Transportation issues plague seniors

As the baby boomer generation rapidly approaches and reaches retirement age, so grows the need for transportation services. While many seniors have access to cars, there is also a growing number who don’t have immediate access to personal transportation and instead rely on public and group transportation.

According to their website, King County Metro offers “accessible services” for seniors and those with disabilities, but the future of these services is uncertain due to continuing cuts to Metro.

Hanna Binder is a master’s student leading a focus group on senior transportation issues.

“There’s a perception with older riders that it [Metro], takes forever to use,” she said. “You have no idea when they’re going to pick you up. It’s really problematic for people who might be older, have less energy, or have a mobility impairment if it takes them three hours to get where they’re going.” Continue reading

City supports social-work programs

Less than a year after former Mayor Mike McGinn announced an increase in resources for city-funded senior centers, Wallingford Community Senior Center launched its first social worker program.

From connecting seniors to assistance programs, to fostering communication with families, to leading tailored support groups and instructional workshops, WCSC Social Worker Sarah Frey and her colleagues throughout the Seattle area provide essential support to a rapidly growing elderly population.

But it wasn’t until WCSC received the $20,000 subsidy in 2013 that it was able to provide its members with what some now view as an invaluable service.

“Having a social worker in general has changed our entire outlook. We’ve moved our outreach toward being about relationships, rather than just being reactive,” said Lara Okoloko, the Community Engagement Strategist for WCSC. Continue reading

Spotlight on Diane Morgan

Diane Morgan reaches across the lunchroom table. Someone needs something—a slightly expressed need for salad dressing—and Diane stops our interview to say, “Sit down, no just sit down; I’ll go get it for you. What kind of dressing do you want? Thousand Island? Okay.”

“Diane’s so nice—she always does those things,” says Linda Demirel Barnes from the Neo Art School, another nonprofit at the Good Shepherd Center.

Linda has drawn up a chair next to us to say hi to Diane. The lunchroom provides a place for Wallingford Community Senior Center members, staff from nonprofits in the Good Shepherd Center, and visitors to enjoy community together. It has the air of a favored neighborhood restaurant and a school lunchroom.

Linda says Diane “brings clippings and visuals and lots of really good feathers” to the art school. The children at the Meridian School (also in the Good Shepherd Center) sometimes mistake Diane for a teacher, she’s so often at the art school. Continue reading

Spotlight on Dr. Yadviga Halsey

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Dr. Yadviga Halsey stands with some of her art currently on display at WCSC. Art is just one of her many interests. (Photograph: Megan Wiebelhaus)

Dr. Yadviga Halsey is a cornerstone of the Wallingford Community Senior Center. An artist, academic, and active participant at WCSC for the past seventeen years, she plays bridge here twice a week, has her art on display, and even brings flowers to brighten the rooms. And once, she taught a class on tripping.

“I’m an expert in tripping,” she said with a laugh.

The class, taught a few years ago, was on the Tai Chi method of walking to avoid tripping and injury. Dr. Halsey has been taking Tai Chi for eleven years and says the key to safer walking is to remember to pick up your feet. It’s not enough for the aging body to learn exercises, she says; inactive seniors lose mobility and need to use their bodies “the same way that kids do. They use everything…” Continue reading

Food fosters community

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Davi Asnani attends WCSC’s Harvest Breakfast with her family on September 6. From left: Sheela Hodges, Davi Asnani, Claire Hodges. (Photograph: Dan Druliner)

Community events are a great way to celebrate diversity of thought, converse with neighbors, and share a meal. Wallingford Community Senior Center hosted its third annual Harvest Breakfast on Saturday, September 6, and more than 120 people turned out to enjoy the good company and good food.

“Really good food. Everything was really nice,” said Davi Asnani, who attended the breakfast with her daughter Sheela Hodges and granddaughter Claire. They were joined later by Hodges’s husband and other children.

“They all enjoyed [themselves],” said Asnani. “In our family, everyone comes to support each other … They want to be with seniors, too.”

Pancake Breakfasts, Movie Nights, Harvest Breakfasts, and the Wallingford Family Parade and Festival are all events WCSC has done to help bring people together of different generations. While seniors and aging issues are always WCSC’s focus, these community events foster cross-generational interaction to build a more inclusive community, a critical component to fighting ageism and isolation. Continue reading