Newspaper Articles


The WV Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is launching a social engagement program designed to help people living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s remain mentally and socially active post diagnosis.  To read the full Community Note click here.

An excellent review penned by Cat Pleska of Dr. Fran Simone’s new book, Dark Wine Waters was printed in the Charleston Gazette on Sunday, September 7, 2014.

Fran’s book,  “Dark Wine Waters is the story of her husband’s alcohol addiction and eventual suicide. Telling you that in the first sentence is not a spoiler for this deeply felt memoir, honest and ultimately uplifting, a story of hope for many of us who have dealt with addiction in any of its many forms.” Click here to read the review.

CharlestonGazetteAn article from the Charleston Gazette – E-edition – on July 20, 2014, illustrates the current thought on ‘growing old gracefully’ as described by Gina Barecca in the Hartford Courant. My favorite line was when Gina described her wish not to age gracefully but rather she would “intend to go as gentle as a mastodon stuck in a tar pit”.

At 57 years old, I won’t take growing old sitting down!
By Gina Barreca in the The Hartford Courant

I’ve lived my life with enthusiasm, courage, raucousness and passion. Why on earth would I want to grow old gracefully? Why would I want to be “Whistler’s Mother” when my whole life what I’ve wanted to be is Mae West? Let’s face it: It’s about as likely that I’ll become calm, serene and dignified as I age as it was that I’d be prim, proper and sweet in my youth.

Those were always lovely fantasies — for somebody else. But like charming dresses that would never flatter me, I don’t fit into these patterns. They weren’t designed with me in mind. No matter how I try to tailor them or hold my breath long enough to slip them on, I know they’d be confining, inappropriate and impossible to carry off.

But “growing old gracefully” is one of those phrases we’ve heard so often we’ve internalized the concept without examining it. I’ve decided that as I age, rather than becoming contemplative and introspective, to become more disruptive, seditious and boisterous instead. Not only am I not going gentle into that good night, I am not going gracefully into that late afternoon. I intend to go as gentle as a mastodon stuck in a tar pit.

I want to be one of those women who brandish a cane. I come from a family of people with bad knees, so that particular accessory is probably in my future. But I don’t plan to “carry,” “rely upon,” or “make occasional use” of a cane, but to brandish it. The two things a person can brandish are canes and swords, and I’m unlikely to model myself after either Xena, the Warrior Princess, or Joan of Arc at this stage (although anything is possible). Cane it is.

I might also start carrying a flask. It might contain gin; it might contain Ensure. What it contains is beside the point: What matters is that I will be able to whip out a flask.

I might also begin to dispense some of my possessions to the young under my care. This will happen in those instances where I can now afford to purchase higher quality goods. “Please take this handmade quilt. Grandma’s gonna get some sheets from Frette’s.”

After 50, you can begin to distinguish what actually makes you happy from what you’ve always done to please others. Being able to define that difference is an accomplishment. It’s one of those areas of expertise that takes at least 10,000 hours to learn.

After a certain age, you finally become the indisputable authority on the subject of yourself.

It’s absurd to think that you’re then supposed to spend all your time sitting quietly while people tell you dull stories about their kids (whom you don’t know), their dogs (who have a limited range of talents, although often cuter and less self-involved than their kids) or their gall bladder surgery (more engaging than either offspring or pets).

Is it simply a lack of imagination that makes us view old age as a time of life when people are mostly worried about what will get stuck in their trachea? Or is it because we’re still bound by weirdly constructed and entirely arbitrary definitions telling us how people are supposed to act at a certain age?

When I was a girl, I was told I wasn’t supposed to be energetic, ambitious or competitive. I was told I wasn’t supposed to be fierce, seditious or demanding. I didn’t listen then; why would I listen now, when I’m being told essentially the same thing — a version of “Sit down and be quiet”?

It’s easy to say that what I really want for my 80th birthday is to be surrounded by loved ones and to have my health, but what I truly believe I’ll want on my 80th birthday is a leased Ferrari and a month at the Waldorf. I’m 57, so if I’m lucky, I have a little time to make plans.

But on his deathbed, my father preferred Prosecco sipped from a straw to chicken soup; he was a good role model. Like him, I’d rather be a legend than leave a legacy.

Rather than grow old gracefully, I want to grow old gaudily.

Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut, a feminist scholar who has written eight books, and a columnist for the Hartford Courant.

February 10, 2014 – An article by Tara Bahrampour published February 6, 2014, in the Washington Post entitled “Through a growing number of senior villages in the D.C. area, aging in place becomes easier”, follows some of the activities of half a dozen senior villages that have sprung up in the D.C. area since 2010 when there were just 5 villages in the area to the more than 40 that are in development or up and running today.

Click here to read
“Through a growing number of senior villages in the D.C. area, aging in place becomes easier”

One of the more interesting aspects I noted was that one village started a service where 16 trained volunteers accompany members to doctor’s appointments to take notes. I will always remember when my dad was in the hospital decades back that when the physician came in and explained what the prognosis, diagnosis or any other -osis or -itis was that my father would always shake his head yes to indicate that he had understood everything and then immediately after the doctor left the room would look at me with a questioning expression and say, “What did he say?” I’m positive this is the same today.

OC register

January 31, 2014 – There’s an excellent article by Theresa Walker in the Orange County Register (California) dated January 22, 2014 entitled Virtual village gives seniors what they need to stay in their homes. Please take a few minutes to read the article by clicking here. It delves into activities practised in villages in this area in addition to a compilation of Benefits of village membership funded by the Archstone Foundation which evaluated 10 villages in California and their impact on about 400 members which I found most interesting. One of the most outstanding findings was that  75 % of the people surveyed agreed that they are more likely to stay in their own homes than before.

Here are some of the other facts that were discovered:

On health, quality of life:
• 52.5 % agree their quality of life has improved
• 44.7 % agree they feel happier
• 32.7 % agree they feel healthier

On access to care/services:
• 80.8 % agree they are more likely to know how to get assistance when they need it
• 28.2 % say they are more likely to get the medical care they need, when they need it

On ability to age in place:
• 75 % agree they are more likely to stay in their own homes
• 25.5 % agree they have an easier time taking care of their homes
• 25.1 % agree they have an easier time taking care of themselves

On socializing:
• 40 % leave their home more often
• 39 % say they are less lonely since joining the village

Sources: UC Berkeley Villages Project; researchers Andrew E. Scharlach, Center for the Advanced Studies of Aging Services at the School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley, and Carrie Graham, Health Research in Action at UC Berkeley

sun_gazette-mail-logoNovember 3, 2013 – In On the Town today in the Gazette-Mail, photos of people attending the last meeting of the Kanawha Valley Village People were featured. Click here to see them.

Steering Committee - Larry Rowe, Marilyn Witbeck, Hazel Palmer & James Thibeault

Steering Committee – Larry Rowe, Marilyn Witbeck, Hazel Palmer & James Thibeault


The Kanawha Valley Village People are ‘adventurers in aging’ writes Douglas Imbrogno of the Charleston Gazette in his article September 21, 2013.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — They’re called the Village People, but it’s not the kind of Village People who belt out the tune “Y.M.C.A.” The Kanawha Valley Village People are part of a national movement devoted to “aging in place.” Click here to read it.

Columbus Dispatch logo

Read Jim Weiker’s April, 2013, article in the Columbus Dispatch entitled Retirees find help that will allow them to remain at home by clicking here.

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