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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

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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