Wood County Senior Center

Niese awarded for meeting changing needs of seniors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Old age is not the equivalent of being obsolete, according to Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. That attitude led Niese to her career in gerontology. “I always enjoyed the population,” Niese said. “This is back when people didn’t know how to spell gerontology – let alone have degrees in it.” That attitude has now led Niese to an award from the Ohio Association of Senior Citizens named after a predecessor in her profession – Muriel Bertsch. “She was an amazing woman,” Niese said of Bertsch, the founder of the first senior center in Ohio in 1954. The facility – called Partners in Prime – is still in existence. Bertsch also was instrumental in passage of the Older Americans Act in 1965. “She advocated for seniors,” Niese said. “She was a community organizer before community organizing was a vocation.” And now Niese has received an award for following in Bertsch’s footsteps. “We would like to honor you for all you have done to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable persons, including our senior citizens,” the Ohio Association of Senior Citizens wrote to Niese. Niese took over as director of the Wood County Senior Center in 2005. She not only enjoys the population she serves, but also the administration and policies involved. “That reinforces why you are doing what you do,” she said. “Our constituents are apt to let us know if we’re not doing it right.” The needs of seniors have changed just in the time Niese has been in the profession. The population is growing, and the changes in health insurance often send seniors home from the hospital when they still have significant needs. So there is more demand for medical services and physical accommodations in seniors’ homes. Many seniors are more willing to have assessments done to make sure they stay mentally sharp. Many more are staying home longer, so they need home-delivered meals. Programming has to meet a broad swath of needs – from exercises for 50-year-olds, to meals for those over age 100. “It’s a wider spectrum in age than we’ve ever programmed for in the past,” Niese said. Niese has advocated for that range of programming – and for a new senior center in Bowling Green to meet those needs. The center, which could open in 2020, will include more room for activities like bridge, shuffleboard, tai chi, yoga, painting and a writing club.  There will also be respite care for people with dementia, and a “memory café.” “Today’s seniors are very different from when I started,” she said. And Niese intends to keep advocating for their needs as they continue to change.

Workshop to address “Treating Pain Responsibly,” May 30

Submitted by BG MANOR “Treating Pain Responsibly,”  free event will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 4:30-7:15 at the Wood County Senior Center, at 305 N. Main Street, Bowling Green. The free event will feature dinner at 5:30 p.m and presentations beginning at 4:30 p.m. from Dr. Nancy Orel, Emeritus Professor at BGSU, Dr. Jeff Swartz, physician at Falcon Health Center, Dr. Mickey Frame, Chiropractor at Whole Health at Falcon Health Center, Lon Muir, pharmacist at Falcon Health Center and Stephanie Wise from Zepf Center. Dr. Nancy Orel will be presenting from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on “The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Older Adults” Her presentation will start with an overview of how the opioid crisis impacts older adults.  She will discuss more than just the increasing rate of opioid overdose deaths amongst older adults. Instead, she will include discussion on how opioids for chronic pain may be more difficult to obtain (due to recent policy), the problems with misusing opioids, how to safely disposal of unused opioids, and how grandparents are being asked to raise their grandchildren because of the opioid crisis. She will also discuss the economic and emotional toll of the opioid crisis. Dr. Swartz, Dr. Frame and Lon Muir will be presenting from 6-7 p.m. on the “Whole Health Approach.” Stephanie Wise from the Zepf Center will be doing a Narcan training/distribution from 7-7:15 p.m. The event is sponsored by Bowling Green Care Center and Bowling Green Manor, for more information, contact Jeff Miller at 419-351-6514.

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…

Older artists invited to submit work for 50+ Shades of Grey exhibit

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 23rd through March 28th, 2018 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, 2018.  For more information regarding this exhibit and the application and payment process, please consult the BG Arts Council website at www.bgartscouncil.com, 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 23. Guests will be able to vote for a People’s Choice Award to be announced at 6:45. 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.

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 get “shelf meals” in case of bad winter weather

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like squirrels putting away nuts for the winter, food is being boxed for seniors throughout Wood County. About 850 “shelf meals” were packed up recently at the Wood County Senior Center. The boxes will be delivered to the seniors who receive home delivered meals from the Wood County Committee on Aging. The goal is to make sure the seniors have food available in case inclement weather makes it impossible for the home delivered meals to make it to them. “If those individuals can’t get out of their house, and we can’t get to them because of the weather,” explained Angie Bradford, director of food services at the senior center. “It’s those extra two meals if we can’t get to them.” The Wood County Committee on Aging used to hand out pre-packed shelf meals, but found the quality lacking. Some of the food was not intended for long-term storage, Bradford said. Such was the case with canned pears one year. “They all exploded in my storeroom,” she said. So now the volunteers pack the boxes themselves. Bradford enlisted the help of people served by Wood County Developmental Disabilities to pack up the boxes. One can of beef stew, two peanut butter packets, powdered milk, corn, green beans, peaches and more. “It’s been a great partnership,” Bradford said. Those packing the boxes enjoy the work, she said. “Phyllis was asking about it in August.” As she packed cans in the boxes, Phyllis Layman explained her motivation. “I like helping people.” Tricia Romero agreed. “We want to be able to give back to the community.”

Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging considering Kenwood Elementary School for a senior center, since the school district is planning to build a new centralized elementary school. Niese said the city is giving the land to the committee on aging, and the committee will have an environmental study completed before accepting the deed. “The city has offered,” she said. “We’re still in a planning process. We are still in the very beginning planning stages.” However, the idea of having a building designed specifically for seniors is pretty attractive. For more than 35 years, the senior center has been housed in the historic post office on North Main Street. A new building offers the hope of a reliable elevator, ample free parking with at least 87 spaces, and plenty of space so yoga classes don’t have to be held in the same room as seniors are getting help preparing their taxes. The preliminary plans call for the new senior center to be two stories, with 25,000 square feet. That compares to the current center size of 14,500 square feet. An overlay of the a two-story plan for the new senior center placed on top of the old central administration building  outline showed that the center would take…

Nothing old about these new senior center ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In the front room, bingo players listened as letters and numbers were called out. In the balcony area, ladies sat around a table playing cards. And in the dining room, anyone interested was plotting out the future of the senior center. “Today’s purpose is to talk about a dream,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, as she set the stage for the brainstorming session. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. For more than 35 years, the senior center has been housed in the postal service’s hand-me-down building on North Main Street. A new building offers the hope of a reliable elevator, ample free parking, and plenty of space so yoga classes don’t have to be held in the same room as seniors are getting help preparing their taxes. So on Tuesday, the first of two public input sessions was held. The next one will be June 27, at 6:30 p.m., in the senior center. The preliminary plans call for the new senior center to be two stories, with 25,000 square feet. That compares to the current center size of 14,500 square feet. Also unlike the current site, the new will have ample parking, with at least 87 spaces and none will be metered. “We’ve tried to have no preconceived notions,” said Michael Duket, who is working on the project with Jerry Voll, both from Duket Architect Planners, of Toledo. Other sites in Bowling Green had been considered for a new senior center, like attached to the community center, The Pharm, Enterprise Street by the county building, or next to the congregate kitchen on East Gypsy Lane Road. But all had some deficiency – in space, parking area, lighting, distance from downtown, or the cost. Lyn Long, at the brainstorming session, suggested that Kenwood or Conneaut elementary buildings be considered since the school district is planning to demolish them and build a centralized elementary. But Eric Myers said the school district has struggled to maintain those buildings for years. An overlay of the a two-story plan for the new senior center placed on top of the old central administration building  outline showed that the center would take up less than half the space of the school building. A land trade between the city and First Presbyterian Church, created an L-shape lot and gave the center plenty of space for parking. The preliminary plan shows three entrances off South Grove Street to the center site, and one pedestrian walkway from Buttonwood….

BG offers senior center land so old site can be retired

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Wood County Senior Center is being retired. In front of a packed room of seniors waiting for lunch, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards announced Thursday that the city has plans to give the Wood County Committee on Aging some land for a new home – the old school central administration property at 140 S. Grove St. The announcement was welcomed among those who use the senior center on a daily basis. “It’s about time,” said Mary Hansen, of Bowling Green. She and Virginia Combs quickly listed off all the deficiencies they have noticed at the current senior center which is over a century old. Too many stairs, not enough parking, poor heating and cooling topped the list. “It gets hot and then it gets cold. We always layer up,” Hansen said. And then there’s the unreliable elevator. “It makes noises when it does go,” she added. The news was also welcomed by Herb Hoover, Bowling Green, who frequents the senior center for lunch and card games. “My wife and I come here five days a week for lunch,” Hoover, 89, said. “It really breaks up the day.” The gifting of the land for a new senior center may also help the city solve its own building dilemma. For years, city officials have talked about cramped conditions at the city administration building which is located directly to the west of the senior center, which the city owns. The senior center moving to South Grove Street would free up space for a new city building in the area currently shared by the senior center and the city building. One problem in the plan may be the fact that the current senior center is on the National Registry of Historical Places. So it is unclear exactly what can be done to the structure. The building, constructed in 1913, was formerly the city’s post office. In 1981, it became a “state-of-the-art” senior center. “As a community, we’ve witnessed countless individuals benefit from the services provided at this facility,” the mayor said, mentioning the thousands of meals served at the site. “We are so fortunate to have the Wood County Committee on Aging as part of our community and applaud your work in providing seniors throughout Wood County the resources needed to maintain independence and enjoy this season of their lives.” But over the years, the building’s age has gotten in the way of its goal to serve the aging. When Edwards stops by for lunch, the shortcomings are often pointed out to him, he said Thursday as he glanced up at the water stains in the dining room ceiling. Retrofitting the site for ADA standards continues to be challenging, the “old and tired elevator is a maintenance nightmare,” the chiller is a six-figure item…

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…