2013 Conference Presentations & Bio's

Art & Science of Aging Conference - 2013

Conference Sessions with Learning Objectives and Resource Lists plus Presenter Bios




Living to 100:  The older you get, the healthier you've been

Dr. Perls with his research group at the New England Centenarian Study began with studies simply to determine medical-psychosocial characteristics of centenarians. Their findings countered the popular notion of the time of "the older you get, the sicker you get" with the observation that supports the theme of today's conference and that is: "the older you get, the healthier you've been". Finding many subjects with family members also achieving remarkable old age, the New England Centenarian Study has more recently centered a great deal of its attention on family related factors that may predispose to healthy aging.


Thomas H. Perls, MD, MPA, Director, New England Centenarian Project, Boston University


Dr. Tom Perls is a geriatrician at Boston Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He grew up in Colorado, went to college at Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges in California and attended medical school at the University of Rochester in Rochester New York. Dr. Perls did his specialty training in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and geriatrics at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his Masters in Public Health also at Harvard.

     In 1995, during his geriatrics fellowship, Dr. Perls had the opportunity to be the physician for several centenarians and out of the experience was born the New England Centenarian Study. Since then the Study has grown to be the largest study of centenarians in the world. To date, he has published over a hundred articles on the subject of human exceptional longevity and authored a popular book, titled Living to 100, as well as a life expectancy calculator on the Internet called livingto100.com


Learning Objectives:

Participants in this session will be able to understand and discuss:

  • The diversity of centenarians in terms of education, economic status, ethnicity, religion, and diet
  • The three major groups of centenarians - escapers, delayers, and survivors
  • How common psychosocial and lifestyle factors impact on exceptional longevity
  • The role of nature [genetics] versus nurture [environment] for persons with exceptional longevity
  • Understand how to use the life expectancy calculator to predict own life expectancy and how changes in certain behaviors and may help extend own life




Charizani, Fotini et al (Oct 2009). Psychosocial dimension of exceptional longevity:  a qualitative exploration of centenarians' experiences, personality, and life strategies .  International Journal of Aging and Human Development 69.2

p. 101


Docksai, Rick (2008) How to live beyond 100:  a very long life is one part nature and one part nurture:  The Futurist, Nov-Dec 2008: 12


Keating, Joshua E. (2010) Geriatric World: Prepare for the invasion of the centenarians: Foreign Policy 179: 28.


Perls, Thomas D., Silver, Margery H., and Lauerman, John F. (2000) Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential at Any Age (Basic Books).


Poon, Leonard (2008) What can we learn from centenarians? In Aging, Biotechnology and the Future, Catherine Y. Read et al, editors.  The Johns Hopkins Press. www.press.jhu..org


Upbeat personality linked with longer lifespans.  Mind, Mood & Memory, 8.8 Aug 2012. P. 2






MORNING BREAKOUT SESSIONS                    10:30 AM


Breakout Session 1


Reflections on Exceptional Longevity: Centenarian Panel             


A panel of long-lived older adults from the West Michigan area will provide insights about factors that have contributed to their longevity - habits, attitudes, and more.  They will interact with Dr. Perls, as he explores with them their experiences and lives.  Factors of behaviors, attitudes, health practices, and good genes will all be considered.  Participants will gain insight into the patterns and habits that contribute to longevity.

Moderator:  Dr. Thomas Perls, MD, MPH

Panelists:  Lil Hansen, 101John Molhoek, 100; Virgil Westdale, 94; Jack Bates, 95


Panelist Information

Jack Bates, 95, was born in the village of Ovid (MI) in 1917.  In high school, he was fascinated with the radio and spent hours listening, via his homemade radio and earphones, to stations around the world. He became a ham radio operator and learned the Morse code, and was able to send or receive 15 words a minute. He was an Eagle Scout. In the fall of 1935, he attended MSU and was in the marching band there for two years. In 1937 he enrolled in Dental School at the U. of Michigan for four years.  One week after graduation, he signed up for the service and served four and a half years as a dental officer, of which one and a half years was aboard an attack transport with the rank of a full lieutenant. His ship was hit with a Japanese suicide plane and they also shot down a reconnaissance Japanese plane. He was involved in five invasions. He received an honorable discharge from the Coast Guard in January 1945. 


He was married in June 1945 and eventually had four children. He practiced dentistry in his hometown of Ovid for 40 years and retired in 1981.  He had many hobbies including photography, gardening, fishing, hunting, small engine repairing, backpacking in Canada with his three sons and a canoe, and using a computer.  For 20 years, he and his wonderful wife enjoyed their summer home at a lake in northern Michigan and their winter home near Key West, Fla. They did extensive traveling including visiting Madagascar, China, Iceland, and three trips to Paris.  His beloved wife of nearly 64 years died in 2009.


He has always been concerned with his health. 'Believing we are what we eat, he was motivated to take in every course he could find involving nutrition. He never smoked. He tried to get at least nine hours of sleep a night and enjoyed occasional naps.  For the last 70 years he has jogged nearly a quarter mile every day of the year.  In 1990 he gave up driving and moved into a retirement village in SE Grand Rapids where he now lives. His goal is to reach the age of 100 and still be able to "wipe his own nose".... five years to go.


Lil Hansen, a lifelong resident of Ludington, Michigan recently turned 101 years old.  She currently teaches yoga two days a week at the Ludington Senior Center, plays duplicative bridge several days a week and is a "Worthy Matron" of the Eastern Star. She studied business at Chicago College and worked in the clothing and furniture business in Ludington throughout her career. She married Homer Hansen in 1941.  She worked alongside him in his furniture business.  After he passed away in 1981, she sold the business.   They enjoyed time with their six nephews. She travelled throughout Michigan as President of "Rebekah," for seven years.  "Rebekah" is a Fraternal Order as well as a service organization.  Mrs. Hansen has stayed active throughout her life and considers herself a "leader not a follower."    She still drives around Ludington and is active in the community.  She considers herself to be blessed with a good life.


John Molhoek        John is a loving father of 3 sons, 12 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren.  He is going to be turning 101 years old this April.  For many years he worked as the owner of Grinnell-Row Insurance Agency in downtown Grand Rapids.  He was president of the Grand Rapids Club and a member of the Insurance Association of Grand Rapids.  Devoted to staying active, not only physically, but also mentally, John says that he always "see's the glass half-full" and attributes his age to his positive outlook on life.  He remains very active in the community and is always seen with a smile on his face.  He has also been singing for 50 years and is a part of his church's choir.  John spends a great deal of his time reading and enjoying woodworking.  His travels have led him to all corners of the world (with the exception of Japan and China).  He was born and raised in Grand Rapids where he eventually met his wife of 70 years.  Although John claims that his life has been uneventful, one can easily see how he has prospered throughout the years.


Virgil Westdale: The son of a Caucasian mother and Japanese father, Virgil Westdale was born in 1918 and grew up on a midwestern farm. In 1942, Virgil was a successful young flight instructor when the government ousted him from the Air Corps and demoted him to army private because of his Japanese heritage. He was sent to train with the all Japanese American unit, and then transferred to the 522nd Artillery Battalion, where he helped push the Germans out of Italy, rescue the "Lost Battalion" in France, and free prisoners from Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany.  After the war, he obtained two university degrees and received 25 patents for his work as a scientist in research and development. He lives in Grand Rapids and enjoys ballroom dancing, as well as public speaking about his book Blue Skies and Thunder.

Participants in this session will learn, through the discussion:

  1. Common factors shared by centenarians, in terms of life style choices and attitudes
  2. Variations in centenarians in terms of health status, coping skills, and support systems
  3. Health and mental health, cognition, and wellbeing of the exceptional aged individuals



Westdale, Virgil (2009) Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WW II Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team [

Why study centenarians? An overview, retrieved from http://www.bumc.bu.edu/centenarian/overview/

Living to 100. The life expectancy calculator. http://www.bumc.bu.edu/centenarian/the-living-to-100-life-expectancy-calculator/

Dr. Tom Perls, Dr. Margery H. Silver, with John Lauer (1999) Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential At Any Age



Breakout Session 2



Why are so many Advance Directives useless?                    


This session critically examines the two main types of Advance Directives - the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  It also introduces the Functional Loss Inventory Plan (FLIP) as a way to help in end-of-life medical care planning and decision-making.


Paul J. Reitemeier, Ph.D., Chair, GVSU Human Research Review Committee

Dr. Reitemeier earned his doctorate in Philosophy from MSU, with an emphasis on health care ethics.  In his career he has served as an educator and researcher, and more recently on an ethicist/administrator, focused on research ethics, clinical and organizational health care ethics, and end of life issues.  At GVSU he administers the human research compliance processes at GVSU, as Chair of the Human Research Review Committee, GVSU's Institutional Review Board and as Director, Research Protection Program. Prior to coming to GVSU, he served as Senior Ethicist at the National Center for Ethics, Veterans Health Administration, Vermont, and Co-Director of the Integrated Clinical Experience, University of Nebraska Medical School. He also has regularly taught an undergraduate course on Death and Dying. He presents widely on end of life ethical choices and issues.  He has served on boards of the Greater Grand Rapids End of Life Coalition, the DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy, and the Lahey Clinic Journal Medical Ethics.


Learning objectives:

  1. Understand differences among advance directives, living wills, and POLST (physician orders for life-sustaining treatment)
  2. Understand high versus low quality advance directives
  3. Understand risks and benefits of using POLST in Michigan
  4. Learn how to use a functional loss inventory to complete an advance directive



  1. Brock, Dan and Allen Buchanan (1989) Deciding for Others:  the Ethics of Surrogate Decision Making. Cambridge University Press.
  2. White, Betty Cox (1994).  Competence to Consent.  Georgetown University Press.
  3. Peace of Mind:  A Guide to Medical and Legal Decisions (2011), MI Legislature.



Breakout Session 3


The Challenging Complexities of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders


Alzheimer's Disease has catapulted to the 6th leading cause of death in the US for people over age 65.  With the aging population exploding and life expectancy increasing, health and elder care professionals must gain knowledge to empower their practices and subsequently empower other to deal with the complexity and magnitude of challenges inherent to Alzheimer's Disease and other dementing illnesses.  In this session, attendees will gain an understanding of these challenges and explore how they can intervene in this growing crisis.


Karen Schmitz Bugg, LMSW, RN


Karen Bugg is a resource specialist of the Hauenstein Neuroscience outpatient clinics of St. Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids working with patients and caregivers dealing with diagnoses such as Alzheimer's dementia, FTD/Pick's disease, Parkinson's, epilepsy, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.  Karen completed her MSW at GVSU and earned nursing and communication degrees at Purdue University in Indiana.  In addition she completed internships with the Fountain Hill Counseling Center in Grand Rapids and the Mission of Filipino Migrant Workers in Hong Kong.  Karen ahs 30 years of health care experience in clinical, management, and administrative roles with hospitals, physician practice groups, and long-term care facilities. In addition to her role at Saint Mary's Karen serves as an adjunct faculty member and field instructor for GVSU and a support group facilitator for the Alzheimer's Association.  Her passion is exploring, sharing and teaching about the complexities and challenges of Alzheimer's and other dementias with caregiver, students and health care professionals.


Learning Objectives:


Participants will be able to

  1. Describe current societal implications and dilemmas relative to AD and other dementias
  2. Identify key treatment options and their inherent challenges
  3. Describe the critical role that health and elder care professionals bring to the dementia crisis.




  1. A Guide to the Management of Psychotic Disorders and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia in Older Adults, 2011, from the American Geriatrics Society.  Link to the full text guidelines: http://dementia.americangeriatrics.org/AGSGeriPsychConsult.pdf
  2. A Guide to Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment, 2010, from the American Geriatrics Society.  Link to the full text guidelines: http://dementia.americangeriatrics.org/documents/AGS_PC_Dementia_Sheet_2010v2.pdf
  3. Cruickshank, M. (2009). Learning to be old: Gender, culture, and aging. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  4. Hooyman, N.R. & Kijak, H.A. (2007). Social Gerontology. A multi-disciplinary perspective. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  5. Alzheimer's Association (2011). Generation Alzheimer's: The defining disease of the baby boomers. Alzheimer's Association.



Breakout Session 4


Movement as Medicine: Walking for Wellness                                


Research shows the association between faster walking and longer lifespan. Many health researchers have proven that walking improves health and mental health. It enhances many dimensions of wellness and encourages active aging.

In this session, participants will learn: Research-based health benefits of walking; usable techniques to increase walking speed; techniques adaptable to the senior living community and achieve results for virtually no cost



Jolene Moore, M.Ed., Wellness Director, Covenant Retirement (14 campuses)

Dick Graves, Resident at CVGL, Triathlete


Jolene Moore is an Energetic Lifetime health and fitness advocate, Jolene currently serves 14 Covenant Retirement campuses as director of wellness.  Jolene is experienced in constructing and implementing data-driven, results-oriented wellness programs and has been honored for her successful programming by the wellness industry.  As a Certified Life Coach (C.E.C.), Jolene educates individuals on the importance of whole person wellness and attending to their personal health.  Using her experience as an Olympic-trained athlete and retired professional race walker, she educates, leads group exercise programs and coaches Team USA and individual athletes when time permits. Jolene speaks regularly at conferences (LeadingAge Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Iowa) and on the Covenant campuses.


Richard (Dick) Graves, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes.  Dick holds graduate degrees in Dentistry, Public Health and Epidemiology.  He was a college professor at the Universities of Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.  He retired from private practice in Dentistry.  He served in the US Air Force: active duty, Michigan Air National Guard, and was a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.  His athletic and fitness achievements include hiking the Appalachian Trail, biking across the United States, running the Boston Marathon, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and hiking on the Great Wall of China.  Dick has also competed in the state, national and world Senior Games.

Learning Objectives

In this session, participants will learn:

  • Research-based physical and mental health benefits of walking
  • Usable techniques to increase walking speed, adapted to level of physical ability
  • Techniques adaptable to the senior living and other home/community environments, in a cost effective manner
  • Understand how to teach others these techniques and develop programs for groups


Harvard Health Publications, 2011 http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/research-points-to-even-more-health-benefits-of-walking

Seaman, Tim & Salvage, Jeff (2011) Race Walk Faster by Training Smarter

Seaman, Tim & Salvage, Jeff (2011) Race Walk Clinic in a DVD




Breakout Session 5


Buddhist Empowerment and Life Transformation                           


In this session the participants will learn about empowerment in the Buddhist tradition, where all beings in this world are in Samsara - the Circle of Life:  previous life, current life, and future life are all in this life circle of all persons, ghosts and animals.  Each one lives with a desire to reach Nirvana - the Spiritual World.  All the individuals are empowered to adopt the Good Deed Model/Approach in order to transform from out of the Circe of Life and to enter Nirvana.  The Buddhist tradition is empowering in its emphasis on life planning and enrichment and the integration of spirituality in one's life.


Douglas Chung (Ph.D., MSW, MPA)

Dr. Chung is originally from Taiwan where he was born into a multicultural community practicing Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. His grandfather was a martial arts master and practitioner of Traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Douglas learned Qigong (Energy Management & Therapies), the Chinese equivalent of yoga, from various Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist traditions. As an adept and teacher of Qigong, Dr. Chung has produced videos and books about this practice of meditation and energy management for preventive, therapeutic, and developmental medicine. As Executive Director of the Asian Center and Professor of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, he has taught extensively about how Buddhist, Christian, Taoist and Confucian cultures are related to Energy Therapies.


Learning Objectives:

Participants in this session will

1) Learn the Samsara concept of death in Buddhism for counseling and treatment model building.

2) Gain an understanding of the principles of the Buddhist Good Deed Approach as a framework for creating a life plan for empowerment and life transformation.

3) Learn ways to integrate spirituality with life planning for life transformation.




  1. Baugher, John Eric. (2008). Facing Death: Buddhist and Western Hospice Approaches. Symbolic Interaction. Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer 2008).
  2. Wanda, Kaori and Jeeseon Park. (2009). Integrating Buddhist Psychology into Grief Counseling, Death Studies, 33:7, 657-683.
  3. Cain, L. (Ed.). (n.d.). Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth. Retrieved from UrbanDharma.org: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/viewdeath.html
  4. Marma, A. (n.d.). Counseling and Its Importance: A Buddhist Perspective. Retrieved from http://www.undv.org/vesak2012/iabudoc/01ACMarmaFINAL.pdf
  5. "Buddhism and Death", by M. O'C. Walsh. Access to Insight, 16 June 2011, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel261.html . Retrieved on 21 November 2012.

Other references by Dr. Chung:

  1. Chung, D. (1992a). "Confucian Model of Social Transformation." In Social Work Practice with Asian Americans, ed. R. Biswas, D. Chung, K. Murase, and F. Ross-Sheriff. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  2. Chung, D. (1992b). "Asian Cultural Commonalities: A Comparison with Mainstream American Culture." In Social Work Practice with Asian Americans, ed. R. Biswas, D. Chung, K. Murase, and F. Ross-Sheriff. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  3. Chung, D., (2010) Energy Therapies: A Self-Care Approach for Helping Professionals. Grand Rapids, MI: Chung Institute.
  4. Chung, D. (2002). "Confucianism." In Spiritualities and Social Work Practice, ed. M. Van Hook. New York: Cole.
  5. Chung, D. (2003). "Confucianism." In International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family (second edition), ed. James J. Ponzetti, Jr. Volume 1 2003 Macmillan Reference USA. New York: Thomson Gale.






Breakout Session 6


House and Home: The Next Step                                 


A panel of local experts present alternative housing options for seniors, in response to the question:  What kinds of information do caregivers and care receivers need when considering a move to retirement living? . The panel will focus on advice for professionals - nurses, social workers, attorneys and others to whom families may turn for advice.  This session will enable individuals and their professional contacts to have more information as they consider 'the next step'.

Basically the panel will discuss several retirement living options:

Housing alternatives for low-income seniors: Kent County Housing Commission

Multi-level Care: Covenant Village of the Great Lakes

Nursing Homes, both day care and full time:

Home Health Care: Porter Hills Home Health Care


Moderator:  Dr. Chuck Jaquith, MA, Ph.D.

Panelists:  Linda Likely, MPA, Jan Amato, B.S., Douglas Hale, BA, Business


Presenter Information


Dr. Chuck Jaquith is a retired middle school principal and college professor, as well as realtor.  He is married with three children, seven grand children, and one great grandchild. He retired to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes where he has actively worked with adults in this multi-level care facility. He has had many conversations with seniors considering make Covenant Village their home.  As a member of CVGL community he wrote scripts for family dramas related to legal issues of moving seniors into retirement arrangements that were presented at the 2012 Art & Science of Aging conference. Although he had only one course in gerontology, he views his life as an education on aging, from pre-school to postgraduate studies. He notes that his best preparation for this assignment was going through the steps in making a decision as to where to go next.


Panel Members include:

Linda Likely - "Finding housing for Financially Distressed Seniors"

Director of Housing and Community Development; Kent County Housing Commission.

BA, Organizational Development and Human Resource Management.

MPA, Grand Valley State University. While there she was a King-Park-Chavez fellow. 

Linda was the CEO of Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Service, a non-profit firm specializing in design and development of community housing programs that built affordable housing, education, and loans for low to moderate income clients. Prior to this she was an adjunct professor at Davenport University and also was the Executive Director of Jordan College. Currently Linda is the Director of Housing and Community Development for the Kent County Housing Commission.  She strongly believes: "Affordable housing leads to the creation of productive neighborhoods" and is the key to what she does.


Jan K. Amato - "Making Arrangements for Allowing Seniors with Health Problems to Live in their own Homes"

BS, Health Care Administration; Univ. of Michigan-Flint, Home Care Liaison Specialist; Porter Hills Home Care. After graduating from college she was in the Labor Relations Department at Hurley Hospital (Flint, MI). Following this she was employed as a pharmaceutical sales representative. For the past eight years she has served as the home care liaison educating seniors regarding home health care. For two years she was a board member of the Council on Aging of Kent County and presently is the Co-chair of the West Michigan Dementia Network. 


Douglas Hale - "Multiple Care Level Facilities Including Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing"

BA, Business, Ferris State University.  Douglas has eleven years working in real estate sales. For the past 2½ years, he has worked with all aspects of moving seniors into Independent Living (IL), and from IL to Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing.


Learning Objectives


In this session:

1. Participants will increase their understanding of the range of retirement living options available to older adults

2. Participants will become familiar with the types of lifestyle, supports, and financial options with different living and care arrangements.

3. Participants will become aware of some alternative living and care options for older adults in the Grand Rapids area.



1.    Heiser, Gabriel (2012) How To Protect Your Family's Assets From Devastating Loss.

2.    Solitto, Marlo (2011) Helping Your Parents To Move Out Of Their Home, retrieved from www.Aging Care.com. 

3.   Assisted Living Federation (2012) Long Term Care Options For Seniors.  



 Breakout Session 7


LAFF JEST for the HEALTH of it!!!                              


We hunger for humor and long for laughter.  Yet many don't realize how vital these 'nutrients' are to the well being of our body-mind-spirits.  In this session participants will examine the many benefits, practice hearty laughter and leave energized with hopes no one actually dies laughing!


Sister Sue Tracy, OP, MA, Chaplain and Public Speaker. Spectrum Health and Grand Rapid Dominicans

Sister Sue Tracy, OP has an MA in Religious Education, Clinical Pastor Education, and completed a sabbatical in Spirituality and Health) Sister Sue is staff chaplain at the Spectrum Health Butterworth campus in Grand Rapids where she offers spiritual care to those coping with cancer plus their families. She has been a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids for 53 years, with ministries over the years of teacher, vocation director, parish ministers, director of religious education and music, hospital pastoral care director, and director of holistic health.  Sister Sue is a four-time cancer survivor - thriver - experiencing breast cancer twice, non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and several skin cancers.  She is widely known as a speaker on a variety of topics, and is a certified laughter leader with the World Laughter Tour.  She is a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul, and Praying through cancer: set your heart free from fear.


Learning outcomes: 

In this session participants will:

Gain an understanding of the importance of humor in a professional's or senior's balanced life

Learn strategies to increase one's sense of humor

Practice hearty laughter because it is the best medicine

Learn about 'wholesome and helpful" books and resources that promote humor




Klein, Allen (1989) The healing power of humor.

Anderson, Dale L (MD) (2002) Never act your age.

Sorensen, Susan & Laura Geist (2007) Praying through cancer: set your heart free from fear.

Klein, Allen (2011) Learning to laugh when you feel like crying.


Breakout Session 8


Fraud Target:  Senior Citizen SCAMS                                   


Scams that target senior citizens come in many shapes and forms.  They are deceptive and cruel, often preying on the elderly at a time when they are ill or unsure of what their future holds. This session empowers older adults and any professionals advising them to protect themselves from falling prey to senior citizen scams is to know what types of offers to avoid and to understand when it is better to just hang up the phone, shut the door, or walk away from a 'deal'.  Knowing some of the more common senior citizen scams will give senior citizens, their families and professionals a better idea of what to watch out for and how to avoid falling victim to a costly fraud.  


Bryan D. Reeder, J.D. Attorney, Plachta, Murphy, & Associates, P.C.


Bryan Reeder is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a graduate of Wabash College and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  Before joining Plachta, Murphy & Associates, Bryan gained valuable insight and experience as a judicial clerk for the Honorable G. Patrick Hillary of the Kent County 17th Judicial District Circuit Court.  In addition Bryan interned with the Kent County Office of the Public Defender, focusing on Criminal Litigation.  At Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C., Bryan service areas include Elder Law, Family Law, Business Law, Estate Planning, Real Estate, Probate, and Bankruptcy


Learning Objectives


In this session participants will:

  1. Increase their awareness of the many types of scams targeting senior citizens
  2. Know strategies and tactics to use to avoid specific types of scams
  3. Know how to protect themselves, family members, and clients from becoming a victim of a scam.
  4. Knowledge of what to do if they (or someone they know or work with) is the victim of a scam



1)         AARP Fraud Channel:  http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/

2)      The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America's Elders. June 2011

3)         FBI: Common Fraud Schemes/Fraud Targets: Senior Citizens           http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors


Breakout Session 9


Vintage Status:  Powered and Empowering                          


For those who have more yesterdays than tomorrows, the process and progression of reaching physical and mental maturity is a passage defined by multiple milestones, coupled with anticipated and unanticipated events.  Common challenges with aging notwithstanding, the 21st century offers this vintage generation many opportunities to share their fortitude and resilience forged throughout long life journeys with younger generations for whom there are more tomorrows than yesterdays. This session will focus upon possible ways individuals can experience an empowered aging process that incorporates a responsibility to inform and cultivate intergenerational communication and exchange. Although the challenges of aging are so real, and not to be minimized, the focus of this session will be on the richness and importance of the 'power' of knowledge, wisdom, legacy, skill, expertise (and more) that come from and with age.


Elaine Ragsdale Schott, Ph.D., LMSW, professor and former director of the School of Social Work at GVSU.


Dr. Schott joined GVSU's SSW in 1987 to establish its field education program.  She earned a BSW from Bluffton University, and her MSW from University of Michigan, and her Ph.D. from Michigan State.  She has served on numerous community boards in Kent and Ottawa counties.  Currently she represent the GVSU College of Community and Public Service on a Network 180 committee, which seeks to increase the presence of social work professionals of color within the N-180 administration and provider agency network. In 2004, she was one of 35 professionals and educators from the US and the UK invited to present at the Oxford Round Table at Oxford University in England.   In March 2012, Schott was the keynote speaker on aging and wellness at Bluffton University's annual Carl Smucker Lecture, a forum that brings leaders in the field of social work to its campus to speak to students and the public.


Learning Objectives:

In this session, participants will:

1) Learn 21st century challenges faced by older people in USA.

2) Understand Working and/or not working definitions of aging and wellness.

3) Increase their understanding of what is involved in going forward: powered and fired up

4) Increase cultural literacy and competency 




Knight, B. (2004) Psychotherapy with Older Adults.  California.  Sage Publications, Inc.

Onedera, J.D., Stickle, F. (2008) Healthy Aging in Later Life.  The Family Journal, vol. 16 (no.1), 73-77.

Schriver, J.  (2011).  Human Behavior and the Social Environment:  Shifting Paradigms in Essential Knowledge for Social Work Practice.  Fifth Edition.   New Jersey.  Pearson Education



Breakout Session 10


Food Matters: Healthy Choices for Body & Brain        


Many of us are searching for the right formula for healthy eating and for achieving an optimal physical well being at any age. This session explores recent research that informs good and simple choices you can make to eat well, some of which are not so surprising and some of which are really news.  The obesity pandemic, and rising levels of chronic diseases such as diabetes, dementia, hypertension and many others tied to diet will be explored.  Included in this session will be advice drawn from recent health research and practical experience, with examples of habits and strategies that have permitted the presenter to dramatically improve health, weight, and chronic conditions.  Participants will gain knowledge for personal application and for professional support to others facing these issues.


Priscilla J. Kimboko, Ph.D., Professor of Gerontology, School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration, GVSU


Dr. Kimboko has over 35 years of work in the field of aging as an educator, researcher and consultant.  She has served as a leader at the local, state and national levels including on committees of the American Society for Aging and the National Council on Aging. Since coming to Michigan in 2000 to serve as GVSU Dean of Graduate Studies & Grants Administration, she has been active in the West Michigan aging community, where she currently serves as a volunteer member of the Area Agency on Aging of West Michigan Advisory Council, the Senior Odyssey Leadership Team, the Grand Rapids Community College Gerontology Program Advisory Board, and the Encore Learning Lab Coming of Age faculty.  Priscilla developed and coordinates the annual Art & Science of Aging Conference at GVSU.  She teaches in the Health Administration masters program and has developed a course on Aging in Society for graduate students.  One focus of her recent work has been on the factors contributing to obesity and diabetes, with attention to the role of diet in the upsurge of these health challenges.


Learning Objectives

In this session, participants will gain:

  1. An increased knowledge of recent research on the eating habits that  'cause us to get fat'', and changes in diet and foods that contribute to the rapid rate of obesity and related diseases.
  2. A basic understanding of some key drawbacks for health of the Standard American Diet (SAD), and conventional advice on how to lose weight.
  3. An increased knowledge of specific foods that promote healthy weight and reduce obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases of the body and brain such as diabetes and dementia
  4.  Basic evidence that supports the adoption of these eating habits and leads to reversals of some diseases and promote optimal health and wellbeing
  5.  A basic understanding of how to flourish, by adopting healthy habits that promote optimal health (physical and mental) for you and others.
  6. A few sample menus using the foods that promote health and tips on dealing with challenges that can arise


Resource Materials:


  1. Amen, Daniel G. (2011) The Amen solution:  the brain healthy way to get thinner, smarter, happier.  New York:  Three Rivers Press.
  2. Andersen, Wayne Scott.  (2008) Dr. A's habits of health: the path to permanent weight control and optimal health.  Annapolis MD:  Habits of Health Press.
  3. Bailor, Jonathan, Paine, John, Black, Hillel, Bailor, Mary Rose, Manson, JoAnn E., & Kelesidis, Theodoros (2012) The smarter science of slim: What the actual experts have proven about weight loss, diet, and exercise.
  4. Chatham, John. (2012) Paleo for beginners: Essentials to get started. Berkeley, CA: Rockridge University Press.
  5. Duhigg, Charles. (2012). The power of habit:  why we do what we do in life and business. New York: Random House.
  6. Hyman, Mark. (2012) The blood sugar solution:  the ultrahealthy program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease and Feeling Great Now. New York:  Little, Brown.
  7. La Puma, John and Rebecca Powell Marx (2008).  Chef MD's big book of culinary medicine: A food lovers' road map to losing weight, preventing disease, and getting really healthy. New York:  Three Rivers Press.
  8. Lustig, Robert. Sugar: The bitter truth. [video] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
  9. Lustig, Robert,  (2012) Fat chance: Beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity and disease. New York:  Hudson Street Press.
  10. Sisson, Mark. (2011) The primal blueprint 21day total body transformation.  Malibu, CA:  Primal Nutrition Ranch.
  11. Taubes, Gary (2011) Why we get fat and what to do about it. New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books.




Session 11


Empowered for the Dementia Caregiver Journey"                   


This session will focus on how to empower caregivers of those with dementia, addressing (a) the competencies necessary for effective dementia care, (b) the primary causes of dementia, (c) the importance of evaluation, and (d) where to go in the community for diagnostic and support services.


Suzann Ogland-Hand, PhD, Director, Center for Senior Care & Geropsychologist, Pine Rest NE Clinic

Cathy Brady, LMSW, Geriatric Social Worker, Pine Rest Campus Clinic

Christine Simons, CTRS, Dementia Services Coordinator, Clark Retirement Community

Joy Spahn, MPA, Regional Director, Alzheimer's Association Greater Michigan Chapter


Cathy Brady, LMSW, Geriatric Social Worker, Pine Rest Campus Clinic.  In her current role, Cathy has focused on outpatient therapy to older adults and their caregivers, and specialized in depression and anxiety treatment, caregiver stress, and dementia education.  She has many years of experience in the aging field, having served in long term care, as a nursing consultant, and working with a geriatrician and nurse practitioner on senior health issues.  She was presented and consulted widely in the West Michigan area on these same types of issues.


Suzann M. Ogland-Hand, Ph.D., Clinical Geropsychologist, Pine Rest NE Clinic and Director, Pine Rest Center for Senior Care

Dr. Ogland-Hand has 20 years of experience working as a geriatric consultant, educator, and researcher.  She has extensive interdisciplinary teamwork across the spectrum of continuing care, residential care, and outpatient services.  She is a member of the MSU Geriatric Education Center of Michigan Interdisciplinary Regional Training Team, focused on improving the geriatric knowledge and skills of health professionals, and was instrumental in developing the Pine Rest Senior Care Center.  She provides training and consultation on a wide range of later life mental health issues, including depression and dementia, and has focused on the behavioral health needs of persons with dementia and their caregivers.


Chris Simons, CTRS, is Dementia Services Coordinator, Clark Retirement Community, Grand Rapids, MI.  She is also co-owner of Our Place Cares, an Adult Foster Care home in Greenville. She has 37 years of experience working with persons with memory loss and their families.  Chris is active locally as consultant, educator, and support group facilitator.  Her work has been recognized with three innovative programs of the year awards by the Aging Services of Michigan and with the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award for the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Department at CMU. She is currently an alumni advisory board member, for the department.  In the past she has served as President and board member of the Michigan Association of Activity Directors.


Joy A. Spahn, MPA is currently the Regional Director for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Michigan Chapter in Grand Rapids.  She has worked in the field of aging services for the past 30 years, in a variety of settings- in long-term care facilities, adult day services, and now with the Alzheimer's Association.  She has presented on dementia and mental health issues, and provided training for professionals, paraprofessionals and caregivers of persons with dementia.  She has worked with and supervised a wide range of staff - with backgrounds n nursing, recreational therapists, and mental health professionals.  Throughout her career, she has offered a wide range of education and training experiences in the field of geriatrics, primarily focused on dementia, mental health, and caregiver issues.


Learning outcomes

In completing this session participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize the competencies needed for those providing direct care for persons with dementia
  2. Identify the primary causes of dementia
  3. Explain the importance and benefits of early detection and assessment of dementia for persons with dementia and their family members
  4. Locate and recommend available community-based resources for dementia diagnostic and support services



Dementia Competencies Workgroup, Michigan Dementia Coalition (2008).  Knowledge and skills needed for dementia care:  A guide for direct care workers in everyday language.  http://www.dementiacoalition.org/pdfs/DemCompGuideEverydayLang.pdf

Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2006).  Helping caregivers of persons with dementia:  Which interventions work and how large are their effects? International Psychogeriatrics, 18, 577-595.

Roth, D. L., Perkins, M., Wadley, V. G., Temple, E., & Haley, W. E.  (2009). Family caregiving and emotional strain:  Associations with psychological health in a national sample of community-dwelling middle-aged and older adults.  Quality of Life Research, 18, 679-688.

Teri, L., McCurry, SM, Logsdon, R, & Gibbons, LE.  (2005). Training community consultants to help family members improve dementia care: A randomized controlled trial. The Gerontologist, 45, 802-811.


Breakout Session 12


Well-Being and Resilience of the Older LGBT Person: Issues for Family, Community, and Health Provider                      


Centered on well-being issues of older LGBT individuals, their families and communities, this presentation will consider cultural and historical factors that have influenced present health concerns, as well as health promotion and prevention, access issues, partner rights and support systems.  Discussion will explore issues of invisibility, mixed perceptions, and stigma and how these factors influence housing, benefits, and individual resilience.


Grace Hoyer, Ed.D. Candidate, MSN, RN, Academic Community Liaison for the GVSU Kirkhof College of Nursing


Grace Hoyer is presently the Academic Community Liaison at Grand Valley State University, Kirkhof College of Nursing. She has taught nursing for a number of years with a focus on leadership, professionalism and clinical practice. She presently is a member of the GVSU LGBT Resource Center Advisory Board and is a doctoral candidate at Eastern Michigan University in the Educational Leadership program.  Her dissertation work is structured around LGBT issues and nursing leaders and administrator's trans-cultural self-efficacy.


Learning Outcomes:

In completing this session, participants will be able to:

1)   Identify cultural and historical components of the LGBT elder

2)   Examine inequities and how they impact the health of LGBT elders

3)   Explore the role of sex and sexuality in the lives of LGBT elders and those who care for them.



  • David, S., & Cernin, P.A. (2008) Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 20(1), 31-49. doi:10.1080/10538720802178908
  • Fredriksen-Goldsen, K.I., Kim, H., Murac, A., & Mincer, S. (2009). Chronically Ill Midlife and Older       Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals and Their Informal Caregivers: The Impact of the Social Context." Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC 6 (4), 52-64. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/resultsadvanced?sid=f8029f21-5b85-4031-bab5-544c27478aba%40sessionmgr10&vi
  • Grant, J.M. (2010). Outing Age 2010: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender       Elders. Retrieved from National Gay and Lesbian Task Force website: http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/outing_age_2010
  • Haber, D. (2009) Gay Aging. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education 30 (3) 267-80. doi:10.1080/02701960903133554



Breakout Session 13


Community Options to Age in Place


Many older adults prefer to age in place and continue to enjoy the greatest level of independence in their homes.  This session presents some of the local options available through the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) Care Management Programs. They include Care Management, Home Support, MI Choice Waiver, Nursing Facility Transitions and Choices for Independence.   In fiscal year 2012, these programs served 1,772 individuals.  In this session the presenters will describe each program and the many other options available through both public and private resources.



  • Suzanne Filby-Clark, BA, Care Management Services Director, AAAWM
  • Laura Dobrzelewski, LMSW, Social Work Supervisor
  • Julie Alicki, LMSW, Care Manager, Choices for Independence
  • Martha Anderson, LMSW, Care Manager, Nursing Facility Transitions


Suzanne Filby-Clark is Care Management Services Director, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM).  As such, she manages and coordinates the activities for the AAAWM of Michigan's MI-Choice Medicaid Waiver program, that serves elderly and disabled adults requiring long term care services throughout the nine-county AAAWM service area.  She has twenty-five years of progressively responsible experience coordinating and managing contracted services for older adults.  She has in in-depth knowledge of state and federal regulations governing home and community-based services.


Laura Dobrzelewski, LMSW, is responsible for supervising the Social Work staff at AAAWM including Care Mangers, Intake and Information and Assistance, and Nursing Facility Transition Programs. She has been with AAAWM in that capacity for 14 years. Laura received her MSW from Western Michigan University and is a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Michigan.


Julie Alicki, LMSW, Care Manager Choices For Independence 

Julie was instrumental in developing the AAAWM Choices For Independence Program under an Administration on Aging grant through the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging. She is the lead Options Counselor for Long Term Care services and has been with the AAAWM since 2007. Julie received her MSW from Western Michigan University and is a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Michigan


Martha Anderson, LMSW, is the Nursing Facility Transition Department Team Leader for the AAAWM. She also serves as a Care Manager working directly with program participants. Martha has been with AAAWM for one year and prior to that worked with another AAA in Michigan as a Care Manager. Martha received her MSW from Wayne State University and is a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Michigan.



Learning outcomes


In this session participants will gain:


1) Basic understanding of factors that may limit the ability of older adults to age in place in their own homes

2) Knowledge of three Aging-in-Place program options that are offered by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, through the Care Management unit including eligibility criteria and program outcomes

3) Understanding of the program that allows some older adults to return to community living from a nursing home setting



  1. "Older Americans 2012:  Key Indicators of Well-Being" Report of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging - Related Statistics.  (available at www.aoa.gov)
  2. National Institute on Aging Growing Older in America: The Health and Retirement Study. Washington, DC; US Department of Health and Human Services [2007]
  3. Independent for Life:  Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America edited by Henry Cisneros, Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, and Jane Hickie.  University of Texas Press, 2012.
  4. www.ageinplace.com


Breakout Session 14


Joys of Sex and Sexuality in Later Life                                           


Using the World Health Organization concepts of sexual rights and sexual health, this presentation will explore the importance of sexuality and sexual health in later life. Emphases will be given to older adults' sexual rights to access the highest attainable standard of sexual health; the absence of sexual transmitted disease; sexual education, and decisions to be sexually active or not.


Lihua Huang, Ph.D., MSW Assistant Professor, Social Work, GVSU

Linda Kirpes, MSW, Certified Gerontologist, Campus Director of Life Enrichment at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes

Alisha Cowell, MSW Student



Dr. Lihua Huang is currently an assistant professor at GVSU School of Social Work. She teaches MSW courses on older adults, including sexuality in later life. She has extensive research experience in gerontological social work and positive gerontology. Her doctoral work, completed at MSU, focused on the effects of social networks on the health of family caregivers, and her early education at Nanjing University was in Chinese Linguistics and Literature.


Linda Kirpes, MSW, is the Director of Life Enrichment at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a certified gerontologist with extensive experience in the active aging field and specializes in senior sexuality. Linda provides workshops on sexuality for agencies and community groups and advises staff at assisted living and nursing homes on person-centered approaches to resident sexuality in long term care settings. Linda earned her Master's of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She holds memberships with the American Society of Aging, the International Council on Aging and the National Association of Social Workers.           


Alisha N. Cowell is currently an MSW student and a graduate assistant in the School of Social Work at GVSU. She has experience in conducting a meta-analysis on sexual health in later life.


Learning Outcomes

 In this session participants will

1) Reexamine the societal and personal taboo and discrimination toward sexuality in later life;

2) Become fully aware of existing evidence about the importance of empowerment perspective in sexual health and quality of life promotion in later life as well as implications of sexual rights and sexual health in later life in human services and public policy;

3) Gain critical practical skills to redesign older adults- centered services and programs.




DeLamater, J. (2012). Sexual expression in later life: A review and synthesis. Journal of Sex Research, 49(1/2), 125-141.

Hordern, A. J., & Street, A. F. (2007). Constructions of sexuality and intimacy after cancer: Patient and health professional perspectives. Social Science & Medicine, 64, 1704-1718.

Potts, A., Gavey, N., Grace, V. M., Vares, T. (2003). The downside of Viagra: Women's experiences and concerns. Sociology of Health & Illness, 25(7), 697-719.

Robinson, J. G., & Molzahn, A. E. (2007). Sexuality and quality of life. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 33(3), 19-27.

Smith, K. P., & Christakis, N. A. (2009). Association between widowhood and risk of diagnosis with a sexually transmitted infection in older adults. American Journal of Public Health, 99(11), 2055-2062.


World Health Organization. (2006). Defining sexual health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health. Geneva: WHO.




Breakout Session 15


Making Your Voice Heard                                                      


Explore advocacy strategies that will increase opportunities for significant changes.  This session will outline techniques that address advocacy issues in proactive and reactive ways.  Other resources for learning more about advocacy for and by seniors will be shared.


Tom Appel, M.Ed., MA -PA, President, Advocates for Senior Issues, Kent County.


A native of Grand Rapids, Tom Appel earned his BA at Olivet College, and Master's degrees at Antioch University and Western Michigan University.  He has a 40-year history of issue-based advocacy that continues today in his work with Advocates for Senior Issues.  His advocacy started with voter registration work in Mississippi during the 1960's. Then, as a Peace Corps volunteer in St. Kitts, West Indies (67-69) he advocated with the government on the need for a teacher training college that could train teachers locally, saving the expense of sending them off island.  The government embraced the idea and the college was born.

Following that experience he worked as a community organizer, civil rights advocate, and consultant for twenty-two years with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, from 1970 to 1989 and again from 1999 to 2002.  From 1989-1998 he served as EEO Administrator for the Columbus Ohio police department, a court-mandated position, with reporting responsibilities to the Federal District Court and the Director of Public Safety and representing the Department at meetings and before public groups and advocating for and developing recruitment strategies designed to create a more diverse work force.


Learning Outcomes


In this session participants will:

  1. Increase their understanding of advocacy and its uses in the human services and public service sector
  2. Learn why and how to initiate clear goals for advocacy efforts - for impact, relevance, positioning, educating
  3. Understand why and how to undertake consensus building strategies
  4. Understand the importance and key components of strategic thinking for advocacy



1)         Ruth Huber, H. Wayne Nelson, F. Ellen Netting and Kevin W. Borders (2007) Elder Advocacy: Essential knowledge and skills across settings. Brooks-Cole.

2)         National Council on the Aging "I am an advocate" packet, retrieved from http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/i-am-an-advocate.html

3)         Lustig, John. (2012) Advocacy Strategies for Health and Mental Health Professionals: From Patients to Policies.  Springer Publishing.




CLOSING PLENARY SESSION                                              3:30 PM



Senior Odyssey = Serious Play: Exercise the Brain; Challenge your Limits, Gain Mastery & Build Friendships


Senior Odyssey of Michigan is a creative problem solving team competition for the over 50 crowd, based on the Odyssey of the Mind program for school age children.  This innovative program provides a stimulating and challenging opportunity for mature adults to fully engage their mental capacities, while solving ambiguous problems, expressing their creativity, and gaining public recognition for their efforts.  This is a unique and fun way for older adults to keep their minds active and to achieve greater levels of cognitive vitality and engagement. Primarily volunteer run, the program also provides unique opportunities for roles of team member, coach, judge, event organizer, and more.  In this session participants will experience the Senior Odyssey milieu through observation and interactive participation in sample problem solving challenges.


Julie Lake. MPA, CTRS, Health Promotion Coordinator at Senior Neighbors, Inc. in Kent County


Julie Lake, MPA, CTRS is the Health Promotion Coordinator for Senior Neighbors Inc. in Kent County.  In this capacity she coordinate four evidence-based health promotion programs:  Arthritis Foundation Exercise, Chronic Disease Self Management (locally known as PATH), EnhanceFitness, and A Matter of Balance.  She is a trained facilitator for all four of these programs and a Master Trainer for PATH, Enhance Fitness and A Matter of Balance.  Julie was the initiator and now is project coordinator of the Senior Odyssey Michigan.  She has worked in the field of aging for 13 years, served as a Director of Recreational Therapy in a skilled nursing facility prior to taking her present position.  She also worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team of therapists and social workers addressing the needs of individuals from a holistic, person-centered approach.  Julie has presented widely on recreational therapy and health promotion in aging services.  She is also a co-author of " innovations: A recreational therapy approach to restorative programs for skilled nursing facilities.


Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this session, participants will

  1. Be able to identify many benefits of life-long cognitive engagement
  2. Understand the basics of the Senior Odyssey program and the 'cognitive engagement approach' it offers older adults
  3. Recognize multiple ways to get personally involved or help others get involved with Senior Odyssey Michigan



  1. Cohen, G.  (2005) The mature mind: the positive power of the aging brain. Basic Books
  2. Reynolds, F (2010) Colour and communion: Exploring the influences of visual art-making as a leisure activity on older women's subjective well-being. Journal of Aging Studies, 24, pp.  135-143.
  3. Stine-Morrow, E., Parisi, J, Morrow, D., Park D. (2008) The effects of an engaged lifestyle on cognitive vitality:  a field experiment.  Psychology and Aging, V. 23, n4.
  4. Stine-Morrow, E., Parisi, J., Morrow, D, Park, D., Greene, J. (2007) An engagement model of cognitive optimization through adulthood, Journal of Gerontology, v 62


Page last modified February 6, 2013