Senior Agenda Link

Senior Agenda airs live every Thursday morning at 10 am. Podcasts are also available.

Friday, August 30, 2013

National Grandparents Day Writing Contest

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The Forget Me Not Flower is the official flower for National Grandparents Day in the United States.  
As you know, we celebrate seniors and we take every opportunity to encourage our followers and listeners to do the same.  So in honor of National Grandparents Day we are sponsoring a "Why I Love My Grandparents" writing contest.  Take a moment to write a paragraph about what makes one of your grandparents so special or memorable and post it on the blog.  The deadline for submission is September 7th and the winner will be announced on Grandparents Day - Sept 8th.  The 1st place winner will win a $75 Visa gift card and an invitation to be a guest on Senior Agenda.  2nd place will win a $50 Visa gift card and 3rd place will win a $25 Visa gift card. If physically coming to the studio presents a challenge due to geography or job or school commitments, we can always arrange a phone interview.  Submissions will be judged based on content and sincerity.  Everyone is welcome to participate regardless of age.  


There seems to be disagreement about the origin of National Grandparents Day but regardless it was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.  A proclamation on September 6th, 1979 made the day official and it was designated the first Sunday in September following Labor Day.  

Possible origins include:

  • Some folks say it was first proposed by Michael Goldgar in the 1970's.  Goldgar spent $11,000 of his own money in lobbying efforts that included 17 trips to Washington DC over a seven-year span to meet with law makers to advocate for the day.

  • Others say it was Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, a homemaker in West Virginia, who pushed the day to observance.  She worked relentlessly in the 1970's to educate people about the contributions of seniors and she urged people to adopt a grandparent.  
Grandparents play a unique role in the lives of their grandchildren. They generally represent stability in the face of hardship or change. They are instrumental in handing down habits of the heart and faith. They work as watchdogs and advocates.  They warm our hearts and spoil our souls.    

"Every time a child is born, a grandparent is born too."  

Click on the comments directly below to add your entry.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Learn more about the Good Neighbor's Picnic - September 28th in Columbus, Ohio

It's Not Thanksgiving but the Homeless of Central Ohio Need You NOW

Volunteer here for the Good Neighbors Picnic 2013.  

William "Bill" McCulley, founder and organizer of the Good Neighbors Picnic, was interviewed on Senior Agenda on September 19th to discuss this year's picnic.  Listen here.  Did you know that 1/3 of all the homeless people in our country are children?  Did you know that somewhere between 10% - 15% of the homeless in our country are seniors. To add insult to injury, many of those seniors served our country through military service.  The homeless people that you see on the streets account for less than 10% of the homeless population.  

There are multiple reasons for homelessness but the primary reason continues to be lack of employment, resources and opportunity.  We call that poverty.  It's not as complicated as some folks seem to want us to believe.  The solutions are multifaceted but the primary reason for homelessness is simply that people cannot afford housing.  

William and his team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to organize this event. They are working to set up right now as you read this.  Tomorrow they will offer services that would have cost upwards of a quarter of million dollars on a budget that comes in much closer to the $10,000 mark.  They make this happens by soliciting and securing donations from a multitude of restaurants, bookstores, local merchants and individuals.  The picnic presents a special opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the homeless by sharing a meal and helping them to prepare for the ensuing winter months.  

The forecast is calling for clear skies and moderate temperatures.  It is going to be a beautiful day and the picnic will come off without your participation.  But the truth is help is still needed.  Follow the link above to volunteer today to make a difference tomorrow -September 28th, 2013 in Columbus Ohio.  Senior Agenda has organized a group of volunteers and we are looking forward to seeing you there. Call me at 614-800-5550 with questions.  

I am 97 and Homeless.

I am 97 and homeless.  What are you going to do about?  You could ease your conscience by patting me on the shoulder and offering a sympathetic smile.  People are generally afraid to touch the homeless so that would feel good for the moment.  Or you could offer me a a few dollars so that I can ease my hunger.  That will make my day a little more bearable.   Or you could think to yourself how sad it makes you to see me. Or even mention my predicament to a friend before your conversation turns to more relevant chatter. That will help raise awareness.   But none of it changes the fact that I am 97 and homeless.  I will be 97 and homeless tomorrow - unless of course I am 98 and homeless or dead.

The video below hones in on statistics that correlate closely to percentages in our own Athens County here in the State of Ohio which according to the most recent data available (20007-2011 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau) is currently experiencing poverty rates at 31.5% compared to the state average of 14.8%.  Experts agree homelessness among seniors is on the rise and you only need to open your eyes to see that homelessness among the elderly is a problem right here in Franklin County which is also experiencing poverty rates (17.4%) above the state average.  

At the time I discovered this important clip on You Tube it had been viewed a whopping 147 times.  Let's work together to change that.  I am not an expert on homelessness but we will be researching this topic in the coming days and we will continue to post in an attempt to help raise awareness.

In the meantime, please consider joining the Senior Agenda team as a volunteer for the 2013  Good Neighbors Picnic which provides a free meal and winter clothing and more to the homeless of central Ohio. Learn more about the Good Neighbors Picnic 2013.  Please email us at if you are interested in being a part of our team of volunteers for this year's event scheduled for Saturday, September 28 in Columbus Ohio.  We will provide Senior Agenda T-shirts and a free dinner to anyone who signs up to be a part of our team.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Raging Grannies of North Carolina Raise their Voices and Middle Fingers

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I am guessing this one might be worth a few more.  This group of senior activists joined others including students, civil rights advocates, and clergy from all over North Carolina this past May to register their disapproval for increasingly conservative State politics.  According to an article in News One for Black America, about 30 people were arrested at the statehouse in a demonstration designed to force the state legislature to reconsider some of the bills that would reduce funding for preschool education, reduce aid to the state university system and ease restrictions on gun purchasing.  

"One of our sayings is 'Stay in Trouble" and that's what we intend to do becuase we have to fight against anything that threatens the future of our grandchildren, "said Vicki Ryder, one of the grannies who was arrested at the protest.  

Flushing Stereotypical Notions about Grannies Down the Toilet One Protest at a Time

They sing off key, dress like sisters of Minnie Pearl and offer smiles as they take it to the streets.  They are commonly known as the Raging Grannies and in Madison, Wisconsin they are getting arrested and fined as a result of their participation in peaceful protests.  

The Raging Grannies of Madison have joined the Solidarity Singers in Wisconsin at the State Capitol to protest what they consider to be social and economic injustice every weekday at noon since March of 2011.  It looks like the Capitol Police have grown weary of the singing protesters because they have been arresting them, handcuffing them, and writing them $200 - $300  citations - grannies and all.  In fact, grannies, firefighters, ministers - even observers and a journalist have been arrested in the past 30 days. That's a lot of state revenue considering over 200 arrests have already been made.  The protesters are being arrested for a variety of charges including not complying with a court order that requires them to get a permit to assemble. The Raging Grannies and other members of the Solidarity Singers are standing on their 1st Amendment Right to Assembly: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

Who are the Raging Grannies of Madison?  They are a group of relentless senior women who turn the stereotype of the sweet little old lady who is agreeable at every turn and knows how to mind her own business in silence and a rocking chair inside out.  According to their websites, they promote peace, justice, the environment, and social & economic equality through song and humor ...  

Membership is open to all older women who know that "war is stupid" and that for the sake of our children and grandchildren we must sing out for peace, economic & social justice and the environment. We sing primarily in the Madison area, but the Grannies "have songs, will travel" anywhere in the state. We sing wherever we are invited -- and sometimes where we're not!

We are a "dis-organization" without formal leadership. Each Granny does what she can and we make decisions by consensus. As it says on the Raging Grannies International website at, "We are totally non-violent, believe in only peaceful protest (with lots of laughter), work for the 'many not the few' … and see our work as the spreading green branches of a great tree, rising up to provide shelter and nourishment for those who will come after us." That's true -- but we Grannies also want to have fun, refuse to be silenced, and will sing out against those things that harm the planet we will leave to our grandkids.

The first Raging Grannies protesters originated in Canada in 1987 when a group of white, middle class, educated older women came together in reaction to perceived threats posed by the visit of US Navy warships and submarines in the waters surrounding Victoria which were believed to carry or be powered by nuclear reactors and equipment with nuclear arms.   Since then groups have sprung up all across Canada and the US.  They have a "herstory" of employing creative and satirical efforts to raise awareness, challenge authority and protest.  Consider the following excerpt from a thesis written by Ph,D. Candidate Carole Ray:  
"They first experimented with street theater to bring attention to the presence of those US vessels in the harbor.  Then they dressed in lab coat and armed with makeshift Geiger counters and turkey  basters, they tested water puddles for radiation at popular malls.  When curious bystanders asked about their activities they were told about the US vessels in the harbor, which was not in the newspapers."  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why Call the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging?

Bethany Anderson, Public Information Director, and Lynn Dobb, Caregiver Advocate and Education and Training Manager,  joined us on 8/8/13 to discuss a variety of topics related to the mandate, mission and work of the COAAA.  The reoccurring message was simply this:  if you are a senior living in central Ohio and you need help or assistance of any kind, please contact or call the COAAA today.   They are an incredible and tremendous resource for seniors.

Topics of discussion included the Ohio PASSPORT Program, Assisted Living Waiver Program, free Caregiver Support groups, and Medicare education.  As you can see, although we are quick to associate COAAA with the PASSPORT Program they oversee, they are instrumental in proving many other senior and caregiver services.

Don't forget to attend or participate in the upcoming Senior Living Festival.  The festival will be held on Oct 31st, 2013 from 10 am - 2pm at Veterans Memorial at 300 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio.  Click here for more information.

Listen to Senior Agenda featuring COAAA here.

15 Years after Retirement Senior Activist Refuses to Sit Down or Be Quiet

Senior activist, author, talk show host  - S. Yolanda Robinson. 

Yolanda embodies an old school work ethic and commitment that push us to talk about and be about progressive changes that fly directly in the face of the good ole' boy's network.  Those who mistaken her energetic giggle for silliness or her patient persistence for weakness will surely be in for a rude awakening.  She is a senior activist and a proud woman of faith who has already been instrumental in helping to fuel the civil rights and women's movement.  

But she's not done yet. Since she retired in 1998, she has continued her work as an activist, written a book and is now the host of a radio talk show called All in Our Family heard on on Saturdays and Tuesdays. 

During our recent interview, Yolanda recalled her employment at The Ohio State University where she worked relentlessly to raise awareness and effect change around issues of pay equality, child care benefits and family leave for women.  Her work landed her an appearance on The Today Show in the mid 1980's.  

In 2011 her first book - There's Magic in the Blackberry Patch was published.  Learn more about "There's Magic in the Blackberry Patch" here.  The book is a children's historical fiction based on Poindexter Village, one of the first low-income housing projects in the nation, which is currently being torn down in Columbus Ohio.   Learn more about Poindexter Village here.  Yolanda  interviewed numerous long term residents of Poindexter Village before writing There's Magic in the Blackberry Patch which reminds us of the importance of community and service learning.  

Today Yolanda is the host of All in Our Family which is a talk show that covers family issues, problems and dynamics with an emphasis on solution.  Listen to All In Our Family here.   When Yolanda believed that her own family was losing cohesiveness, part of her solution was to begin producing a family newsletter.  

We owe Yolanda a special thank you for her part in helping to make Senior Agenda a reality.  She was and continues to be a great source of encouragement and support for our work on behalf of seniors.  

Listen to Senior Agenda featuring S. Yolanda Robinson

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rosemary Barkes: Working to Expose Dementia Like a Boss

Rosemary Barkes, The Dementia Dance 2013 
Featured guest on Senior Agenda - 8/1/2013

Rosemary Barkes appeared on Senior Agenda on 8/1/2013 to discuss her book, The Dementia Dance, published earlier this year.  She shared snapshots of her mother and their journey as they stood together in her mother's "dance with dementia."

The Dementia Dance is a practical how to guide offering real advice and direction when it comes to navigating the inroads of dementia - a progressive disease for which there is yet no cure.  The book is a quick and easy read offering insightful commentary based on Rosemary's experiences and observations as an active participant in her mother's progression.  It provides an honest account of the pros and cons of memory care. It paints a vivid picture of the everyday frustrations of living with dementia for both patient and family. It utilizes humor and elevates hope in the face of dementia.  It is a must read for everyone who loves anyone with dementia.

On Senior Agenda, Rosemary spoke of the need for an advocate and  the importance of activities in the lives of those with dementia.  She shared memories about the moment she realized her mother was struggling and the day she finally accepted that her mother was dying.  She also spoke about the guilt and denial she experienced as a caregiver. And yes - there were happy times like the day her mother participated in a fashion show at the assisted living community where she lived.   Listen here.

The Dementia Dance can be purchased online at buy book now for just $13.00.  It is truly a useful tool for anyone dealing with dementia.  Rosemary is a brave and delightful soul willing to share private moments in the hope that it will help pave the way for others.  Thank you Rosemary! 

Music Helps Dementia Patients Make Connections

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bullies with False Teeth, Hearing Aids and Walkers are on the Rise

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Almost weekly someone shares a story with me that involves seniors bullying  other seniors.  They are more often than not at a loss to know what  to do about it.  After all, we are not talking about children whom we can assign detention, suspend or remove from the classroom when they bully.  We are talking about mature, accomplished, elders whom we admire and respect. In response to what is seeming more and more like an epidemic, a few years ago I developed a series of senior bullying workshops that have been presented in a number of independent and assisted living communities, as well as senior centers in and around central Ohio.

Many seniors initially attend the bullying workshops out of curiosity and under the impression that they are unaware of any bullying within their communities.  The unfortunate truth is that bullying is human behavior that we do not outgrow just by advancing in years.  As soon as they understand that bullying includes a whole continuum of conduct that goes beyond physical abuse they are quick to identify bullying behavior and yes - the bullies themselves.   In fact, I generally need to issue a warning about the importance of not naming names as we move through our discussion. 

We include a section in our most popular brochure called - You Might Be a Bully If:

·         You refuse to allow other residents to sit at your table at mealtime.
·         You encourage others not to be friendly with residents you dislike.
·         You participate in hurtful gossip about other residents.
·         You raise your voice resulting in the intimidation of another.
·         You refuse to participate and/or discourage others from participating because you dislike a participating resident. 
·         You label others with hurtful nicknames or engage in name calling.
·         You continue to "tease" another resident even though that individual has asked you to stop.
·         You are the member of a clique which is by definition exclusionary. 

What does bullying typically look like in senior arenas?  In my experience, the most pervasive form of senior bullying is a combination of verbal and social bullying.  There are times when a senior resident engages in physical bullying like pushing, tripping, pinching or even kicking.  But the more common practice involves yelling, spreading rumors, name calling, manipulating relationships and participating in cliques.  There are a large number of disputes over shared resources like seating in the dining room or the attention of staff members. 

 Consider  the following examples centered around one shared resource - the laundry area. 

Ø  A resident once told me that another resident initially became verbally abusive with him because he entered the common laundry room  in front of her causing her to have to wait to do her laundry.  In the weeks and months that followed, the female resident began spreading rumors about the male resident and would routinely chase him down in her power-chair to call him names and shout obscenities at him. He eventually moved out of the community in an effort to avoid the bully.

Ø  A female resident who was a notorious busybody started a hurtful rumor about a new male resident that included the notion that he was a cross-dresser after mistakenly identifying another female resident's laundry for the gentleman's laundry.  This situation caused the gentleman not to want to leave his apartment and culminated in a first time bought with depression. 

Ø  An unidentified resident once hung an extra large pair of bloomers on the pegboard in a laundry room with a note that named a resident (property of so and so) adding that "someone needs to diet."  The resident who was named had been the target of a whole barrage of bullying behavior including hate mail and shunning.  This situation eventually erupted into a physical altercation and the arrest of the woman who had been being targeted because she threw the first punch. 

What can be done to stop senior bullying?  We teach folks to recognize bullying behavior.  We also provide information about the reasons people bully and the potential consequences of bullying.  We teach intervention strategies.  We focus on learning to present as assertive without becoming aggressive.  For the target, learn effective strategies like ignoring or avoiding the bully. Learn to speak from a place of confidence.   For the witness, understand that bullying doesn't continue without a group of by-standers who act like it's okay.  Express your disapproval.  For the bully, learn to listen and see yourself as others see you.  Ask for help or seek counseling if necessary.