The Kalamazoo County Celebrates Elderhood initiative is seeking the community’s involvement in several important activities. “The first is identifying residents who are turning 100 or more in 2017 because we want to recognize these brave and wise souls who have contributed so much to their families, their community and their country,” said Judy Sivak, director of the area Agency on Aging IIIA.
A special luncheon is planned in April for this population. The agency would like to interview and video those who are willing to transmit their wisdom to future generations. They ask the public to contact Brien at the Area Agency on Aging IIIA, 269-373-5239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 28 to provide the centenarian’s name, address, phone number and whom to contact on the person’s behalf.
Celebrate Elderhood is also looking to recognize and learn from businesses, faith communities, service providers, direct care workers, licensed professionals and others that exhibit standards of excellence, best practices, and innovation in serving elders in Kalamazoo County. A nomination form can be received by contacting Brien or going to the website, http://www.kalcounty.com/aaa/celebrate_elderhood.htm. Winners will be recognized at a community event scheduled for May 18.
Regarding the list of businesses, the agency is trying to find businesses which are “elder-friendly” either through their human resources practices for employing older workers or through their customer service activities. That doesn’t include special discount days but does include training staff on the special needs of older customers, such as those with hearing and vision issues, someone who might be forgetful and what to do if that employee has a concern about a customer who might be alone. It would also include renovating space to allow for more seating if an elder gets tired.
Scholarships for college students seeking to work with elders in a variety of disciplines and for currently employed workers seeking to improve their understanding of dementia care are being offered to county residents. Information about these scholarships and an application are located on the website mentioned above.
The entire Celebrate Elderhood initiative is being funded by local grants and individual donations.