Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tuolumne County Commission on Aging: UPDATED Latest News / Calendar 2012

Welcome to the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging blog: it’s our ongoing effort that we hope will bring information to help and inform seniors in our county. The commissioners, with their extensive and varied experience and expertise, are all volunteers and without exception are primarily concerned with doing whatever they can to improve the lives of our county’s seniors in and around the Motherlode.

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." ~ Mark Twain

Jots & Thoughts

By Roberta R Goodwin...

Save the dates!!!!  All events Presented by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging

2012 Senior Expo!!! The 3rd Annual Senior Expo is scheduled for June 13, 9AM – 1PM, in the John Muir Building at Mother Lode Fairgrounds.  Presented by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging.  Don’t miss this information packed day!!!

2012 Senior Volunteer of the Year Awards!!! The Senior Volunteer of the Year Awards is scheduled for May 2, 11AM – 12PM, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers. Presented by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging.  Don’t miss this opportunity to honor or community’s senior volunteers!

2012 Centenarian Awards!!! The 2012 Centenarian Awards is scheduled for October 3, 11AM – 12PM, Tuolumne County Senior Center. Presented by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging.  Don’t miss this opportunity to honor or community’s Centenarian Society members and find out who is to be honored as this year’s 100 years young recipient!

“Choices and Connections: Community Resources for Seniors”a free panel discussion presented by The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Tuolumne County, Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m.-noon, in The Community Room of the Tuolumne County Library. This is a great opportunity for seniors and families of seniors to learn about what resources and options are available in our area.

Webcams?!?  Sounds like futuristic technology not for us old fogies?  Think again.  It’s an easy and fun way to stay in touch with your relatives, perhaps best done with those family members who live a distance away, such as one’s grandchildren, as I am doing today with my grandson.  Yes, it requires computers, and a little gizmo that I bought for myself, a device with built-in camera and microphone, for less than $5.  You plug it in, bam, you're on your way, face-to-face with your loved ones!  Want to find one? Google “webcams” and you'll see.  Or go to your local friendly neighborhood store.

Speaking of technology, Facebook (FB) is another way to stay in touch with your loved ones, friends and the like.  The algorithms used by Facebook enable you to find family or friends, by a process called “friending” based on your date of birth, your hometown, your schooling, and all kinds of facts you choose to input or not.  Worried about privacy, as you should be? Facebook has recently implemented sets of blocks that allow you to choose who sees your information.
It struck me that it might be a wonderful way for a senior to connect with long-lost relatives and friends, opening up their world. A personal example: when my son was in junior high school and playing tennis, I started and coached a tennis team for the school.  One of the people that FB found for me was a pal of his, a good athlete that I taught to play the game so that he could play on his school team.  After we “friended” each other, he thanked me, saying he is now teaching HIS kids to play, based on what he remembers me teaching him to do.  How cool is that?
Another personal example: I have also recently “friended” a couple of second cousins, who live, respectively, in Texas and Washington D.C., now married with their own children.  We comment back and forth almost every day.  It’s not email, and it’s not telephone.  It’s almost better, because Facebook also allows you to post photos and videos.

A new book by best-selling author Jean Carper suggests things you can do…
  100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss
“Most people think there is little or nothing you can do to avoid Alzheimer's. But scientists know this is no longer true. In fact, prominent researchers now say that our best and perhaps only hope of defeating Alzheimer's is to prevent it. After best-selling author Jean Carper discovered that she had the major susceptibility gene for Alzheimer's, she was determined to find all the latest scientific evidence on how to escape it. She discovered 100 surprisingly simple scientifically tested ways to radically cut the odds of Alzheimer's, memory decline, and other forms of dementia. Did you know that vitamin B 12 helps keep your brain from shrinking? Apple juice mimics a common Alzheimer's drug? Surfing the internet strengthens aging brain cells? Ordinary infections and a popular anesthesia may trigger dementia? Meditating spurs the growth of new neurons? Exercise is like Miracle-Gro for your brain? Even a few preventive actions could dramatically change your future by postponing Alzheimer's so long that you eventually outlive it. If you can delay the onset of Alzheimer's for five years, you cut your odds of having it by half. Postpone Alzheimer's for ten years, and you'll most likely never live to see it. 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's will change the way you look at Alzheimer's and provide exciting new answers from the frontiers of brain research to help keep you and your family free of this heartbreaking disease.

From the YOU Docs…
Why You Can’t Remember What You Got Up to Get
By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD
Do you sometimes feel like you have the memory of a mosquito -- especially when you walk into a room and immediately have no idea why you're there? Forgetting what you got up to get is something we, you, and everyone from China to Chicago has done more often than teenage girls giggle.
Well, get this. Two memory experts have figured out why it happens and published their research. They call it (try to remember this) the doorway effect.
Example: You walk across the room to get the newspaper. No problem. Walk through a doorway into another room to get it and -- zap! -- your memory is Windex'ed. You arrive clueless.
Why? When you cross the room, your surroundings don't change. But when you go through a doorway, you enter a new space. Your brain auto-purges info from the old room (go get the newspaper) so it can cope with the new room's demands (watch out for the cat!).
Way back, this was handy if you were leaving your safe cave for T-Rex territory. It still is if you're leaving your desk for a tense meeting, or your cozy bedroom for a slippery bathroom to stop the twins' water war. But going to get the paper? Not so much.
"So," you ask, "what's the fix, YOU Docs?" We didn't forget that. There just isn't one, short of never exiting a room without writing down why. Yeah, we're not doing that either.
And another one from the YOU Docs…
Improve Memory, Simplify Life, Get Stuff Done
Does your brain feel more crowded than Grand Central Station at rush hour? If you're finding it tougher and tougher to focus on a good book, the nightly news, or even your spouse, because the kids, pets, phone, TV, beeping voice mail, flashing e-mail, and more are driving you to distraction, don't blame the interruptions. It turns out that a prime reason for midlife concentration lapses and late-life memory gaps is an increasing inability to filter out the clutter, both human and digital. News flash: It's not always a bad thing!
A growing stack of studies shows that although a thirtysomething brain can focus on a topic with laser-beam precision while ignoring multiple distractions, older noggins have frayed mental filters that let other information in, no matter how hard they're trying to concentrate. It's like looking at the world (or at least that pile of paperwork) through a wide-angle lens that also sees the unwashed dinner dishes, the beautiful sunset, the accountant's memo, the article you've been meaning to read, and on and on and . . . well, you get the picture.
American and Canadian researchers stumbled onto this distraction problem while using MRIs to scan people's brains as they performed memory problems. Turned out that older people in the study couldn't concentrate inside the banging, clanging MRI machines, even when wearing earplugs. Their brain scans revealed the extra mental effort used as they tried to filter out the distracting noise, tipping off researchers to the challenges of mental clutter. Now, new research is revealing ways it can hurt -- and help -- your thinking.
Downside: Stubborn mental clutter. The trouble with stuff you can't tune out is that your brain tries to process it, which gets in the way of cementing more important information, says the Canadian data. And the clutter sticks around, causing on-going distractions. Message one: When you need to focus intently on something, it's important to declutter your environment.
Upside: Real-world savvy. But that extra info's not just static. In another study sure to make grumpy old people everywhere cheer, older people were 30% more proficient at remembering random word and picture patterns than younger people were. That means seeing the larger picture instead of narrowly focusing on one thing, helps older-and-wiser brains make more connections -- something that could have a big payoff in the real world. Message two: The aging brain's more inclusive way of looking at the world could help you out at work, at home, while car shopping, and elsewhere.
Here's how to both minimize age-related distraction problems when you need to focus, and how to put 'em to use when you need to think big:
Declutter your brain. You can recapture much of your old sharp focus by removing distractions when you have to do mental work. Don't pay bills while watching the World Series on TV. Turn off the radio when you're starting an important conversation with your spouse (budgeting for that vacation, discussing your next career move). Skip playing the Black Eyed Peas or Beethoven when you're loading new software onto your computer.
Clear your desk, organize your house. Visual clutter can slow down your mental gears so that making decisions takes more time and effort. Give your brain cells less to ponder by sweeping unnecessary stuff (or junk, you be the judge) from your workspace, cooking area, computer desktop, closets, even your car.
Turn distractibility into a mental asset. Harness your well-seasoned brain's ability to take in lots of info by giving "multisensory learning" a whirl. That's when you use several senses at once to enhance learning and memory. So instead of reading a long magazine article about the growing list of presidential candidates, watch an in-depth TV show about 'em. Getting the audio and the visual is an asset in this case. Instead of avoiding video clips when you research something online, click on them for a similar eyes-and-ears experience.
Enjoy seeing the forest, not just the trees. Having a more flexible mental filter in place means you take in more pleasure, too. Whether you're walking in the woods, biking on the boardwalk, people watching in town, or dancing to Lady Gaga, chances are you're noticing more than you did in your 20s and 30s. Savor it!
When does a Senior stop driving?
Suzy Hopkins’s latest (Winter 2011-2012) issue of her senior magazine Friends and Neighbors (FAN) features a timely and interesting article entitled “Stop Signs” on this very topic, by Chris Bateman.  To read it, go to your home-delivered issue or find it in one of the many locations around the area.  It’s, alas, not online yet, and includes a list called “Time to quit? Top 10 signs.” I've listed them below:
Do you feel uncomfortable or anxious behind the wheel?
Have you found unexplained dents or scrapes on your car?
Do you drift across lane markers or into other lanes?
Do other drivers frequently honk at you?
Do you get lost in familiar places?
Do you find it hard to turn your head to check over your shoulder?
Are friends and relatives reluctant to ride with you?
Do you often forget where you parked your car or forget to buckle up?
Is it hard to see pedestrians or other cars at night?

          Have you received two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past 24 months, been 
          in two or more accidents, or had two or more “close calls” over the same period?

Did YOU Know?
by editor Roberta Goodwin (comments? email me at:

For your better living…
1. The Tuolumne County Commission on Aging is working on a program for 2012 called “Leadership Tuolumne Seniors” which we intend to be a series of classes scheduled on Wednesdays - March 21 through May 18 - to help “Build a better community by providing Tuolumne County seniors education and opportunities for service and leadership.”  Contact Carleton Penwell for applications and information.  You may email Carleton at or call him at 209-532-8583.
2. From Roberta: You readers might have wondered at some point how much Commission on Aging members have to comply with government ethics standards, as a matter of fact they must undergo coverage and certification every two years like all government employees. We can attend refresher training sessions or do our training online for certification.
3. PG&E’s low-income program: PG&E has a low-income program called “The Energy Savings Assistance Program” and they partner locally with Sears to bring new refrigerators to folks. According to an installer I talked to named “Mike” … he and his crew make about 10 stops a day in the county to bring free brand-new refrigerators. His clients run to – he estimates – about 70% seniors. As part of the program, the crew even picks up their old refrigerators (and refurbishes/recycles them). The service area extends from Mi-Wuk to Riverbank, more or less, as he explained. Other features of the program include what they term “Improvements to your house, apartment or mobile home including compact fluorescent lights, caulking, showerheads, minor home repair and more.” To find out more about the program and whether you're eligible, or if someone you KNOW is eligible, go to: call or call 800-989-9744.
4. Senior Services Directory
Pick up this handy 24-page guide to local senior services at the sheriff’s Community Service Unit office in The Junction Shopping Center. Published by the nonprofit Senior Resource Service (SRS), it includes contact information for everything from health care and housing to transportation and emergency services – “anything a senior might need,” says Judy Finley, SRS president. A complete version of the directory (61 pages) is available online at the Friends and Neighbors website,, under the home-page link titled “Resources.”
5. And this from Catherine Driver (via Suzy Hopkins of FAN Magazine): "REACH Plus is a program provided by PG&E and Salvation Army to help folks with delinquent electricity bills. We are working with our local Salvation Army to provide help to elders in need of assistance with their PG&E bills. We will be helping those 62 and over while Salvation Army will work with those under 62. (We will help in the case of a participant in the OE program, regardless of age.) Our part, like the Salvation Army's, is to assist in filling out the needed paperwork and making sure all appropriate paperwork is included (i.e. PG&E bills, proof of age, etc.). We then call PG&E to make the "pledge" and then fax the paperwork to Salvation Army in San Francisco. We can be reached at 532-7632 and Salvation Army can be reached at 588-1986. Catherine Driver, Engagement Coordinator, Older Adult Outreach & Engagement Program."
6. Minor Home Repair: Area 12 Agency on Aging offers a program for eligible county seniors “designed to assist seniors over 60 who have home repair problems they cannot resolve which threaten health & safety.” To be eligible, you must: be 60 years of age or older; reside in Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa Counties; live in your own home. Typical repairs include... (among others) hard to turn faucets; leaky toilets; door knob repair; install grab bars; repair doors and windows; ramp repair Call Area 12 Today for more information on how you can arrange for needed home repairs 209-532-6272... or go to: Also, you can view their website at:
7. From Ira Uslander: “I was talking with Tom Teach at WM (Cal Sierra Waste Management) and he told me they have a disposal kiosk in front of their office on Camage for needles and other sharps. This is sometimes an issue for people with diabetes and other situations where they self medicate."
8. From Roberta Goodwin: I'm not a Comcast subscriber, but I ran across this item from Comcast. It’s a program intended to help low-income families with low cost laptops, discounted internet access and free internet training. I see that it’s “aimed” at families with kids, educators and civic leaders. But it seems to me we have quite a few senior grandparents in this county raising their grandchildren. Enough to justify making a big deal of this? Maybe not. But in any case, is it good information? I think yes. So if you want more information, whether for yourself or someone else, go to this link for details: and then for more, click on the “how it works” button.
9. Waste Management "yard service" - The Waste Management "yard service" option means Cal Sierra handlers retrieve and return the garbage carts so the resident doesn't have to. The fee is currently in the neighborhood of $11.00 and will be waived upon the resident’s submission of a doctor's note stating a disability rendering the resident unable to move the new garbage carts to and from the curb. The Commission is gratified to learn that their lobbying effort in this regard has been fruitful.
The Tuolumne County Commission on Aging... encourages and welcomes visitors to our meetings and we have vacancies at the moment, so we welcome any interested parties to apply. Attendance at our meetings is recommended to find out if you want to participate. Please come to our meetings and see what we’re about! In future, we will be blogging with even more information on matters of interest to county seniors so stay tuned! And please feel free to let us know YOUR ideas for events or forums that you want to see! We actively solicit your comments. As always, you may contact the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging by email:

Commission on Aging Meeting & Events Calendar 2012
Please go to Community Events Calendar to see our upcoming events:

The Commission appears on a regular basis before the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors in order to update them on Commission activities.
 Note re-meeting dates: Sometimes holidays force us to change the day; emailing us at is always recommended. 
*Commission on Aging general meetings 1:30PM, 2nd Monday each month, at Area 12 Agency on Aging, Standard Rd., Conf. Room C
*Commission on Aging Executive Board meetings 1:00PM, 1st Monday each month, at the Senior Center
*Commission on Aging Public Relations committee meetings, 12:00PM, 1st Wednesday each month, at Interfaith
* Commission on Aging Education Committee meetings, 9:00AM, 3rd Tuesday each month, Starbucks, Sonora Crossroads Shopping Center, in the Prudential 2nd Floor Conference Room

***2012 Speakers’ schedule***
(Speakers inform the commissioners on senior related issues.)
  April 9 – TBD
May - TBD
All COA meetings are open to the public. Please come and give us your ideas, concerns, and information regarding senior issues.
In future, we will be blogging with more information on matters of interest to county seniors so stay tuned! And please feel free to let us know YOUR ideas for events or forums that you want to see! We actively solicit your comments. You may contact the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging by email at
To go to the Area 12 Agency on Aging’s website, go here:
To go to the Little House website, go here:
To go to Friends and Neighbors website go here:
To go to the San Francisco Institute on Aging website, go here:
Blog Editor: Roberta Goodwin

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