CADILLAC — The one thing people can’t escape is aging. As adults start to reach their senior years, there are many factors to start considering like options for care, insurance or setting up a will.
Trying to locate all the necessary information and relevant organizations can be daunting. To make the transition to senior years easier, the Senior Networking Advocacy Group (SNAG) held a Snacks and Facts session in the Cadillac Commons.
Multiple local agencies spoke to attending seniors about the services they offer and walked them through some questions and concerns they might have about the aging process. The consistent message throughout the event was to plan ahead and stay active.
First to take the floor was Deb Simon with the Wexford County Council on Aging and Shannon Scarbrough with the Missaukee County Commission on Aging. Together, they discussed what COAs are and what services they offer.
Simon mentioned the Wexford COA’s adult day center, as well as their grocery pick up and delivery service and snow plow service. More often than not, seniors will wait until they can no longer achieve their daily tasks before seeking assistance, but Simon said the earlier they reach out the better.
The COA typically has a wait list for their services, and if someone is expecting the need for any of those services in the next couple of months, they can sign up now to have a better chance at making it off the list when the time comes .
Cadillac Senior Center Director Diane Patterson then took a few moments to share the impact that getting involved with the center can have. Even though their brochure describes the center as being a 50 and older facility, Patterson said those under 50 can still sneak in and participate.
Patterson said one of the most important things a senior can do is stay active. There are still activities to be done and fun to be had, even as people grow older.
Some of the more movement oriented activities at the center include Tai Chi for arthritis, cardio drumming and music jams with local musicians. Patterson has also planned several day trips and short term vacations for seniors. Over the next few months, there will be trips to Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and a Detroit Pistons game.
Patterson said, if a doctor prescribed someone a medication, they would naturally go and get it filled at the pharmacy. Movement and activity can assist in recovery from various illnesses, and it can keep energy levels up in general, so Patterson said the senior center can fill that prescription.
Another topic for discussion at Snacks and Facts was in-home care and assisted living options. Curry House Assisted Living and Memory Care Sales and Marketing Director Rae Berwald was also in attendance to talk with seniors about the transition to assisted living and the action they can take now to do so with ease, if it’s what they need.
Some seniors prefer to stay in their homes as they age, and while that can be what’s best for them, Berwald said the options for assisted living are there. At Curry House, meals are taken care of, maintenance is covered and there are dwelling areas for activities and socialization.
Berwald said her goal in helping to organize Snacks and Facts is to provide area seniors with answers. In her experience working with Curry House, she said seniors will often wait too long to start planning for their post retirement years, and it’s usually because they don’t know where to get help.
Every year, SNAG members meet to plan the events they’d like to host for the senior community, and Berwald felt Snacks and Facts was a necessity.
“It’s like a one-stop shop for people,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know the services available to them.”
Representatives from Samaritas Senior Living, Hospice of Michigan and the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan were also in attendance at Snacks and Facts to speak about their respective organizations and the help they can provide to seniors.
Virginia Metzger was already familiar with all the present organizations before attending Snacks and Facts, but came to support Patterson, whom she knows through the senior center. When she lost her husband and her daughter, Metzger had interacted with many of the Snacks and Facts group to receive certain services, assistance and support.
She’s been to other expos in the past as well, and said they’re an incredibly useful tool for those who are reaching a senior age.
“If you have a question, someone here can answer it,” she said.
Franklin Haver also attended Snacks and Facts to show his support for Patterson. Haver said he’s very active at the senior center and Patterson invited him to come along.
After hearing what each organization had to provide, Haver said he felt it was all extremely informative. At 88 years old, Haver said he still lives independently in his home, and he isn’t quite sure whether he’ll need any senior services just yet. But after losing a family member, he’s seen the benefit they provide.
“I just went through it all with a brother and sister-in-law,” he said. “He passed away from cancer, and I saw the tremendous job Hospice did.”
Margot Jacobs was in attendance to represent the Hospice of Michigan. When she spoke to seniors, she told them hospice doesn’t always mean it’s the end to the control you have on your life.
Jacobs has seen patients discharged every month, and they’re able to return if they need it. She said seniors aren’t locked in to hospice forever, but the option is always there.
One gentleman in particular had been completely bedridden, and Jacobs said he was no longer participating or coming to the table for meals. He was even having his hair cut while he lay in bed.
Jacobs and other Hospice staff had the idea to add physical therapy to the patient’s treatment, and soon he was recovered and back to moving around and having social interactions.
For Kay Stockman, Snacks and Facts was a “wonderfully informative session.” Stockman recently moved to Lake City from Canton to move in with her daughter and son-in-law. She said she would encourage seniors to attend an event like Snacks and Facts, and that it was well worth her time.