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March-April 2016

The end of winter is upon us and we're looking forward to outdoor activities and some much-needed sunshine. Although as El Nino will have it, we should see more rain in March and April. It never fails that my birthday seems to be a rainy April day!
There are some wonderful hikes held throughout the Regional Parks system. If you enjoy easy hiking and exploring our local East Bay Regional Parks, check our calendar for monthly walks hosted by Park docents.

If you are interested in carpooling to a hike, members can arrange to meet at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church at the front entrance of the parking lot. (See the article below on the benefits of walking.)

As we embark on our second year of Village operations, we would love to expand our offerings with interest groups developed by members. Recently we had a successful movie night sponsored by a Board member and members have asked about Bridge groups as well as a current events discussion group. We're also planning a monthly social to celebrate members' birthdays.

If you are a Village member, call our office and we can help you connect with others interested in your idea.

Best regards, Anne
Founder Ruth McCahan reflects on our first year
one year anniversary image


As we prepare to wrap up our first year of operation, Lamorinda Village is proud to summarize our many accomplishments. Directing our day-to-day operations, we have the services of an excellent and talented Executive Director, Anne Ornelas. Anne, by the way, is our only salaried employee. Under her tutelage are five volunteers who regularly assist in the office. In addition we have more than 60 trained and certified volunteers ready to assist our members with the multitude of tasks to enable them to thrive independently in their own homes. And backing up these volunteers is our cadre of preferred service providers, to whom we can refer our members when the tasks are too complicated or large for the volunteers to manage.
 
Our office volunteers have responded to 157 member requests over the past year, and our volunteer corps has provided services ranging from computer help (7) to friendly visits (5), rides (15), handyperson services (25), organizing (1), and phone check-ins (124). We have also made 38 referrals to our screened service providers.
 
Those are the services provided to Village members. In addition, Lamorinda Village organizes and partners with others to offer a multitude of educational, social, fitness, and wellness events. We have promoted more than 100 such events in our first year. 
 
Guiding this whole operation is the Board of Directors, eleven local volunteers: Andy Amstutz, Art Haigh, Joyce Hawkins, and Jane Tiemann from Orinda; Skip Bradish, Peggy Cabaniss, and Karen Mendonca from Moraga; and Jim Carlson, Don Jenkins, Kathryn Schofield, and me, Ruth McCahan, from Lafayette.
 
We all whole-heartedly believe in this new grassroots Village concept. It is the most comprehensive and empowering option available to those who wish to remain in their own homes with confidence and self-determination -- but occasionally need some help or some added social contact.
 
 
Member Profile: Eleanor
Eleanor is proud and grateful that Lamorinda Village allows her to continue to live in the beautiful home built by her husband, Michael. "Home is a special place and there is no Member Eleanor S other place like it," said Eleanor.
 
In the 1950's Eleanor was working at a home and decorating firm when a friend introduced her to Michael, a "well-spoken" young man with a fascinating European accent. They learned that their fathers had the same job and discovered even more connections. After months of getting to know each other, Michael proposed to her on Valentine's Day.
 
Throughout their lives together Eleanor travelled and moved frequently due to her husband's job at Shell. Eleanor, Michael, and their three children experienced life in Pasadena, Chicago, Houston, Delaware, and England.
 
Eventually Michael retired from Shell and bought land in Orinda. They built a house on beautiful property that features a deck looking over the hills and a tranquil view of the reservoir. They also maintained a house in Carmel where they visited for a week every month. They went to beach festivals every summer and celebrated their 50-year anniversary in that house.

After her husband passed away, Eleanor wanted to keep everything the way he did. She just needs a little help with tasks like changing the batteries in her smoke detectors.  With the help of volunteers and other services, the Village allows Eleanor to continue living in the home where she has countless memories.
-- Alex Lauderdale, Village intern
 
 
Village Update: Our partnership with John Muir Health
Since July 2015, when the community partnership between Lamorinda Village and John Muir Health (JMH) began, Village members have enjoyed a number of educational programs presented by John Muir Health. In October JMH presented a logo program on options for Medicare Advantage programs, and they have shared their calendar of Senior Services programs with Lamorinda Village.
 
At the same time, the two organizations have been working toward offering a MedPal program to full members of Lamorinda Village. This program will enable a Village member who is a patient of John Muir Health to be accompanied to doctor appointments so the MedPal can take notes, ask questions, and help the member to remember and understand any treatments and/or medications prescribed by the physician. The MedPal will also be able to provide this kind of assistance if the member were to be admitted to the hospital.
 
Watch for more information on this important program.
  
 
Help is at hand: Learn more about the Alzheimer's Association
logo
A world without Alzheimer's Disease. That is the vision of the Alzheimer's Association, and since 1980 the Association has been working toward that goal by advancing research while improving care for those living with the disease. A third channel of the Association's effort aims to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
 
As the Association's East Bay Site Director Grace Liu explained it, "We work on a global, national, and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer's and other dementias. As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research, the Association is committed to accelerating progress of new treatments, preventions, and ultimately, a cure."
 
To promote care and support for people living with Alzheimer's, as well as for their caregivers, the Association provides a variety of services.  "Our main service is the 24/7 Helpline, staffed by volunteers and Family Care Specialists who are experts in the field," said Liu. "We also have educational activities; our most popular presentation is about the differences between normal memory loss in aging, versus dementia and Alzheimer's."
 
holding hands The East Bay Chapter, representing Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano Counties, provides support groups for both caregivers and people with Alzheimer's in the early stages of the disease. A new peer-to-peer outreach program connects newly diagnosed people with others living with the early stages of Alzheimer's.
 
"Caregiving is a black hole," said Liu. "You give and give and it's not enough. Caregivers need a lot of support and training that we can help with. Isolation is also an issue for caregivers, and support groups allow them to learn from others how to handle challenging situations and know that they're not alone."
 
Alzheimer's does not just affect memory; it's a brain disease that affects every aspect of who we are. Besides short-term memory, it affects personality, sense of taste, eyesight, and the ability to walk. The world becomes an increasingly confusing place and judgment becomes impaired, so safety is at risk. Caregivers and those suffering from the disease can benefit from the experience of others as well as the help offered by the Association.
 
Because it's clear that lifestyle factors affect a person's risk of getting Alzheimer's, the Association's mantra is "heart health is brain health." With presentations and fact sheets the staff promote the idea that social engagement is also important to maintaining brain health, as is learning new things, physical exercise, and eating a healthy diet.
 
In the research area, the chapter directs funds toward research projects such as clinical trials at UC San Francisco and Stanford University. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have estimated that with $2 billion a year in funding for research, a cure could be found by 2050.
 
On the local level the Association organizes and trains advocates and ambassadors, people who have had a family member with the disease and/or who are committed to finding a solution. They visit members of Congress to advocate for more research funding.
 
You can help this important effort. Liu pointed out that for both caregivers and individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's it can be very empowering to get involved with the Association. One can sign up to be an advocate, participate in an event such as the Walk to End Alzheimer's or The Longest Day, help with outreach to raise awareness of Alzheimer's, or make a donation. ( Lamorinda Village will organize a team for the 2016 Walk, as we did in 2015.) 
 
To find out more about the Alzheimer's Association, check the Association's website at   http://www.alz.org/norcal .
 
Here is another source of tips for caregivers:
http://nihseniorhealth.gov/alzheimerscare/afterthediagnosis/01.html
Health & Fitness: It's Spring -- get outside and walk!
We have all heard by now that exercise is good for our bodies and our brains. As the women walking Berkeley Wellness letter reminds us, "Of all the ways to stay fit, walking is the easiest, safest, and least expensive. It can also be the most fun, especially on a fine day, with a good companion and an enticing goal a few miles away."
 
The Wellness letter lists heart health, blood sugar control, increased creativity, and better moods as a few of the benefits of walking.
 
In Lamorinda, we have a variety of places to walk. There's the Lafayette Reservoir for a good 2.75-mile up-and-downhill stretch, or the Lafayette-Moraga trail for a less rigorous workout. Even the Orinda Community Park sees walkers circling the green.
 
Here are two links where you can find out more about the benefits of walking.
  
And while you're thinking about it, remember the Village office can help members connect with others who want to get started on group activities like walking. As always, check with your doctor before undertaking any new rigorous exercise program.

Resources for Seniors: Selecting a home care provider
What should you find out when selecting a non-medical home care agency? Linda Fodrini-Johnson, founder and Executive Director of Eldercare Services, has put together a useful set of questions that families should ask when preparing for this important step. She covers how to do your research in advance, issues to think about, and questions to ask when interviewing non-medical home care professionals. You can find the tips on our Resources web page at http://www.lamorindavillage.org or if you're not an Internet user, contact us at info@lamorindavillage.org for a copy.
    
 
Did you know? Changes to services you may need
Check your passport now
In 2006 there was a surge in passport applications when requirements changed for travel to Mexico and Canada.  Now, 10 years later, all those passports will be up for passport renewal, and with the expected number of renewals, processing times may be longer than usual. 
 
Check your passport expiration date and re-apply early; the good news is you can renew by mail.  By filling out form DS-82 and enclosing one new photo, the filing fee, and your old passport, you can mail your application to the State Department for processing.  You cannot apply by mail for a first-time passport, however -- only for renewals.
 
Check the State Department's website for the form, instructions, and current processing times.

  
Changes to County Emergency Services
Contra Costa County residents who use ambulance services need to know that the county has made a change to improve service and eliminate the Quick Response Vehicles from the emergency response team. The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is now teamed with American Medical Response, with the District assuming the responsibility for delivering emergency ambulance services countywide.

As of January 1, 2016, rather than automatically sending both an ambulance and a fire engine, only high-level needs for which two paramedics are needed are likely to see both an ambulance and engine arrive. Under the new arrangement, all calls for service will go through the fire district's dispatch center; the severity of the emergency and proximity of first responders will dictate which is dispatched.

Although the vehicles and uniforms may look different, there won't be many obvious changes when someone responds to your 9-1-1 call. The district expects a more efficient deployment of personnel because in many cases response times will improve and it won't be necessary to send both a fire truck and an ambulance to every emergency medical call

 
Lamorinda Village | info@lamorindavillage.org | http://www.lamorindavillage.org
P.O. Box 57
Lafayette, CA 94549