May is Older Americans Month

The Dayton Senior Center and ALTC are good resources for local seniors


Brianna Wray

Seniors have been working on the Seahawks stadium puzzle for several months. Times photographer Brianna Wray attests to its difficulty.

DAYTON-The Columbia County Senior Center, located at 403 E. Patit St. in Dayton, offers an array of activities for people sixty years old and older, said Stephanie Carpenter, R.N., who, along with Betty Keller, Barbara Gibson, Dawn Radebaugh, and Zella Powers make up the Southeast Washington Aging and Long Term Care Council of Governments Advisory Council, for Columbia County, of which Carpenter is the Chair.

"We're trying to get seniors more involved in the community," Carpenter said about activities planned for Older Americans Month, in May.

She said Senior Center activities in May include free haircuts by Tamara Scott, beginning on May 7, at 9:30 a.m., a Senior Center Open House, featuring an Aging and Long Term Care (ALTC) Resource Center and free ice cream sundaes, on May 9, from 1-3 p.m.

Carpenter said there are also plans to have children that are enrolled in family daycare centers visit seniors at the center.

For instance, on May 16 at 11:30 a.m. children from the Demaris Family Daycare will serenade seniors with "My Country Tis of Thee," and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to them.

The Senior Center offers much more to seniors on an ongoing basis.

Carpenter said by partnering with the Senior Center, the Columbia County Health System offers programs on foot health, diet education and the benefits of gardening. There is also a program called Staying Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), which is an exercise program designed to help with balance, which she teaches on Thursdays.

Other activities include live entertainment, free blood pressure checks, a lending library, games, cards, and puzzles, along with nutritious and inexpensive meals through the Senior Round Table, which is every Tuesday and Thursday, at noon, said Betty Keller.

The cost for the noon meal is seven dollars for non-seniors, but only four dollars for people sixty and older.

Keller said older people can also ask about tools for living independently at the local Aging and Disability Resource Center office at 410 East Main Street or by calling 382-4787. The office is open Tues. -Fri. from 8:30 a. m. - 5 p. m.

"I've been on the Advisory Council for seventeen years, voting, and forming centers to help keep us at home as long as possible," Keller said.

Lori Brown Director for the SE Washington Aging and Long Term Care Council of Governments said its mission is to ensure the infrastructure is in place to offer seniors with a continuum of care, and to promote policies and programs, like the new Dementia Friendly Communities Program, as well as to help seniors navigate the system to achieve better health outcomes.

"It's a complex system," Brown said.

She said programs that are contracted out include Meals on Wheels, senior transportation services, legal services, and a suite of services for unpaid caregivers, including respite care.

"We only reach one percent of unpaid caregivers in our state. We need to get to them sooner," Brown said. "Reaching out to them earlier can help mitigate the stress of caregiving."

In-Home Care, through Medicaid, is an example of an in-house program through the Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Services for healthy homes are provided from within, as well as contracted out, she said.

Columbia County is one of the eight counties in the SE WA Long Term Care Council. Brown said her governing board consists of seven county commissioners and includes Columbia County Commissioner Chuck Amerein.

Nationwide, Washington State has been rated No. 1 for its robust delivery system by AARP and the SCAN Foundation, Brown said.

Brianna Wray

Miller smiles as she calls BINGO. Seniors play with four cards each and the winners choose White Elephant prizes.


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