Aging At Altitude - Through the Generations

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Through the Generations | JUNE 2020



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Senior Living During and Post COVID-19 Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future Assisted Living: Where Seniors Enjoy Quality of Life, Comforts of Home Local Resources for Aging in Place Is It Time for Hospice? Reverse Mortgages Will Power


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Ear and Eye Health Can Greatly Affect Quality of Life Light in the Darkness: Vision Loss Resources You Don’t Have to Live with Joint Pain, Local Clinics Can Help Cannabis 101 for Aging Adults Seniors and Brain Health


Seniors Play a Vital Role in the Community The Benefits of Yoga for Aging Adults Activities to Keep Busy While at Home


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VIRTUAL EXPO JUNE 14 – AUG. 31 The virtual expo will showcase local experts and resources with helpful information, photos, videos and a contact form for more information. WEBINAR SERIES JUNE 17 – JULY 1 The moderated webinar series will broadcast live and will feature Q&A sessions. Sessions will also be available for on-demand viewing.

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brittany Anas, Jessica Benes, Linda Thorsen Bond, Emma Castleberry, Adam Goldstein, Sandy Hale, Sarah Huber, Julie Kailus, John Lehndorff, Amanda McCracken, Wendy McMillan, Pam Moore, Elise Oberliesen, Darren Thornberry, Rhema Zlaten CREATIVE DIRECTOR/EDITOR Greg Stone MARKETING CONSULTANTS Julie Casper, Pete Christiansen, Jeanine Fritz, Ruth Garfield, Thais Hafer, Rich Hopkins, Jim Koppel, Keith Kratochvil, Abbie Lance, Billy Magrini, Dale Sekuler VP / MARKETING & ADVERTISING Jill Stravolemos Aging at Altitude is an advertising feature of the Daily Camera, Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly. ©2020 Prairie Mountain Media.


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Senior Living During and Post COVID-19

By Brittany Anas for Aging at Altitude


ver the past few months, the coronavirus has reshaped nearly all aspects of American life. But the pandemic has had an especially significant effect on senior living, as those who are ages 65 and older are at elevated risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here, in and around Boulder County, leaders at senior living communities have not just adopted additional safety and cleaning procedures as they prioritize their residents’ physical health, but they have also come up with creative new ways to keep seniors engaged in this newfound era of social distancing. For instance, at Balfour Senior Living in Louisville, “window visits,” when allowed by public health officials, 6


have been arranged between residents and their family members and additional tablets were purchased so residents can stay virtually connected to family via video chats. “While this doesn’t replace the hug of a loved one, it certainly has helped keep families and residents engaged,” says Jeanette Allen, vice president of health and wellness at Balfour Senior Living in Louisville. And, at Avenida Lakewood, a luxury active adult 55 and up rental community, residents have been participating in exercise classes from their balconies, with instructors leading the classes in the courtyard. The community has also been hosting “mobile hallway happy hours” so residents can stay in their apartments, yet still feel like they’re a part of a special occasion, says Alice Tutunjian, managing director, marketing with Avenida.

At Hover Senior Living Community, therapy has been exceptionally creative: Alpacas, goats and dogs have done window visits; there’s been music therapy in the form of window concerts; and elders have been planting flowers and herbs in outdoor gardens and raised garden beds through a plant therapy program, explains Kelley Frederick, director of marketing for Katherine & Charles Hover Green House Neighborhood Homes. In addition to flexible and creative programming, leaders have been laser focused on following CDC guidelines and focused on preventing COVID-19. “We continue to act with an abundance of caution, reinforcing our policies and procedures for contagious illnesses,” says Marcia Klassen, the executive director of Brookdale Meridian Boulder.

“These include reinforcing washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, staying home when sick, moving to in-room dining options and leveraging iPads and InTouch for families to connect with their loved ones.” Ahead, senior living leaders share more on how they’re responding to COVID-19 and relay their expectations for how the pandemic will affect retirement communities in the future.

How the pandemic affects occupancy Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected occupancy at local senior living communities. At the start of the pandemic, Balfour’s Louisville campus saw a decline in leads due to the fear of living in a congregate living center, Allen says. The senior living community paused move-


ins for a period of time because movers were not allowed into the community and admissions were paused in the skilled community due to a small COVID-19 outbreak, Allen says. “We are now seeing, after nearly three months, an increase in leads,” she says. “This may be due to the social isolation people are feeling at home, or adult children seeing their parents declining with the quarantine. We are hopeful that this increase in lead trend continues as there is definitely value in the community setting.” Until recently, Hover Senior Living in Longmont placed a hold on move-ins to the community at all three levels of care: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, Frederick says. At Avenida, occupancy in the active adult rental communities has increased over the past few months. The active adult

JUNE 2020

community, which has highly amenitized apartment buildings and a full schedule of organized activities, is designed for those who are 55 and older. The average resident is 74 years old, outgoing, and very active, Tutunjian says. More than 65 percent of residents have sold their homes to come live at Avenida, so many have committed to a new, active lifestyle instead of being isolated at home.

Maintaining health standards

Temperature checks of staff members, frequent handwashing, and temporarily restricting visitors are all part of the new normal in many senior living communities. As an example, Balfour restricted family and other non-essential visitors a week ahead of public health officials instructions to do so. The

community also put a screening questionnaire into place and began temperature checking staff members before it was mandated. Cloth masks for residents were purchased and are frequently laundered for residents. Balfour also enacted measures to protect its employees, paying for home daycare for its associates on the Louisville campus once schools and daycares closed. The “Balfour Way” initiative increased pay for hourly employees during the pandemic. Also, early on, Balfour invested in the Everlywell test that could test symptomatic residents and staff at no cost because community testing wasn’t widely available. At Hover Senior Living, those in leadership positions have been participating in multiple weekly conference calls with appropriate government agencies to guide our response to the pandemic.

At Brookdale, outings have been canceled and leaders are leveraging digital opportunities and modified activities so they’re mindful of social distancing. For instance, instead of group exercises in a room, they are doing doorway classes, Klassen says.

Taking care of residents during these unprecedented times

Senior living communities have become exceptionally creative with programming during the pandemic to help keep residents connected while adhering to social distancing. During “Shelter in Place” orders, Avenida adapted programming to allow for physical distancing with the online zoom book clubs and socially distanced trivia games. “We are just beginning a slowphased “reopening” where we will be able to re-introduce our




regular programming but with limits on attendees so we can still adhere to CDC guidelines,” Tutunjian says. “We will be repeating the most popular classes and events so that everyone who wants to, gets to participate.” And, at Balfour the staff had done theme days and weeks and fun contests to keep residents’ spirits up. The community has also been conducting virtual town hall meetings with residents and families to keep the lines of communication open. The Hover Senior Living Community has been doing hallway bingo events, outdoor excursions that are mindful of social distancing, knitting and crocheting for various causes, mobile happy hours, weekly tai chi, and continuous surveys of residents to make sure their needs are being met.

How COVID-19 will reshape senior living?

What does senior living look like in the future? Allen expects that screening will stay, and there may be a new normal of restricting the number of visitors with an ongoing use of personal protective equipment, mainly masking. “We will definitely have to pivot on how we market the benefits of senior living for new referrals and leads,” Allen says. “We’ve adapted very well with virtual tours and virtual assessments which may continue a while longer.” Allen also expects to see new technology that helps clean living spaces, effectively eradicating viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces. “I suspect there are many changes we will see over the coming months and years,” she says.

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of the country has been under, but they’ve had activities that kept them occupied and access to resources if they need them,” she says. “There’s great comfort in that.”

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Avenida Lakewood 11001 W. 15th Place, Lakewood, 720.724.7010,

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Finding the

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We are here to assist your family through each step in the search for senior living. Whether you’re beginning your search or just have questions, we’re ready to share our knowledge and experience to help you make a thoughtful, well-informed decision. We’re ready to listen, understand and partner to find the right options for you or your loved one.

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Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future Frasier retirement community marks 60 years By Wendy McMillan for Aging at Altitude


t’s an unusual time to plan a birthday party. When Boulder’s Frasier retirement community reached its 60th year in April, initial celebratory arrangements were put on hold. But it doesn’t take a special occasion for this dynamic community to celebrate. Frasier is built upon a vibrant, thriving culture that makes the most of each day, weathering ups and downs and drawing out the richness of experiences through every age and stage. Founded by the Rocky Mountain Conference of the Methodist Church in 1960, Frasier began humbly. One hundred small, studio-style 10


apartments were constructed on a twenty-acre site gifted by Elmer and Mayme Frasier. While

much has changed, Frasier been steadfastly committed to helping seniors enjoy independent and

fulfilling lives since first opening its doors. Today, Frasier delivers residences and compassionate care to nearly 500 seniors, employing over 300 staff to provide a full continuum of care: independent living, assisted living, memory support, long-term care and skilled nursing services. As Colorado’s only CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited Life Plan Community, Frasier has passed an in-depth review, meeting rigorous guidelines for service and quality to earn the internationally recognized endorsement. Frasier’s popularity and growth has naturally meant steady expansion through the years, and resident Ed Putzier, 95, has just about seen it all. Putzier moved to Boulder in 1952, at one point even living in the outlying neighborhood. Between that period and time spent visiting his mother-in-law, who resided at Frasier from 1971 until her passing, Putzier and his late wife Jean watched as the community grew. “We were so familiar with Frasier from visiting Jean’s mom, it was a natural choice for us

Today, Frasier delivers residences and compassionate care to nearly 500 seniors, employing over 300 staff to provide a full continuum of care: independent living, assisted living, memory support, long-term care, and skilled nursing services. DAILY CAMERA

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Frasier’s recent expansion includes revitalized new dining venues and common spaces.

when we decided to move to a senior living community,” Putzier says, sharing how the couple became Frasier residents in 1994. “When it became apparent Jean needed a higher level of care due to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Frasier was the only community we considered. Living at Frasier, I knew Jean would get the excellent compassionate care she needed at Frasier.” Throughout its six-decade history, Frasier has expanded numerous times, but the biggest, most stunning changes came out of necessity. The devastating flood of 2013 created daunting challenges. The assisted living building and parts of Frasier’s long-term care and skilled nursing communities, as well as fifteen independent garden level apartments, experienced significant flood damage. “According to FEMA, for that year in Colorado Frasier was one of the largest, if not the single largest flood disaster clean-up for a business in Colorado,” says Tim Johnson, Frasier’s President and CEO since 2010. Testament to Frasier’s strength and dedication, the response and responsiveness to the flood JUNE 2020

yielded much to be proud of. “We facilitated quick evacuation, with zero flood injuries to residents,” Johnson says. “While no one anticipated a 1000-year rain that evening, we found we were well prepared. We overcame that, and the experience set us up for any challenge.” In addition to taking immediate action to ensure residents’ safety, the Frasier team examined their Master Plan with new perspective. The result was inspired. Toward the close of 2019, Frasier completed a $90+ million investment in expansion. Developments included: The Prairies, home to 98 independent living apartments; The Canyons Center, a multi-purpose arts and education building; an expanded wellness center and lap pool; and revitalized new dining venues and common spaces. Meeting areas are made available to the greater Boulder community, when circumstances allow. All the buildings meet the highest of standards, with abundant natural light, beautiful internal and external aesthetics, sustainable finishes and more. Still nearing completion and adding the final finishing touches are landscaping

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Frasier’s expanded wellness center and lap pool.

details and amenities such as a bocce ball court. Residents of The Prairies began moving into their new homes in early January. Jill (Julianne) Anderson, was one of the new building’s first residents to take up occupancy. “We all age to the point we need assistance if we are lucky,” says Anderson, who was on the wait list for the community for ten years. “With Frasier, I loved the fact that I would never have to worry about where I would live through the



various stages of senior living.” Before signing up for her apartment, Anderson spent time visiting Frasier and sharing in community events. “I am a ‘people’ person and thrive on the multitude of relationships I have at Frasier,” she says. “I can socialize, and then go to my apartment for as much private time as I desire. Solitude can be found here, too. The choice is yours.” Each spring, Frasier holds a Founders Day celebration in

honor of its roots. This year, given the alignment of the expansion’s completion and the 60th milestone to look forward to, plans were laid to note all three at once in a trifecta of festivities. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented that concept to come to fruition as planned. Yet, the community remains undaunted. “We’re tentatively making plans to hold our 60th Anniversary and Grand Opening Celebration in midAugust,” says Frasier Director of Communications Julie Soltis. “We’re following guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. If we have to move the event again, we will. We are taking extraordinary measures to keep our residents and staff safe.” Additionally, Frasier is exerting its utmost in creativity to keep nurturing robust community spirit. Thinking

outside the box, Frasier provides its residents with opportunities to connect while apart. Residents enjoy a vibrant outdoor concert series while maintaining physical distance, for instance. Internal television channel programming has offered a greater variety of personal options than ever before. “Our residents and dedicated staff truly make Frasier what it is,” Soltis says. “They are amazing, awesome, and inspiring.” To Anderson, Frasier is about embracing the joy of life. “When I arrived, it felt like home already,” she says. “The huge array of activities, entertainment, wellness facilities, beautiful grounds, views, and excellent staff are the icing on the cake.” Frasier 350 Ponca Place, Boulder 303.499.4888,


Assisted Living: Where Seniors Enjoy Quality of Life, Comforts of Home By Elise Oberliesen for Aging at Altitude


enesis Senior Living at Lafayette is an assisted living facility with 30 furnished apartments for seniors who do not require nursing care. Apartments come in a wide range of sizes – from studios to one bedroom apartments. Some residents add their own personal décor to give it a special touch with a homey feel. So go ahead and bring dad’s favorite recliner. At Genesis Senior Living, the hope is that everyone feels like they are right at home. When it’s time to get a breath of fresh air, head outdoors and take walk on beautiful grounds. Green grass and plenty of trees add to its natural beauty. Remember to take a peek at the gazebo, a popular spot where residents can crack open their favorite book – or just enjoy the warm breeze.

Ring the Dinner Bell

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, dining is always something to look forward to at Genesis Senior Living. “The food is excellent, we get great reviews on the meal,” said Dylan Spader, Executive Director. Some popular dining options include Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, meatloaf and chicken cordon bleu. Don’t forget to ask what kind of pie they are serving for dessert. But if you have a hankering for something besides the daily special, take a peek at the menu JUNE 2020

to order something to your liking. “We offer a variety of dining options and our chef is quick to accommodate residents specific dietary needs or requests.” Spader said.

Need help with doctor’s appointments?

Here’s a little perk. Transportation is provided free of charge for residents going to and from medical appointments, said Spader. Keep an eye out on the transportation calendar for upcoming weekly scheduled transportation within community.

Rehabilitation for Seniors: Getting You Home Faster Also on campus, Power Back Rehabilitation Lafayette, a skilled nursing facility focused on rapid recovery after residents go through surgery or experience an acute illness or injury. “We individualize each patient’s plan of care and rehabilitation goals to get the patient back home as quickly and safely as possible,” said Spader. Whether residents need postop rehab or are recovering from illness, Spader said the goal at Power Back Rehabilitation is to get patients back to their prior level of function and without the use of assistive devices. Genesis Senior Living / PowerBack Rehabilitation 329 Exempla Circle, Lafayette, 720.639.2200, genesishcc;

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Our modes of connecting with each other have changed significantly in this season of social distance. Though these shifts have been undeniably abrupt, transformation is the constant in the world of communication technology. From telegraphs to hearing devices to FaceTime, breakthroughs in science and machinery grant us extraordinary opportunities. Join Chelsea Walters, B.S., BC-HIS, to explore the evolution of telecommunications, its impact on how we relate to one another, and the social force that drives these innovations. Learn strategies and solutions to make the most of every connection you make while communicating at a distance.

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Aging in Place Local resources make aging in place easier than ever.

By Emma Castleberry for Aging at Altitude


he desire to age in place is nearly universal. While some seniors look forward the social benefits of a new community in their later years, many want to continue living in their own home and independently. Growing older at home is possible, but it requires some advance planning and an effective use of resources. Local seniors can access a variety of support systems that tackle the three major challenges to aging in place: housing, meals and day-to-day services.


Aging in place is so popular that real estate companies have created an entire branch of services exclusively catered to the senior population. Dale Pearson, a RE/MAX of Boulder Broker Associate, is a certified SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist). “The National Association 14


of Realtors offers Realtors an educational designation called SRES for those Realtors who have completed courses designed to assist buyers and sellers ages 50-plus who have very specific real estate needs,” he says. “With the SRES designation, I counsel clients and find homes for those ready for a lifestyle change.” Bill Allen, who is also an SRES at RE/MAX of Boulder, says having someone on your side in the house-hunt process becomes even more important as we age. “Get with someone who has experience with the process and has access to quality up-todate real estate information,” he says. “I am a senior too, and I have many years of experience in local, regional and interstate moves, as well as access to professional nationwide referral networks.” A one-level home is naturally desirable for those looking to age in place, as stairs become more challenging and risky later in life. “With mobility being one of the main factors as we age, a home

elevator access,” says Pearson. “Eliminating stair access to enjoy all the features of a home is vitally important to aging in place.” There are other factors to consider when choosing where to age in place. Seniors should consider the demographics of the neighborhood – will your neighbors be your peers? Location and ease of access to medical and other services is important, too. Allen adds that, in addition to main level living, seniors will likely want a home with updated safety features and a neighborhood that is calm and low in traffic. If your home is not already well-suited to support aging in place, it might be time to consider a move. Luckily, your local SRES are specifically prepared to serve a population looking for age-in-place housing options. Meals on Wheels of Boulder provides nutritious meals to area residents.

TRU PACE provides access to a center with medical care and social opportunities, transportation and other day-to-day services.

with all necessities on one level is increasingly important, whether it be a ranch style home, a patio home with main level living or even a one-level condo with


Even for those who have long enjoyed cooking, making meals can become a chore as we get older. For those who live alone, meals can also be a lonely time. Food is an inherently social activity, and Meals on Wheels recognizes that. “Meals on Wheels of Boulder provides nutritious meals and a daily serving of love to Boulder residents who might not otherwise have access to good nutrition and who can go days without the warmth of human interaction,” says Kate Wheeler, development and marketing manager. “Good nutrition and a daily wellbeing check from our volunteer delivery driver helps maintain health and fosters DAILY CAMERA

continued independent living.” Meals on Wheels serves everyone, regardless of income, and the organization’s fees are calculated on a sliding scale.

an awareness not only about one’s current needs, but about future needs, as well. With a little forethought, aging in place can be a comfortable and realistic solution for your senior years.

Day-to-Day Services

While housing and meals cover basic needs, seniors don’t just want to survive – they want to thrive. A comfortable home and hot meals are just the foundation for a fulfilling, rich life. Aging in place means you might need help with other things, such as running errands, minding household chores, and meeting your healthcare needs. TRU PACE provides an all-inclusive solution to many of these needs. With a variety of services available to anyone over 55 years old in eligible zip codes, TRU PACE is committed to helping seniors age in their homes whenever possible. “We address all aspects of

Dale Pearson (Left) and Bill Allen (Right) are Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES) who specialize in assisting buyers and sellers ages 50-plus who have very specific real estate needs.

one’s needs to achieve quality of life,” says Cathleen Aram, business development specialist at TRU PACE. “We focus on medical, social, emotional and physical.” TRU PACE provides access to a center with medical care and social opportunities, transportation, and a coordinated professional plan intended to keep a senior in their home for as long as possible.

An all-encompassing resource such as TRU PACE is vital to the success of any senior hoping to age in place.

Planning Makes It Possible

Aging in place has a variety of benefits, and it has never been easier for seniors to achieve this ideal late-life arrangement. It requires effective planning and

Dale Pearson, RE/MAX of Boulder 2425 Canyon Blvd., #110, Boulder, 303.818.5640, Meals on Wheels 3701 Canfield Street, Boulder, 720.780.3380 TRU Pace 2593 Park Lane, Lafayette, 303.926.4745, Bill Allen, RE/MAX of Boulder 2425 Canyon Blvd. #110, Boulder, 303.441.5690,

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Affirming life at every step of your journey with illness and loss. JUNE 2020




Is It Time for Hospice? 4 signs that aging parents need hospice care hands-on care like bathing, eating, getting the patient dressed, all which takes some of the burden away from the caregiver.

By Jessica Benes for Aging at Altitude


f your loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it’s never too early to have that conversation about hospice care with your physician or a hospice care program. “You can call us directly to learn more about hospice care and discuss your loved one’s illness,” said Michael McHale, CEO of TRU Community Care in Boulder County. “We will send staff out to the home to do an evaluation if needed. We work with that evaluation and your physician to find out when the time is right.” Hospice care is a benefit offered through Medicare and most commercial insurances for people who have a life-limiting illness and are no longer seeking curative care, McHale said. Those patients are now seeking comfort care. So how do you know it’s time to look at hospice?

Treatment not working

One sign might be that treatment is no longer working or the patient is not interested in aggressive intervention. “Hospice is able to come in and support the patient and family through the process by offering clinical, psycho-social and spiritual support in the home environment,” McHale said. Patients are usually dealing with the physical issues of the disease, but also dealing with issues that aren’t physical. These might be spiritual in nature or worries about finances and family, all the peripheral issues that go along 16


Patient ready for a change in focus

Michael McHale, CEO TRU Community Care

with end of life. Common diseases that result in hospice care can include, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, liver disease, kidney failure, HIV/ AIDS and others.

Patient needs more help

Another sign that a patient might be ready for hospice is that symptoms are getting harder to manage or he or she needs more help. “Being a caregiver full time is challenging at best,” McHale said. “If you have to work, if you have your own children to raise, it can be challenging.” That’s where hospice benefits the family and supports them as they’re going through this process. Hospice care workers won’t come in and completely take control. The care will be intermittent and as needed. It might include nurses, social workers, chaplains, certified nursing assistants and physicians to help in the care of the individual. Nurses will monitor the clinical aspects of disease progression and make sure the caregiver has the supplies they need at home. Chaplains can offer spiritual support. Certified nurses assistants will offer practical

McHale said that a lot of people think hospice care is about giving up. However, hospice care is more about changing the focus of care. When a person is diagnosed with a disease, he or she looks for a cure but a cure is not always possible. “The care moves away from cure and focuses on comfort. Instead of trying to cure the disease, we manage the effects the disease has on the individual, pain and symptoms, this is called comfort care,” McHale said.

The patient is eligible for hospice

Family members can consult with a primary care physician or hospice support team on when the patient is eligible for hospice through Medicare. McHale said that Medicare requires two physicians to certify that the patient is eligible. The patient’s prognosis must have a less than 6 month life expectancy. “There’s no science to the prognostication,” McHale said. “People have stayed on hospice for longer than six months but as long as they’re showing a general decline, it keeps them eligible for the benefit.” The challenge is that according to McHale, 30 percent of people who access hospice do so in the last seven days of life. He added that it’s an incredible benefit that will take care of the patient for a minimum of six months or longer but patients don’t know

when to access it. “It’s best to start the conversation sooner in the diagnosis process, and have that open communication so the caregiver can do the best they can while caring for their loved one,” he said. A few other signs that it’s time to look at hospice, as you care for an elderly patient with a terminal condition: • Your relative or parent visits the doctor or hospital much more often, within recent months. • Your parent is more confused or agitated; might have hallucinations or be combative. • Your patient’s appetite has decreased and he or she is losing weight for no good reason. This could be a sign of the body slowly down. • Or perhaps, the person in your care is sleeping a lot more often. All of these might be signs that it is time to look at hospice. Keep in mind that like McHale said, the sooner the better. “Anyone who is living with a life-limiting illness; it is always best to have that conversation with hospice or a physician, to take full advantage of the benefit.” TRU Community Care / TRU Hospice Care Center 1950 Mountain View Ave., Longmont, 303.604.5272, tru-hospice-services DAILY CAMERA


Reverse Mortgages By Adam Goldstein for Aging at Altitude


eniors navigating the current economy may be overlooking one of the dependable and secure sources of income: their home. A reverse mortgage is an option for homeowners aged 62 or older who are looking to tap into the equity that may be sitting static to use for any kind of purpose, whether it be living expenses, consolidating debt or making home improvements. Unlike a home equity line of credit, a reverse mortgage doesn’t carry the requirement for monthly repayment or a set term. For these reasons and more, financial experts like Gabe Bodner often recommend reverse mortgage loans as a reliable

and prudent way for seniors to access funds without the risks of a traditional home equity loan or the perils of withdrawing money from a retirement account. Bodner is the producing branch manager in Boulder at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, and he notes that reverse mortgage loans have even become more secure in recent years, thanks to added safeguards at the federal level. “I highly recommend a reverse mortgage loan to any client who is 62-plus years old and has a significant amount of home equity. The reality is that the equity is sitting stagnant. It’s illiquid. A reverse mortgage is putting a spigot on your home equity; unlike a traditional home equity line of credit, they don’t require repayment until the homeowner either sells the home, passes

away or permanently leaves the home.” What’s more, Bodner added that a reverse mortgage doesn’t require a homeowner to give up title to their property. Those accessing their equity – whether it be in the form of a growing line of credit, a monthly payment plan, or a lump sum – aren’t losing their ability to pass on the property to heirs. “They don’t give up home ownership. They can still pass the house onto their heirs,” he said. “There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions. People think the bank owns the house with a reverse mortgage, and that’s simply not true.” More importantly, a reverse mortgage offers a homeowner a degree of flexibility. In a tough economy, it’s a way to access equity and offer the option of

repayment. Unlike drawing directly from retirement or pulling money out of the stock market, those losses won’t be locked in. Regulatory changes in 2014 and 2015 also made reverse mortgages a safer option for seniors. With these changes, younger spouses are protected in the case of death, and same sex couples are also eligible. Those changes also ushered in a required financial assessment before approval. All of these steps are designed to safeguard the process for senior homeowners looking for secure ways to navigate uncertain financial times. Gabe Bodner, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation 777 29th Street, #102 Boulder, 720.600.4870,

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Will Power

No matter the size, every estate deserves careful pre-planning By John Lehndorff for Aging at Altitude



obody needs to tell you how anxious the past few months have been. The COVID-19 pandemic – and the rapid pace that it can sicken people, has prompted folks over 50 to face the uncomfortable question: “Are my affairs really in order?” Three Boulder-area firms that specialize in estate planning and related issues are reporting a significant uptick in contacts from families looking for answers. “People who have put it off are now deciding that it’s time to get their estate planned,” says Dylan Nickerson of Braverman Law Group. “It’s all about peace of mind. It’s a difficult enough time when someone passes with a lot of emotions involved. We can make things easier if we have a plan to provide for the people we love,” Nickerson says. Braverman Law Group focuses its Boulder-based practice on estate planning. “Some calls are about the fundamentals – a will, a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive,” he says. Basically, you don’t want to leave a mess behind so many are looking at trusts because their lives and finances are complicated. “A will is simple and can only cover so much. Trusts are much more detailed and can take care of unexpected events,” he says. Beyond reducing stress, estate planning can be a good investment that will pay dividends down the road, he adds. “If you choose a trust, your house, car and bank accounts can be are owned by the trust and that helps 18


Dylan Nickerson of Boulder’s Braverman Law Group notes that those aged 50 years and older should consider these questions: “At a bare minimum, have you made a will and listed your assets?”

avoid probate,” Nickerson says. A will may not be complicated, but it does need to be written properly to avoid problems and expense. “A poorly drafted will is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth,” Nickerson says. For David Brantz, a principal at the Boulder law firm of Kottke & Brantz, a primary motivating factor is that lives change over time and involve more people. “It has pushed people to tidy things up. A lot of procrastination seems to be coming to an end,” he says Estate planning including trusts are designed to deal with complications. “It helps if you, for instance, own property in another state. You also can clearly define the rights of your spouse to inherit,” Brantz says. This is especially important when there are multiple marriages and families with divergent interests. “The takeaway is that when you are not around anymore, family harmony can be maintained. What do you want your legacy to be?” Brantz says. Marjie Griek had enjoyed a long career in accounting but her new firm, Pearl Fiduciary Services, is a personal mission. “I wanted to help the elderly as well as the families of folks who are

having a harder time handling their own financial matters,” Griek says. She notes that designating her company a “fiduciary” means that her purpose is always putting the client first. “They are typically loved ones – usually a grown child – who often doesn’t have any professional experience with being in that role,” Griek says. The Lafayette-based firm offers accounting services for individuals as well as trustees and conservators that oversee others, such as those with a compelling health issues like early onset Alzheimer’s. “Trying to handle someone else’s finances along with your own is difficult and time consuming,” Griek says. She is working closely with a lawyer who has been a professional conservator because legal and financial concerns are always intertwined. “I also see a lot of companies that do in-home health care, but they don’t offer financial planning assistance, even something as simple as paying bills. I can step in and help,” Griek says. However, the first step is to simply to make a call. “It’s just really important to start putting a plan in place and not wait until you can’t. No mat-

“Where do you want your earthly possessions to go when you die?’ “Who do you want to burden with handling your affairs? Do you have a backup person as personal representative in mind? Do they know where your will and other documents are located? “Have you checked your beneficiary designations on all bank accounts and life insurance policies? These designations override all wills and trusts, so they need to be up to date.”

ter whether you have a large or small estate, the point is to get what you want done,” says David Brantz of Boulder’s Kottke & Brantz. Braverman Law Group 1823 Folsom St., #101, Boulder, 303.800.1588, Kottke & Brantz 2975 Valmont Road, #240, 303.449.6161, Pearl Fiduciary Services 720.745.0966, DAILY CAMERA


Ear and Eye Health Can Greatly Affect Quality of Life Preventative hearing and seeing measures enhance aging adults’ lifestyle.

With today’s preventative measures and technological breakthroughs, there is no reason to live with fear or waning confidence – no matter what age you are.

By Julie Kailus for Aging at Altitude


earing and seeing well affect perception of life – and quality of life. When aging adults lose these basic functions they can feel isolated or insecure in social settings. And in a postpandemic world, the retirement and senior communities can’t afford to experience any further separation from family and friends. In fact, “studies are indicating that reducing isolation can have as much of an impact on health as quitting smoking,” says Samantha Warren, an audiologist at Boulder Valley Ear, Nose & Throat. Sure, JUNE 2020

things change as we age. “But seniors should not accept that “this is the way things have to be,” says Priscilla Trost, practice liaison and marketing coordinator at the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado. There are so many preventative measures, technological breakthroughs and simple treatments for today’s most common eye and ear health issues. In other words, there’s no reason to live with fear or waning confidence – no matter what age you are.

Early intervention for eyes and ears

One of the easiest ways to avoid unwanted scenarios is to take care of your vision and hearing

throughout adulthood and catch conditions early with routine screening. Hearing loss, for example, can become noticeable as early as the 40s through 60s. “The grayer our hair gets, the more likely it is that we will acquire hearing loss,” says Chelsea Walters, board-certified hearing instrument specialist and owner of Family Hearing in Broomfield. “Americans between the age of 65 and 74 have a 24 percent chance of having hearing loss, while those above 75 have a 50 percent chance.” And hearing loss exists in conjunction with other age-associated conditions like diabetes, dementia, depression and heart disease. “The goal is not to wait until you can no longer easily

communicate with people before we add assistance with hearing aids or communication strategies,” Warren says. “If you’re no longer hearing those soft s-, t- and p-sounds, your brain will eventually forget how to tell the difference between them. Early intervention can help to delay or prevent the onset of auditory deprivation.” Hearing loss is especially hard on the brain.“When the brain loses access to essential sounds, it increases the workload of the brain by forcing it to rely on other resources like vision and deductive reasoning,” Walters explains. “Untreated hearing loss has been linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, poor balance performance, and even making less money in the workforce and the quality of our relationships.” An annual hearing test can monitor this decline and provide a diagnosis and solutions. Likewise, an eye exam every year after the age of 55 can catch common age-related vision issues, including macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. As with hearing loss, conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiac disease can also impact the health of the eyes. “Often vision loss and other symptoms occur over several years and thus one does not notice the changes, or one assumes this is simply part of the normal aging process and cannot be improved,” Trost says. “But we have many treatment options to directly address these conditions, often with the outcome of improved vision or at the least preventing vision from becoming worse.” AGING AT ALTITUDE



Tips for healthy eyes and ears

While we can’t change family history, which may predispose us to hearing and vision conditions, we can make lifestyle choices that support eye and ear health. “Smoking, blood sugar issues, and poor diet all can play a part in when eye disease may begin to develop and how quickly it may progress,” Trost says. Good UV-protection sunglasses are important, as are sanitary practices for contact lens wearers: keeping lenses clean, always washing hands before transferring lenses and removing lenses to sleep. Keeping eyes lubricated with artificial tears, especially in Colorado’s dry climate, is also helpful as we age. Eating nutrient-rich foods and keeping the body moving supports all body functions, including the eyes. According to Trost, there are vitamin and antioxidant supplements

that promote macular health. Similarly, since the hearing organ is reliant on good blood flow, cardiovascular fitness has a positive correlation with maintaining hearing sensitivity, according to Walters. “And of course, if you are in a venue that is so noisy you have trouble communicating, consider hearing protection or limit the amount of time you are in that environment,” she says.

Remote testing and Teleaudiology

So what’s the safest way to test for hearing and vision issues in the current climate? Trost says issues like eye irritation, burning or scratchy sensations, and styes can at times be addressed using telemedicine. But in situations where more testing on state-of-the-art, inhouse equipment is required, patients can visit one of four offices – all operating with protocols to keep patients

safe. “We even have a UV sterilization cabinet to clean glasses and frames after patients have tried them on,” she says. For hearing, teleaudiology is a safe and convenient option if you have any COVID concerns. “Remotely connecting to someone’s hearing devices allows us to make changes while the listener is actually in the environment they have difficulty in,” Walters says. “This certainly offers advantages to personalize a listener’s audio input.” Warren uses it too, and it’s especially helpful for those with pre-existing conditions who are more vulnerable at this time. “Teleaudiology has been a comfort to patients who are unable or uncomfortable with traveling for an office visit. And with remote options it means less exposure for staff and patients.”

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Light in the Darkness: Vision Loss Resources By Linda Thorsen Bond for Aging at Altitude


ight in the darkness. That’s what Ensight Skills Center and the Audio Information Network of Colorado offer people with low vision. Ensight brings training

and tools to people whose vision is impaired and AINC supplies the voices that knit a community together.

Low vision is a condition in which a person loses part of their vision – most often due to an eye disease or trauma. People with low vision may also be called visually impaired or sometimes, legally blind. The most common causes of low vision are degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and others. For the most part, these eye diseases affect older people, though other diseases and trauma can cause low vision in children and younger adults. Many people with low vision still have usable vision, which they can be taught to use effectively. People who are completely blind compose less than 10 percent of the visually impaired population. Melody Bettenhausen, development director of Ensight in Colorado, said the organization focuses on how people can use their remaining vision to adapt to do the things they used to do. “We can help with the tools such as hand-held magnifiers and lighting, with low tech to high tech devices and everything in between.” “Resources are tools as well, and we offer in-home services and counseling,” she said. “We have a really good assisted tech program and an intake process JUNE 2020

The challenges of diminishing vision are made harder by not knowing where to turn for resources. Ensight and AINC are a light in the darkness.

so we can figure out the skill sets people have and the devices they can use. There are many options available and they are now more important than ever. They keep people from being isolated – it can even be for a goal like seeing their grandkids’ faces.” She said, “There’s both assistive technology and adaptive technology with software that magnifies the whole screen, greater flexibility of contrast, the ability to change how the page looks. Some of the technology talks to you, even reads your e-mail to you. The software with good accessibility is going down in price, so you don’t have to spend a ton.” The nonprofit organization, which was started more than 20 years ago by members of the Fort Collins Lions Club, focuses on helping people stay independent and safe. Bettenhousen said, “First there’s an assessment with an occupational therapist, and we help figure out an access point for the person who has come to us. We focus on using people’s remaining vision, and it becomes a positive process.

It’s not how much you have lost, but how much you can learn to adapt.” Audio Information Network of Colorado (AINC) volunteers are all working from home these days to read the written word to people who are visually impaired. The non-profit provides listeners with free access to recorded programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The mission is to provide news and information in audio format for the blind, low vision and print disabled community of Colorado. Audio services empower individuals to be self-sufficient, connected to community and continuously learning. Executive Director Kim Ann Wardlow said that the volunteers read everything from newspapers to Medicare information and grocery ads. She said, “We are always looking for ways to be of service to the community. AINC has been around for 30 years, adapting and changing. The most popular listening method is our Amazon Echo skill. We can provide listeners with Echo Dots and work with people who qualify to access low cost internet.” “Local news and information about available resources have become more important during this time.,” Kim Ann said. “Some people listen to favorite podcast programs while others and listen to the broadcast for hours. People enjoy hearing magazines on topics ranging from gardening and the environment to nutrition and parenting. We have found that our services have helped listeners feel less isolated. They can just turn it on

or click it on or ask Alexa to play something.” AINC is always looking for volunteers to read. Kim Ann said a new program is to be a volunteer listener buddy who is paired with a listener and helps make sure the service works for them or if there are other programming they’d like to hear. A notable listener and volunteer is Nick Isenberg, who created his radio program, Tactile Traveler, for people who are visually impaired. He and Lucas Turner at KDNK in Carbondale produce the show then share with AINC. Isenberg has won several awards including an Edward R. Murrow Award this year. Ensight and AINC work together to make life richer for people with low vision. “Ensight refers people to us,” Kim Ann said. “They help with training so people can become comfortable with technology and using their devices. While AINC focuses on information access and assisting with low-cost internet options, Ensight provides skills training to successfully live with vision loss.” The challenges of diminishing vision are made harder by not knowing where to turn for resources. Ensight and AINC are a light in the darkness. Audio Information Network of Colorado 1700 55th Street, Suite A, Boulder, 303.786.7777, Ensight Skills Center 300 Exempla Circle, #120 Lafayette (at the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado), 303.757.4500, AGING AT ALTITUDE



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By Sarah Huber for Aging at Altitude


or active Coloradoans, joint pain might feel like the price to pay for an adventurous life. Yet three local clinics exist to prove that false. In fact, with therapies and treatments, many active adults can get back on the trail, track or slope pain-free. While Spine West, Red Tail Wellness and Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies all offer a variety of therapies and treatments, this article will explore functional medicine with knee decompression from Redtail Wellness Center, treating arthritic pain without surgery from Spine West and joint replacement surgery from the Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies. LEFT: After enduring 20 years of debilitating pain, a hip replacement surgery enabled Doug Hawn to once again pilot planes, ski, climb and kayak.

Decompression for knee pain: Redtail Wellness Center

At Redtail Wellness Center in Boulder, Dr. Ian Hollaman treats chronic joint paint with an array of technology-driven therapies, including cold laser therapy, the neurologic-reeducation system of trigenics and pulse electromagnetic field therapy. Knee pain compels many to his clinic, with a majority, he said, “coming to us as a last resort before surgery.” To determine a patient’s source of pain, Hollaman “tests all nerve function in the lower extremities, reflexes, muscular control and balance of the lower legs, hip and sacroiliac function and feet,” he said, adding, “All of these factors can play into knee problems.” Hollaman trials several therapies at the initial patient visit. One of his latest treatments is knee decompression, which “creates a force above and below a

joint and stretches the tissue, creating a vacuum that pulls and draws and fluid into the joint, increasing cushioning, knocking out inflammation and helping pain,” he said. This can often be accomplished in a handful or two of visits and has had a high success rate in reducing pain. One Redtail patient, a woman in her 60s, couldn’t hike more than four miles before experiencing stabbing knee pain and swelling. Hollaman treated her with cold laser therapy and trigenics, and within two visits, she hiked eight miles with zero pain or inflammation. “I love how surprised people are after they’ve been working with us and how fast things can change as we do therapies,” he said. To treat knee pain, Hollaman also utilizes knee, hip and ankle alignments, dynamic rehabilitation exercises and anti-inflammatory nutritional support.

Treating Arthritic Pain without surgery: Spine West

Though arthritic pain cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed, said Jennifer Roland, a physician assistant with a focus on patients with rheumatoid arthritis at Spine West. “Treatment is about managing the pain,” she said. “We use multiple modalities to treat pain, including medication, physical therapy, dry needling and injections to manage arthritis pain.” Since the “goal at Spine West is to treat patients’ pain (and) to keep them as active and functional as possible,” Roland said, she works with a team of providers across Spine West’s three locations to ensure patients “get the benefit of all our expertise.” At Spine West, which has been treating arthritic patients since 2001, patients with rheumatoid

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arthritis are usually treated with a combination of exercise therapies and medications or injections, “depending upon response to treatments and the individuals’ risks,” Roland said. “I have had numerous patients who have been able to continue their beloved activities such as hiking and biking indefinitely due to treatment of pain from arthritis.” In light of COVID-19, Spine West recently appended a new goal to their mission: “Our practice has stayed open and accessible during this pandemic in order to adequately treat patients’ pain and keep patients out of the ER to reduce their risks as well as free up ER providers to treat COVID patients,” Roland said.

Joint replacement surgery: Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies

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Sometimes surgery may be the best option. Dr. Steve Yemm, who specializes in sports medicine non-surgical orthopaedics at one of the Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies (OCR), said, “People with chronic osteoarthritic of the hips and knees” may find relief through hip or knee joint replacement surgery. For Yemm, surgery is a consideration when a patient can no longer mange pain with non-operative methods of management or when pain interferes with daily living. Joint replacement surgery involves “replacing the damaged joint surfaces with artificial materials, which includes metal polyethylene or ceramic,” Yemm explained. He continued, “Some patients might be a good candidate for a minimally invasive knee replacement or partial knee replacement.” Recovery from surgery is a multi-stage process, yet

Yemm said, “Many times people feel better than before the surgery by six weeks post-op and continue to improve up to a year after the replacement.” Serving patients since 1969, OCR includes more than 30 specialists across three northern Colorado medical campuses to help patients accelerate treatment and recovery through therapy, imaging and when necessary, surgery. Carli Taylor Drake, director of marketing and practice development at OCR, said, “Every patient has unique needs for which we will provide individualized specialized care and treatment through the highest collaborations between the patient, physicians, our team members, our services, our facilities and our corporate partnerships.” OCR patient Doug Hawn credits OCR with “giving him his life back,” and after enduring 20 years of debilitating pain, a hip replacement surgery enabled him once again to pilot planes, ski, climb and kayak. Orthopedic & Spine Center of the Rockies 3470 E. 15th Street, Loveland, 970.663.3975; 1900 16th Street, Greeley, 970.573.3224; 2500 E. Prospect Road, Fort Collins, 970.493.0112; Fort Collins MRI, 2420 E. Prospect Road, 970.493.0567, Red Tail Wellness Centers 4840 Riverbend Road, Suite 100, Boulder 720.669.6886, Spine West 5387 Manhattan Circle, Boulder, 303.494.7773,



Cannabis 101 for Aging Adults manage chronic pain.

By Darren Thornberry for Aging at Altitude


e asked local experts how cannabis can benefit seniors as they age. Is it malarky or is there something to it? How can it help? Here are their answers.

Is cannabis beneficial for aging adults? Noah Sodano, RMZ Colorado: We’ve seen both good data and strong survey-based evidence showing the benefits of cannabis for active adults. The reported benefits encompass a wide range of quality of life and functional applications including pain relief, anxiety relief and healthy sleep. There have also been welldocumented drops in opioid use

Local experts shed light on how cannabis can benefit seniors as they age.

in markets with access to legal cannabis, a fact which no doubt reflects a shift in how aging adults are using cannabis to

Peter Marcus, Terrapin Care Station: In terms of data/ statistics, there’s not much out there measuring cost-benefit in terms of aging adults using cannabis. This is a problem stemming from federal prohibition, which greatly limits research, though we are starting to see some more of it on the state level. That said, countless stories from aging adults suggest that there is enormous benefit and potential. Patients range from people in their 60s with serious health conditions to patients in their 90s who just want a good night sleep or to manage pain. We find that older patients/consumers don’t like a strong psychoactive effect. Thankfully, the cannabis industry

has come a long way in terms of research and development, which allows for preciselyformulated products with lower THC potency, thereby curbing unwanted side effects..

Have seniors been using more cannabis over the past few years than previously? Sodano: There are many studies showing that legal cannabis use is rising sharply among aging adults. Anecdotally, we find Baby Boomers to be extremely curious and open to exploring cannabis as a legitimate option for managing their daily health and wellness. Again, this seems to reflect a growing interest in alternatives to opioids and other pharmaceuticals with hazardous (and potentially deadly) side



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effects. That said, it’s also clear that aging adults are just as interested in cannabis for its enjoyable recreational qualities. Recent data shows that 63 percent of Boomers consume for health and medical reasons, and 60 percent consume cannabis for social and recreational reasons. (BDS Analytics Consumer Research Q1 2019: U.S. adults 21+ in Legal Level 1 States). Joey Gindi, Ajoya: Seniors are the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users in the country. We believe the increase in education, national approval rates, refined product offerings, and expanded retail experiences all contribute to helping seniors find products which are right for them. Additionally, as we age our production of natural endocannabinoids, like anandamide and 2AG, decreases.

Phytocannabinoids, like those which come from cannabis, can help create balance. Ajoya loves serving the senior community.

What do you recommend to seniors who want to try cannabis?

Marcus: The first thing we recommend for older individuals is that a patient or consumer consult with their physician. It’s a good idea to check on preexisting conditions and possible medication interactions. If you’re ready to try it out, then of course do some research. “Budtenders,” as we call them in the industry, are knowledgeable individuals who have experience and insight into a variety of products out there. As a rule, start low and go slow. That means pick products with low-THC (5 mg or less) to curb any significant psychoactive effect, and only

consume more after waiting at least two hours. You may want to just start with a topical, like a salve or a cream, which won’t make you stoned at all. Tinctures are also a nice way to find lower doses that can be taken under the tongue or dropped into food and drinks. Perhaps a low-dose edible formulated for specific conditions, like insomnia or pain, might work for those who don’t want to smoke or vape. In this time of COVID-19, we’re not recommending that consumers share their products, so think about products that would be for individual use, like our smaller joints and using personal accessories. Gindi: Many senior customers feel very comfortable with a topical product, such as a cream or a balm, as an accessible starting point. High CBD, low

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Seniors and Brain Health By Darren Thornberry for Aging at Altitude


emory loss can be frightening for those experiencing it and for their family members. However, the science around brain health in seniors is hopeful! Dr. Ilene Naomi Rusk, co-director of the Brain and Behavior Clinic in Boulder, recently fielded some questions about brain health, and we hope our readers will find her answers illuminating.

What encourages you about seniors’ brain health and memory loss?

Dr. Rusk: There is so much exciting new data on brain health, but it’s difficult to talk about what’s encouraging without mentioning the challenges that seniors are experiencing right now during the pandemic. Remember: How your mind works, and what you think about, affects your brain health, too. Working toward a positive mindset is a great goal. Social connection is crucial, so finding ways to have meaningful social connection each day is key. Knowing as much as we do now about prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s and other dementias empowers patients to take positive action to maintain healthy minds and brains. Two main concepts are “neuroplasticity” and “brain reserve.” Neuroplasticity means that your brain is always changing depending upon its environment, and we want our environments to be as enriched with new learning and wonderful relationships as possible. Brain reserve refers to the brain’s “savings account” you build as you learn new skills, sleep well and embrace new activities.

JUNE 2020

Ilene Naomi Rusk, Ph. D The Brain and Behavior Clinic

Studies show that the pillars of brain resilience are nutrition, exercise, engaged learning, sleep, meditation practices, healing your stress patterns and medical health. Simply by controlling certain medical risk factors like blood sugar, blood pressure, heart health and certain medications, you can help the health of your brain. A Functional Medicine approach, which is our team’s approach, looks for root causes of cognitive decline. Good to remember that genes account for only about 30% (still looking to confirm this percentage) of our health. Lifestyle accounts for much more of our brain health than genes do, so there is so much we have agency over. Brains like stimulation and novelty, but they don’t like boredom, depression or chronic anxiety. Brains do not like toxins like pesticides, mold, cleaners, chronic stress or latent infections, but they love clean air, clean water and clean food. The newest research shows that brains don’t like pollution or anything that’s inhaled that might be toxic. Chronic stress and unresolved traumas are hard on the body and brain. Being stressed, depressed and feeling

prolonged grief can all impact brain health, so I help patients take care of their emotional health first sometimes. You’ll probably need some support and motivation to change your lifestyle by eating more whole foods or exploring new kinds of exercise. Find a brain health buddy to partner with. You have to find your “WHY” when it comes to brain health. It does take effort, and having a sense of purpose help will help with your motivation. Online brain games are good 1520 minutes a day, but do many other mind-stimulating things, too. Dancing to music is great. Learning new steps challenges the brain.

When a senior is experiencing memory loss, what is a good first step to take to address it?

Dr. Rusk: Early and accurate diagnosis is important. Statistics show that people are often not diagnosed or they are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Cognitive impairment in seniors can have so many root causes, such as metabolic problems, depression and endocrine issues, to name a few. Our Brain Health Check-up screens for all those things, then we find resources for patients. Often I suggest people have a neuropsychological evaluation. This is a scientific way of measuring your thinking in different areas like memory, attention, visual, spatial and executive functions, like planning and organizing. Primary care doctors may give people a brief in-office screening and then the patient can ask to see a neuropsychologist for a complete cognitive evaluation and diagnosis. Ask for an MRI as well. Alzheimer’s disease and

dementia are chronic illnesses that have many contributing factors, like a leaky roof with many holes in it. Most of those holes need to be patched early on, so prevention strategies and early intervention are key! Helpful stats: Documents/alzheimers-factsand-figures-infographic.pdf

How is the science of brain health advancing to help seniors with memory loss?

Dr. Rusk: In 2014, a paper by Dr Dale Bredesen, a research neurologist at UCLA, showed that by balancing many metabolic factors in people with Alzheimer’s, people could improve. This was huge! It’s been three decades and billions of dollars later we still don’t have a single disease-modifying drug. So let’s try to work with all the known pillars of brain health in a Functional Medicine model. In this way we can help patients with metabolic health, personalizing diet, exercise, nutrition, brain stimulation, sleep, etc. Vary your exercise routine. Resistance training, aerobic training, yoga, qi gong are all good ideas if your doctor agrees. Avoiding eating a few hours before bed allows your brain to better clear out toxins while you’re sleeping. Make sure that you don’t have sleep apnea or another sleep issue. Some medications can mess with cognition. Ask your doctor if you’re on any of them. Ilene Naomi Rusk, Ph.D., Co-Director, Healthy Brain Program, The Brain and Behavior Clinic 2523 Broadway, #200, Boulder; 303.938.9244; AGING AT ALTITUDE



Seniors Play a Vital Role in the Community By Pam Moore for Aging at Altitude


hile old age may bring stiff joints and white hair, it comes with a deep well of life experience, wisdom and perspective. If you have the chance to talk to an older person, take advantage of it, says Ellen Knapp. “It’s really enjoyable.” Knapp would know. As a nationally certified elder care manager and licensed professional counselor, she has provided senior care services including consulting, counseling,

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caregiver support, and assistance with activities of daily living since 2007. Prior to establishing her practice, she owned and operated a Wheat Ridge assisted living facility for over a decade. Her affinity for the geriatric population comes naturally. “My parents were old enough to be my grandparents,” she explains. Seniors are often unfairly dismissed as being of little value to the community, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth, says Knapp. Life experience offers a healthy sense of perspective. “I find most older people to be pretty at ease with themselves,” she shares. “Many older people recognize that life is full of ups and downs, and they have a pretty good perspective on things and so it’s really enjoyable to converse with them.” Running an assisted living facility from 1995 to 2007, Knapp worked with residents

Ellen Knapp, Certified Geriatric Care Manager

born in the late 1800s whose lifetimes spanned three centuries. She recalls one gentleman who’d helped build the interstate highway and many who grew up without indoor plumbing. “That was just the way it was,” she says. “[It] made me realize these things that we think of as being in the distant past were really not that long ago.” Many people become “sidelined or invisible” as they approach their 70s and 80s,

when in fact, they have so much to offer, says Knapp. “So many older people say, I don’t feel old.” While their bodies may be slowing down, many seniors say they still feel like they’re 25, she explains. “As a human being, there’s sort of an agelessness that is common with a lot of older people.” She describes walking with one of her clients and crossing paths with an older gentleman with binoculars. When she asked the man, who appeared to be about 80, what he was doing, he explained he was observing the birds. “And then he started telling me about all these nests around his house and how there’s this enormous nest over the letter S down at the Safeway. It’s a crow’s nest and the Safeway people have left it intact,” she recalls. “What a great conversation.” Employers often hesitate to hire older people, which is shortsighted. “I think it’s a loss

not to employ older people at work because they know so much about so many things, including social skills,” says Knapp. While she acknowledges older people may have more difficulty learning the latest technologies, she points out many older people simply aren’t interested in newer social platforms. “But they’re very good at learning and researching.” If you have the opportunity to spend time with an older member of the community, consider it a gift. As Knapp says, there’s nothing quite like the point of view of someone “who has been at it for a lot longer than I have.” Ellen Knapp, MA, LPC, ALCA, Certified Geriatric Care Manager 3050 15th St., Boulder, 720.217.9614,

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The Benefits of Yoga for Aging Adults

By Rhema Zlaten for Aging at Altitude


oulder resident Francois Hall, 87, keeps a daily appointment with her yoga community. Before the COVID-19 quarantine, she would walk every morning from her residence across the street to the Yoga Pod studio space for her favorite 6 a.m. class. When the studio moved online in mid-March, she kept up her practice. “Motion makes all of the difference in my day,” Hall said. “If I don’t do yoga, I will be stiffer the next day … and then I would sit in the armchair, and then I would go to the nursing home.” Hall is highly motivated by not just how a daily yoga practice makes her feel, but also her curiosity for what her teachers will bring to the class everyday. She enjoys the mix of balance and movement. “Today I was in dancing pose for one whole minute,” she said. “Yoga is comprehensive. It’s mobility, strength; its balance and coordination … old people lose their balance and so they fall and break something and then they are never the same again. I think

yoga decreases the probability that I will fall.” Yoga Pod Co-Owners Gerry and Nicole Wienholt offer a range of classes, from beginning to advanced practices. They also work to help older populations in the Boulder area find a mobile life. “We find that yoga is one of those non-discriminating activities as you get older, because it is low impact,” Nicole Wienholt said. “So there’s no pressure on the bones or joints … it works your inner body so much, and not just with the breath work, but [also] your internal organs get cleansed out. You do a lot of twists, which is so healthy for your spine.” Jeff Bailey, founder of the Avita Yoga methodology and owner of Yoga Loft in Boulder, also works extensively with aging populations. “Avita yoga is exactly geared for this group of people,” Bailey said. “It works from the toes to the fingers and everything in between. Once you start giving joints the proper support, the muscles automatically adapt to the improved joint health and become more supple.” Bailey grew up in Gunnison, Colo. in a ranch setting and found

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a passion to help the people around him as they aged. “Most of the people I knew in my life were early age compromised,” he said. “I watched my dad and my uncles suffer, and it inspired me at an early age to find a solution.” Bailey took his first yoga class in 1985, when yoga was relatively new to the United States. He knew that yoga would be a big part of his life. As he watched the yoga industry become more athletic and more competitive over the years, he kept studying and practicing to find a yoga practice for the people who really need it the most. Bailey’s Avita approach is his deconstructed yoga method that gently identifies the body’s movement restrictions and then helps to resolve them. “I have a huge passion for it, and it has saved me,” Bailey said. “I am 57, and I have never been younger in my body … if you would have asked me seven years ago, I would have said I might need a hip replacement. Now I’m sure that I won't.” Avita classes are balanced between active and passive shapes. From the outside looking in, it might not look like much is hap-

pening, but on the inside there is lots going on. This is where the change occurs. “There’s sitting shapes, lying on the back shapes, some lying on the belly, some putting legs up on the wall,” Bailey said. “When you challenge the [body’s] circulation in a calm and easy way, it creates a cleansing process.” Bailey is also now offering many options for online classes, both live and pre-recorded, for all types of yoga students. He is also hoping to increasingly re-open his in-person studio space, Yoga Loft Boulder, throughout the month of June. Laura Inbody, teacher and owner of Kaiut Yoga Broomfield, leads her community through a very gentle (yet versatile) practice that also works for all types of yoga students. “One thing I tell people is, whether you are someone who is a triathlete who has just finished a big marathon, or you are someone who hasn’t moved very much in the past few years, the same class can be appropriate for both ends of those spectrums,” Inbody said. “Kaiut yoga is designed to be for everybody, but it is specifically beneficial for 40s and above, be-

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cause that’s when we start moving less and less. We need to keep the mobility that we have and even make gains so that we can age at our highest potential.” The Kaiut practice also focuses deeply on joint and mobility work. Class participants will hold poses a little longer than typical yoga work, and the focus is always on the student quieting down enough to really feel what is happening in their body instead of making a

pose look a certain way. “In our culture we are often taught to mask sensations,” Inbody said. “We are asking you to feel and reconnect … We lose our plasticity as we move less and less. The practice of Kaiut yoga is designed to slowly … resolve those restrictions.” Aging class members often find that Kaiut yoga helps them re-learn how to correctly grip, gain strength and use their joints

properly again. “The yoga we practice is designed for the other 23 hours of our day, so you can keep doing the things that you want to keep doing,” Inbody said. Kaiut Yoga Broomfield currently offers several daily online class options. Throughout the month of June, they will slowly reopen public options for in-person classes.

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Activities to Keep Busy While At Home By Sandy Hale for Aging at Altitude


n these uncertain times it is important, especially for older adults staying at home, to keep engaged and energized – mentally, physically and emotionally,” says Dr. Ilene Naomi Rusk, co-director of the

Brain and Behavior Clinic in Boulder. She urges us to stay “Physically distant and very socially connected. There is so much today that is unpredictable and beyond our control. We need to create structure and routine for ourselves, and find purpose in our lives. We must stay engaged to ward off depression and

anxiety, which can be caused by fear of the unknown.” Dr. Rusk advises us to, “Maintain excellent nutrition, avoid excess sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol for brain health. Get plenty of exercise and sleep. Reduce stress level by practicing yoga and meditation. Minimize TV news time.

Why You Should Be Writing By Amanda McCracken for Aging at Altitude


ave you ever thought about writing a book? Maybe you have a few important stories you want your son or daughter to share with your grandchildren someday. Perhaps there are events in your life that won’t let go of you until you write them down. Writing is a way of documenting, processing, sharing and moving forward. Science proves writing is healing. A New Zealand study followed two groups of healthy seniors who wrote for 20 minutes per day for three consecutive days. One group wrote about daily activities and the other group wrote about their feelings tied to traumatic past events. A standard 4mm skin biopsy was taken from the inner arm of all participants. The physical wounds of those individuals who did the expressive writing actually healed faster. Another study out of Syracuse University found that writing about emotions and stress boosts immunity in patients. 32


Start small and create routine

Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way made famous the practice of writing “morning pages.” This called for writing three pages long hand (not typed) first thing in the morning before you start any task – when your mind is free of anxiety and ego. If there is a story in those pages you want to share, you can edit later. Just write. Morning pages helps you develop a habit. Another way of routine writing is starting a prayer and/ or gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, write down one prayer and/or gratitude you have for the day. Lists are a great way to get started writing too. Make a list of ten memories that make you smile, cry, marvel or proud. Choose one of those memories to write about. Perhaps the best New Year’s Eve resolution I ever kept was writing down (maybe only a sentence) a memory triggered during the day by one of my five senses. For example, one day I wrote about a walk I took with a friend and how the smell of wet mowed grass triggered

the memory of running a cross country race in high school where my grandfather got down on one knee to cheer for me. By the end of the year I had recorded over 700 memories.


If you need a writing prompt to get started, consider prompts for narrative and personal writing from The New York Times Learning Network. Here are ten prompts to get you started: • My favorite way to spend the day is… • If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is… • Write about a time when you paid it forward. • The words I’d like to live by are… • I really wish others knew this about me… • What always brings tears to your eyes? • Using 10 words, describe yourself. • Write a list of questions to which you urgently need answers. • Choose an old photograph.

What do you want to say to the people, places and things in this photo? • What superpower do you wish you had?

Other ways to document stories

What if you want to publish your stories? You can orally record them through several online tools, with your smart device, or an old fashion recorder. Check out NPR’s Story Corp. if you want to contribute your story to a national oral history project. You can have them printed in a book through such online sites as Porch Swing Stories or Story Worth. Consider hiring a ghost writer or writing coach to help you craft and organize your writing. For supportive writing groups or editors, look into Boulder Media Women, Boulder Writing Studio, Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop and Boulder Writer’s Alliance. Amanda McCracken is a Boulder-based freelance journalist, writing coach and trail runner. You can find her at DAILY CAMERA


“While staying at home,” Dr. Rusk advises us, “Be creative. Do art, garden, cook – try something new, challenge yourself, take a class online. Do whatever gives you joy.” Check out Dr. Rusk's free brain health tips at She reminds us to remember – as senior adults we have lived successfully and with resilience through many difficult times in our lives. Further ideas came from Andra Coberly Webster, communications director for the YMCA of Northern Colorado. She said, “Keeping socially connected will pay huge benefits for senior adults, to fill the void created by the pandemic.” The Y instructors have reached out to their members to be sure they have the resources to stay active. The Y has developed a plan for virtual health and fitness

Reduce your risk of dementia

options with live-stream classes. There are 40 classes a week that include Silver Sneakers, T'ai Chi, meditation, Better Balance, Restorative Flow Yoga, cycling and dance. Andra says, “Some people might even prefer doing Zumba in their living room rather than in a dance studio.” 22 classes, offered On Demand can be viewed anytime. Coffee hours are available on Zoom. Emergency child care was offered March 23 through May 29. Summer camps started June 1 and continue through August 18. The Y is with you all the way throughout these difficult times. As for me, my own primary activities during the pandemic are daily walking and lots of reading. I borrow books from kind friends, and order others from the Boulder Bookstore to pick up curbside. Some of the best

Help maintain balance

from my book list are “Drama” by John Lithgow, “Sea Wife” by Amity Gaige, “Circle in the Sun” by Laura McClain, “Body and Soul” by Frank Conroy, “Strangers on the Train” and “La’s Orchestra Saves the World” both by Alexander McCall Smith. My grandaughter Tamara set me up to use Netflix and I've been binge watching “Grace and Frankie”, “Unorthodox” and “Shtisel”. During my daily phone chat with my daughter Niko, who lives in Germany, she suggested taking virtual Museum Tours to relax while visiting world art treasures. For the Mona Lisa, go to www.Louvre.Fr. For Rennaisance greats, go to Here are a few pandemic activity notes from some Boulder friends. Susan & Mike take frequent drives to get out into nature. Amy is playing tennis and

Prevent social withdrawal & isolation

working on a new novel. Ann is enjoying having Julie & Drew staying with her, but sometimes she has trouble understanding their younger generation lingo. When my granddaughter and great grandaughter come to visit Tamara keeps us at social distance on the deck. We do carry-out dinner from Via Perla or Bar Taco, and play games six-foot-apart. Ilene Naomi Rusk, Ph.D / The Brain and Behavior Clinic 2523 Broadway, #200 Boulder, 303.938.9244, YMCA of Northern Colorado Multiple Locations; 2800 Dagny Way, Lafayette, 303.664.5455,


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JUNE 2020



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12 NOON TO 1 P.M. // MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY // JUNE 15–JULY 1 MONDAY, JUNE 15 // HEARING HEALTH // The Social Distance Evolution: Communicating at a Distance and Tips for Best Results Presented by Chelsea Walters, BS BC-HIS, Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist, Family Hearing TUESDAY, JUNE 16 // YOGA // Support Health and Joint Mobility with Avita Yoga Presented by Jeff Bailey, Yoga Loft Aging at Your Highest Potential Presented by Laura Inbody Kaiut Yoga Broomfield

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17 // BRAIN HEALTH // Taking Care of Your Mind and Brain with Functional Lifestyle and Functional Medicine Presented by Dr. Ilene Naomi Rusk, PhD The Brain & Behavior Clinic THURSDAY, JUNE 18 // SENIOR HOUSING – PART ONE // Starting the Conversation Presented by Marcia R. Klassen, Executive Director, Brookdale Senior Living Retirement Living: During and Post COVID Presented by Jeanette Allen, RN, BSN, VP Health & Wellness, Balfour Senior Living

FRIDAY, JUNE 19 // EYE HEALTH // Age-Related Macular Degeneration Presented by Matthew Manry, M.D. Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado Cataracts and Glaucoma Presented by Mansi Parikh, M.D. Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado

MONDAY, JUNE 22 // KNEE HEALTH // It's the Bee's Knees: Natural Solutions for Your Chronic Knee Pain Presented by Ian Hollaman, DC MSc, IFMCP Red Tail Wellness TUESDAY, JUNE 23 // ARTHRITIS // Spring Forward With Arthritis Presented by Cliff Gronseth, M.D. Spine West Physiatry and Sports Physicians WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 // CANNABIS // Cannabis 101: How to Incorporate Cannabis into Your Wellness Routine Presented by Joey Gindi, CEO, Ajoya and Katherine Golden RN, CEO and Executive Director, Leaf411 Non-Psychoactive CBD, CBN and CBG Cannabinoids for Wellness Presented by Penny Komes, Terrapin Care Station

FRIDAY, JUNE 26 // BRAIN HEALTH // Distinguishing Between Dementias: Not Everyone Has Alzheimer’s Presented by Haleh Nekoorad-Long, M.D., board certified geriatric psychiatrist AltaVita Senior Residences MONDAY, JUNE 29 // HOSPICE // Hospice & Palliative Care 101: What’s the difference? When should I add it to my support team? Presented by Jessica O’Leary, Patient Care Consultant, TRU Community Care TUESDAY, JUNE 30 // TELEHEALTH // Telemedicine for Hearing, Balance and Related Disorders Presented by Samantha Warren, Au. D., Boulder Valley Hearing Associates

THURSDAY, JUNE 25 // FINANCIAL WELLNESS // Estate Planning: What You Need to Do Now Presented by Diedre Wachbrit Braverman, Esq. Braverman Law Group

Applications of Telemedicine in Hospice and Palliative Care Chad Hartmann, Director of Access and Palliative Services, TRU Community Care

Reverse Mortgages: Utilize Your Equity Strategically to Live a More Fruitful Life During Your Golden Years Presented by Gabe Bodner, Branch Manager & Reverse Mortgage Planner, Fairway Independent Mortgage

WEDNESDAY, JULY 1 // SENIOR HOUSING – PART TWO // Understanding All the Options Presented by Shelly Stewart-Girton, Sales & Marketing Director, Avenida Lakewood




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