Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Every Day Should Be Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten senior safety, independence, and generates enormous economic and personal costs. One in three seniors over the age of 65 will fall each year.

Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing and the Los Angeles Falls Prevention coalition remind you that through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based fall prevention programs, and community partnerships, the chances of falls among seniors can be reduced. Here are some lifestyle tips and steps you can do to reduce your chances of falling:

Villa Gardens residents practice Tai Chi 
1. Exercise – Exercising regularly helps strengthen your muscle and improves your balance and gait. Tai Chi, for examples, is an effective exercise and studies have shown Tai Chi helps reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%.

2. Review your medication – Know the names of your medication and its doses. Ask yourself if the medication you are currently taking makes you dizzy or sleepy and if so, please consult with your doctor.

3. Get an eye exam - Have your eyes check at least once per year and update your lenses when needed.

4. Identify potential safety hazards around your home – “Red flags” around your house includes poorly lit stairways and walk ways, loose throw rugs, and electric wires in walking areas can serve as a trip hazard.

5. Make home modifications – When you do identify safety hazards in your home, make modifications such as adding grab rails or re-arranging furniture to make for wider walking spaces.

Are you at risk for falls? Take the 30-second Chair Rise to find out!

Older adults do not always report a fall or if they are losing their balance. Failure to do this increases the likelihood they may fall again. Thinking that it will not happen [again] is not the answer. If you are experiencing dizziness, difficulty with your balance or have had a fall prior - please report this to your physician. 

California has the largest number of seniors in the United States with more than 7.5 million individuals over 60 years of age. In Los Angeles County alone there are more than 1.1 million older adults over 60 years old.

Upcoming events:

Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing in collaboration with the Los Angeles Falls Prevention Coalition will host a Fall Prevention Series presenting on various topics via video conferencing. Health education video conferencing has been a longstanding program for the under-served seniors in Los Angeles and beyond through the Model e-Health Community for Aging (MeHCA) project. Through this the partnership, we have invited experts in their field to present the following topics pertaining to Fall Prevention:

- Medication Management presented by Bradley Williams, PharmD, CGP from University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy

- Safe Home Tips presented by Anat Louis, Psy.D. from Los Angeles Department of Aging

- Fall Risk Self-Assessment by Celeste Del Valle, MPH at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Los Angeles Fall Prevention Coalition

Interested in learning more information about Fall Prevention Series or about MeHCA? Please reach out Julie Santos, Project Specialist at

Interested in learning more about the Falls Prevention Coalition? Check out the Los Angeles Falls Prevention website. This resource will help seniors and their family identify and locate programs. For any questions, please reach out to Gretchen Swanson, DPT, MPH, Member of the Steering Committee, at

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dr. George Farah: Physician and Artist

The canvas was stark white, remembers Casa de Mañana resident Dr. George Farah. “I was about seven years old visiting the countryside near Beirut, Lebanon where I grew up,” he said. “I was watching intently as I saw a man and a woman apply colorful paint and gradually change the white canvas from literally nothing to intense beauty. This experience gave me great happiness and started me on a path from which I never strayed – the path to becoming an artist.”

Dr. Farah, a renowned cardiologist with a distinguished practice in Chicago for many years, shares his love of painting with his love of medicine. Both give him great joy. But unlike medicine, he has no formal training as an artist. He either paints at Casa de Mañana’s resident art studio (where he also teaches) or in his apartment.

“I love watercolor landscapes,” Dr. Farah said. “Since I’ve traveled around the world I’ve seen a great deal. Now living at Casa de Mañana I can reflect on my journeys abroad and paint them on canvas to share with others. Sketches I’ve made during my travels take me back to those places. I mentally recreate those scenes and rediscover the feelings I had during that time.” Casa de Mañana’s exceptional seaside location with its magnificent light and natural beauty provides Dr. Farah a perfect palate. In fact, he has dedicated part of a calendar he produces each year to capturing Casa’s beauty. Its many buildings as well as the La Jolla shoreline and cove in which it sits grace the calendar’s pages.

“I never paint from a picture,” Dr. Farah said. “I visit every place I paint in person and make a sketch. I take the sketch home and apply watercolor. It’s very relaxing. I feel that I lose myself in the moment.”

Dr. Farah’s watercolors have been featured in exhibits and in magazines including several times on the cover of Chicago Medicine, the official publication of the Chicago Medical Society. “When I first saw Casa, the ocean and the architecture I told my daughter I want to live here,” he said. “Who wouldn’t? It’s picture perfect.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing to host Twitter Chat on Cyber Security

The Internet offers us some amazing benefits—we can communicate instantly with loved ones, share priceless moments with friends, quickly pay bills and experience a level of convenience never before available. But with this ever-expanding world of access to information and resources, it’s important to stay educated on how to protect ourselves and our privacy online. 

According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, many of the crimes that occur in real life are now done or facilitated through the Internet. Theft, abuse, and more can now all be done online. Particularly alarming is the fact that many scammers target older adults and prey upon their vulnerability via emails and websites in such forms as charitable donations, dating services, auctions, health care, and prescription medicine. 

Consider these statistics affecting older Americans today:
  • 59% of Americans aged 65 and above are reported to use the Internet[i] 
  • Only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are brought to the attention of authorities[ii]
  • In 2010, for every incident of violent crime, three incidents of Internet crime were committed against seniors[iii]
  • Older adults lost $2.9 billion to financial abuse in 2011[iv]

What is the Piers Project?
Through education, training, and the use of technologies that promote Internet safety the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing hopes to facilitate greater awareness of cyber security issues affecting older adults. The Piers Project is funded by a gift from the family estate of Ellie Piers to benefit the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing’s (CIW) ongoing mission of using technology to enhance wellbeing among older adults. Piers lived at Carlsbad By The Sea, a Front Porch retirement community in Carlsbad, CA.

Who will be participating?
There will be a panel representing several different organizations participating, including cyber security experts and senior service providers. The panel will address key issues/topics of cyber security among the older adult population.

Just a few of our partners that will be joining the conversation are: AARP Fraud Watch  Network (@aarpca) HelloTech  (@hellotech), Serving Seniors (@servingseniors)

Why join and follow the chat live?
To gain more knowledge and share our findings with older adults, senior service providers, and others in the field of aging. The Piers Project initiative is our call to action!

Some sample questions discussed throughout the live chat will be:

Q1 What do you think are some common online/email scams targeting seniors today?

Q2 What makes older adults vulnerable to online fraud? 

Q3 What do you think contributes to the growing number of unreported fraud among older adults?

What can we do to help seniors avoid fear of using the Internet and promote safe online behavior?

Q5 What are some best practices in online safety that older adults can use to better protect themselves?

What can organizations serving older adult communities do to help spread awareness of cyber security and elder abuse online?

What educational resources or tips would you suggest for the preservation of cyber security?

Come prepared for a meaningful dialogue and sharing of ideas, information, tools and helpful tips!

How do you join?
Join @FrontPorchCS and search for #SrCyberChat on Thursday, October 6th from 10-11:00A.M. Pacific Standard Time. For more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month visit

[i] Smith, Aaron. “Older Adults and Technology use.” Pew Internet Center, 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.
[ii] Bonnie, Richard J. and Wallace, Robert B. “Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America.” The National Academies Press, 2003. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.
[iii] Bick, Jonathan. “Internet Crime and the Elderly: Enhanced penalties could prevent online targeting of senior citizens.” New Jersey Law Journal, 1 Aug 2011. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.
[iv] MetLife Mature Market Institute. “MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of occasion, desperation, and predation against America’s Elders.” National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2011. Web. 4 Jan. 2016. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

4 Life Lessons From Tony Bennett and Other 89-Year-Olds

Bennett and Dick Van Dyke are going strong and happy

Liz Fedor for Next Avenue

Tony with his son Danny, 2007 Grammy Awards

Singer Tony Bennett, at 89, isn’t resting on his laurels.

He recently released a new album,
The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. In an interview with NPR, he recalled how much he loved singing for his relatives as a boy. “It created a passion in my life that exists to this moment as I speak to you, that is stronger now at 89 than in my whole life,” Bennett said. “I still feel that I can get better somehow. And I search for it all of the time.”

Bennett’s not the only 89-year-old who is
defying stereotypes of older age. Actor Dick Van Dyke just wrote a memoir titled Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging. Queen Elizabeth continues to carry out the royal responsibilities she inherited in 1952. And Marilyn Hagerty, my friend and former colleague, continues to write regularly for the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald.

Their daily lives offer four lessons for all people of all ages:

Lesson 1: Spend Time with People of Different Generations

 With her sky-high shoes, infamous meat dress and outlandish theatrics, Lady Gaga stands opposite Bennett on the pop star spectrum. Yet Bennett saw an opportunity for an interesting collaboration, so he reached across their 60-year age gap and created a hit album of jazz standards and toured the country with the artist he calls ‘Lady.’

By working with artists who are younger than he is, Bennett is living in the present and learning how younger people interact with each other.

Lesson 2: Don’t Bow to Pressures to Retire

Actors, writers and professors are among the professionals who are leading the way to prove that there isn’t one right age for people to retire.

Like Queen Elizabeth, who hasn’t bothered to respond to speculation about her retirement, so are a slew of women in the public sector. Janet Yellen, 69, plays a key role in guiding the nation’s economy in her post as chair of the Federal Reserve System. Following deadly ISIS attacks in Paris, two American women have important roles in proposing U.S. policy to combat terrorism at home and around the globe: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president, is 68, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is 82.

Lesson 3: Look for the Silver Lining

On his new album, Bennett sings, “A heart full of joy and gladness will always banish sadness and strife. So always look for the silver lining.”

During the many years I’ve known Grand Forks Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty,
she has always exemplified this attitude. I’ve watched her lose her husband and daughter, overcome breast cancer and pick up the pieces after her home was flooded. Despite her sorrow, she perseveres by being out and about in the world and moving forward. She enjoys her grandchildren, regularly plays bridge, cheers at college games and volunteers at her church. But Hagerty has loved being a journalist her entire life, so she makes time to report and write informative and wry columns laced with her self-deprecating humor.

People like Hagerty and Bennett focus on what they physically can do; they don’t dwell on what they can’t do.

Lesson 4: Indulge Your Passion

In his new book, Keep Moving, Van Dyke writes about how he danced in celebration of his 89th birthday: “I shimmied and shook, my hips going right and then left, my arms and wrists undulating like long snakes.”

When someone told him, “You don’t act your age at all,” Van Dyke concluded that “old age is part fact, part state of mind, part luck.”

He loves to dance, so he indulges that passion. And to ensure that he can keep dancing, he works out daily by walking on a treadmill and lifting weights.

Van Dyke has another wise piece of advice for people of all ages: Don’t worry. “The less you worry, the better your attitude is, and a positive, worry-free, guilt-free attitude is key to enjoying life at any age — especially old age.”

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Seniors Helping Seniors

From Cupertino to Cameroon, Sunny View Residents Adopt a Sister Village and Raise Money for Needy Seniors

by Bill Penrod, Development Director for the Sunny View Foundation

As Development Director for the Sunny View Foundation my primary commitment is to make sure the Foundation meets the needs of our residents at Sunny View Retirement Community and Sunny View West, the adjacent affordable housing community. Our scope of philanthropic work usually stays fairly close to home, however, this summer we came across an opportunity to extend the reach of our generous Sunny View family by directing our giving to a community of seniors on the other side of the globe; in Cameroon, Africa.

Brought to our attention by Jack York (the founding CEO of iN2L, tablet based technology recently introduced at Sunny View), this opportunity to help became a life-changing one for everyone involved.

It started with a goat named “Jacky.”
While attending the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging conference, Jack York met Francis Njuakom Nchii, the executive director for Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance located in Cameroon. After a moving presentation by Francis detailing the mistreatment of women and the elderly in his home country, Jack felt compelled to make a contribution to the cause, which provides assistance to disadvantaged seniors with a particular focus on women and widows. Jack later received an email from Francis explaining how the funds were used to set up a project called “The Jack York Elderly Women’s Sustainable Goat Rearing Project in North West Region Cameroon.” They even named a goat after him: “Jacky.”

Jack was thrilled that his donation had made a difference and was inspired to do more. He sent out an email to 100 people, including Sally Plank, the executive director at Sunny View, asking for help.

Francis made quite an impression to all.
I’ve met three United States presidents, high-profile athletes from every sport, television celebrities and none of that compares to meeting Francis. We decided to approach Sunny View residents and staff about this important cause. Funds raised would go to support projects such as goat rearing, gardening, farming and beekeeping and well as providing for much needed essentials like blankets and gas lamps. We set up a video call with our residents. Francis brought seniors from a nearby village to attend as well. That was the moment--seeing other seniors in need and hearing their stories--that really inspired our residents. 

Our next step was planning a celebration ceremony to welcome Francis to Sunny View. Jack York organized an “American” road trip from New Orleans, Louisiana to Las Vegas, Nevada and then Sunny View. Francis was moved by the kindness and the openness of the American people. By the time he reached Sunny View he truly understood what the American dream is all about. 

The day of the celebration was a typical morning at Sunny View. Residents were having coffee, reading the local newspaper and watching the news on television. The night before Francis had enjoyed a lively dinner with our residents and when I entered the main dining room there already a buzz about the upcoming event.

Dressed in traditional Cameroonian attire, Francis spoke about his childhood. The oldest child of his father’s first of three wives, Francis was one of 26 children. He described how difficult it was to watch his mother suffer from the beatings his father gave her and his other wives every morning just to show his dominance. After his father’s death, as is the custom in Cameroon, his mother had to give up her property, so Francis and his mother were left homeless and penniless.

Francis also talked about a custom in his country to remove your hat and kneel in the presence of seniors. Francis then proceed to remove his hat and kneel in front of our residents. Everyone was moved by his heart-felt homage. He then went on to described the hardship in Africa and how God has guided him from Africa to India to Australia to the United States --that each time he thought there was no way of getting more done for his seniors, God intervened and provided guidance. There was not a dry eye in the house.

Seniors helping seniors.
We presented our donation: checks from our residents and staff as well as from our parent company Front Porch totaling more than $11,000 to support his seniors.

Francis was compelled to share one last story. He asked for a resident volunteer and Mary Ellen Snodgrass raised her hand. With Mary Ellen at his side, Francis described how in Cameroon, he pays reverence to seniors because as the silver-haired bearers of wisdom they are closest to God’s image. Mary Ellen, teary eyed, hugged Francis as though they were long-time friends.

This experience left our entire community feeling acknowledged and valued in a way that is sometimes rare in our youth-fixated culture. And this feeling, of being recognized as an asset to society--one worth investing in--is part of the gift we hope to deliver our new friends in Cameroon.

Bill Penrod is the Development Director for the Sunny View Foundation (a Front Porch philanthropic partner) which serves Sunny View and Sunny View West Retirement Community residents starting the next chapter of their lives. Find out more about the Sunny View Foundation HERE.