Do You or
a Family Member Need Help With:
Follow the above links to learn more about our services.
Dedicating each day to serve, support and advocate
for aging adults in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
It's that time of year again in the beloved Sunshine State - the sun is setting later, the temperatures are rising, and the humidity is becoming almost stifling. While many residents and tourists take this opportunity to explore the sandy white beaches of the Gulf Coast and enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities, low-income, and often home-bound, elderly residents are suffering in the heat.
Elevated temperatures can be extremely dangerous for aging adults, many times resulting in heat stroke or heat exhaustion. People's ability to notice changes in body temperature decreases with age and many seniors also have underlying health conditions that cause them to be less adaptable to heat. Even medicines that seniors take can cause dehydration at higher levels. A recent University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40 percent of heat-related fatalities in the United States were among people over the age of 65.
Thankfully, several guidelines can help keep seniors safe in the hot weather:
In an effort to raise awareness about these potential issues and ensure that local seniors are comfortable in their homes during the summer, Council on Aging of West Florida and WEAR ABC 3 partner with Cat Country 98.7, NewsRadio1620, and Magic 106.1 FM every year to procure the community's donations of new air conditioner units and fans during the Senior Chill Out. While utilizing all-day media coverage, donation centers are set up at three Lowe's Home Improvement stores throughout the area for one day. Afterwards, hard-working volunteers help to install the units for seniors who need it most in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
This year's 2017 Senior Chill Out will take place on June 30 from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm at select area Lowe's Home Improvement stores. Donations can be made at the following locations:
In addition to these wonderful in-kind donations, monetary donations are also welcome and will be used for the purchase of additional fans and air conditioning units. Last year, the 2016 Senior Chill Out raised just over $8,000 to help with additional purchases.
With your help and support, Council on Aging and its media partners can continue to help aging adults stay safe in the summer heat.
For more information or to make an online donation, please contact our office at (850) 432-1475 or visit www.coawfla.org. Please also note that A/C units and fans will not be handed out at the Senior Chill Out event. If you are a senior in need, please call the Council on Aging office to be placed on the waiting list.
Five Things to do Now Before a Disaster
1. Refer to the hurricane evacuation zones and maps online at www.santarosa.fl.gov/KnowYourZone. Determine if and when you would have to evacuate. Remember: All mobile home residents are advised to evacuate, regardless of location. If you need help determining your zone, contact Santa Rosa County Emergency Management BEFORE A STORM THREATENS at 850-983-5360.
2. Decide NOW where you would go if ordered to evacuate - a friend or relative's home, a hotel, or as a last resort, a public shelter. REMEMBER, if you are going to leave the area or go to a hotel, don't delay. Determine your route, leave early and travel the shortest distance possible. Think tens of miles, not hundreds.
3. Purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and, if you have a landline, be sure to have a non-electric phone. Even though phone service may not be disturbed, a cordless phone will not work during power outages. Also be sure you have a car charger or portable battery charger for your cell phone and mobile devices. If there is a power outage, you will not be able to charge your phone or tablet inside your home.
4. Make sure your street address number is clearly marked on your home.
5. Whether you rent or own your home, review your insurance policies with your agent now. You may wish to take photos or videos of your belongings at the beginning of each hurricane season.
Disaster Planning for Special Needs
In a disaster, people with special medical needs have extra concerns. Take the following steps if you or your family members have special medical needs:
Preparing your Medication
For those with special needs or are considered vulnerable, Santa Rosa County has a special needs shelter. Santa Rosa County offers transportation to a shelter in the event of an evacuation. Registration is required prior to any disaster. To register:
What to Bring to a Shelter
Santa Rosa County also offers a welfare check for those that request one in the event of a disaster. Emergency Management staff is available to conduct public speaking engagements on safety and preparedness when requested.
Be aware of the following cool tips for beating the heat:
Older adults and their caregivers are also encouraged to learn the signs and first aid response for heat-related illnesses.
Heat exhaustion symptoms:
If heat exhaustion symptoms are present:
Heat stroke symptoms:
If heat stroke symptoms are present:
Council on Aging of West Florida is also accepting donations of new fans and 5,000- or 12,000-BTU window air conditioning units to help local seniors beat the heat. Additionally, we welcome monetary donations that will be used for the purchase of additional fans and air conditioning units. Please drop off your donations at the Council on Aging office located at 875 Royce Street in Pensacola, or call (850) 432-1475 for more information.
It's a common misconception that aging signifies a slowing down in life. In fact, aging should be considered the opening of a new life, with different experiences as rich as those had in youth.
Hans Christian Anderson once said that "to travel is to live." Travel, especially with seniors, is key to a healthier aging, as moderate activity is usually the number one way to lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancers, according to a recent study by the Global Correlation for Aging (GCOA).
What's more, travel can improve seniors' mental health as well as physical. In a poll regarding travel by GCOA, they found that 80 percent of seniors say travel helps to improve their general mood and outlook toward life. Travel has also been found to increase seniors' brain activity and cognitive stimulation, which can potentially delay the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Panhandle Senior Travelers knows the intangible value of travel for seniors.
In 2005, spouses Terry and Carolyn Reeves organized the non-profit association for seniors 50 years and older, specifically to provide affordable travel and social opportunities. They have a board of eight directors who manage the funds and finalize the outings. The board rotates out completely every two years and is made up entirely of volunteers.
According to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, having a variety of positive social supports can contribute to psychological and physical wellness of senior individuals. Along with travel, having a vibrant social life is important for a senior's mental and physical health; this further solidifies the importance of an organization like Panhandle Senior Travelers (PST).
One of the main concerns for seniors is a lack of retirement funds for travel. Traveling can be expensive, and although seniors dream big about retirement traveling, they don't always have the money to make their dreams a reality. PST takes this into account when organizing their trips.
Susan Breed, a travel planner with PST and a four-year member, says what makes their trips affordable is the lack of interim fees. Volunteers with PST organize the trips themselves, rarely with the assistance of an outside planner. Colonial Trailways in Mobile, Ala. typically provides transportation; for international trips, they usually enlist the services of AAA.
"We do everything and usually pay the venues with cash ourselves when we arrive," says Susan, "but since we aren't a business and don't have a company credit card, sometimes we'll do all the work ourselves, then pay Trailways to provide transportation and make all the final arrangements for us with no extra fees." That means the cost of a trip is solely the price of the venue and the price of transportation, rather than fees to outside parties, like travel planners or booking sites.
There is often a group rate involved, which lessens the cost even more. Day trips cost approximately $50 and two-day trips around $250. Longer trips, typically one week, usually cost between $1500 and $2000.
"We try to do two long trips per year, then several overnight or two day trips, and the rest are day trips," says Susan. "In the past we've gone to Canada, Niagra Falls, and Albuquerque by bus. We also try to do around one out-of-the-country trip per year." This year, PST will spend eight days in London in September.
This past February they spent three days in LaFayatte, La. celebrating the Courir de Mardi Gras. In April, they'll be on an overnight trip in Union Springs, Ala. catching a play at the Red Door Theater and touring the Hyundai Plant. In May, they plan to visit Ark Encounter on a multiple-day trip to Kentucky.
If you're over 50 and seeking an adventure in your life, check out the Panhandle Senior Travelers. You can stay active, make new friends and experience new places without completely breaking the bank.
To find out more about Panhandle Senior Travelers and their future excursions, visit pstravelers.org or join their Facebook page, Panhandle Senior Travelers!
Dogs have been "Man's Best Friend" for thousands of years. Dogs provide warnings and protection, help to hunt and to herd, and are growing ever more useful as service dogs. Service dogs each serve a special purpose, whether to assist the visually impaired, to provide comfort to sufferers of PTSD, or even to warn of oncoming medical crises. According to PAWS, a reputable nonprofit organization that specializes in helping to rescue and rehabilitate animals, stress level, blood pressure, and the risk of depression all tend to decrease when time is spent with a furry friend. Today, dogs are perhaps best-known and best-loved as four-legged companions to people in all stages of their lives. For seniors, dogs offer special kinds of love and support, can alleviate boredom and anxiety, and can even improve health.
What age of dog do you want to add to your life? Puppies are playful and cute but need a great deal of training, care, and attention as well as several trips to the vet for immunizations and other medical needs. In contrast, middle-aged dogs already show their temperaments, are already house-trained, and should need only yearly or bi-yearly trips to the vet. Older dogs are generally calmer, and adopting an older dog is often the best choice for older humans as well.
The "best" breed for you depends on your lifestyle, and every breed has both "good" and "bad" dogs. All of us want healthy dogs, and most older adults seek pets with calm temperaments that like to be petted. Beyond those basic criteria, would a large or medium dog fit in your dwelling, or are you particularly looking for a small dog, one that is easy to transport? Do you want a dog who will keep you active with a daily walk, or one that will be happiest when sitting by you most of the time? Do you want a dog that does not shed? Do you want a companion that will be with you most of the time? Are you looking more for a watchdog friend or merely a cuddly one? Do you have young grandchildren who love to visit but who are not always gentle? Among the many dog breeds recommended for seniors, each of the following are suitable for some, but not all, older adults. Each breed has its advocates!
Breeds such as those listed above can be a great fit for older owners, and purebreds can be predictable in nature and temperament. Once they outlive their prime time in the show ring, well-trained purebred adult show dogs are often available at low price. Of course mixed-breed dogs often become the best pets. Adult dogs, purebred and otherwise, might be obtained from people who have to give them up for reasons such as military transfers. Perhaps the most common source of dogs of any age is your local animal shelter. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States every year. Adopting shelter dogs generally costs substantially less. Often the cost of spaying/neutering, first vaccinations, and sometimes even microchipping is included in the adoption cost. Local sources of pet adoptions in the Pensacola area include the Pensacola Humane Society, the Escambia County Animal Shelter, and the Hotel for Dogs and Cats.
However your new companion comes into your life, there are several places around Pensacola to hang out together including these dog-friendly places:
Pensacola also has several canine-friendly events each year. Coming soon, Gulf Coast Healthcare's 5th Annual A Bark to Remember will take place on Saturday, April 1 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park. This event raises funds and awareness for the local Alzheimer's Association and emphasizes ending the disease through the love of dogs. In addition, the Pensacola Humane Society will be hosting their Paws on Palafox 3K Dog Walk on Saturday, May 6. This event raises funds to help provide low-cost or no-cost spay and neuter surgery to thousands of pets in Pensacola.
While dogs have been the focus of this article, let's not forget about cats and kittens in your quest to find a furry friend. Cats tend to require less maintenance than dogs because they are more independent and they also bathe themselves. They are generally smaller and eat less. You won' t need to housebreak them; just set up a litter box and they figure out how to use it naturally. Cats are also beneficial around the house to capture or at least scare away many critters including rodents and insects.
Furry companions offer many benefits, especially later in our lives. A furry friend in your house can improve your health both mentally and physically. The dogs featured with this article are up for adoption at the Pensacola Humane Society.
Though the golden years are full of travel, philanthropy and fun for many older adults, this era of life can present a challenge for those who either did not plan appropriately for their retirement or find themselves beset with physical and mental obstacles while having no one to assist them. A growing subset of the senior population - as much as 22 percent of those 65 and older - is increasingly vulnerable to the otherwise routine aspects of aging because, simply put, there is no one in their life to help them. Their parents and siblings have passed, they never married and therefore have no children, and many of their friends are too far removed or unreachable. This population, known as elder orphans, is a silent, growing problem afflicting many of our nation's elderly.
Elder orphans find themselves in this predicament due largely to circumstance rather than choice, according to the 2016 report "Elderly Orphans Hiding in Plain Sight." Many of these individuals have been perfectly independent throughout their lives and have not needed outside assistance. "As they age and decline, however," the report states, "they realize, often too late, that they can no longer complete many of the tasks they were previously able to do."
Suddenly, and frequently without much warning, elder orphans find themselves stranded - socially, physically, mentally - and unable to access the preventative care they once took for granted. This leads to serious health problems and concerns, which often burdens the individual with unexpected healthcare costs, leading to a downward cycle from which there may realistically be no escape.
Being an elder orphan can have dire social and mental consequences, as well. With decreased social interaction due to the inability to access transportation, seniors can suffer loneliness and isolation, crucial risk factors for medical complications and mortality. The safety and livelihood of these people are threatened, and without mitigating efforts, could become worse if population trends continue. Seniors without a care network also face legal and estate challenges, since many adults depend on their children to help tend to financial affairs and navigate legal questions. Affordable housing is also hard to come by. Even mobile homes may become unaffordable as their money is tied up with other more pressing expenses, such as food and medicine. Foreclosure and homelessness is a rare but real problem.
Finally, transportation is a necessity of both city and country life, one that many of us take for granted but one that can be prohibitively expensive or turn a simple doctor's visit into a full-day affair.
With no family and few friends, it is incumbent upon us, the community, to rescue these elder orphans from an unfortunate experience during what should be the best years of one's life. Experts recommend reaching out to those who we feel may be isolated and vulnerable and attempting to interact with them. Asking simple questions like, "Have you fallen in the last six months?" or "How much medicine do you take?" can be helpful when contacting a social services agency, such as Council on Aging, on their behalf. Offering to take them to church, doctor's appointments and community events can also go a long way toward helping them. Researchers say that developing a rotation schedule with neighbors can lighten the load on individuals in the community.
It is crucial, according to the literature, to reach elder orphans before complete loss of cognitive and physical functions or admission into acute care facilities. "Early identification of these at-risk individuals allows for care plans that can better meet the needs of the elder orphan," the report states.
For those who are truly concerned about a neighbor or acquaintance, consider becoming their health care advocate. Prepare a medical summary of their conditions, allergies, a list of medications and dosages, etc.; offer to accompany them to the doctor and ensure they fully understand diagnoses and treatment options; take notes of any concerning behavior and tell their primary care provider about it; offer to make meals or clean their home in exchange for a small fee, or if you prefer, reach out to service providers who may be able to offer a meal delivery services and transportation from public funds.
Obviously, not everyone can commit to several hours a week of free or even paid work or vigilance. That is why it is so imperative to identify these individuals before their condition deteriorates. If you know someone, or know someone who knows someone who is without parents, a spouse or children, make them aware of the many services available to them should they ever become unable to care for themselves. Encourage them to make an emergency contact sheet with people who are willing to do small tasks for them. By working together, we can alleviate the coming concerns associated with elder orphans and help ensure that their golden years are just that.
After a 12-day hospital stay, followed by two separate stints in The Haven of Our Lady Peace nursing home, Sherry Burton knew that her mother, Marie Wombles, needed better long-term help. Marie is legally blind, has trouble hearing, and has also had several recent episodes involving blood clots. She would sometimes have trouble maintaining her balance, and as a result would fall and sustain injuries that required medical care or hospitalization. She simply could not be left alone. What was a daughter to do?
Enter Council on Aging of West Florida's Senior Companions program, which enlisted long-time volunteer Rose Cook to provide support and help to the struggling family. Rose first became interested in senior care when she and her sister began helping their mother in her old age. After she passed, Rose went to work at a nursing home where she discovered her passion for helping our community's elderly. Rose has been involved with Senior Companions for three years now and has had as many clients.
Early in 2017, Senior Companion Supervisor Janice McGrew accompanied Rose to meet Marie.
"It was love at first sight," said Rose. "I felt an instant connection. I now work with Marie in her house five hours a day, five days a week."
Rose not only provides friendship and a listening ear; she also helps make meals, does laundry, keeps Marie's room clean, and whatever else the grateful client wishes.
"I wouldn't trade her for the world," said Marie. "She is an absolute angel. She is precious and kind-hearted."
Rose has fit in well with the rest of the family, too, including Sherry.
"The only problem with Rose is that she spoils momma," said Sherry. "I'm just kidding of course. I can joke like that because we all get along so well."
Marie said that her various medical conditions will likely be with her the rest of her life. Some days and some months are better than others, as problems tend to flare up and then subside.
"Rose is there with me through it all," said Marie. "This is a lifetime thing for me, and I hope Rose is too."
On a typical weekday morning, Rose and Marie can be seen chatting in their living, watching The Price is Right.
"She can hear or see it too well, so I narrate it for her," said Rose. "I love being here. I love making her life easy. You know, I can get up and fetch her a cup of water if she needs it in just a few seconds; it might take her several minutes to do. I can just do things a little more efficiently so she can relax."
Rose's service provides a welcome respite to Sherry, too, who used to have to watch over her mother 24/7.
"The other day I was able to get out of the house, do some shopping, grab something to eat, and I never doubted that momma was in good hands," said Sherry. "Rose has helped us all. She deserves an award."
Want to be more involved in the community, make friends, stay busy and go to bed knowing that you did something good? Few activities help as many people while enriching our own personal lives as volunteering. The best part is that you don't need to sacrifice a lot of time or even do something you do not particularly enjoy: Council on Aging of West Florida has a range of service outlets available for almost every time availability, many of which involve pursuits that fit nicely into whatever your existing hobby or interest may be.
Our clients are in need of everything from social interaction and food delivery to yard work, home maintenance and more. Enjoy meeting new people and learning? You may be great for The Retreat, where senior citizens are eager to chat and play with newcomers while sharing the wisdom of yesteryear. Or maybe you prefer to work with your hands? Our ramp team or yard maintenance team could use just a few hours of your time.
It is not just our clients who will thank you: research shows the volunteers themselves gain confidence, learn new skills, and report healthier, more consistent joy than those who do not give back in some way.
"Our volunteers are our partners, meeting the needs of our clients by preventing isolation and improving their quality of life," said Volunteer Program Manager Tricia Dixon. "Helping a senior increases socialization for both the senior and the volunteer. It impacts the community by bringing awareness to our elderly population by providing services such as Meal on Wheels delivery, friendly visitors and yard services."
Regardless of how you choose to apply yourself, Council on Aging depends on volunteers to help us serve our diverse and growing senior population. We need volunteers of all ages who are willing to give of their time, experience and skills to help us carry out our mission.
For more information on volunteering, call Tricia Dixon at (850) 432-1475.
Participating in Fundraising Initiatives - We need assistance with fundraising. Organizing special events, soliciting sponsorships, and staffing events are important roles you can play.
Haydee Seda: "I enjoy just talking to the clients. I click with them. Helping the staff, playing dominoes, improving their quality of life, making them happy - it's just a part of my life now. I relate to them and they relate to me. Volunteering at The Retreat has become like home to me."
Desiree Brantley: "I enjoy volunteering my services on my day off. It really is non-stop fun. Eldercare has been a passion of mine since my grandmother taught me the value of service. I want to carry her legacy forward in a continuous cycle of service that should really never end."
James Brown / Dan Krueger: "We've been building ramps for about 10 years. We come from a lot of different professions, but we're all neighbors helping neighbors. It's enjoyable to get in a group and help those who need it. There's nothing like a person looking up at you with freedom in their eyes. When we're done, they gain some independence. They can go out to the garden, and you can tell they're very grateful for the opportunity we've given them."
Bill Wein: "Volunteering to deliver Christmas gifts for Council on Aging has become an annual event at IMS ExpertServices that we look forward to. We deliver 120 or so gifts to those who are shut in, those who need someone to talk to, and those who need someone to make their day or season better. I am consistently humbled by how my team steps up and participates in this wonderful experience. Some of them even make friends."
The annual Rat Pack Reunion fundraiser, hosted by Council on Aging of West Florida to raise money and awareness for senior programs in the area, will take place Oct. 27, 2017 at 5:30 pm at New World Landing. At the event, four local leaders will be recognized for their service to the community. They are:
Marianne started volunteering with the American Cancer Society by assisting with the Cattle Barons Ball. Following guidance that, "Much is required from the person to whom much is given. Much more is required from the person to whom much more is given," Marianne currently serves as a board member for the PACE Center for Girls and the Arc Gateway. In addition, last year she became involved with Fiesta.
Nels attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison before moving to Gulf Breeze in 2000. He built and operates three local movie theatre complexes in Gulf Breeze, Pace, and Crestview. He was a member of the 2010 Mayoki Indians and the 2016 Court of Fiesta. He also serves as a board member for the Panhandle Charitable Open.
John has served as a Financial Advisor for Edward Jones in Pensacola, Fla. since 1995. Prior to this, he also worked as a consultant to the US Department of Energy and served in the US Navy Nuclear Program. He is the President of the Panhandle Charitable Open Golf Tournament and a board member for the Edward Jones Grassroots Task Force, Council on Aging of West Florida, Autism Pensacola, Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, UWF Foundation, WSRE Foundation Board, Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce, Five Flags Rotary, and the Downtown Improvement Board.
Roger began his career with Wendy's in 1970 when Dave Thomas hired him as a part-time employee when Dave opened his third restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, Roger owns the Wendco Group, which has a total of 43 Wendy's restaurants and employs a staff of over 1,200 people in Northwest Florida and South Alabama.
Now in its seventh year, the Rat Pack Reunion pays homage to the glamorous Hollywood styles of yesteryear by honoring Pensacola's own celebrities with a gentle roast, auction, dancing, dinner and more. As men sport their skinniest ties and women show off their most dazzling gowns, hundreds of individuals gather to raise funds and awareness for Council on Aging of West Florida. To date, the event has raised close to a million dollars for services like Meals on Wheels, The Retreat Adult Day Health Care Center and more programs that aging adults in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties depend upon.
To purchase tickets, sponsor Rat Pack Reunion, or for information on the event, visit coawfla.org/ratpackreunion.
At 95 years old, Syble Lee can't get around like she used to. A hearing problem and some other illnesses have made common undertakings like preparing meals, walking and doing dishes more difficult than they used to be. Add to that the fact that her daughter, Dorothy Griffiths, has to sometimes be gone for large portions of the day, and you can see that Syble needs help.
That is where Council on Aging of West Florida's Senior Companion program comes in. Eva Cook has been a Senior Companion since September of 2016 and, as she is assigned to Syble, has been the saving grace Syble and her daughter have needed.
"Some relatives of mine have participated in some of Council on Aging's services and they told me I should give them a call," said Dorothy. "I did, and it wasn't long until my mom was paired with Ms. Cook, who has just been a delight. She's part of the family."
Eva helps do the dishes, prepare meals, and socialize with Syble. The relationship has grown from one of caregiving to a genuine friendship with mutual benefits.
"I love talking about the good old days," said Eva. "We have a good rapport and I really do feel like part of the family. I used to work with children, building relationships with them and helping them however they need. I just enjoy helping people."
According to Dorothy, Syble has long had trust issues and was worried about being left with a relative stranger. Those fears have long since been put to ease, though, as Syble has now come to depend on Eva.
"We have a lot in common," said Syble. "I love when she makes me breakfast. She helps with whatever I need."
Dorothy even reported that her mother will fall asleep when it is just her and Eva in the house - a sign of trust and confidence in her Senior Companion's abilities and concern for her new friend.
Dorothy also said that Eva is the relief that she sometimes needs, being that she is the only immediate family that lives nearby.
"Some members of my family aren't the most dependable," said Dorothy. "I don't want to reach out to them for help, but sometimes I need a break. Before Eva, I was honestly considering having to put my mother in a home. Thank goodness for Eva. It is a match made in heaven."
The three routinely go to doctors' appointments and complete other errands together. Thanks to the Senior Companion program, Syble is able to continue living with family, in a home, and enjoys many of the amenities of life that become limited in an institutional setting. By committing just about 20 hours a week to conversing with and helping Syble, Eva has made a world of difference
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 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.
Summer 2017 - 6/13/2017
Coming of Age Summer 2017
About Us •
(c) 2017 Council on Aging of West Florida
P.O. Box 17066, Pensacola, FL 32522 | 850-432-1475
United Way Partner Agency
Council on Aging of West Florida is
compliant with the Better Business Bureau's
Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability
Learn more at www.bbb.org