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This is the first in a new series of blogs about people in our community that inspire us to be active, healthy and engaged as we age. [caption id="attachment_1369" align="alignleft" width="225"]Jessie Strauss painting a habitat house Jessie Strauss painting a habitat house[/caption] Jessie Strauss led a satisfying and full professional and personal life up until her retirement and she had no intention of slowing down. Now in her 70’s she’s used that free time to touch the lives of people internationally with her commitment to Habitat For Humanity and the Guatemalan anti-poverty program Safe Passage while locally she continues energetic engagement with family and community. Her humanitarian contributions and vibrant living won her recognition in 2012 as Senior Services Inspiring Senior of the Month and, in 2013, as Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year for Washington State.
Smartphones, I Pads, Google Glasses….isn’t it time that we adapted today’s technological innovation to help us care for our elders? That’s the promise of telecare. The most popular telecare device, the push button pendant, debuted over 20 years ago and is still on the market. It’s sold in every color you can imagine by companies from Verizon to AARP.  It works but is limited by whether or not it’s worn when needed and is effective only when the wearer has the strength, coordination and coherence to push the button in emergency. Second and third generations of Telecare have advanced greatly and hope to solve those problems with smart technology that widens the net of caring support. With A Little Help debuted modern telecare technology in 2013 integrating it into some caregiving strategies. Is telecare right for your care plan?
Welcome! The doors are opening on Seattle’s Alzheimer’s Cafés. The first café, located in the Greenwood neighborhood, now in operation for over 2 years, serves people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families and partners. On the menu is food, drinks, fun and enjoyment every second Tuesday for 1 ½ hours from 3:30-5pm. Carin Mack, a local geriatric social worker, started the café which has spurred cafe development in many metro areas such as: West Seattle, Bothell, Columbia City, Green Lake, Renton, and Bellevue. “The goal is one in every neighborhood,” Mack said enthusiastically. “They’re easy to start. It doesn’t cost money,” Mack said of her successful program. “One needs to find a good space in the community and work with a willing business owner to host the cafe. Each cafe is different and it is a good idea to visit one or two before you set one up,” she explained. “You need someone willing to do the publicity, a person who will be there for continuity and a couple volunteers.” Attendance at most cafes varies month to month though the Columbia city café, hosted quarterly by Tutta Bella, draws a crowd. “Oh, it’s magical,” Mack emphasized. “They set up a buffet of four pizzas and salad and everyone buys their own beer or beverage.”
If you were in attendance at With A Little Help’s Holiday Open House party we hope you had a good time! You probably met owner, Marcia Ives, and perhaps received one of her handmade cups. Ives, 57, reconnected with her love of pottery after thirty years during which she raised a family and grew a business. “I took a pottery class or two almost 30 years ago simply because it piqued my interest,” she said. “I was so confident that I would do it again someday, that I held onto the little collection of tools that I had purchased way back then. It came right back to me, and I got sucked in…I have tapped into a whole artisitic/creative side of myself that I had not really explored much in my life, and it’s so much fun!” As Ives’ experience reflects, reconnecting with creativity as we navigate later years leads us to new discovery and welcome benefits. It’s also being used successfully to deliver health benefits to people living with dementia and Alzheimers disease.
We speak pets! With A Little Help staff and caregivers know how important pets are in an owner’s life. We’re pet owners ourselves and can testify about the value of our pet’s companionship and loyal affection. Pets make us feel special. They meet us at the door, often notice when we’re sad or sick, and encourage us to play and exercise. It’s no wonder that many scientific studies conclude that they’re good for our health and good for the health of aging Americans.
The leaves are falling and there's a cold edge to November winds but warm holiday gatherings aren't far away. Stop into With A Little Help's loft like Eastlake office in coming days and you might find us transforming the space adding sparkles and light in preparation for our 4th annual Holiday Open House. "The holiday season is a very vibrant time around our office," owner Marcia Ives explained, "as all our activities involve plenty of planning and forethought. Open House invites are in the mail. Everyone in the office is involved in pulling this event off." Shawn D'Amelio, Director of Business Development described the scope of the event, "We're inviting clients, caregivers, friends, neighbors, and others that care for seniors in our community. This is an opportunity to do something special for everyone we work with and care for," she said.
“One of the biggest fallacies we have is that Dementia=Alzheimers=memory problems. We can get rid of that right now,” Teepa Snow, a nationally recognized expert in Dementia training, told a caregiver gathering last year, “Dementia= brain failure and as long as we think ‘memory problems’ we’re denying the devastation that someone with dementia has to live through.” Snow’s popular dementia training sessions draw audiences throughout the nation. With A Little Help’s caregivers have attended and received her training certification during her several trips to the Seattle area.  In April, With A Little Help brought Snow to Seattle once again where she conducted 2 sessions in a day long workshop of state approved training for caregivers, social workers and RN’s.
With A Little Help staff and caregivers are preparing for the 2013 Walk To End Alzheimer's, rain or shine, Saturday September 21st to help raise awareness and research money for the Alzheimer's Association. This is the second year With A Little Help will send a team to the Walk to end alzheimers. 2013 team organizer Estee Beard recalls a sunny and inspiring walk last year as hundreds turned out. “Our hope is that we will have a lively team again this year for the walk,” Beard said.