senior citizens

Citizens pledge to protect seniors from abuse, neglect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As local residents joined in the “Pause for the Pledge” of Allegiance on Thursday morning, they also pledged to protect vulnerable senior citizens from elder abuse. Last year in Wood County, 338 cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation were investigated. That number had jumped from 260 cases the year before. “No senior citizen should ever have to be worried about theft or abuse,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said during a program outside the Wood County Senior Center. Marc Briseno, supervisor of adult protective services in Wood County, said the number of elder abuse cases in the county continue to rise – probably due to the growing older population and the awareness being spread. The number for people to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation is 419-354-9669. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw talked about the overall impact of elder abuse – with approximately 5 million cases investigated every year nationally. These are “valued members of our community,” she said. Dobson referred to senior citizens as “precious gifts.” “Everything that we have today is because of someone who came before us,” he said. It is up to members of the community to be aware of elder abuse and neglect, and to report concerns so the prosecutor’s office can do its job to protect older residents, Dobson said. “We in law enforcement will continue to defend our senior citizens,” he said. State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, commended Dobson for his efforts, and recognized Wood County Committee on Aging Executive Director Denise Niese for her recent state award for serving seniors. Gardner and Gavarone mentioned the $1.6 million in state capital funds that will be put toward a new senior center in Bowling Green. And Niese recognized the support of the community and elected officials in serving seniors. It takes a “team effort,” she said, to serve “the most vulnerable population.” Following is a list from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services on what is considered elder abuse: Neglect occurs when an individual’s basic needs for safety and well-being (such as medical care, adequate nutrition, socialization) are not being met. This can be through the action or inaction of the individual or another person. Exploitation is the unlawful or improper use of another person’s resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain. People who exploit older adults can range from total strangers to trusted friends and family members. Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that results in injury, pain or impairment. It includes pushing, hitting, slapping, pinching and other ways of physically harming a person. In care settings, it can also include placing an individual in incorrect positions, force feeding, restraining or giving medication without the person’s knowledge. Emotional abuse…


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…


Seniors over 90 celebrate their secrets to long lives

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The seniors got all gussied up Monday to celebrate their longevity and share more than nine decades of stories. The wall was lined with walkers as they sat around tables and caught up with old friends. “We want to celebrate the residents of Wood County who are 90-plus,” said Alisha Nenadovich, sales manager at Brookdale, as she pinned corsages onto each senior who entered. “It gives them a chance to see people they don’t normally see,” but people who they attended school or church with decades ago, Nenadovich said. This was the sixth year of the 90-plus Spectacular sponsored by several senior organizations and held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green. In many ways it was like a reunion for the 75 seniors. “Longevity is something we want to celebrate,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programs with the Wood County Committee on Aging. Two of the attendees were over the century mark. Elfreda Rusher, 100, was a business education professor at Bowling Green State University. Lucille Wood, 101, worked as a manager for United Savings. Certificates were handed out by city and county officials to each of the seniors over age 90. Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn joked that his presence was required because of two women at one table who were sweet on the same man decades ago. One ended up as his wife. “There may be a fight breaking out,” he said, smiling. “I’m here to keep the peace.” As each senior was recognized, facts about their lives were read to the crowd. Several had marriages that lasted longer than many lives. Joe and Wilma Ablett have been married 68 years, Ralph and Ethel Mae Vogtsberger have been wed 71 years. And Victor and Eileen Herringshaw recently celebrated their 73rd anniversary. Some had stories about being swept off their feet by love. Vera Roe, 93, ran off to Indiana with George to get married. They were forced by their families to get married a second time when they got back, so their families could attend. John Searle, 91, said he used to play drums and met his wife at a “lonely hearts club.” And Cloine Skelding, 96, met her husband after World War II, and dated just nine days before they got married. Many of the seniors had interesting hobbies. Shirley Gable, 92, went whitewater rafting and mountain climbing at the age of 72. Alma Adler, 90, used to pitch for her softball team and loved bowling. Ray Chapman, 91, has his name on the Almar Lanes Bowling Wall of Fame. Norah Colapietro, 92, loves puzzles, dancing and fishing. Selma Colony, 94, has fond memories of pheasant hunting with her father and brothers. Lavonne Eckert, 90, still plays organ for several organizations. Jean Eilert used to love going to Florida…


Something to chew on: Senior congregate meals serve up food and friendship

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s more than the meatloaf and lemon meringue pie that draws senior citizens to congregate meals at community centers across the nation. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the daily menu. And it’s something that many seniors can’t get their daily dosage of at home. Almost as important as the nutrition served up at senior centers is the conversation shared around the dinner tables. Robert Blancato, executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, is going across the nation doing research on the value of congregate meals for senior citizens. On Friday, he was in Bowling Green at the Wood County Senior Center for lunch with local citizens. “We know there’s a growing problem of isolation of older people,” Blancato said. So he is surveying seniors about the values of casseroles and conversations. “I’ve decided to sit with older adults and ask them myself.” Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, said much research has been done on how home-delivered meals help seniors remain independent in their own homes. “We know the value of home-delivered meals,” Niese said. But until now, no one has surveyed the value of congregate meals. As Blancato chats with seniors over chicken or lasagna, he finds a common thread in the conversation. “They use the word socialization,” he said. They talk about the opportunity to get out of the house, to volunteer, and to learn from others. On Thursday, Blancato sat down for a meal in East Cleveland and heard the same comments. “They’ve been verification of the importance of these programs.” His favorite comment came from an older woman at a center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Because we love to gossip,” she told him. “Every time I talk to older adults, they provide the proof,” Blancato said. However, while Blancato is gathering up research supporting the value of congregate dining programs, the federal government is threatening massive funding cuts. The Older Americans Act has already been lagging in funding for years, he said. “It is nowhere near enough to meet the needs.” But Blancato pointed out that the average age of seniors showing up for congregate meals is in the upper 70s, and the average age for those getting home-delivered meals is the lower 80s. The lack of the nutrition provided by those meals would result in far more people living in nursing home facilities. “Look how much this is saving Medicare and Medicaid,” he said. But the future of funding for such senior programs is unknown since Congress doesn’t have it budget ready. President Donald Trump announced this week during his speech to Congress that he plans significant increases in spending for defense and law enforcement. That means cuts elsewhere. “It’s a scary number for anybody…