Interactions with pets advantageous for aging adults

Though interactions with animals, in general, can impact a senior, if choosing to keep one in the home or senior facility, Besser said seniors should consider what kind of animal would be best suited to their lifestyle.

“There are several factors to consider when deciding what type of pet or animal companion to choose for a senior. One should take into account a senior’s personality and physical ability,” she stated. “Cats are more independent and relaxed, while dogs are more social and can be physically demanding. It’s hard when you like and can handle both. So, it’s best to research what animal would best suit a senior’s needs, lifestyle and commitment level. The same would apply when choosing a family pet.”

But if a senior isn’t in a situation where they can keep a full-time pet, the professionals said they could always connect with therapy pet programs. Seniors can also get their pets certified as therapy animals, which can teach them skills to sense if something is wrong with their owner.

“Pet therapy is an opportunity for specially trained animals to become certified as therapy pets,” Lookabill noted. “They are used to being petted by a lot of people, getting their ears pulled and knowing what to do to help someone feel calm and comfortable.”

Besser said when trying to certify a family pet as a therapy animal, depending on the association, the pet will go through compatibility testing and training to be certified. Pets have to be at least a year old, and the process takes about six to 12 months to complete.

Lookabill added therapy pets can be a multitude of species, especially if they are in an established program.

“They can include pigs, horses, llamas and large birds,” she explained. “Communities have to be diligent in helping ensure that therapy pets are certified, up to dates with shots and insured.”

Rent spike of 43 percent prompts low-income seniors to sue San Diego

Residents of City Heights subsidized complex say they can no longer afford basic necessities

Eight low-income senior citizens are suing San Diego for allowing the rent to increase last September by more than 43 percent at their subsidized apartment complex in City Heights.

The seniors, who receive the bulk of their income from Social Security, say in the lawsuit that the new rents are so excessive that they can no longer pay for necessities such as food, utilities and transportation.

While only eight of the tenants in the Olivewood Gardens are listed as plaintiffs, the outcome of the litigation could affect every tenant in the 60-unit complex in the Oak Park neighborhood of City Heights.

The rent increases were triggered by a decision in May by the city’s Housing Commission that the operators could charge up to $1,229 per month for the complex’s one-bedroom apartments.

The operators, Olivewood Housing Partners, chose to raise the monthly rents from $575 to $825 on Sept. 1, a spike of more than 43 percent, after many years with no increases.

The tenants, who each live in 438-square-foot units, initially protested the increases. But the lawsuit says they eventually decided to pay the higher rents to avoid eviction and homelessness.

Last month, downtown San Diego attorney Catherine Rodman filed the lawsuit on behalf of the eight tenants. Rodman has a long history of advocating for low-income tenants and subsidized housing.

The lawsuit says the increases mean that rent and utilities amount to 90 percent of the income of many of the tenants, which is triple the ratio of 30 percent required by city regulations.

For example, tenant Jacquelyn Blake now pays out $880 — $825 rent plus $55 utilities — of her monthly Social Security check of $972. That means nearly 91 percent of her income is being spent on rent and utilities.

Tenant Bonnie Breckenridge gets $1,565 a month from Social Security, so she is spending about 56 percent of that on rent and utilities.

The lawsuit says city regulations require that rents in the complex, combined with utilities, be a maximum of 30 percent of a tenant’s income. For such calculations, the city estimates each tenant pays $55 for utilities instead of using the actual amount they pay.

The complex was built in 1980 as part of an agreement with the city. The 55-year deal required the tenants to make no more than 60 percent of the San Diego region’s median income and that the operator charge low rents based on income.

In 2015, the lease was extended 21 years, from 2035 to 2056, and a new owner agreed to renovate the complex in return for changes to some of the regulations.

City officials have expressed increasing concern in recent years that rent restrictions on many complexes across San Diego will soon expire, potentially increasing homelessness by forcing tenants in those complexes onto the streets.

That’s why the city is typically enthusiastic about opportunities to extend such lease agreements.

Despite the amended lease, the lawsuit says, last fall’s rent spike was still illegal. Income forms submitted by the developer to the Housing Commission contain errors, the suit says.

“The forms show mathematical errors and methodological inconsistencies in the calculation of incomes,” the suit says.

In addition to a rent rollback, the suit seeks a temporary injunction to prevent further rent increases while the litigation is handled by the courts.

The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn. No hearings have been scheduled.

Colin Rice, an official with Olivewood Housing Partners, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott declined to comment on the case, other than to say Elliott’s staff is reviewing the lawsuit and will confer with other city officials.

Senior Citizens Center receives $10,000 grant from Dallas Mavericks Foundation

By Daily Light Report
Posted at 8:15 AM
Updated at 8:15 AM

The city-owned Waxahachie Senior Citizens Center is set to take the construction of its STEM Garden to the next level after receiving a generous gift from the Dallas Mavericks Foundation.

The $10,000 special project grant will further develop the Technology Teaching area of the “Living Today for Tomorrow” Next Generation Education STEM Garden and fund an outdoor touchscreen panel computer.

“The STEM Education Garden will strengthen the Ellis County and surrounding communities through intergenerational learning by providing STEM awareness education for K-12 students and meaningful volunteer opportunities for senior citizens,” noted the city in a Nov. 22 Facebook post. “Rural and underprivileged students will have access to a positive, fun outdoor learning lab which will foster an appreciation for our natural environment and increase STEM knowledge so they will have better career opportunities for the future.”

“Senior citizens also benefit from the program by participating as mentors and teaching assistants by sharing their knowledge and experiences in order to strengthen the bonds between generations,” the city added.

The innovative inter-generational learning environment will help students develop a variety of integrated skills in science, technology, engineering and math through its focus on earth and life sciences, alternative energy, water and soil conservation, and sustainability.

“The Senior Center is so blessed with not only this generous donation from the Dallas Mavericks Foundation but with the amazing support from our community,” Center Director Jeanee Carol Smiles posted. “Come out and tour the project or volunteer for a field trip. Amazing for all ages.”

The Center received a $50,000 check from the DART Foundation in 2017 to help develop the Technology Teaching area.

To learn more, visit or call (469) 309-4280 for more information.

Baby boomers are less likely than previous generations to retire

Not that the world needs more fuel for the recent string of intergenerational feuds, but a new report suggests that young professionals are having a harder time moving up in the workplace due to fewer people retiring.

With more Americans choosing to work longer, the traditional workforce model is being upended, according to a new survey from TD Ameritrade.

The survey, based on responses from 2,000 adults, found that the majority of Americans now plan to work beyond a traditional retirement age and 1 in 3 respondents said they plan to work at least a part time job in retirement.

About 40% of respondents in their 40s and 50s said they will continue working in retirement even if there isn’t a financial need to do so, the survey found.

“Gone are the days of retirement being seen as an essential, defined life stage, where an employee could expect to work for a company long-term and be taken care of after retiring,” said Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade.

However, baby boomers staying in the workforce longer may mean that younger generations may have fewer opportunities to climb the ladder and acquire the financial gains that tend to come with that.

About 15% of baby boomers, ages 54-74, still work full time, while they are joined in the workforce by the three generations that succeed them: Gen X, millennials and Gen Z, according to USA Today.

“This is the first time ever that five different generations are in America’s workforce at the same time, from Gen Zers up to baby boomers. It’s no surprise that there are some growing pains,” LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele told the newspaper.

According to the new report, not retiring has more to do with financial concerns — although that is certainly part of it. Lifespans have gotten longer, which means it costs more to be retired.

But the unretired trend also has to do with a sense of purpose, preventing boredom and avoiding depression.

Among those surveyed who had retired, about 30% said they felt like they lost their identity after they were done working.

“The concept of retirement is evolving,” Russell said. “It’s not just about finances. The value of work is also driving folks to continue working past retirement.”

New resource for dementia and firearm safety to prevent injuries


Today, faculty members at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus announced the Safety in Dementia website, the first comprehensive online resource to help caregivers navigate issues related to firearm access and dementia. Before now, there’s been a lack of public resources available on steps to take when someone has dementia and firearms are in the home.

In the U.S., the number of Alzheimer’s cases is projected to triple by 2050, according to U.S. Census data, and studies suggest somewhere between 40% and 60% of households that have someone with  also have a firearm.

“This issue is a big deal for the families and caregivers trying to navigate the best solution for their loved one or patient,” said Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of the project.

The Safety in Dementia website addresses the issue of firearms as well as two other important issues facing caregivers: driving and general home safety.

  • For firearms, the  walks caregivers through things to consider in deciding how to limit firearm access for the person with dementia. It also provides them with a series of common solutions for safe  storage, including at-home and out-of-home options.
  • For driving access, the tool provides strategies and solutions for guiding conversations and decisions that are difficult for those who have dementia.
  • The site also provides general home safety tips and guidance into what caregivers can do in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and other sections of the house to create a safer and more accessible home for those with dementia.

The materials, language and design of the firearms section of the website was created through a series of structured interviews with various stakeholder groups. Clinicians, psychiatrists, caregivers, assisted living facility managers, and more were all interviewed to develop an accurate, compelling, and effective tool.

“Speaking with the groups impacted by firearms and dementia enabled us to create a tool that we believe will be effective in assisting caregivers making  about home safety,” said Daniel Matlock, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and geriatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who worked on the web resource. “By developing a public resource, we hope that families and caregivers can have discussions and make decisions before potentially dangerous events occur.”

Sara Gilloth, PsyD, geropsychologist at a private practice in Lakewood, CO, who works with people with dementia and family caregivers, said, “This is a great resource that is easy to use and provides several practical solutions that can be immediately implemented to increase safety. The tool can help guide difficult family discussions and decision making and can be accessed by the person with dementia in the earlier stages and also by family members across the progression of illness.”

Gilloth adds, “The format of the website allows the user to quickly access information that is most relevant to the current safety concern, while also encouraging the user to think about other potential  issues and respond proactively.”

App to improve lives of older adults is set for first major user tests

OCT 07, 2019 | Jim Steele Original Article

A new app that aims to improve the functional lives of older adults is about to get its first major user tests.

Developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) through a collaboration that began in 2015 between the College of Nursing, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Art, Art History & Design, the app is called mPACT, for mobile Physical Activity Training.

It integrates low impact physical activity in the form of chair exercises with colorful brain training games that have been proven to improve cognitive function and mind-body coordination. Participants win gold star rewards for their successes and improvements.

“Research has shown that physical activity and brain training will improve cognition,” says Dr. Lenora Smith, an assistant professor of nursing and distinguished educator in gerontological nursing. The new app is the first time anyone has combined the two in a single venue, she says.

Testing will begin under a grant from the American Nurses Foundation, says Dr. Smith, the project’s principal investigator. The 50 test participants will wear Fitbit devices to assess their heart rates as they use the app.

“This will be a one-year study to assess the usability, or ease of use, of the mPACT app and provide feedback for revisions and improvements,” Dr. Smith says. “We want to see whether they reach their target heart rate while using it for aerobic exercise, with the end goal of improving cognition in people with mild cognitive impairment.”

The study will also assess the amount of low-impact exercise necessary for someone to reach target heart range, Dr. Smith says.

“We hope with this grant to do more gamification of this app and exploit those features to encourage users to do the exercises,” says Vinny Argentina, an assistant professor of art, amination and game design who teamed up with Dr. Smith on the project along with Chuck O’Brien, a lecturer in art, amination and game design, and Dr. Jodi Price, chair of the Department of Psychology, who is an expert in cognitive aging.

Exercise is crucial to seniors’ mobility and “the brain games are also a psychological necessity to cognition,” O’Brien says.

With input from Dr. Smith and Dr. Price, the pair are responsible for the current look and feel of the app, which initially targets people who have mild cognitive impairment that may be improved by a combination of physical and cognitive exercise. Its future scope could broaden to people in their 40s and 50s, as a preventative measure.

Argentina and O’Brien will use study results to answer questions about the intuitive operability of the app and how appealing it is for users over protracted periods of use. Dr. Smith says information about the user experience of the study participants will be critical.

“What’s their take on the usability of the app and how much exercise are they doing?” she asks.

Past study has already assessed how older adults relate to various commercial apps, informing the design of mPACT, which features larger type and other features catering to older users. Future versions will incorporate a social media function and cumulative gold star scoring, so that users can communicate and compete.

Developers To Break Ground This Month on $75M Kensington Senior Living Facility

Mayor calls project largest the town has had ‘in over 40 years’


Developers plan to break ground this month on a $75 million senior living facility in Kensington


Developers plan to break ground this month on a $75 million senior living facility in Kensington in a project the town’s mayor called “the largest project the town has had in over 40 years.”

The 167,000-square-foot project at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and St. Paul Street will include 135 senior living apartments and a cafe, according to the developer, Virginia-based McCaffery.

The project received final Planning Board approval in December. It includes a five-story building with 63 independent-living units, 43 assisted-living units for residents who need help with basic functions like dressing and bathing, and 29 memory-care units that will cater to residents with conditions such as dementia.

A fitness center and ground-level kitchen, dining room, wine bar and game room are also in the plans.

There will also be a courtyard that will have seating areas, walking paths and a water feature. The project will provide about 103 parking spaces, according to development plans.

Construction is expected to be completed by early 2021 and is expected to generate 90 new jobs.

The Kensington project is McCaffery’s first senior housing project, according to a news release from the company.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at

New affordable senior living apartments are coming to Palmetto

Seniors will soon have access to more affordable housing in Palmetto.

A project referred to in city documents as Dominimum Senior Living was approved Monday for the west side of Haben Boulevard just south of U.S. 301, across from Manatee School for the Arts.

Dominium, a Minneapolis-based company, owns River Trace, 2710 River Trace Circle, in Bradenton. However, the Palmetto project is slated to be similar to a facility that recently opened on 14th Street West in Bradenton.

The five-story “u-shaped” senior apartment building will have 225 units, a pool, courtyard and recreational area, along with age and income restrictions, according to the proposal to the city of Palmetto. The age restriction will be limited to a head of household aged 62 or older. Every apartment will be affordable housing for those who make at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Monthly rent will be between $800 and $1,100 depending on the number of bedrooms.

There will be one-, two- and three-bedroom units in the five-story building coming to the 6.28-acre property.

The age restriction was selected because developers will be seeking a property tax exemption that requires it.

In the larger apartments, the third bedroom will have some style differences from the others including French doors and different light fixtures, Dominium’s Devon Quist noted.

The independent living apartment complex will be built in part of the city that already has a nursing home and an assisted living facility.

The site was initially slated for a project known as the Riviera Walk West. Plans were approved for the same site in 2016, but they never came to fruition. The approvals expired, making way for Dominimum Senior Living.

During the presentation to city commissioners Monday, developers acknowledged concerns commissioners and the city’s Planning and Zoning board expressed about the number of parking spaces. Developers agreed to a total 257 spaces while presenting evidence that those living in similar types of apartment complexes often had more parking than they needed.

“We’re going to be a little more stubborn than we’d like to be because of how marginal the economics of the projects are overall. It’s a very small site so we really had to push density to get the project to work,” Quist said.

The affordable senior living apartments project was approved by commissioners in a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Brian Williams cast the lone dissenting vote, due to concerns over whether there would be enough parking.

The project, according to Quist, will use non-competitive funding through available federal resources.

Three things to know about assisted living

Looking for an assisted living community to care for an aging loved one can be an overwhelming process. It’s important to understand what it means to live in an assisted living community.

Over the past 30 years, senior care professions and senior living designers have worked to make these communities more than just a nursing home or retirement home.

Here are 3 things to know about assisted living:

1. Assisted living provides different levels of care.

Senior facilities that call themselves assisted living communities offer different levels of care. Some provide light care through independent senior living facilities where residents live in private apartments.

Other communities with a higher degree of licensing are able to provide more care, including skilled nursing, memory support and short-term rehab.

Fully certified through the Illinois Supportive Living Program, Heritage Woods of Minooka is designed to serve adults 65 and older of all incomes that may need some help to maintain their independence.

Financial assistance is available for those who do not have the resources to afford the monthly costs. Older adults who are on Medicaid or who only receive Social Security benefits can qualify for residency.

2. Assisted living provides an alternative to a nursing home

For those struggling living alone at home, residents at Heritage Woods of Yorkville have the opportunity to live in a private apartment and receive personal assistance and help with medications.

Heritage Woods of Yorkville has certified staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The staff offers support services, including housekeeping and laundry.

3. Assisted living offers social interaction

With amenities like an activity room, TV lounge and spacious dining room, Heritage Woods offers a sense of community with opportunities for social interaction. Monthly events include Bingo, Bunco, lunch outings, visits from therapy dogs and movie nights.

Independent activities are offered throughout the day – there’s something for everyone!

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837,

Playhouse at Westport Plaza Presents ‘Assisted Living: The Musical’: Review

by Mark Bretz Aug 5, 2019 Updated Aug 5, 2019

Story: An older couple who have recently passed on looks back on the last years of their lives, which were spent in a senior living community known as Pelican Roost. They introduce the audience to some 18 different characters who contribute to the fun times, the eccentricity and wacky adventures for the residents of the full-service, assisted living center and retirement community.

Highlights: Co-creators Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett bring their hit musical comedy to The Playhouse at Westport Plaza for its St. Louis premiere.

Other Info: With the reliable assistance of pianist Jeremy Franklin Goodman, Compton and Bennett played to a full house on opening night. Their one-act, 85-minute show, which is termed a “vaudeville-esque revue” on the production’s web site, was created in 2008 in South Florida, running for more than a year at The Villages, “the Pelican Roost of Central Florida.”

Since then it’s played in San Francisco, New York City and cities throughout the country. The show features original songs written by Bennett and Compton as parodies of pop culture elements such as the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” infomercial that was a late-night TV stalwart for years.

Bennett and Compton portray several characters apiece, such as Bennett as Naomi Lipshitz-Yamamoto-Murphy, an on-site realtor who has lived in three of the four options available to Pelican Roost residents, one with each of her three spouses, moving up the ladder each time one of her husbands has died. “I not only live here, I sell here,” she proclaims in her tacky attire and thick New York accent.

Compton plays a sleazy attorney who promises legal action for pretty much anything that may happen to the senior residents of Pelican Roost. It’s not very funny when Compton first introduces the character and descends quickly from there with each subsequent appearance.

There are songs joking about Viagra, about a 93-year-old man who cruises in his Cadillac and brings a new meaning to ‘drive-thru window,’ and concerning an unfortunate tattoo from earlier days. Songs carry such titles as The Lost-My-Dentures-on-Steak-Night Blues, WalkerDude@FacebookDotCom, Vernon’s Burnin’ Passion and Hypochondriacal.

Assisted Living: The Musical has been a hit in cities wherever it has played, says its web site, and already most of the tickets for its St. Louis run have been sold. Both performers enthusiastically belt out their tunes and revel in the comedy, and many in the audience appeared to enjoy themselves.

The two writer/performers and accompanist Goodman work hard throughout to find nuggets of laughter and a continuing zest for life among the roster of retirement community residents, even if at a bit slower pace. Who can argue with success?

Musical: Assisted Living: The Musical

Company: Emery Entertainment

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: Through August 11

Tickets: $55; contact or 534-1111

Photos courtesy of Emery Entertainment