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Walk with the Village to End Alzheimer's 
October 17 8:30 am
We need walkers and donors!
We are looking for walkers to join us at the Walk to End Alzheimer's on October 17. We strongly encourage  Village members and friends to participate in some way; we want to show our support by reaching our $2,000 fundraising goal (of which 50% will be shared with Lamorinda Village) and also to have a nice sized group of walkers from all the East Bay Villages!
Village News: October/November 2015

Executive Director Anne Ornelas Are you prepared?
Knowing that the Valley Fire may be contained by the time you are receiving this newsletter does not diminish the swift and dramatic events over the weekend of September 12th.

The first human casualty of the fire was someone's mother, grandmother, and friend. She was trapped in her home, wheelchair-bound, because of physical limitations from Multiple Sclerosis. Rescuers could not get to her because the fire was moving so quickly through the area, it was not safe for anyone.
This fire has brought up many emotions for me. Middletown was hit hard and in particular, Harbin Hot Springs, a place that I turned to the last few years to replenish my heart, soul, and mind, is now nothing but ashes. The residents and staff have lost everything. As many of you have lived in Lamorinda since the devastating Oakland Hills fire, I am sure you can understand how frightening this experience can be.
In the article at the end of this newsletter you will find information about creating an emergency preparedness plan for your household, and a link to advice from the American Red Cross.
We can work together to bring our members and our community the information you need when facing a disaster such as a wildfire or earthquake. Please let me know if you interested in helping create an emergency preparedness program for our Village. We should all be ready to care for ourselves, and each other. After all, that's what a Village is all about.

Best regards,
Member Events: From Helen Gough, Village Member and Volunteer
On August 13 several Lamorinda Village members joined residents of Atria Valley View Human Brain to hear Dr. Linda Sasser discuss brain and memory health. Dr Sasser spoke briefly of her education and experience and then announced the difficult part of her talk: she repeated the names of each member of her audience, having introduced herself individually to everyone coming in. No credentials could have been more relevant to her subject.
Dr. Sasser discussed how age affects memory, the different types and indicators of dementia, some reversible causes of dementia, and what we can do about it. A slide presentation illustrating her remarks ranged from the picture of a brain cell to an information processing model showing how memory works. She gave us two acronyms to help us understand her two major topics: brain health and memory. For brain health, she used the acronym SENSE: Socialization, Exercise (no surprise there), Nutrition, Spirituality and Sleep, and Education. For memory she offered PAVE: Pay attention, Associate, Visualize, and Elaborate (that is, build an exaggerated image in your mind).
Dr. Sasser was informative and engaging. She gave her audience clear and simple tools; now we must remember to use them!
Resources for Seniors: Retrofitting Your Home for Better Accessibility
Bathtub grab barAdapting your home to help you stay in it can be expensive and intimidating. Thanks to Jay Lifson, Executive Director of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, for sending us the link to a   helpful website for seniors, as well as for people living with disabilities.

The home remodeling guide was developed by "to help make the federal grants available to seniors, veterans, and disabled people much easier to understand and take advantage of, particularly for remodeling homes for accessibility. We hope to help people make better decisions by clearly laying out their options, with content written by industry experts."

The website offers advice on planning your remodeling project, finding a home remodeler with the appropriate expertise, understanding the federal resources available to you, and lighting and smart technology.

For more advice on making sure your home supports your wish to stay in it, take a look at the tipsheet from the National Institute on Aging: There's No Place Like Home-For Growing Old. You'll find answers to questions you may be asking for yourself or for a family member.
  • What do I do first?
  • What kinds of help can I get?
  • Are there products to make life easier?
  • Where can I look for help?
  • How much will this cost?
  • How can I help my family member remain independent?
Many Villages offer help with evaluating the safety of your home, and Lamorinda Village hopes to develop a program like this in the near future.  
Member Profile: Founder and President Ruth McCahan
If you ask Lamorinda Village president Ruth McCahan what is most satisfying as she Ruth McCahan watches the growth of the Village, she'll tell you something like this: "I am so pleased when I see our members making connections - and remaking connections - within the community. Often seniors, especially those who are single, need to reestablish their social circles as others leave the community for one reason or another. They love coming to our events and getting to know other members and volunteers."

Making connections is not a new concept for Ruth. She moved to Lafayette in 1961, and for the next 10 years she was a stay-at-home mother, raising three children. She joined Lafayette Juniors, where she not only met other young women but had the opportunity to learn about working with volunteer organizations and the values of giving back to the community.

In 1971 she began her career at Transamerica Title Insurance Company. Her expertise in the subject matter led her to work with the IT team, later becoming a corporate trainer and eventually moving into organizational development.

Since retiring in 1994, Ruth and her husband David have travelled to all 50 states and over 70 foreign countries, as well as spending time with her three grown children and six grandchildren. But she hasn't been idle between those activities; she joined the Lafayette Garden Club, became a Master Gardener, and has served on the Lafayette Senior Services Commission for the last ten years. That's the step that led her to found Lamorinda Village.

At the first Senior Symposium in 2008, Ruth listened as people outlined what they needed to stay in their homes: things like someone to fix the lock on their gate or change lightbulbs in high ceilings. Shortly after the Symposium, she heard about Avenidas Village, the first "Village" in California. She explored their website and decided "this Village idea is really great!" Ruth looked at the Lamorinda community and saw the potential for a viable Village, given the number of seniors in our three towns.

Lamorinda Village development began in earnest in 2012, with a task force of eight people, which doubled and tripled in the first two months. Task Force members from all three Lamorinda communities began to strategize and reach out to others. They surveyed more than 500 over-65 residents to determine the most pressing needs and then set about establishing committees to develop the various aspects of creating a Village organization from scratch.

Their efforts led to the formal launch of Lamorinda Village in April 2015. Five months later, the Village has 115 members, more than 50 qualified and trained volunteers to support them, and numerous screened service providers to help the members at discounted rates with jobs that are too large or complex for the volunteers to do.

"One of the strengths of the Village is that although there are all kinds of individual resources out there, we can provide this system of one-stop shopping", Ruth explains. Also important, to date the Village has offered more than 20 social and educational events.

When asked to reflect on the path to this date, she says "I've been so impressed with the background, credentials, and knowledge that our volunteers and Board members bring to the organization. It's their strong commitment to helping others and paying it forward that makes it work. "

"We have had wonderful support from the local individuals and organizations like Rotary, the Chambers of Commerce, and partners like Senior Helpline Services, the three branch libraries, St. Mary's College, John Muir Health, and the Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. The Lafayette Community Foundation sponsored us during the wait for our nonprofit designation and we work closely with them on projects like the Senior Symposium."

Looking ahead, Ruth sees membership, activities, and support continuing to grow. "We're learning from our members what they want from the Village. We are committed to saying "yes". No request is too small, too big, or too difficult. We will find an answer. Some members are looking for companions to pursue all kinds of interests such as photography, walking around the reservoir, or going to the movies together. Our office can help them connect with each other and create those interest groups."
Health and Fitness: Walking is great exercise
Go4Life logo Go4Life month, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, was officially September but you can still take advantage of information and exercise tips from the program. Go4Life is an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.
The program emphasizes four kinds of exercise for a well-rounded routine: endurance, balance, strength, and flexibility. For those who find it hard to get motivated, Go4Life recommends setting small, realistic goals, checking your progress, and rewarding yourself when you reach your goal.
The tips on walking for fitness include these:
  • Brisk walking is great exercise, and like other endurance exercises, it can increase your heart rate and breathing. Endurance exercises keep you healthy, improve your fitness, and help you do the tasks you need to do every day.
  • If walking 30 minutes a day is difficult for you, start with 10-minute walks - three times a day if possible - and work up to a 30-minute walk.
  • Sturdy, well-fitted shoes are important.
  • Tracking your steps with a pedometer or digital app can help keep you motivated.
You can find more information and tip sheets on a variety of exercise topics, along with free downloads of exercise guides, at Make sure to check out the tips for exercising safely.
Some people find it easier to get going when they walk with friends or neighbors.  Think about starting a walking group. If you're a Lamorinda Village member, contact the office at 925 253-2300 for help finding other members to join you.

And don't forget to join the Village team at the Walnut Creek Walk to End Alzheimer's on October 17. 
Preparing for Emergencies and Natural Disasters
Similar to the rural communities of the Valley Fire areas, the three Lamorinda communities have winding roads and steep, hilly terrain, making evacuations and emergencies difficult to manage. Are you prepared to evacuate on a few minutes' notice? As a member or friend of Lamorinda Village, now is a good time to take serious stock of your home, your surroundings, and your plan.

If you already have an emergency/disaster plan, you should review it every year in case anything has changed. An additional suggestion is that we work together to create an emergency preparedness program for our Village members.
The American Red Cross recommends that you create a personal support network of neighbors, friends, and family to check on you during an emergency. More information is posted on the American Red Cross website.
  1. Make arrangements prior to an emergency for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster and offer assistance if needed.
  2. Exchange important keys.
  3. Show them where you keep emergency supplies.
  4. Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans, and emergency health information card.
  5. Agree on and practice methods for contacting each other in an emergency. Do not count on the telephones working.
  6. You and your personal support network should always notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return. [Village volunteers can be one of those supports.]
  7. The relationship should be mutual. Learn about each other's needs and how to help each other in an emergency. You might take responsibility for food supplies and preparation, organizing neighborhood watch meetings and interpreting, among other things.
Several American Red Cross safety checklists for Emergency/Disaster Preparedness are listed on the Lamorinda Village website Resources page
Lamorinda Village | |
P.O. Box 57
Lafayette, CA 94549