Bay Area AARP Members Save on Long Term Care Insurance And Much More

It’s new-tradition-Tuesday here at Engage As You Age, and so we’re starting a new one on our blog. Each Tuesday, we’ll be highlighting  senior services in the San Francisco Bay Area that complement our unique, one-of-a-kind social engagement offerings. The San Francisco Bay Area offers an array of community resources for seniors, so the blogs should be plentiful and varied.

This Tuesday, we’re highlighting the local discounts available to San Francisco Bay Area seniors who are also members of AARP.

If you’re a senior over 50 living in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re eligible for AARP membership. Members can save on insurance, financial services, health products and receive discounts at a variety of Bay Area stores and restaurants.

Some of our favorite discounts include:

  • Health: If you’re a Bay Area senior and an AARP member—but aren’t yet eligible for Medicare—your membership may provide you with discount medical coverage or supplemental hospital coverage provided by Aetna.
  • Shopping: Bay Area older adults who hold AARP memberships can save $5 off every $20 they purchase at Walgreens. San Francisco seniors can attest to the plethora of Walgreens stores in the city—and therefore the plethora of opportunities to save on any variety of health or home products. $20 can add up quick. This is especially helpful for seniors who are aging in place in San Francisco or the surrounding Bay Area!
  • Insurance: AARP members in the Bay Area who are between the ages of 50 and 64 can receive discounts on long-term care insurance through AARP’s discount offerings. Long-term care insurance helps offset the cost of in-home caregiving should you decide to age in place, and also helps cover the cost of assisted living facilities or nursing homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. For older adults or seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s, long-term care insurance can be a valuable resource.

Check out the AARP website for more ways to save as you age, and Engage as you save!

1948 Gold Medalist Returns to London to Watch Bolt Win the 100M Dash

This week, Engage As You Age is blogging about three elderly Olympic athletes, who deserve to be recognized for their athletic achievements. See yesterday’s post on the oldest living American gold medalist, and check back tomorrow for another profile of one of the world’s oldest Olympic athletes—a 97-year-old gold medal swimmer!


Decades before Usain Bolt won Olympic gold in the 100-meter dash, Harrison Dillard won gold in the very same event. Which makes him the oldest-living Olympic 100-meter champ! Don’t mistake him for being the oldest living Olympian.

Dillard, 89, won a gold medal in the 100-meter race in the 1948 London Olympics.  He is the only man to ever win Olympic gold medals in both the sprints and high hurdles. And he returned to London to watch Bolt defend his “world’s fastest man” title.

“I saw [Usain] Bolt in Beijing, and as they say, ‘I don’t believe what I just saw’ when he ran the 100 meters. I’m wondering if he can do it again,” Dillard told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last month.

A lot has changed in Dillard’s life since he competed in the 1948 London games, held as Britain and the world struggled to recover from World War II. “In my day, it was purely amateur. You represented your country, period,” he told the Associated Press. “They are now able to make it a profession.”

Dillard grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After the Olympics and away from the track, he joined the Cleveland Indians’ public relations department in 1949. He also worked in radio and TV and wrote a weekly newspaper column for the now-defunct Cleveland Press.

The senior citizen still lives in a Cleveland suburb. He carried the Olympic flame in the 1984 and 2002 torch relay. This year, he traveled to London as a guest of the Omega watch company, which is still the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games.

Because even though much time has elapsed between Dillard and Bolt winning gold, no time can erase the memory of such an achievement.

“When they play that anthem and you’re standing there and it’s being played because of something you did it is a feeling that you can’t describe,” he said. “I remember in subsequent years watching the Olympic Games on television and [the athletes] some with tears streaming down their face, some look like they’re in shock. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I stood there the first time.”

Nonagenarian Athletes Look Back on Medals of Olympic Past

This week, Engage As You Age is blogging about three elderly Olympic athletes, who deserve to be recognized for their athletic achievements. Check back tomorrow for another profile of one of the world’s oldest living Olympians—an 89-year-old track star!


In the glitz and glamour of the 2012 Olympic Games, it’s easy to forget that even in the modern era, Olympic events weren’t always housed in brand new, state of the art facilities.

The world’s oldest Olympic gold medalists have been in the news this week reminiscing about their athletic past during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles—at the height of the Great Depression.

The oldest living Olympian (an American gold medalist) could not afford to go the Olympic Trials in Chicago. So the people of her hometown—Tustin, California—went door to door and raised $190 for her to drive from southern California to Chicago with her mother and coach in order to compete.

And it was a good thing her community rallied behind her. Because Evelyn Furtsh Ojeda, now 98, broke both the Olympic and the world record while running to victory in 46.9 seconds as part of the women’s 4×100 relay track team.

After taking gold at the Olympics, Ojeda met her husband, Joe, and before she could think about training for the 1936 summer games, they had a baby. Today, she has two children, seven grandchildren and two great-grand children.

Ojeda worked for many years at her husband’s real estate office. But even retirement didn’t slow her down. She has remained active into her old age. When she retired at 80, she took two semesters of golf at Santa Ana College.

“ I had never played golf and I enjoyed that. I was always interested in sports. Now I can still walk. My doctor got me a cane but I’m not using it and as long as my legs hold out I won’t be,” she said in April during an interview with runner/author Gary Cohen.

Ojeda stands out for her Olympian achievements, but today she is like many elderly folk. She lives in Santa Ana, CA, and has chosen aging in place  instead of living in an assisted living facility. Even though she lives with her granddaughter, she still gets lonely. She told the man who interviewed her that she gets very few phone calls and so was delighted to receive his call.

“I’ve outlived practically all of my old friends,” she said. “I have one lady friend who is 90 and we get together but all the rest are gone. The sad part of growing very old is that you lose your friends and even some of your younger family members.”

Engage As You Age understands that growing old also often means growing lonely. It’s why we provide social visits to seniors like Ojeda in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our work benefits seniors who choose to age in place and also those who live in assisted living facilities.

Because we know that both parties crave the kind of social interaction they can’t easily obtain–even if they once sprinted to gold.

Check back tomorrow for a profile on an octogenarian Olympic gold medalist!


Dementia Forces Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Stop Writing

The Nobel prizewinning author Gabriel García Márquez is suffering from dementia and can no longer write, his brother revealed this week in Colombia.

The Guardian reported that Jaime García Márquez told students in Cartagena that his older brother “has problems with his memory. Sometimes I cry because I feel like I’m losing him,” he said. It isn’t clear from the article when Marquez first noticed these memory problems.

Gabriel García Márquez, 85, won the Nobel prize in 1982 and is best known for novels including One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

Because of his brother’s dementia, Jaime said it was unlikely that Gabriel would be able to finish a second part of his autobiography, “Vivir Para Contarla” (“Living to Tell the Tale”), or any other literary works. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that’ll be possible,” Jaime said, “but I hope I’m wrong.”

Though Gabriel is no longer writing, he does read every day, reported the New York Times. “He still has the humor, joy and enthusiasm that he has always had,” Jaime said of his brother.

Engage As You Age works with many San Francisco Bay Area seniors who, like Gabriel García Márquez, are no longer able to practice their talents or passions because dementia or Alzheimer’s makes what was once joyful something that is painful or frustrating. In these cases, we look beyond past interests and assess a senior’s ability based on who they are today, not only who they were 10 years ago.

If we ever worked with Gabriel García Márquez, we certainly would get to know him today. Though writing was once something he loved, his dementia has made that pursuit more difficult. So what else does he love? What does he like to read? What makes him laugh? Our mission is to facilitate meaningful relationships around the answers to these questions.

Nonagenarian Yogi Teaches Fellow Seniors

A nonagenarian woman in Delaware has been teaching yoga for 40 years—without charging a dime. And when she moved into a retirement community in 2005, she not only kept up her personal practice, but also began teaching yoga to her fellow assisted living residents. Nineteen seniors regularly attend her yoga classes. These yoga classes for seniors are a big hit for her fellow senior assisted living residents.

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The 91-year-old yogi, Mabes Morrill, was recently featured on the Today Show, where she nimbly stretched into downward dog and sang the praises of a practice that has kept her “ailment-free” into her 90s. That means no dementia, no Alzheimer’s, no heart disease and no cancer. This active senior still moves with the flexibility of someone half her age.

Morrill learned yoga in the 1960s as a way to combat severe spinal calcification following a spinal operation. Her original teacher “wouldn’t take any money, and she told me to teach and not charge my students,” Morrill told Delaware Online. “I have followed her wish ever since.”

Morrill’s yoga classes fit well with the philosophy of the senior facility she calls home. At Westminster Village, residents are encouraged to take the “Masterpiece Living approach,” based on a decade-long study on aging by the MacArthur Foundation. One of the key tenants of Masterpiece Living is “continuing engagement with life—keeping close relationships with others and enjoying meaningful activities.” These yoga classes for seniors are certainly a great way to stay engaged!

Engage As You Age shares that philosophy. Through regular social visits with homebound or isolated seniors living in their own homes or in senior facilities, we encourage our Bay Area seniors to discover new passions or rediscover dormant ones. Our customized pairings are based on shared interests and complimentary personalities to ensure a positive experience for all seniors—which includes those who still practice yoga, those who are less mobile and those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

UCSF study links loneliness to health problems and death

It’s never easy to be lonely, but it can be dangerous—life-threatening, even—for the elderly.

So says a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The six-year study, conducted by physicians at the University of California San Francisco, found that people who reported being lonely were more likely to suffer a decline in health or die than those who were content with their social lives.

“I’m hoping this paper allows people to look critically at themselves and how they treat elders around them,” said study author Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an assistant professor of geriatrics at UCSF, in the San Francisco Chronicle. “This country is not great at caring for its elderly. But certainly that is one of the messages, to look out for the people around you, because sooner or later that’s going to be you.”

The UCSF study is among the largest to connect feelings of loneliness (as opposed to general depression) to ill health, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or physical ailments. The study looked at interviews done in 2002 with 1,600 seniors over the age 60 who were asked to describe how often they felt lonely. Researchers then examined the physical health and reports of deaths among the group over the next six years.

The lonely seniors had a 59 percent greater risk of suffering a decline in function (defined as being less mobile or less able to take care of daily activities like bathing).

We here at Engage As You Age were thrilled this week to read the results of the UCSF study. These geriatric researchers confirmed that the work we do at Engage As You Age is critical to  reducing loneliness—and by extension, cognitive decline.

If someone you know and love is aging, lonely and isolated, Engage As You Age can help. We match seniors with energetic, smart and thoughtful people who share their interests. All our visits are customized to your needs. Let us mobilize our network of talented professionals today and give us a call to get started.

Engage As You Age is the only organization in the San Francisco Bay Area (and the nation) that specializes in providing meaningful social interaction for Bay Area seniors suffering from the loneliness and isolation associated with Alhzeimer’s disease and dementia.

Delay Dementia. Learn a Second Language!

Hány nyelven beszél?

That’s Hungarian for “How many languages do you speak?”

Turns out that if the answer is at least two, your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease will be delayed an average of five years.

Being bilingual is just one way people develop a “cognitive reserve,” which can prevent or delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists use the term cognitive reserve to describe the extent of the brain’s capacity to resist aging and degenerative conditions (like Alzheimer’s disease).

The researcher who determined that being multilingual can lead to greater longevity theorizes that the lifelong mental exercise required to speak multiple tongues — remembering which word belongs to which language — helps bilinguals augment their “cognitive reserves.”

Không nói được một ngôn ngữ thứ hai? (Don’t speak a second language?)

There are other ways to build that cognitive reserve. But it’s important to start early, and make an effort often. A new study suggests that mental activity can offset the effects not just of degenerative diseases, but of normal aging as well. An article this month published in Neurobiology of Aging found that elderly and middle-aged musicians had better hearing and faster auditory responses than non-musicians half their age. Researchers said this indicated the “mental rigor required by the practice of music acted as an antidote to aging, keeping their nervous systems youthful,” reported Time Magazine.

So learn a musical instrument. Practice that French you learned in middle school. Read. Engage in conversation. Build that cognitive reserve and be proactive about delaying the onset of aging.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's and Omega-3 Fatty AcidsDo you eat fish, chicken or nuts? If so, a recent study in Neurology should be of interest to you. The study found that the more Omega-3 fatty acids someone eats the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. This is good news for those that eat a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids as previous studies have found a correlation between higher levels of blood beta-amyloid levels and Alzheimer’s and memory problems.

Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS, the author of the study, tested the blood of 1,219 people who were determined to be “dementia free.” These people who did not have dementia were all senior citizens and over the age of 65.

Regarding the dementia study’s results, Scarmeas said that “Determining through further research whether omega-3 fatty acids or other nutrients relate to spinal fluid or brain beta-amyloid levels or levels of other Alzheimer’s disease related proteins can strengthen our confidence on beneficial effects of parts of our diet in preventing dementia,” said Scarmeas

The National Institute on Aging funded this study that examined the relationship between beta-amyloid levels and Omega-3 fatty acids. While this study on dementia and diet doesn’t guarantee people will ward of dementia or Alzheimer’s if they eat a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, it probably wouldn’t hurt to eat this in a well-balanced diet.


After 576,000 Miles, Nonagenarian Hands Over the Car Keys

The dreaded moment: When a senior citizen must give up the car keys.

But for 93-year-old Rachel Veitch, the moment was just the next logical step—in her life, and the life of her trusty 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente.

After driving 576,000 miles — or more than a trip to the moon and back – Veitch, an Orlando grandmother, has handed over the car keys due to age-related macular degeneration in both eyes. She realized her vision had completely failed her last month after running a “bald-faced red light,” Veitch told

“I am legally blind, so I can no longer drive my lovely Chariot,” she said by phone. “They don’t have to take it away, I would not dream of driving that car again.”

Giving up the car keys is challenging for seniors because it can feel like a major step away from independence. But Veitch has a great attitude about the change. “A lot of people are worse off than I am,” she told “I don’t have cancer, I don’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease. I am lucky.”

Veitch will have plenty of options for senior transportation—after all, she has 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. And she lives in Orlando, where numerous nonprofit, for-profit and city-run options can take her from here to there.

Veitch, who appeared on “The Tonight Show” in August 2010, told Fox News she might consider selling the car to host and classic car aficionado Jay Leno. “I haven’t talked to Jay Leno yet, but I’m wondering if he’s interested.”

Imagine when Leno’s time comes to hand over the keys—he owns 100 cars!

‘Hope of Old Men’ Riding High Toward 2012 Games

In 1964, Hiroshi Hoketsu competed in his first Olympic games. Fast forward almost 50 years later—and he may now beat his own previous record as the eldest Japanese Olympian.  The 70-year-old senior qualified for this summer’s London games, and is awaiting formal announcements for the Japanese Equestrian team. Mr. Hoketsu has high hopes he’ll be on the team, showing that his elderly status surely does not deter him from his active lifestyle. He has called himself “the hope of old men.”

Having been an equestrian since he was 12, Mr. Hoketsu has won many Japanese national competitions. He had little ambition in qualifying for the London games as his horse, Whisper, was suffering ill health. But Whisper managed to recover and now with Mr. Hoketsu, the two stand to set another record for elderly athletes.

If he competes, the London games would mark Hoketsu’s third Olympics. The senior’s first Olympic competition was at the age of 23 in Tokyo, and in 2008, he was the oldest athlete at the Beijing games. The record for the oldest Olympian in history however, is held by a Swedish shooter, Oscar Swahn, who competed at age 72 in the 1920s games in Antwerp, Belgium.

And Hoketsu says he’s not going to retire from his sport after the Olympics: “It’s up to fate and fortune. But for now I will keep on riding as long as me and my horse remain fit and fine,” he told the Associated Press.

Engage as You Age congratulates Hiroshi Hoketsu and other senior citizens like him, who keep active and doing what they love. Equestrianism takes much stamina and mental focus, factors which no doubt contributes to Mr. Hoketsu’s healthy life and longevity.   Studies show that mentally stimulating physical activities and socialization improves brain health for the elderly. It also decreases risk for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Although we may not be Olympians like Mr. Hoketsu, at Engage as You Age, we provide seniors the important cognitive and social engagement needed to live healthier lives. Senior citizens like these give us hope that Alzheimer’s, dementia and other ailments plaguing elders, can be deterred through an active and stimulating life.

To learn more about Mr. Hoketsu and other impressive senior Olympians of the past, see this article from the Guardian.

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