THE AUTHOR OF HER OWN STORY
CARING FOR YOUR MEMORY: PREVENTION, RETENTION AND ATTENTION
CATHY GEORGE: RISING TO THE TOP
YOU'RE BUSY, THEY'RE BUSY: HOW TO NURTURE FRIENDSHIPS ANYWAY
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH AGING PARENTS
Published by Serendipity Media, LLC Volume 12, Issue 1
VOLUME 12, ISSUE 1
PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER
Serendipity Media, LLC
MEDIA SALES CONSULTANT
Courtney Van Hagen
SALES & ACCOUNTING COORDINATOR
West Michigan Woman is published bimonthly by Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Periodical postage is pending at Grand Rapids, MI, and additional mailing offices. Subscription information can be obtained through the above address, by calling 616-458-8371, or by logging on to www.serendipity-media.com
Editorial submissions and/or query letters, Attn: West Michigan Woman magazine; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Submissions of photographs, articles, and other material is done at the risk of the sender, and Serendipity Media, LLC cannot accept liability for loss or damage. Unsolicited materials will not be returned.
POSTMASTER: Send address
changes to West Michigan Woman c/o Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546.
All rights reserved. West Michigan Woman content may not be photocopied or reproduced or redistributed without the consent of the publisher.
JENNIFER FEUERSTEIN: The Author of Her Own Story
LETTER + ONLINE page 4
SPOTLIGHT page 6
WELLNESS page 8
Caring for Your Memory: Prevention, Retention and Attention
HOME page 10
How Pet Friendly Is Your Home?
RELATIONSHIPS page 12
You're Busy, They're Busy: How to Nurture Friendships Anyway
SPECIAL SECTION page 22
Thriving After 55
FINANCIAL page 30
Costs Associated with Aging Parents
TRAVEL page 32
Get Ready to Rally for These College Towns!
Q&A page 36
Cathy George: Rising to the Top
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 3
© 2023 Serendipity Media LLC
(photo © Kelly Braman Photography)
West Michigan Woman is published by Serendipity Media
KASIE SMITH | President & Publisher | email@example.com
As we age, the landscape of our conversations with girlfriends change. For many of us, we started with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. We quickly transitioned to focusing on dating and college life, our careers and relationships, and for some, marriage and family. From there, our conversations pivoted to talking about our eye sight failing, new ailments, and the ever-present extra weight we can’t shed. Eventually, we begin discussing caring for our parents, colonoscopies, menopause and retirement!
Aging today doesn’t look like it did in previous generations. Our parents and grandparents are outliving the odds by keeping their minds and bodies active and sharing their knowledge with us so we may learn and grow from their experiences, focusing on prevention and community. In this issue, you’ll find tips on ways to keep yourself educated and surrounded by community on page 22. On page 8, you’ll discover tips for building up your cognitive reserve in support of memory self-care. While everyone’s journey is different, doing what we can today to make tomorrow better is good for us all.
For nearly a decade, Jennifer Feuerstein has been advocating for older adults as Associate State Director for AARP. As a leader in gerontology, Jennifer has witnessed the aging process up close and personally, and is an advocate for older adults who are sometimes overlooked and stigmatized. She has been empowered by the relationships she’s made and the lessons learned along the way.
As a result of Jennifer’s work and passion for writing, she saw there was a need to tell the aging story through a fun narrative storytelling way. What better way to do that through the relationship you have with your best girlfriend? Not Your Shoe Size is a powerful journey of two women who each take a different path and approach to aging. While one tries to defy the aging process, the other fully embraces it. Jennifer did an amazing job of capturing the true essence of talking about the aging process, no matter what path you choose to take, along with the power of strong girlfriend relationships. To read her full story, turn to page 14.
Aging is the most natural thing we will experience, if we’re lucky. Talking about it and embracing it in whatever way makes you feel like your best self is certainly the healthy thing to do. Sharing and caring with your girlfriends just makes it more fun!
RECEIVE FRESH CONTENT
in our FREE eNewsletter!
THE "BEST OF" found only on westmichiganwoman.com
Top Read articles last month: Plan Your Escape to the Unspoiled Wonder of the Upper Peninsula
Why Can’t We Be Friends? Building New Friendships as an Adult
Lindsay MacMillan: Empowering Women in Business and Opening the Door to a Dream
JOIN US ONLINE
4 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW LETTER
A FLAVORFUL FALL GETAWAY
Escape to Pure Ludington this fall and experience the ultimate fall craft beer festival at Downtown Ludington’s Octoberfest! Indulge in a weekend of flavorful brews, mouth watering food, and live entertainment that will leave your taste buds tingling and your spirits soaring. Sample an array of handcrafted beers from local and regional breweries, each one boasting its own unique flavors and styles. Stroll through the charming streets of Downtown Ludington, browsing local vendors and artisans. Take in the vibrant atmosphere as live music fills the air, creating an unforgettable backdrop for your autumn getaway. With its small-town charm and big-time flavors, Ludington’s Octoberfest is a must-visit event for beer enthusiasts and autumn lovers alike.
Don’t miss out on this seasonal celebration and start planning your trip to Ludington at PureLudington.com
Ad on inside front cover and page 1.
THURSDAYS IN DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS
Every “3rd Thursday” night of the month in Downtown Grand Rapids, local galleries, boutiques, restaurants and retailers offer unique events, art exhibitions and sales. From 5 – 9 p.m., visitors will find unique experiences and discover some of the best local businesses Downtown has to offer.
Each month, over 25 participating venues offer opportunities to explore different Downtown areas, all within walking distance or easily accessible by rental electric scooters and bikes. 3rd Thursdays also offer the opportunity to explore the Downtown Refreshment Area, where patrons of participating restaurants and pubs can enjoy an adult beverage while walking around Downtown.
Visit avenueforthearts.co/3rdthursdays and refreshments.downtowngr.org for more.
Ad on page 5.
6 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW SPOTLIGHT
Photo © Pure Ludington
Photo © Erika Townsley
Photos © Julie King Photography
DELIGHTFUL DISHES USING LOCAL INGREDIENTS
In recent years, food trucks have revolutionized the culinary landscape, providing an innovative and accessible way for food lovers to indulge in a diverse range of flavors. These mobile kitchens have become a symbol of culinary creativity, offering delicious and innovative meals.
Beacon Hill at Eastgate, a life plan community located in the Eastgate neighborhood of Grand Rapids, operates its own food truck—The Traveling Plate— using fresh ingredients from Beacon Hill’s half-acre community garden.
“As a retirement community, we’re proud to operate a unique food truck that offers residents and community members a culinary destination for delightful dishes made using local ingredients,” Executive Chef Luke Theaker said. “With a rotating menu prepared by award-winning chefs, diners are sure to find something they like.”
The Traveling Plate is a unique dining experience, offering a weekly rotating menu with a delightful array of flavors and dishes.
See more on @travelingplategr.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 7
CARING FOR YOUR MEMORY: PREVENTION, RETENTION AND ATTENTION
SSeventeenth-century British scholar Thomas Fuller once said, “Memory is the treasure house of the mind wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved.” He is also known for the famous quote: “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
These two axioms go hand in hand, when we think first about the value of our memories, and then about the heartbreak of losing them. Though some memory changes can be expected as we age, dementia and cognitive decline don’t have to be foregone conclusions of growing older.
Before we dig in, let’s reflect on the importance of memory and what it means to us as humans. Our memories are not only our connections to who we are and our experiences; they’re also responsible for storing our knowledge base so we can perform basic life functions.
Further, they allow us to participate in our interactions with others, whether it’s recalling a story from childhood or remembering a lunch date on Tuesday. Of course, there are practical matters that memory contributes to as well, like remembering to take medications on time or where we placed our car keys.
It’s easy to see why caring for—and even working to improve— memory is critical to our overall well-being. To help us understand this topic better, we talked with Heshan Fernando, Ph.D., Clinical Neuropsychologist with Corewell Health.
In his practice, Dr. Fernando has seen many patients who come in for an evaluation because they’ve noticed a recent decline, only to learn the
disease process has likely been going on much longer, even up to 10 years. This is why he stresses early intervention, and notes the actions taken in our 40s and 50s can have a profound effect on our function in the years that follow.
“What we’re essentially doing by caring about memory early is building up what we call ‘cognitive reserve,’ and this is the amalgamation of our intellectual experiences, schooling, occupational achievements and information we’ve gathered over time,” Dr. Fernando said. “All of these essentially help create a buffer against cognitive decline later in life.”
Being proactive about memory care involves a four-pronged approach, according to Dr. Fernando.
Physical exercise. This may be the most significant factor—even over mental tasks. Recent studies show a 3080% reduced risk of dementia later in life attributed just to physical exercise. Dr. Fernando encourages about 20-30 minutes a day of light aerobic activity, or 150 minutes per week. Whether it’s walking, stationary biking, or using an athome exercise program, anything that gets the heart rate up and our bodies moving can have substantial implications.
ANOTHER WAY TO BE PROACTIVE
Track cognitive health by asking primary care physicians to administer a simple cognitive exam early in life around age 50, like other types of screenings. These tests provide a way to track stability, decline or improvement over time.
8 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
HESHAN FERNANDO, P h. D. Clinical Neuropsychologist with Corewell Health
Cognitive activities. Doing crossword puzzles, playing sudoku, using phonebased, brain training apps (such as Elevate), or getting engrossed in an adult coloring book are beneficial daily activities. Dr. Fernando also lists taking an online college course, learning a new language or instrument, or listening to TED Talks as great ways to acquire new information.
A heart-healthy diet. Similar to exercise, the right food intake is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain.
Dr. Fernando says the Mediterranean Diet is considered the gold standard from a medical
standpoint. But, even just consistently eating meals that emphasize fruits and vegetables and lean meats like chicken and fish—while indulging less in red meat and dairy—can provide positive results. Socializing. “Interacting with others helps keep up our cognitive skills because there’s not only an exchange of information; we’re also considering different perspectives and maybe learning something new,” Dr. Fernando said. “We have evidence that being with other fellow human beings is very important for us not only socially and emotionally, but also cognitively.”
These are all preventative measures, but what should we be paying attention to if we feel decline is already occurring? How do we know when it’s not normal forgetfulness?
Dr. Fernando says we should be concerned when our symptoms have some sort of functional impact; when they’re starting to affect our ability to manage our daily affairs. Friends and family members noticing something different in us can also be a good barometer—and a prompt that it might be time to follow up with a medical professional. WMW
ALLISON KAY BANNISTER has been a West Michigan resident since 1987 and a professional writer since 2002. A GVSU alumna, she launched her own freelance writing business in 2017. Allison is a cookie connoisseur, word nerd, aspiring gardener, and metastatic breast cancer thriver who loves traveling in Michigan and beyond, and enjoys art, world cuisine, wine, music, and making homemade preserves.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 9
Mental Health Stock Photo © Adobe Stock | Heshan Fernando, Ph.D. Headshot © Corewell Health
HOW PET FRIENDLY IS YOUR HOME?
HHaving a pet is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Part of that responsibility is ensuring your home is equipped and ready to be a safe environment for your animal companion. For expert insight, we connected with Megan Ellinger, Director of Animal Welfare; Lyndsey Sturgeon, Canine Behavior Coordinator; and Kelly James, Animal Behavior Coordinator from Humane Society of West Michigan (HSWM).
First, it’s smart to get an indoor camera to monitor your pet’s behavior while you’re away. When it comes to dogs, our HSWM experts suggest having a size appropriate crate, baby gates and/or an exercise pen, depending on your pet’s preferences and
how far into potty training they are.
“Provide a resting place in a low-traffic area of the home that’s still in a common area, as this will offer a chance to be a part of what’s happening but also give your pet the choice to retreat to a safe place, if needed,” HSWM experts said. “Never rely on a fenced space to contain a dog until you know they’re not willing or able to go over or under it. Go outside with them, even in enclosed spaces, to make sure they stay securely in the space.”
For cats, understand that it’s natural for them to climb and that being up high can make them feel safe. For safety, anticipate potentially needing to secure heavy/tall items to the wall.
“It’s important to consider what items
may look like a nice cat tree or perch and decide whether you’ll want them to access that space or if it’s safe to do so,” HSWM experts explained. “If you decide to leave these items around, it’s important to provide alternative options to be able to perch or hide like cat trees or shelves.”
Cats also need a place to scratch! Our experts suggest providing vertical and horizontal scratching options, especially if you want to deter them from scratching furniture.
For all pets—including rabbits and other small animals—chewing can be a behavior you’ll need to prepare for.
“The most common household items that dogs tend to show interest in chewing are personal items—shoes, socks, underwear,
10 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
etc.—and soft or wood surfaces. Most adult dogs won’t chew on cords unless there’s an underlying anxiety issue but puppies are open to investigating ANYTHING!”
HSWM experts said, adding that you should provide a variety of toys of different textures and sizes to have something enticing you can use to redirect dogs when they’re inappropriately chewing.
“Monitor any and all interactions with toys to ensure they don’t ingest or choke on them. There are items, however, that are safe to leave pets alone with, such as Kongs and some food-based items.”
Experts say it’s important to keep easily accessible chewing or edible items out of reach, covered or in cabinets, especially for cats, as they can easily get on counters and tables. Even strings on your blinds can be dangerous! And if a rabbit has access to a whole room or home, owners should be mindful to block dangerous items that may be chewed on (cover cords, hide craft items like rubber bands and thumb tacks, block baseboards, etc.).
“Moral of the story, limit access to anything you don’t want chewed on and provide appropriate alternatives!” WMW
ADOPTING A PET?
Consider doing so on a weekend or when you have some time off work, so they have ample time to adjust to your space and being left alone prior to you having to leave for a significant amount of time. By doing this, you lessen the chance of your pet hurting themselves or being destructive when left alone.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 11
Pet Stock Photos © Adobe Stock
YOU'RE BUSY, THEY'RE BUSY: HOW TO NURTURE FRIENDSHIPS ANYWAY
FFriends are part of our lives from the earliest days. From learning to ride bikes to being in one another’s weddings, our memories are filled with friendship stories. But being an adult can be busy and, instead of meeting for drinks and laughing the nights away, spending time with others can be challenging. Juggling careers, family responsibilities and personal aspirations is no joke!
But your friends are no joke either. They bring joy and laughter to our lives, providing a solid support system when things get tough. Like a garden, though, they must be tended to grow. To help you do so, here are seven ideas on how to nurture friendships, even when life feels chaotic.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. In hectic seasons, focus on the quality of your friendships rather than the quantity. Invest in a few close friendships that truly matter to you, those built on trust, respect and shared values.
“Deeper bonded relationships create a sense of stability and safety,” explained Breanne Roberts, LMSW, a Behavioral Health Therapist with Captive Beliefs Counseling Services. “When we have people who ‘get us,’ we’re more likely to seek support during difficult times. This can reduce fear, loneliness, anxiety, sadness and more.”
BE UPFRONT. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and a friend makes a request, be honest. “It’s important to honor your feelings,” said Roberts, “and nurture relationships with transparency and honesty.” She suggests a threestep process for cultivating healthy relationships:
1. Validate your friend/say something nice. (“I love spending time with you.”)
12 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
RELATIONSHIPS BY KIRSETIN MORELLO
2. State your problem or need. (“I’m really drained tonight.”)
3. Ask. (“Could we walk tomorrow morning instead?”)
“By following this process, you’re being respectful of your friendship while also honoring how you’re feeling,” explained Roberts.
EMBRACE COMMUNICATION. Effective communication lies at the heart of any successful relationship. During busy seasons, being intentional about communication is essential and technology makes that easier than ever.
When face-to-face interaction is limited, bridge the distance by scheduling regular phone calls, Zoom chats or Facetimes, or go oldschool and send a heartfelt card via snail mail. Sharing updates, expressing gratitude and checking in on your friends’ well-being can help maintain connections—even when your schedule is demanding.
TACKLE TASKS TOGETHER. Grab a friend and turn mundane tasks into shared activities. Roberts suggested “incorporating social opportunities in natural ways, like grocery shopping, cooking, hitting the gym, taking walks and inviting one another to kids’ extracurricular events.” It’s an easy way to chat, laugh and catch up while checking items off your to-do list.
LEVERAGE GROUP GATHERINGS. Dinner parties, game nights or the occasional weekend retreat, can be key when individual time is scarce. These events allow you to connect with multiple friends and be efficient with your time, while fostering a sense of community and creating shared memories.
BE FLEXIBLE AND UNDERSTANDING. Life is unpredictable and even the best-laid plans can go awry. Show
5 LOCAL FRIEND-SCURSIONS
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (bike or walk)
up with grace and empathy if friends need to reschedule. They’re navigating their own challenges and will appreciate your understanding, as much as you’d appreciate theirs.
PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE. The foundation of any healthy relationship is self-care. You’ll be better equipped to maintain and nurture friendships when you care for your own physical and emotional needs. One way to do this, said Roberts, is by identifying your “happiness triggers,” which are exactly what they sound like: things that trigger your happiness, and scheduling time for them.
“It might be crafting, hiking, reading or cooking,” Roberts explained. “It’s a list of things that make you happy when you think about doing them. Prioritizing your needs isn’t selfish. It’s a great model for helping other women honor their feelings.”
When you’re navigating a particularly busy season of life, the way you invest in your friendships may look different. When my children were young, D&W provided one-hour childcare as a shopper perk. I treasure the memories of a close friend and I grabbing groceries and then chatting together over Diet Pepsis for the remainder of the onehour allotment. We no longer drink Diet Pepsi, and our children are grown, but because we were both willing to hold space, and do what we could, when we could, our friendship continues to thrive. WMW
KIRSETIN MORELLO is a Michigan-based author, speaker, writer, travel-lover, wife and grateful mom of three boys. Read more about her at www.KirsetinMorello.com.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 13
Friendship Stock Photo © Adobe Stock
Cover & Layout Photos © Kelly Braman Photography
Candids Provided by Jennifer Feuerstein
Hair by Mary Thompson, Design 1 Plainfield
Makeup by Jerry Kragt, Aura Beauty Bar
BY SARAH SUYDAM
The Author of Her Own Story
Jennifer Feuerstein has been writing since she was a child. And while she always knew she wanted to one day write a book, for the longest time, she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what she’d write about. As it turns out, some life experiences—ranging from tragic to triumphant—would eventually guide her vision.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 15 J
16 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW COVER STORY
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Feuerstein studied broadcasting and cinematic arts with a minor in journalism, in hopes of becoming a broadcast journalist. Her career ambitions, however, were put on hold after getting married and starting a family. But what followed was far from a happy ending. Instead, Feuerstein faced a 10-year period of intense hardship; a time she says greatly shaped her outlook on life that included the loss of her cousin, grandmother, best friend and five pregnancies.
Shortly following, Feuerstein left a comfortable financial lifestyle and vocation as a stay-at-home mom as the result of a difficult divorce. She became a solo parent and sole provider to ensure her three young children— Tyler, Aidan and Ava—were given a more stable life. It wasn’t easy, and Feuerstein had to start over with nothing. Through it all, with her children as her motivation, Feuerstein stood firm in her belief that she was capable of rebuilding her life.
“I clawed my way out of that pit because I knew I didn’t want to stay there. I needed to find a job, but I hadn’t really worked in 11 years,” Feuerstein said, noting her attempt to dip her toes into her original area of study, but was told—at age 31—she was “too seasoned” to be on TV. “I ended up applying for a geriatric health care organization as a marketing and outreach coordinator. I had no idea what geriatrics really even meant, and I had no experience in marketing, but I was desperate.”
Even with what Feuerstein calls a paper-thin resume and no industry experience, the job was hers. What she didn’t know at the time is that moment was the catalyst of Feuerstein’s journey in becoming a leader in gerontology and voice for older adults—who are often overlooked and stigmatized.
“I went to GRCC and became certified in aging so I could learn the lingo and ensure I was competent and knew what I was talking about,” said Feuerstein, who also began freelance writing on the topic as an aging expert. “Then, I started participating in different councils, boards and networking events and became plugged in everywhere.”
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 17
“I love hearing the stories of older adults and learning from them. They have such sage wisdom and hold such value ...”
Photo © Brian DiVita
Not Your Shoe Size is available via ebook and paperback on August 14 (what would be Julie’s 50th birthday) through jenniferdivita.com and at your favorite local bookstore.
After only six years in the field, Feuerstein became Associate State Director for AARP—a position she’s now held for nearly a decade. Ironically, though “more seasoned,” she was given another shot to work on TV and is an on-air personality for ABC 4 West Michigan and WOOD-TV 8. Named among the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal in 2022, Feuerstein has dedicated the past 15 years to being an influencer in aging and a staunch advocate.
“What I love about my work is the relationships I’ve built with the people I’ve met,” she said, noting how no two days are the same. “I love hearing the stories of older adults and learning from them. They have such sage wisdom and hold such value. I also enjoy watching how people choose how to live as they grow older. When I see really vibrant, active older adults, it’s inspirational because I want to be like them.”
Feuerstein will soon be adding “author” to her resume with the release of her upcoming debut novel, Not Your Shoe Size , under the pen (and her soon-to-be-married) name, Jennifer DiVita. The coming-of-age story—and labor of love Feuerstein began writing in 2014 and completed during the pandemic—follows two life-long best friends who are at odds on whether to embrace their age or defy it, and all the ups and downs that come with trying to age well in an ageist society. It’s a witty and poignant novel that speaks to every woman who realizes time is of the essence and has to decide how to bloom in every stage of life.
“There are so many non-fiction books about growing old, and yet I found none of them had captured aging in a fun narrative storytelling kind of way. So, I thought, ‘I’m going to write it myself!’” Feuerstein said. “We want to be OK with wrinkles and gray hair but society says ‘no’ because we have all these intrinsically negative ideas associated with growing old. The story really represents the internal struggle and tug of war that every woman has with trying to love the skin she’s in.”
18 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 19
Photo © Brad Koch
Feuerstein reflected on how the loss of her own lifelong best friend, Julie, who died unexpectedly at age 30 from health problems, affected her life and set the foundation for her novel.
“We were thick as thieves and as close as sisters can get without being sisters,” Feuerstein recalled. “We grew up together, were college roommates; she was in my wedding and we were planning hers before she passed. This book is dedicated to her … it really aligns with both of our personalities.”
In addition to writing, community involvement is an immense passion of Feuerstein’s, whether it’s emceeing the Hope for Single Moms annual fundraiser, serving as Board Chair of Designed Future, working with the City of Grand Rapids to ensure age-friendly efforts are a priority or training to be a graduate of the FBI’s Citizens Academy.
There’s much Feuerstein is deeply proud of: the life she’s built for herself and her family, the people her children have grown up to be … And even when things don’t go to plan, Feuerstein looks fondly and optimistically forward to the bright days ahead, which includes travel with her fiancé Brian and hopefully a place in Florida post-retirement where she can relax, host happy hours and write as much as she wants.
“Give me a piña colada, a book and some sand and I can be content for a week!” WMW
20 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
Photo © Carly Munoz
Photo © Brian DiVita
Jennifer (R) and Julie (L); approximately 1987.
... I also enjoy watching how people choose how to live as they grow older. When I see really vibrant, active older adults, it’s inspirational because I want to be like them.”
THRIVING AFTER 55
NEVER STOP LEARNING: STAYING CURIOUS AND ENGAGED AT ANY AGE
THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY AND EMBRACING YOUR SENIOR STATUS
22 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW SPECIAL SECTION
Special Section Photos © Adobe Stock
BY SARAH SUYDAM
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 23
NEVER STOP LEARNING: STAYING CURIOUS AND ENGAGED AT ANY AGE
There’s a misconception that once you reach a certain age or complete your formal education, whether it’s high school or another form of higher education, that you’re “done learning.” That couldn’t be further from the truth! Not only are every one of us learning new things each day, there are a bounty of opportunities to continue to grow our knowledge and expand our horizons.
Staying curious pays off, too. According to the National Institute on Aging, staying intellectually engaged in meaningful activities and hobbies, along with volunteering, has the potential to improve cognitive function and adaptability, in addition to improving overall enjoyment and quality of life. Knowing these benefits, consider some of these low to no-cost experiences, classes and webinars, so you never have to stop learning.
24 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW SPECIAL SECTION
Continued on page 26...
Nurses with Emmanuel Hospice greet every workday ready to treat each patient like they’re the only one. It’s what you do when you’re trying to make every moment count for each patient and delicately guiding them through an unknown journey ahead.
Hospice nurses are nimble, always looking for opportunities to tap into an array of services for patient care. With Emmanuel’s interdisciplinary and holistic approach to care, nurses collaborate with a tight-knit team of colleagues who bring expertise for various patient needs.
The interdisciplinary team is all about collaboration and communication, sharing resources, skills and expertise to deliver care with compassion and ensure all needs are met. The team can include practitioners and therapists who specialize in areas from pain management to music therapy to medical massages. The goal is to enhance each patient’s life with a combination of expert medical care, spiritual counseling and a variety of complementary therapies and services.
While the care provided can change from patient to patient, there is one constant: A focus on every precious moment a patient has left—helping them
live more at the end of life. Team members go to great lengths to help patients achieve wishes that will create lasting memories.
“We’re grateful our approach to end-of-life care has been resonating with the West Michigan community since we served our first patient in 2013,” said Sara Lowe, Executive Director of Emmanuel Hospice. “We aspire to continue to shape a community that embraces death as a meaningful transition through the care of mind, body and spirit.
“We’re seeking to strengthen our team with more mission-minded nurses and other health care professionals in order to achieve that vision— because finding the right hospice is about finding the right people.”
Emmanuel Hospice offers competitive pay, great mileage reimbursement, self-care days, nine paid holidays, flex time and the support of dedicated admissions and extended care teams, among other benefits, in a supportive environment where everyone’s voice is valued and heard.
Find more information at EmmanuelHospice.org/careers.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 25
FINDING THE RIGHT HOSPICE IS ABOUT FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Photo © Alexander Pavone
... continued from page 24.
Audiobooks are a great way to easily indulge in a good story or learn about a new topic. You could listen while going on a walk, during a long drive, or even while catching up on household projects.
Did you know? Many libraries offer free audiobook rentals through smartphone apps such as hoopla and Libby. All you need is a library card to set up your account! Spotify has also now entered the audiobook game, though not all titles are cost-free. So whether you’re into historic events, the latest celebrity memoir or a thrilling fictional mystery, audiobooks have you covered.
GO IVY LEAGUE.
SPECIAL SECTION SPECIAL SECTION
While we don’t mean literally going to an Ivy league school (unless you really want to!), several of them offer online professional and lifelong learning opportunities. Harvard, for example, offers free and low cost (around $30) online courses in subject areas like humanities, business, science, art & design and more. Through Coursera, Yale makes available recordings of actual classroom lectures, along with providing class syllabi, suggested readings, exams, problem sets and lecture transcripts. Many Michigan colleges and universities also have lifelong learning programs worth exploring.
CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL PARKS AND RECREATION.
Yes, you read that right. Many Parks and Recreation Departments provide year-round programming that covers more ground beyond just outdoor activities! The Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department offers free rotating classes and events for adults over age 50 in subjects like knitting, health and wellness, a book club and more.
TRUE. WOMEN'S HEALTH
At 55, many women we see at true. Women’s Health are just getting started. They want to do what they want, how they want, and as long as they want. Common goals include: “Hike with my family,” “be comfortable in my clothes,” “improved libido,” or “start a business now that it’s my time.” We believe all of this is possible and a great life after 55 simply takes intention, knowledge and execution. See truewomenshealth.com
26 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT LIFE AFTER 55 Photo © true. Women's Health
Getting involved in the community is always a good idea, as groups and organizations everywhere are regularly looking for helping hands. Have a specialized skill? Reach out to an organization with a cause you’re passionate about and see how you could get involved. Museum docent, citizen scientist and theater usher are all great options. Some of the greatest learning, after all, often happens through conversations with people who have different life experiences and perspectives.
THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY AND EMBRACING YOUR SENIOR STATUS
Though everyone needs their alone time, research has shown that connectedness, especially among older adults, is highly beneficial for one’s general and mental health. That’s especially true in places like Beacon Hill at Eastgate, a senior living community in Grand Rapids that for over 60 years has provided a residential community and a wide range of services to seniors.
Ashley Edwards, Beacon Hill’s Marketing and Communications Director, agrees that a sense of belonging is incredibly important for older adults.
“We are made better, more whole, when sharing our lives with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers,” Edwards said. “Helping those in need, building new connections, sharing in their joys and their sorrows … we are greatly improved when we are part of a community.”
Edwards explained that though many residents already have a supportive community in their families and lifelong friends, a person’s community as they age can feel smaller for a variety of reasons, offering fewer “reasons” to get together. Thankfully, communities of all kinds—including churches, volunteer organizations and those like Beacon Hill—offer opportunities to gather, go on an outing and simply experience life.
“Residents at Beacon Hill can choose to be as engaged or
serene as they want to be, and as social or as private as they choose,” Edwards said, sharing more about what the Beacon Hill community is like for its residents. “Beacon Hill’s residents enjoy an active and fulfilling life and take ample advantage of all the campus offers: social events, field trips, four on-site restaurants, a 120-person auditorium, a half-acre community garden, etc.
“In addition to resident mixers, residents can join any number of social clubs, from cards and
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 27
games to current events. Take an art class. Attend a concert. Nurture your love of gardening. We also have a wide variety of wellness classes including yoga, water aerobics, walking club and more—plus spiritual enrichment classes, which make it easy to stay active and meet new people at the same time.”
For many, aging can be understandably difficult to grapple with, whether it’s not recognizing yourself in the mirror or being frustrated about not being able to do the same physical activities as you once did. But that doesn’t mean we can’t remind ourselves (and often) how fortunate we are to be
afforded the opportunity to grow older.
“Aging is a privilege! We should all be so lucky as to live well into our 90s,” Edwards said. “The senior population has so much wisdom to share, and they deserve everyone’s respect.”
Edwards emphasized the importance of listening to their stories and heeding their advice.
“One day, it will be you sharing that wisdom. And me—if I’m bestowed that privilege!” she said. “The happiest people I encounter are the ones who have accepted that aging happens to all of us and it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. No matter what we look like, or whether you need assistive devices for daily living, your spirit and who you are as a person remains the same.” WMW
BEACON HILL AT EASTGATE
CARE ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
Long-term nursing care can be a temporary place to recover after an illness or injury, or a new place to call home that offers support, comfort, and protection from the effects of a prolonged illness, disability or aging.
Long-term care services are designed to help you maintain your current lifestyle as much as possible at a time when you may not be able to be fully independent.
At Beacon Hill at Eastgate, our state-of-the-art Skilled Nursing facility allows you to enjoy peace and quiet in our fully private rooms and bathrooms. We are flexible and willing to change to meet your needs to focus on making you most comfortable. We see each resident on a personal level, not just a medical condition. Every resident receives a Personalized Plan of Care—a complete, individualized plan to meet your needs, built collaboratively with our interdisciplinary care team, you and your health advocates.
28 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW SPECIAL SECTION
Photo © Justin Hill Photography
Curious about a career as a Certified Pilates Instructor? With Pilates being so popular today, Master Pilates Instructor Ahmé Bovée shares a bit about Pilates as a career.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN PILATES?
I discovered the benefits of Pilates 25 years ago. The quiet, quality time I spent on the mat was the best therapy I’d ever experienced. It gave me tools to not only feel strong and confident in my body but to manage my inner struggle with depression and anxiety. It inspired such transformative results that it became my life’s passion to share the benefits with others.
Now with over 40,000 hours of expertise, I’m an internationally sought-after Master Instructor, presenter and educator. My mission is to make every instructor I train successful, fulfilled and confident in every way.
WHAT’S THE INDUSTRY GOLD STANDARD IN CERTIFICATION?
The largest and most respected Pilates company worldwide is Balanced Body. In West Michigan, I’m the only Balanced Body Master Instructor offering comprehensive professional education. When you train with the leaders, it maximizes your career opportunities and opens doors.
AHMÉ BOVÉE BA
MASTER PILATES INSTRUCTOR PILATES IN EAST
WHAT CAN I EARN AS A CERTIFIED PILATES INSTRUCTOR?
Well-trained Certified Instructors are in high demand and typically make $30-$60 per class. Salary.com reports that as of May 25, average Certified Pilates Instructor earnings in Michigan are between $41,507 and $78,880. Invest in the right education—one that gives you the knowledge and skills to be respected—and the sky’s the limit!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME CERTIFIED?
A pro-level training, like what I offer, usually takes one year to complete but you can get started teaching and earning as quickly as six months. Instructors in training attend courses on the weekends and log practice hours on their own schedule in between. To complete the course work in this timeline, it would take a commitment of 10-15 hours per week.
WHEN CAN I GET STARTED?
You can get started this September or January 2024! Email me for details (firstname.lastname@example.org).
EXCELLENCE IN PILATES
Photos © Tantzi Kuyers
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH AGING PARENTS
AAs our parents age, the way they live likely changes in order to meet their evolving needs. Sometimes, that means taking on new or additional costs, whether it’s related to housing, making home updates or otherwise. To learn more about some potential costs associated with aging parents, we tapped the expertise of Elizabeth Eardley, Founder of Crossroads Eldercare Options.
According to Eardley, misconceptions surrounding senior care options and what they cost abound, causing stress and a feeling of hopelessness in the possibility of finding care. Thankfully, finding accurate and relevant information is possible.
“Luckily in West Michigan there are so many resources to help people either stay home or move where they can get help,” Eardley said, noting the many senior care professionals like herself who can share accurate information. Eardley also shared that much of the information people hear about the cost of long-term care is focusing on nursing care—not assisted living.
“Assisted living is around 30% less expensive than nursing care and most people will not require more care than what assisted living can offer,” she said, making note of some important considerations you can make before the time for making these decisions arrives.
“One very important consideration for people as they age is that they shouldn’t be gifting large amounts of money if they plan on applying for Medicaid in the future,” Eardley explained. “Having an estate plan is also important. Without one, your
30 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
estate may go into probate, removing your ability to choose how your belongings and finances are handled. In addition, having a power of attorney, so someone can help handle your finances on your behalf if you’re incapacitated, is vital.”
Should a parent want to receive care in their own home rather than in a senior living community, Eardley suggests folks complete a side-by-side checklist comparing the costs.
“Staying home and all the maintenance and bills such as home and car insurance, mortgage payments, utilities, groceries—with the added cost of home care—can make staying home just as expensive as moving,” Eardley said. “Home care is often one of the best options for people, just as long as they understand the cost and how it compares to that of moving to a senior care community.”
Eardley explains that often costs for home care, assisted living and memory care are generally paid for with private funds (savings, investments, pensions, home sale proceeds, social security, etc.).
“Some people also have long-term care insurance that can help. There’s also a form of Medicaid called Medicaid waiver that can be applied for that sometimes will help pay the care cost at certain assisted living communities,” Eardley said, noting specific options for veterans. “If the person needing care or their spouse are a veteran, there’s a Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension that can be used for home care and assisted living.”
Though none of these options will cover the entire cost of assisted living, Eardley emphasizes that there are creative ways to put different financing solutions together to help alleviate financial burdens.
“At Crossroads Eldercare Options, we have a team of advisors that can talk with people at no cost to help them understand their unique circumstances financially, clinically and legally so they know what their options are in either a crisis situation or when planning for the future,” Eardley said.
While the costs associated with senior care can be overwhelming, talking to the experts can help alleviate some of that stress.
“It’s a pretty confusing topic with a lot of things to consider,” Eardley said. “Double check and make sure the information you have is correct and complete so you don’t make decisions you wish you hadn’t!” WMW
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 31
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan | aaawm.org • Crossroads Eldercare Options | crossroadseldercare.com National Council on Aging | ncoa.org • Senior Neighbors | seniorneighbors.org Financial Stock Photo © Adobe Stock
“Home care is often one of the best options for people, just as long as they understand the cost and how it compares to that of moving to a senior care community.”
GET READY TO RALLY FOR THESE COLLEGE TOWNS!
AAs the end of the summer and beginning of fall nears, many parents are sending their children off to college, perhaps for the first time. For some, their child may now be living in a city they’ve never really spent time in. So, what’s there to do when you drop them off, visit, or attend a sporting event? Come along as we explore some popular Michigan college towns and offer up a sampling of what’s to enjoy in each.
Home to Michigan State University, one of the biggest and greenest college campuses in the country, East Lansing has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Embrace the “Go Green!” energy by visiting Crunchy’s (an EL tradition) for a Breakfast Burger; savoring a sweet baked good from Mitten Raised Bakery; taking in a show at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts; or vying for a new high score at Pinball Pete’s. The nearby state capitol building is also worth a visit.
Attending a football game and staying overnight? Consider the trendy new Graduate East Lansing hotel, located right on Grand River Avenue less than a mile from Spartan Stadium (don’t forget to check their website for game time deals).
32 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
(Top) Beaumont Tower. Photo © Amie Lucas, Greater Lansing CVB
(Bottom) MSU Sparty. Photo © Greater Lansing CVB
Don your maize and blue and head to the University of Michigan! In addition to world-famous Zingerman’s Deli in the city’s Kerrytown District, Ann Arbor boasts the largest football stadium in North America—“The Big House,” which can be toured on weekdays, upon request and for a fee.
While visiting, don’t miss the flavorful dishes found at Taste of India Suvai; craft brews at Wolverine State Brewing Company; the stunning architecture of the William W. Cook Legal Research Library in the Law Quad; and the natural beauty of the Waterloo State Recreation Area. The Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown—just blocks from campus—is a popular place to lay your head after a long day of tailgating.
“Fire Up” and venture to Mt. Pleasant, where you’ll find Central Michigan University and the many scenic parks and trails surrounding the Chippewa River. There’s plenty to do in the city and immediate area, including playing a round of golf at Bucks Run on their awardwinning 18-hole course before dining at the Quarry Grill.
While in Mt. Pleasant, remember to chill out with some grub at The Cabin; chow on classic and gourmet hot dogs at Dog Central—a popular post-football game hot spot; test your luck at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort; book a reservation at Karma Kat Cafe; and more. CMU’s campus is especially picturesque come autumn, so when in doubt, take a stroll from one end of the campus to the other to soak up the sights.
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 33
(Top) Michigan Locker Room, Zingerman's Delicatessen. Photos © Destination Ann Arbor
(Bottom) Homecoming 2021, Campus. Photos © Central Michigan University
Located on lands historically occupied by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadmi nations, Western Michigan University is known for its aviation program, among others. Kalamazoo itself has a vibrant Art Deco downtown that’s sure to keep visiting families entertained. Refreshing brews and live shows are always on tap at Bell’s Brewery, while over 300 vintage automobiles & motorcycles await at Gilmore Car Museum in neighboring Hickory Corners. Don’t skip the Air Zoo, a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum.
For a taste of “magic,” venture to One Well Brewing for some drinks and dining, before getting competitive in their familyfriendly Wizard’s Pinball Palace next door, which includes 50 pinball tables, 20 arcade games, four dart boards, three pool tables, air hockey and foosball.
Situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is Marquette, a paradise for nature lovers and home to Northern Michigan University and the U.S. Olympic Education Center, which offers elite athletes the opportunity to get an education while training for the Olympic games.
From hiking Mount Marquette and dog-friendly Sugarloaf Mountain to the old Lower Harbor Ore Dock and ADAaccessible trails leading to Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook, outdoor activities abound in the U.P.’s largest city. You may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights while you’re here!
If the indoors are calling your name, opt for a pint of MYKISS IPA at Blackrocks Brewery; explore the Marquette Maritime Museum or paint your own pottery at HOTplate, a DIY art studio. Stay overnight at the Landmark Inn if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lilac Lady who supposedly haunts its historic halls.
34 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW TRAVEL
(Top) State Theatre, Gilmore Car Museum. Photos © Discover Kalamazoo
(Bottom) Mount Marquette Hiking. Photo © Aaron Peterson/Travel Marquette Northern Lights. Photo © UP Travel
WMW : WESTMICHIGANWOMAN.COM 35
CATHY GEORGE: RISING TO THE TOP
CCathy George is no stranger to volleyball—she’s been coaching for 37 years, including 17 years at MSU and 11 at WMU. She became the first woman to coach in the NCAA D1 Final Four when she took her University of TexasArlington program to the national semifinals in 1989.
While George admits it’s been a challenge to be a strong coach, a mother and wife all at once, she’s invigorated for the opportunities that lay ahead. George now leads the Grand Rapids Rise, West Michigan’s first major-league women’s sports team, as Director of Volleyball Operations and Head Coach.
With professional volleyball being wildly popular overseas, we caught up with George to learn more about the team’s arrival in West Michigan.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAM IN GRAND RAPIDS?
I was very optimistic about the Pro Volleyball Federation from the start and actually was the first coach to sign on. I believe in the backing of DP Fox Sports and what they’ve done here. I trust them, and with people who are energized about volleyball, we can make this happen. I have this passion to see this league grow into something special and be a positive step for women athletics. It means more to me than just coaching. It’s setting a foundation for the future so it can be this great opportunity for people down the road. If everyone is moving in the same direction, we’ll certainly make a lot of history.
HOW HAS YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE PREPARED YOURSELF TO LEAD GR RISE TO SUCCESS?
No matter what, there’s a business side to everything. How do we grow the sport, be mentors for young people, grow a fan base? That’s always been on my mind. When you try to pull a team together, there are a lot of roadblocks and successes. Now, we have to look at it on a bigger scale. We have to put a plan in place that will be sustainable for years to come. Every single piece matters to me, and I want to ensure we’re setting it up for success. If we can get the foundation right, we’ll have fewer bumps along the way. In every business, you have to take a leap of faith and everyone has to be all in.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO FOLKS WHO MIGHT BE CONSIDERING COMING OUT TO A GAME?
You’re going to have a ball! Most people I invite to a game will come back. They always say, ‘That was way more athletic, exciting and nothing like what I expected volleyball to look like.’ Those people often become season ticket holders and buy suites and courtside seats. It’s not just the game but the event around the game—the whole package. I think everyone is going to be excited about the level of players we’re bringing in; it’s going to be a very competitive league. Whether you know volleyball or not, come see what it looks like. I think you’re going to be pleased!
Learn more at grrise.com. WMW
36 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 : WMW
Cathy George. Photo © Michigan State Athletics