Senior Citizens

BG Arts Council seeks submissions for older artists for 50+ Shades of Grey show

From BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL Bowling Green Arts Council is proud to announce 50+ Shades of Grey, an exhibit that will feature the work of artists who are 50 years of age or older. The show will occur February 22rd through March 28th, 2019 at the Wood County Senior Center, 305 N. Main Street, BG. All artists may submit up to two original works of art in any two-dimensional medium.  Members of Bowling Green Arts Council may submit up to three works. The entry fee for the show is $20 and the deadline for submission is February 5, 2019.  For more information regarding this exhibit and the application and payment process, please consult the BG Arts Council website at, or you may obtain an entry form at the Senior Center. An opening reception at the Senior Center with refreshments and entertainment will be held from 5-7 pm on Friday, February 22. Guests will be able to vote for a People’s Choice Award to be announced at 6:30. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate courtesy of The Art Supply Depo.  50+ Shades of Grey is sponsored by the BG Arts Council and the Wood County Committee on Aging.

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Wood County home health services for seniors cut

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For decades, Wood County Job and Family Services has provided in-home care for low-income old and infirm residents. The value of those personal care and homemaker services was extolled last year as the agency promoted its tax levy. The levy passed handily. But now, months later, the agency is drastically cutting these services to older county citizens. The purpose of the programs is to allow senior citizens to stay in their homes. The homemaker services provide cleaning for seniors unable to maintain a safe home. There were approximately 140 people in this program. The personal care program provides bathing, nail care and medication set-ups to another 75 citizens. “The programs are a safety net diverting people from institutions,” said Denise Niese, director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. Many of the people being removed from services by Wood County Job and Family Services are citizens also served by Niese’s agency. “They are feeling abandoned,” Niese said. Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Job and Family Services, agreed the letters sent out to seniors have raised concerns. “We’ve got some frustrated people,” he said. Wigent said the cutting of the services months after passage of the levy was unfortunate timing. But when his agency did a review of services in late November, it was discovered that Job and Family Services was getting reimbursed by the federal government for a small fraction of the cost of the program. “Not only is it not mandated, it’s not funded,” Wigent said of the senior programs. In 2017, the agency spent $900,000 on the homemaker program with its six employees, he said. At the same time, an evaluation showed that the bulk of the people receiving the non-mandated services had other options for the same care. “We came to the realization we had a lot of people in the program who could take care of themselves, or had the resources to take care of themselves,” he said. “We had some people we were cleaning their homes for 10 years,” Wigent said. “We just kept continuing it through the years because we thought it was a nice program.” However, demands on Job and Family Services funding intensified last year for abused and neglected children and older adults. The agency has to prioritize those mandated services, Wigent said. The number of cases in Adult Protective Services last year hit a record high 338 – 78 more than the year before. “We’ve had an explosion of elder abuse reports,” he said. “My suspicion is that we will never see a reduction in the numbers.” At the same time, the number of child abuse and neglect cases continues to increase. The cost for foster care last year jumped by $700,000, Wigent said. “If that doesn’t level off, we’re going to be in a crisis.” But…

State grants $1.6 million for new senior center in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The news was worth a brief delay in the country fried steak as the lunch hour approached Monday at the Wood County Senior Center. “We’re smart enough to know to not get in the way of lunch,” State Senator Randy Gardner said to the seniors as he made the big announcement. The new senior center in Bowling Green will be getting $1.6 million from the state, secured by Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green. That amount is the largest state capital bill grant awarded in Bowling Green since at least 1992, Gardner said. “Wood County does a lot of things well. This is one of the hallmarks of Wood County,” Gardner said about the county’s senior agency. “This is one of the best organizations in the entire county.” “I am so thrilled to be in a position to work for you this way,” Gavarone told the seniors gathered for lunch. “It’s going t be a tremendous benefit to all of Wood County.” Other community projects in Bowling Green are also in line for capital bill funding. The Cocoon Shelter will receive $375,000 to help protect women and children from the dangers of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Two years ago, the Cocoon was given an $800,000 grant, adding up to $1.175 million in the last two capital budgets. The BGSU Forensic Program will be getting a $200,000 grant to help enhance the BCII Crime Lab’s forensic academic programs. The announcement of the senior center funding will help move along the proposed construction of the new facility in Bowling Green. “We are very, very excited,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. Last year, the City of Bowling Green gave 2.35 acres at 140 S. Grove St., to the Committee on Aging for a new building. The seniors had outgrown the existing building – which was considered state-of-the-art when the agency first moved in more than 35 years ago. After the land had been given to the Committee on Aging, the board set a stipulation that ground can’t be broken until the board has secured at least two-thirds of the dollars needed. At that point, Niese predicted it will be a three- to five-year process to complete a new senior center. But Monday’s announcement of the state funding has moved up the timeline, Niese said. “This moves us forward,” she said. “I would like to break ground a year from now.” Ben Batey, president of the Wood County Committee on Aging Board, said the total projected cost for the new senior center will be $4 million. “There’s still work to be done on a capital campaign,” he said. The goal is for that campaign to bring in between $800,000 and $1 million during the next eight months. The committee will…

Senior center to open as ‘warming center’ Saturday

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After driving slick roads to deliver hot lunches to local seniors, Denise Niese found herself Thursday evening at Gordon Foods stocking up for some unscheduled guests this weekend. For the first time in 17 years, Niese, director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, is preparing to open the Wood County Senior Center as a warming station for local senior citizens on the weekend. “It’s the first time that I’ve been here that it’s been this cold for this long,” Niese said after she wrapped up her grocery shopping. The senior center, at 305 N. Main St., Bowling Green, has been opened in the past as a cooling center in the summers when the heat index reaches 100 or above. But when Niese returned from delivering meals on Thursday, she was approached by several people at the senior center about opening the facility up on Saturday as a warming station. The center is normally closed on the weekends. Niese agreed and went a step further. “I asked them what they wanted for lunch,” she said. So after work, she was at the grocery getting ingredients for stuffed pepper soup, “real potato soup,” grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. “I’ll be peeling potatoes tomorrow,” Niese said. She has no idea how many seniors to expect. “I am planning for 50.” Normal lunch time at the senior center on weekdays draws about 85 people in search of a hot meal, conversation and maybe a game of cards. The weather this week cut that number to about 60 each day. The senior center also delivers approximately 550 meals a day to seniors’ homes throughout the county. “We’ll get all the meals out this week,” Niese said. While the staff delivers the meals, they also make sure the seniors have their “shelf meals” that were dispersed this fall, and can be eaten if the power goes out. They also make sure there are a couple frozen meals that can be warmed up in the microwave or oven just in case the daily meals can’t be delivered. As the senior center deals with the challenges of the cold weather, it is also facing a double whammy of staff illnesses. “I had nine people off today with the flu,” Niese said. That means Niese got behind the wheel to drive a route of 38 home meal deliveries in the northwest section of the county, from Cogan’s Landing on the edge of Bowling Green to Grand Rapids. “The 2 ½ hour route took me 3 ½ hours,” she said. And she only got the vehicle stuck once, while backing out of a driveway. Just as she went off the roadway, a pickup truck came along and the driver had a chain to pull her vehicle out. “People are so generous,” she said. The…

Do’s & don’ts of talking with loved ones with dementia

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The room was crowded with people desperately seeking ways to connect with loved ones who have dementia. The secret, the speaker said, is to stop expecting people with dementia to be who they used to be. Belinda Cytlak, a memory care consultant with Waugh Consulting, recently presented a program at Wood Haven Health Care on how to communicate with people who have dementia. When Cytlak asked how many in the audience know someone with dementia, every person raised a hand. “The family and friends have the toughest time,” she said. Cytlak spoke from experience, with her mother having dementia. “The hardest thing was to give up who my mom was,” she said. That doesn’t mean giving up on loved ones, but just changing expectations of them. It can be difficult for family members or friends to realize that today’s lunch is no longer a safe topic of conversation. “Anyone who has dementia has a problem with short-term memory,” Cytlak said. So the typical questions about lunch or recent visitors can make a person with dementia feel frustrated or like a failure, she said. “We put that person with dementia in a position where they know they don’t know – and they don’t want to fail,” Cytlak said. Above all, she said, don’t dispute facts with a person with dementia. “My mom used to say her big brother just came to visit. He’s been gone for eight years,” Cytlak said. But it was futile to say “No Mom, your brother wasn’t here.” Trying to use logic is not helpful. In fact, reasoning often causes a conversation to “spiral out of control.” If a loved one with dementia gets agitated or angry over their lack of short-term memory, Cytlak suggested trying to redirect them. Family and friends should come up with “conversation starters,” that can bring back pleasant memories. Cytlak recommended that loved ones try to “live in their world.” Her mom loved cooking, so talking about recipes was a topic enjoyable to both of them. Pay attention to the person’s senses, she advised. What do they like to smell – molasses cookies, certain flowers? What was a favorite food – candy, pie, beer? Did they prefer Frank Sinatra or Glenn Miller? Don’t forget the sense of touch that can bring back memories – with pets, or fabrics such as lace. And old photos or adult coloring books can prompt good conversations. “Give them a tool of how to get into their long-term memory,” Cytlak said. And avoid questions all together if those cause stress. Instead of saying, “do you remember our first puppy?” try saying, “I was thinking about that dog we had….” “So they don’t have to feel bad about not knowing an answer,” she said. Let people with dementia be helpful – many still feel that…

BGSU students help senior bridge the digital divide

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kate Magsamen-Conrad was inspired to create the course to help teach seniors about technology before she arrived on the Bowling Green State University campus. During the period of transition before starting to teach at BGSU she was home in the New York area. Given that she teaches media and communication, she was called upon to help her grandmother learn about the laptop that she’d gotten a year before and hadn’t touched. “It was really terrible,” Magsamen-Conrad said of the experience. She realized all the knowledge and technical savvy that’s a given when learning to use these devices.  “I can’t even think about all the different steps to do things.” Technology is everywhere, from the supermarket to the parking lot, and there’s so much potential for it to benefit elders. “But it’s underutilized … because they haven’t grown up with it and don’t have the familiarity.” So in spring 2013 the class was launched in collaboration with the Wood County Committee on Aging and the Wood County District Public Library. The class links elders with students from small group communication and a research methods classes. Earlier this month the most recent class graduated. Magsamen-Conrad said the class gives students a way to contribute to the community and put their learning to use in a way that matters. “This is a real human being who is going to benefit from your preparation for this assignment. I don’t think there’s a better way to improve presentation and professional skills.” Each class has about 30 seniors in it, though one class had about 60, she said. Many take the class several times, building on their knowledge. Jo Zbiegien, of Fostoria, said it was the fourth time she’s taken the course. “I got so frustrated not being able to find anything I wanted to find on my cell,” she said. Then her husband got her an iPad, and all she could figure out to do was play a few games and get text messages. Now the course has expanded her abilities.  Zbiegien has learned about the capabilities of Google and how to use GPS. That’s important, she said, because she drives a lot, and her phone is essential in case she ever needs help while on the road. She plans to take the class again to try to figure out how to transfer all her contacts from her Android phone to the iPad. Pam Ruffner said the course “was awesome because the students are caring and informational.” She said she got an iPad a few years ago and needed help learning about its capabilities. “I’m not one that just goes and experiments by myself.” She was most pleased with learning about iCloud and how to download music. The graduation was held in the Michael and Sara Kuhlin Center, the home of the School of Media and Communication….

County voters support child, elder protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters responded to the increasing numbers of child abuse and neglect in Wood County by passing the 1.3-mill renewal levy for Human Services on Tuesday. The Wood County Human Services levy passed with nearly 68 percent of the votes (19,126 to 9,151.) That wide margin of approval was welcome news to Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. “I think that people understand that child protection and protection of the elderly is very important,” Carsey said. “Wood County has always been very supportive,” she added. Since the levy was last passed 10 years ago, Wood County has seen six deaths of children under 3 years old due to abuse. Five suffered from head trauma, and one was smothered. There are no plans to use the levy funding to add staff. A pressing need is to provide safe placements for children removed from their homes. “The number of kids in care has gone up drastically,” Carsey said. Wood County is on its way to setting a record for 2017, as the numbers of child abuse and neglect cases continue to grow. Since 1987, the Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services portions of the agency have relied on the 1.3 mills to support their work. The 10-year levy generates $3.7 million a year, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $36 a year. The funding provides for child abuse and neglect investigations and, if needed, placement of children in foster homes or other settings. The levy also supports elder services, such as home health aides, homemaker services and investigations of elder abuse and neglect. The needs of the protective services at both ends of the age spectrum continue to increase. Following are the statistics for 2016: 894 child abuse investigations. 260 elder abuse investigations. 212 of the child abuse investigations involved drugs. 142 of the investigations were child sexual abuse investigations. 59 children were placed in substitute care such as foster care or group homes. And the numbers look even worse for 2017. The reasons may be two-fold, Carsey said. In recent years, the opiate crisis has led to more cases, and there has been a real push for the public to report abuse and neglect concerns. “Last year in September, we had 35 children in foster care. This year we have 50,” Carsey said, adding that her office is currently trying to recruit more foster families. Meanwhile, the number of elder abuse and neglect cases is expected to pass 300 this year, she added. “We appreciate the county’s support,” Carsey said.