to "owning" your age. We get a lot of mixed signals about what aging means and how we're supposed to internalize it. At its heart, the Disrupt Aging movement is not about denying aging, or defying aging, it's about owning your age and embracing the opportunities to live your best life -- at every age.

View similar articles online in Council on Aging's quarterly magazine, Coming of Age


Caregivers Have Needs Too June 22, 2016

Caregiving for a loved one is oftentimes a full-time job, especially when resources and financial support are limited. 

In fact, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care in 2015 alone. 

Between balancing a day-to-day career and caring for a parent or child, the caregiver can be left exhausted and seeking much needed respite. Just like a loved one, caregivers have an array of needs but they tend to be forgotten due to busy schedules. Ensuring that caregivers receive support emotionally, socially, and physically is imperative to living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Here are just a few ways to do that.

Emotional Needs

Talk to Family and Friends - As a caregiver, you may experience a lot of emotions including anger, guilt, sadness and depression. This is normal. Making time to speak with family or friends about experiences and struggles is key. Just having someone else listen can be therapy in itself. It's also very important to become aware of signs of anxiety or depression. If emotions become overwhelming, you should seek professional help.

Keep a Journal - Some people are introverts, but keeping a journal can help with this. Journals give you the ability to express yourself and look back on progresses made.

Take Time to Relax - Whether this be watching your favorite television show, praying, or reading, taking time to de-stress is key to staying emotionally balanced. 

Seek a Support Group  - Support groups are extremely common nowadays and available in most communities. Getting together with individuals facing similar issues can be refreshing and allows you to hear other perspectives and resolutions to problems. 

Council on Aging of West Florida offers multiple free monthly caregiver support groups at various locations in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. View the full list HERE!

Social Needs

Keep a Close Circle - Creating a safe and close-knit circle of friends and family is key to staying sane. Everyone needs time to let loose and enjoy company with others. Try and make time every week or couple of weeks to have a lunch or coffee with a friend. 

Do What You Enjoy - Take up a hobby such as a cooking class or volunteer. Being around others with similar interests is not only good for the soul, but also a great way to meet new friends. 

Don't Isolate Yourself - It can be very easy for caregivers to isolate themselves from their regular day-to-day interests in fear of feeling guilty for leaving their loved one in the care of someone else. You must remember that caregivers are humans too and you have needs just like everyone else. Try and keep as social as possible. Laughter and positive interactions are a great way to get your mind off of current stresses. 

Physical Needs

Eat Right - It can be easy to go through the closest drive-thru for a quick meal  to avoid cooking, but the end result can be extremely damaging on your health. Try to make a meal plan each week and stick to the key food groups of vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein. Your loved one's health is important, but so is your own.

Exercise Regularly - This can be as simple as a 30-minute walk a day and stroll on your lunch break. Getting out in the fresh air and moving will not only improve your physical health, but it will stimulate your brain health as well.

Get the Recommended Eight - According to the National Institutes of Health, adults get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is important for the function of every human being. Make sure you get ample amount of sleep and put the phone down before bed. It can be easy to become distracted by your phone before bed and before you know it, an hour has come and gone. 

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs - For those experiencing depression or anxiety, substance abuse can be common and an easy escape for overwhelmed caregivers. Instead, manage problems head on. If you find yourself resorting to drugs or alcohol, you should seek professional help.

Taking care of yourself while caregiving for a child or senior can be extremely challenging, but making the time is rewarding and essential in staying happy and healthy. Take a step back to evaluate your emotional, social, and physical needs, and make time for YOU! You deserve it.

For more information on Council on Aging's support groups or programs, give COA a call at (850) 432-1475.


Other Entries

Please help us provide seniors in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with the programs and services they need to live healthy, safe and independent lives in their own familiar surroundings. These program and services, which include Meals on Wheels, adult day health care and caregiver support, enable seniors and their caregivers to face an uncertain future with the dignity they deserve.



Coming of Age TV See Past Interviews

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Looking for senior-related information online? Watch interviews with local experts on a variety of topics on our YouTube Channel. These segments from Coming of Age TV have been archived for convenience.

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Are you 55? Or older and interested in helping a peer in their home or children in a learning environment?

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Coming of Age Magazine

Coming of Age Magazine is the only senior - oriented lifestyle publication in Northwest Florida. Locally produced and published in Pensacola, Florida by Council on Aging of West Florida in partnership with Ballinger Publishing.

Coming of Age Magazine

Fall 2016 - 9/16/2016
Coming of Age Fall 2016

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