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Summit addresses ‘promise,’ challenges of aging population

Members of the Older Dominion Partnership gathered last month in Henrico to educate Virginians about the importance of creating awareness and working together to conquer the difficulties of aging, at the Age Wave Summit II Conference.

The head committee arrived at the all-day conference May 19, held at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia in Henrico, equipped with words of motivation to tackle “the promise, not the problem, of aging.”

As its motto says, the Older Dominion Partnership (ODP) exists to help the quickly aging citizens of Virginia who might be facing shortages in affordable senior housing, professional healthcare, care management and home care.

The partnership is a nonprofit program started by businesses and foundations to raise Virginia’s state of aging preparedness. Since Virginia's 65-and-older population is predicted to double to 1.8 million by 2030, the partnership is providing an independent program to help the elderly ride the age wave. Its goal is to offer people assured security and to let Virginia lead the nation into a new period of safe aging.

The first speaker, Richmond Times-Dispatch Publisher Thomas Silvestri, was quick to talk about the problems that Virginia faces. The public’s aging population might want to take care of the aging issues, but it is not ready, he said. Not only did Silvestri discuss the problem with financial support, but he also highlighted the fact that the public’s desire for action fell short.

“There is no urgency,” Silvestri said. “That has to change…awareness is the first step, but Virginia needs our kick to get there.

“It’s important to spend time in the community rather than in conference rooms. Virginia has all the history to lead the new age wave, but the federal government isn’t ready.”

Once everyone is on board, he believes that Virginia will master the age wave. Silvestri got the audience keyed up for the upcoming afternoon by chanting, “I don’t want to be mad as hell, I want to avoid a disaster.”

Expectations discussed
As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2001, in addition to being a practicing physician, Virginia Delegate John O’Bannon (R-73rd District) holds a unique perspective on the age wave topic.

During his “Boomers Meet Medicare – What Now?” address at the summit, O’Bannon talked specifically about the expectations of boomers and the role of Medicare in their lives.

“Technology is lengthening people’s lives,” O’Bannon said. “Medical breakthroughs will come to make people healthy, but there will always be health problems. Medicare needs to change to accommodate the agers.” The boomers might expect to stay alive longer and continue to do what they want; however there are still concerns about the burden of chronic illness to deal with.

“Americans do what they want first and then they worry about consequences later,” O’Bannon said.

Three testimonials discussed why the ODP mattered to the community.

“This room symbolizes the long bench. Right now, it’s not as deep,” said Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A) representative Courtney Tierney. She emphasized the importance of working together and utilizing ODP’s resources for everyone’s benefit.

“Individually, we can’t scratch the surface, but together with data, we can do it.” The V4A strives to provide resources and policies that will help the elderly lead meaningful lives.

Jeanne McCusker from Home Instead Senior Care in Charlottesville underscored similar points.

“This is a global issue like the energy crisis, financial crisis and the environmental crisis,” McCusker said. “To change the face of aging, we need companionship instead of isolation.”

The 2011 Age Ready Indicators Survey conducted by the ODP gives the public an idea of whether or not seniors and boomers feel they are ready to face the age wave. The 5,000 respondents were contacted by mail, phone or online. Some of the responses were obtained through 30-minute interviews. In total, 164 questions were asked.

When questioned about their quality of life, 75 percent of seniors and 70 percent of boomers answered that their lives were very good or excellent whereas. Out of all the respondents, 61 percent of seniors and 48 percent of boomers felt that they were personally well prepared to navigate the challenges of aging. On the other hand, fewer thought that their community was prepared. Only 32 percent of seniors and 16 percent of boomers agreed that their communities were well prepared.

According to the survey, 29 percent of seniors and 40 percent of boomers felt either often or sometimes lonely. Comparing 1980 and 2011, frequent loneliness decreased slightly.

In the workforce, a very low percentage felt that they had ever been discriminated against because of age. A high percentage of both seniors and boomers received no public assistance and stated that they did not need it.

About four in ten of those aged 65-and-older have a chronic illness. Nearly half of the seniors and boomers who participated in the survey had visited a doctor due to injury or illness within the past two years.

After collecting the survey results, the ODP plans to work on the problem areas in order to improve the standard of aging in Virginia.


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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The Virginia Hams will battle it out against the Richmond Legends in the sporting event of comedy, creating scenes, songs and games all based on audience suggestions. The show at… Full text

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