2017 Conference Program

Creating an Age-Friendly Community

Age-Friendly Communities is an initiative of the World Health Organization and within the USA, the initiative is led by AARP. Locally the City of Grand Rapids will be seeking Age-Friendly Status. As it relates to our conference, there are eight domains that are important for a community to qualify as age-friendly: 

  • social participation, 
  • respect and social inclusion, 
  • civic participation/employment, 
  • communication and information/education, 
  • community support and health services, 
  • outdoor space and buildings, 
  • transportation/mobility, 
  • housing.  


Opening Session

Margaret Neal: Making the Case for an Age-Friendly Community (N, NHA, O, S, T)

Morning Breakout

Session 1. Cynthia Beel-Bates & Chris Simon:
Become Dementia Friendly (N, NHA, O, S, T)
Session 2. Leara Glinzak:
Art Therapy Educates a Community (NHA, S, T)
Session 3. Liz Keegan:
Fair Housing Rights for Seniors (N, S)
Session 4. Susie Marsh:
Downsizing, Moving and Clutter Challenges in the Homes of Older Adults (N, O)
Session 5. Mark Gleason & Michael Scantlebury:
Exploring Water Trails: Outdoor Recreation Accessible to All (O, T)
Session 6.
Exploring Aging Issues with Student Researchers: Brief Presentations

Early Afternoon Breakout

Session 7. Cynthia Beel-Bates:
Reconnecting Veiled Minds through Music (N, NHA, O, S, T)
Session 8. Michael Shafer:
Brain Health: Aging, Depression, Exercise and Mental Activity (N, NHA, O, S, T)
Session 9. Dave Kampfschulte:
Looking Up while Life is Pushing You Down (N, NHA, O, S, T)
Session 10. Ruth Kelly & Helen Lehman:
Staying Put and Getting Around: Grand Rapids Adapting for its Seniors (N, O, T)
Session 11. Elizabeth Zeldes:
Daily Money Managers: Helping Seniors Stay Independent and Secure (O, S)
Session 12. Grace Huizinga:
Spirituality and Caring: Interprofessional LGBT Training for LTC Staff through Nursing and Chaplaincy (N, NHA, O, S, T)

Mid Afternoon Breakout

Session 13. Joan Borst & Sally Pelon: 
An Intergenerational Alternative to Lonely Living (N, O, S, T)
Session 14. Chris Dondzila:
Effective Use of Wearable Activity Trackers to Improve Health (NHA, O, T)
Session 15. Catherine Jacobs & Beth Mans:
House That? Housing Considerations as We Age (N, O)
Session 16. Ian Warnock:
Scents-ing the Possibilities (NHA, O)
Session 17. Joanne Feutz & Renee Thompson:
There’s No Place Like Home: Stay Safe with Assistive Technology and Home Modifications 
(N, O, S)
Session 18. Mary Jo Byrne & Carl Gibson:
Keep Seniors Smiling: Ensuring Seniors’ Oral Health

Closing Session

Jennifer Muñoz & Suzanne Schultz: Let Your Voice Be Heard: A Community Conversation 
(N, NHA, O, S, T)



8:15 am – 9:00 am  REGISTRATION / SIGN IN [Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall]

Pick up packets and name badges
Continental Breakfast CEU
CEU Check-In Tables:

  • Social Work
  • Nursing
  • Nursing Home Administration
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Therapeutic Recreation

8:15 am – 1:15 pm  SPONSOR DISPLAYS

9:00 am – 10:30 am  OPENING SESSION

Welcome – Conference Overview and Introduction

Making the Case for an Age-Friendly Community

This presentation will discuss how and why the age-friendly communities movement is growing and the reasons why creating an age-friendly community makes sense, based on two key premises: Older adults are a growing resource presenting a set of often-overlooked opportunities, and an age-friendly community can benefit people of all ages and abilities. Results from a business case synthesizing the results of research conducted by academics, government agencies, non-profit organizations and corporations will be shared, along with ways in which this information can be used to further age-friendly efforts. 

Keynote Speaker: Margaret B. Neal, Ph.D, MUS, BA, Director/Professor, Portland State University Institute on Aging

Margaret Neal is Director of the Institute on Aging and Professor of Urban Studies at Portland State University, teaching graduate courses in gerontology, survey design and data collection, and global aging. She led Portland’s participation in the 2006-07 World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities project and has coordinated the Age-Friendly Portland and Multnomah County initiatives since then, authoring several articles and book chapters on the topic of age-friendly communities.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this session participant will be able to:

  1. Describe the key elements of an age-friendly community.
  2. Discuss the economic and social reasons for creating an age-friendly community.
  3. Review strategies for sharing information about the benefits of an age-friendly community.
  4. Report on the opportunities associated with an aging population.

10:15 am BREAK

10:30 am – 11:30  MORNING WORKSHOPS

Become Dementia Friendly

A Dementia Friend recognizes that anyone and everyone could have dementia, and looks for signs of it when something is amiss. When they spot a person who has dementia, they know how to speak with that person and how to be supportive. Most importantly, a Dementia Friend knows what actions to take to bring hope to the life of someone struggling with memory loss. This workshop provides the basic facts about dementia-related diseases and makes the case for hope instead of despair.

Presenters: Cynthia Beel-Bates, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN`, Professor, Kirkhof College of Nursing; Chris Simons, B.S., CTRS, Director of Life Enrichment and Dementia Services, Clark Retirement Community

Cynthia Beel-Bates, professor of nursing in the Kirkhof College of Nursing at GVSU, teaches undergraduate and graduate gerontological content. A registered nurse for 42 years, her nursing career has included acute care, community health, health promotion, discharge planning, outpatient neurology (U of M Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center), program development, nursing home administration, dementia care in assisted living facilities, hospice, research, and nursing education. She is a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America.

Chris Simons, Director of Life Enrichment and Dementia Services at Clark Retirement Community, is a well-known expert in the field of aging and long-term care. In addition to her role working with residents and families at Clark, she is also an Eden Associate and Co-Owner of Our Place Cares, LLC, an adult foster care home. She is a dynamic and innovative professional who has dedicated over 41 years to enhancing the lives of people with dementia by engaging their whole beings in meaningful ways.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a more hopeful view of life with dementia.
  2. Respond positively to a diagnosis of a type of dementia.
  3. Explain how life with dementia can be good and enjoyable.
  4. Identify basic facts about brain changes with common dementia-related diseases.

Art Therapy Educates a Community

Leara Glinzak worked with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to expand on their already existing program, Gazing at GRAM. Leara educated the docents, which were the tour guides, through a training session on Dementia education, how to integrate the art pieces and discussion points to better connect with someone with memory loss and education on the Art Therapy process piece that followed each tour. All three components combined; Dementia education, Art Museum tour and Art Therapy all related to the resident’s experience where qualitative data was assessed in order to evaluate the success of the program. The creative process and art pieces were then honored through a private reception and art show.

Presenter: Leara Glinzak, MS, Art Therapy/Counseling, Life Enrichment Art Therapist Dementia Educator, Clark Retirement Community; Under current supervision for ATR

Leara Glinzak, MSAT has her research published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and she is a national presenter where she has presented at several conferences, some include the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Conference, Mount Mary Symposium and Leading Age. Leara is on the research committee for AATA, she leads Art Therapy workshops and she is involved with the Michigan Association Art Therapy (MAAT).

Learning Objectives:
Participants of the workshop will:

  1. Identify the positive impact Art Therapy has for those with memory loss.
  2. Understand the benefit of the Grand Rapids Art Museum as a therapeutic environment and Art Therapy modality for someone with memory loss.
  3. Understand how the combined three key components, Dementia education, Art Museum tour and Art Therapy worked together to follow the themes, introspection, self-growth and transformation as evidence to it being unfolded within the creative process.

Fair Housing Rights for Seniors

Attendees will learn about the protections for senior citizens under fair housing law, including information on how to request a reasonable accommodation (assistance animal or assigned parking space) or modification (ramp or grab bar) in housing for seniors with disabilities. The session will also include best practices for making or providing support for such requests. Attendees will also learn more about the broad implications of housing discrimination for west Michigan as well as what services the Fair Housing Center offers.

Presenter: Liz Keegan, B.A., Director of Education & Outreach, Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

Ms. Keegan joined the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (FHCWM) as Director of Education & Outreach in 2006, and is responsible for developing and implementing education and outreach activities for the general public, social service organizations, and the housing industry. She has provided extensive technical fair housing training to more than 3,250 housing industry members in more than 175 training sessions covering lending, rental property management, property maintenance, advertising, real estate sales, and advanced topics upon request. She has developed a menu of more than 25 fair housing training opportunities; she has provided fair housing training for seniors since 2013.

Learning Objectives:
Participants of this workshop will be able to:

  1. Understand what housing discrimination looks like and one's rights under fair housing law.
  2. Understand specific protections for senior citizens.
  3. Utilize templates and tools provided to exercise fair housing rights.
  4. Contact appropriate agencies for resources and support.

Downsizing, Moving and Clutter Challenges in the Homes of Older Adults

Focus will include education regarding options for downsizing, decluttering, moving and organizing during life transitions for older adults. Focus also will be on how mental health challenges can make these life transitions, social participation in the community and functioning at home more difficult for older adults. Specific information about community resources will be provided.

Presenter: Susie Marsh, LBSW, Professional Organizer/Social Worker, Susie's Organization Solutions LLC

Susie Marsh has been helping clients eliminate the chaos and clutter in their lives for the past 9+ years as a professional organizer in her business, Susie’s Organization Solutions LLC. Susie has also been a licensed bachelor of social work for the past 25+years with her experience centered in mental health in Kent Co. She has combined these experiences and has focused her work on helping those who struggle with chronic disorganization challenges such as, ADD, depression, anxiety, chronic illnesses, older adults and hoarding tendencies. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), NAPO MI Chapter VP, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (where she has earned the Level 1 Certificate of Study of Basic Hoarding Issues), Grand Rapids Area Hoarding Taskforce, Caregiver Resource Network, Points of Life National Aging Network and the Byron Center Chamber of Commerce. Susie is also a wife a mother of a 22 and 17 year old, who regularly test her organizing abilities!

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify 3 specific tips/strategies to use when downsizing, decluttering and/or moving when in life transitions.
  2. Identify at least 3 resources in the community to assist with chronic disorganization challenges in older adults, such as, ADD, hoarding, depression, anxiety and more.
  3. Gain more insight about potential clutter issues through voluntary completion of the Clutter Self Assessment tool.
  4. Describe the Clutter-Hoarding Scale (Institute for Challenging Disorganization) used by professionals to assess hoarding situations.

Exploring Water Trails: Outdoor Recreation Accessible to All

This presentation will provide an overview of water trails and related activities in the United States, including definitions and examples of water trails, where they are located, and the types of activities people of all ages can engage in on water trails. Many states are developing or have waters that provide a wide range of outdoor activities. The session explains address the types of issues people with limited abilities encounter when using water trails. This presentation will cover the plans for a west Michigan water trail and its related activities and explain the benefits to the community and its members. 

Presenters: Mark Gleason, Ph.D., MPRTM, MPA, Assistant Professor, Grand Valley State University; Michael Scantlebury, Ph.D., M. Phil., BA (Hons), Cert. in University Teaching, Cert. Tourism Studies, Associate Professor, Grand Valley State University

Mark Gleason is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University. His PhD (2008) is from Michigan Tech University in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science where his dissertation was on the use of underwater robotics in natural resources education and in the support of research.  Dr. Gleason’s research interests are multi-disciplinary in nature, with an emphasis on the use of robotics within underwater research and education.  Gleason’s professional background includes serving as a National Park Ranger, an Outward Bound Instructor, and a Tall Ship sailor. Also, he has held positions in the Criminal Justice system and with two Public Museums. He has offered or supervised classes in underwater robotics for over 30,000 K-12 students and continues to instruct with Alpena Community College Marine Tech program. As an expert in the field of underwater robotics, operating ROVs on dives to nearly seventy Great Lake Shipwrecks, fish habitats in the Great Lakes and the Caribbean, and oil/gas fields of the Middle-East. He has used ROVs to film Moose underwater at Isle Royale National Park and Manatee in Florida.

Michael Scantlebury is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). He has previously taught at University of Central Florida, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. A native of Barbados, Michael has served as research officer for the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA and as marketing manager and New York City based manager of US Operations. And eventually President of Marketing and Sales, with global responsibility for the marketing of this Caribbean country. At other times, he was a consultant with Ernst & Young and managed the regional tourism consulting practice for Coopers & Lybrand (Caribbean) Consultants Inc.  He has extensive tourism consulting experience in the Caribbean. Michael’s scholarly interests include Heritage and Cultural Tourism; Caribbean tourism; the SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) and Geotourism.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will gain a greater understanding of water trails and the activities that they can engage in when using these trails. These trails are designed for people of all ages so this presentation will cover a wide range of activities including canoeing, kayaking, boating and hiking. Upon completion of this workshop the participants will be able to:

  1. Describe what water trails are, the types of activities that take place, and the benefits for and connections to the community.
  2. Describe the challenges of accessing water trails by people with limitations and ways these issues are being/can be addressed.
  3. Describe the Grand River water trail system along with other Michigan water trails.
  4. Describe ways in which water trails serve people of all ages and backgrounds.

Exploring Aging Issues with Student Researchers

In this session, students both undergraduate and graduate, who will present in the student poster session, are each given five minutes here to share their research projects with us.  Together, they have covered a wide range of topics from dementia to how to make Grand Rapids an age-friendly city. Over the past year, they have been working with faculty mentors, explored the most current research, some conducted experiments, and critically evaluated the studies aimed at understanding aging-related issues and problems. This session will give us an opportunity to hear what these budding researchers have done before they join the forces to help improve the qualify of life among older adults in our community!


11:45 am – 1:00 pm LUNCHEON


Reconnecting Veiled Minds through Music

In 2014, a documentary titled "Alive Inside", sparked a movement to bring music to people with dementia. The goal of the documentary and the resulting social movement is to provide music that has meaning to persons with dementia living in nursing homes or the community via iPod shuffles and headsets. Research shows that music, stored throughout the brain, remains intact in dementia and connects people to their own past memories vividly. This workshop will share how this nonpharmacological solution is improving the quality of life of persons with dementia by providing a 1-on-1 music experience with local nursing home residents. Involvement from intergenerational members of an elder-friendly community could spread this social movement more quickly.

Presenter: Cynthia Beel-Bates, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, GVSU Kirkhof College of Nursing

Cynthia Beel-Bates, professor of nursing in the Kirkhof College of Nursing at GVSU, teaches undergraduate and graduate gerontological content. A registered nurse for 42 years, her nursing career has included acute care, community health, health promotion, discharge planning, outpatient neurology (U of M Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center), program development, nursing home administration, dementia care in assisted living facilities, hospice, research, and nursing education. She is a fellow at the Gerontological Society of America.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge about the impact of music on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.
  2. Understand their own connection to music and memories.
  3. Describe the non-profit Music and Memories organization and program.
  4. Identify at least one way they might contribute to the social movement in Grand Rapids and west Michigan.

Brain Health: Aging, Depression, Exercise and Mental Activity

This workshop will focus on reviewing existing literature on dementia processes, neuroimaging data/studies (e.g., normal aging vs. disease process), and mental activity/cognitive functioning among the elderly. The workshop will also discuss the effects of depression on aging and memory and look at protective factors for facilitating sustained cognitive functioning in the elderly.

Presenter: Michael Shafer, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, PAR Rehab Services

Michael Shafer obtained a Ph.D. in Texas and completed a clinical internship in Michigan. He presently specializes in neuropsychology and completes clinical work in a large community-based private practice. Clinical practices also include in-patient hospital-based neuropsychological evaluations (e.g., TBI, stroke, dementia). Dr. Shafer maintains two teaching positions in the MSU School of Medicine (PM&R, Radiology) lecturing in courses on brain dissection, advanced neurocognitive functioning (e.g., executive systems), and staffing PM&R senior resident clinic. Dr. Shafer participates in research at MSU studying non-epileptic seizure activity. Dr. Shafer is also on the advisory board for the Alzheimer's Association.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop participants will be able to:

1.  Demonstrate an understanding of dementia processes (e.g., Alzheimer's Disease, FTD).
2.  Demonstrate a strong understanding about how behaviors such as exercise/physical activity and cognitive processing (e.g., word puzzles, computer games) help reduce the onset of cognitive impairment in the elderly.
3.  Demonstrate an understanding about how factors such as depression effect cognitive functioning in the elderly.

Looking Up while Life is Pushing You Down

We all face similar challenges, traumas, and tragedies in our lives. Have you ever wondered why some people bounce back from tough times with a positive outlook while others go right down the tubes? Are optimism and resiliency something we are born with or are they traits that can be developed? Join us as we explore these questions and share your wisdom as we prepare for what tomorrow will bring.

Presenter: Dave Kampfschulte, M.Ed., BA, Certified Grief Specialist, Speaker, Amazing Circles Workshops

Dave Kampfschulte is Director of Amazing Circles Workshops, a nationally known speaker, and author of I’m Dying to Talk with You: Twenty Five Years of Conversations on End of Life Decisions. Using his empathy, humor, energy, and over 28 years as an educator and a hospice volunteer, Dave facilitates his interactive, enlightening workshops and presentations to a wide spectrum of professionals and general audiences. Dave has a Masters in Education, is a facilitator and instructor for Making Choices Michigan, and is a preceptor with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. His website is www.amazingcircles.net.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify the characteristics of unresolved grief.
  2. Identify characteristics of resiliency.
  3. Understand how to use tools to implement resiliency in their lives.

Staying Put and Getting Around: Grand Rapids Adapting for its Seniors

This workshop will explain how the City of Grand Rapids along with community partners is preparing for the future health and well-being of its senior population. In advance of its 2020 Master Planning process, the city is laying the groundwork for safe and connected neighborhoods where seniors can age in place. Presenters will outline how and why the City’s Vital Streets Plan is creating safer walkable neighborhoods connected to amenities and ongoing efforts that support seniors who want to remain in their homes.

Presenters: Ruth Kelly, M.Ed. Tech, City Commissioner, City of Grand Rapids; Helen Lehman, B.A., Communication Arts, Executive Director at New Development Corp

Ruth Kelly has been on the Grand Rapids City Commission since 2010. She has served on the City's Sustainable Streets Task Force, the Michigan Street Corridor Steering Committee and the GR Forward Steering Committee. She's currently on the North Quarter and Michigan Street Corridor Improvement District boards, the Parking Commission and is commission liaison for the Urban Forestry Committee. She’s a member of the Legislative Committee of Advocates for Senior Issues.

Helen Lehman has more than 30 years of experience in community development and neighborhood organizing.   For the past 15 years, she has led New Development Corp to provide safe and affordable housing on the north end of Grand Rapids.   Prior to that, she spent time as a consultant for nonprofit construction projects, helped build the Grand Rapids Children's Museum and worked for the Creston Neighborhood Association.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Understand how traffic calming, ramps, trails, sidewalks and even bicycle lanes promote healthy aging and prevent injury.
  2. Evaluate home share as an option for those who wish to remain in their homes and neighborhoods but cannot afford to do so without support.
  3. Advocate for the City’s efforts to create an Age-Friendly Community through engagement in Thought Leader sessions, boards and commissions and the Master Planning process.

Daily Money Managers: Helping Seniors Stay Independent and Secure

The workshop will cover the roles and responsibilities of daily money managers and how they can help seniors maintain their independence while keeping them from making financial missteps. Topics to be addressed include what to look for in a daily money manager, who can benefit from a daily money manager, how a daily money manager coordinates with a senior’s family and advisers. 

Presenter: Elizabeth Zeldes, B.S. in Accounting, University of Tennessee, CPA at Senior Advisory Services PLLC

Elizabeth Zeldes is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Business and has been a Certified Public Accountant for over 30 years. She is the founder of Senior Advisory Services, PLLC providing in-home accounting and trust services to seniors.  Elizabeth is a member of the Caregiver Resource Network, Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids, Council on Aging of Kent County, Porter Hills Foundation Board, the American Institute of CPAs, the Michigan Association of CPAs and the American Association of Daily Money Managers. 

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe what daily money managers do.
  2. List reasons why someone may want or need a daily money manager.
  3. Find out how to research the background of a potential daily money manager.
  4. Know how a daily money manager fits into a senior’s financial team.

Spirituality and Caring: Interprofessional LGBT Training for LTC Staff through Nursing and Chaplaincy

LGBT older adults continue to report fear regarding their treatment in LTC facilities. These challenges involve staff, fellow residents, denial of visits, same-sex partners residing together, and respect for gender identity. Gaps in knowledge and low self-efficacy may contribute to these challenges. Thus, heterosexism and homophobia have the potential for adversely influencing residents. As an interprofessional team, nursing and chaplaincy design an educational training for LTC providers. The training includes a multi-modal approach emphasizing the needs of LGBT residents. Results will be reported from pre and post data collection of a survey measuring knowledge retention and self-efficacy.

Presenter: Grace Huizinga, Assistant Professor, EdD, MSN, RN, Grand Valley State University

Grace Huizinga is an Assistant Professor in the Kirkhof College of Nursing (KCON). Her research interests are centered on vulnerable populations, health disparities with a particular focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals and population health. Dr. Huizinga has 30 years of experience in nursing clinical practice, academia, management/leadership, and serves as the Academic Community Liaison at Grand Valley State University. She is a board member of the Milton E. Ford GVSU LGBT Resource Center and has experience in both the clinical setting and classroom at various levels of nursing programs with a special interest in inclusion and equity.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Provide examples of the history and resilience of individuals within the older LGBT community.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of LGBT older adult concerns in LTC facilities.
  3. Identify communication techniques to facilitate a welcoming environment for LGBT residents and significant people in their lives.
  4. Identify connection between an agency mission/vision and inclusion of LGBT older adults.

2:00 pm  BREAK

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm  MID AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS

An Intergenerational Alternative to Lonely Living

College students and people who are living in facilities intended for the aged share common feelings of depression and loneliness. Research shows that intentional housing that blends people with a variety of ages improves quality of life, provides health benefits and improves health indicators. Physical and social indicators are improved in some blended home facilities when housing includes aging residents living with college students. Everyone potentially benefits from increased social contacts and by experiential and intergenerational learning.

Presenters: Joan Borst, Ph.D., LMSW, Professor, School of Social Work, Grand Valley State University; Sally Pelon, Ph.D., LMSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Grand Valley State University

Joan Borst teaches at GVSU in the School of Social Work. Her area of study includes health care, interprofessional teams, chronic illness, end of life & hospice. She has worked with individuals living with chronic mental illness, homelessness, chronic illness and female survivors of emotional abuse.

Sally Pelon teaches at GVSU in the School of Social Work. Her area of study includes hospice care and end of life. Dr. Pelon directed a hospice facility for many years. She teaches policy and interprofessional patient-centered care for people living with chronic illness.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Recognize that living alone can lead to feelings of depression and loneliness at any age.
  2. Understand how intergenerational living adds to quality of life for otherwise isolated individuals.
  3. Know the kinds of interactions that benefit residents in homes for the aging through improved health outcomes.

Effective Use of Wearable Activity Trackers to Improve Health

Regular physical activity/exercise is beneficial for improving a long list of health outcomes and enhancing quality of life, leading to a longer and independently functioning lifespan. Despite such evidence, the majority of Americans are not engaging in sufficient amounts of physical activity. There is an emergence of physical activity tracking devices (Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.) that are commercially available, lending the capability to self-monitor a spectrum of physical activity behaviors to encourage behavior change. This workshop will provide information on how to effectively use these devices, as well as interpret the information they provide as it pertains to health improvements.

Presenter: Chris Dondzila, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Ph.D., Movement Science Department, Grand Valley State University

Chris Dondzila is an assistant professor in the Movement Science Department at GVSU. He teaches courses pertaining to the role that physical activity/exercise can enhance the human body’s functioning and reduce the impact of chronic diseases. His research interests include the relationship between physical activity and health, mediating factors to exercise behavior and physical activity measurement technologies. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles and given national/international presentations based on his research.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe how activity trackers work.
  2. Understand and interpret the various information provided from activity trackers to enhance health.
  3. Describe the added functions the devices offer to build social communities, set goals, and increase long-term physical activity maintenance.

House That? Housing Considerations as We Age

As we age, people are concerned about what will happen to their home; often their largest asset. My portion will cover the strategies to ensure your home is protected (from creditors, lawsuits, estate recovery) and how to pass it to the ones you want upon passing.  I will also focus on issues involving owing a home and applying for long-term Medicaid.

Presenter: Catherine Jacobs, J.D., Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, Cottrell & Jacobs PLC; Beth Mans, B.S., Senior Real Estate Specialist, Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Catherine Jacobs has been practicing law for 23 years. Her practice focuses on estate planning and elder law issues. She is on the board of directors of Elder Law of Michigan, Senior Neighbors of Grand Rapids, and the Council on Aging of Kent County. She is a member of the Caregiver Resource Network. Catherine regularly speaks to groups about the need for estate planning as we age address health care issues, assets, and the possibility of long-term care and Medicaid assistance.

Beth Mans has a B.S. from MSU and taught elementary education for 15 years. Being an entrepreneur at heart and having a special compassion for the mature adult, Beth acquired her real estate license in 2002, Senior Real Estate Designation(SRES) in 2004, Certified Senior Advisor(CSA) in 2010 and has assisted several Seniors and their families.  She is an expert in helping seniors moving from their long time home into a new living environment. Beth’s #1 priority is to make seniors comfortable with selling their home and finding a new one that best suits their needs from a quality of life standpoint, all while preserving their financial well-being. 

Beth is proud to serve as a board member of Council On Aging of Kent County and is an active member of Caregiver Resource Network, which provides valuable and reliable resources

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Understand the possible outcomes of adding adult children's names to the deed for their home.
  2. Understand the use and multiple benefits of Lady Bird Deeds in Michigan.
  3. Understand how Medicaid treats home ownership when applying for long term Medicaid benefits.
  4. Understand the impact of having a mortgage on your home at the time of your passing.

Scents-ing the Possibilities

In this workshop, we will discuss with attendees the value of plants and gardens to people of all ages and abilities, with a focus on sensory plants and the five senses. We will talk about some common plants like lavender, thyme and mint and some other unusual plants like the popcorn plant, eyeball plant, and papyrus. Using some of these plants can help to "Kick-start" old memories and create new ones.

Presenter: Ian Warnock, Lead Horticulturist at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Diploma in Horticulture, Threave School of Horticulture (NTS, Scotland), Higher Certificate Horticultural Science (Scotland), International Student Certificate Longwood Gardens (USA)

Ian Warnock is a “transplanted” Scotsman and was raised in the seaside town of Gourock. After working for the local Parks Department, he went to the Threave School of Gardening in the south of Scotland. On completion of his course, he was awarded an International Scholarship to study at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. He later returned to the US and has worked on a private estate on the outskirts of Philadelphia, a large garden center chain in Maryland, the US Botanic Garden in Washington DC and was Head Gardener at the British Embassy. In 1995 he moved north to his wife’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is currently the Lead Horticulturist for outdoors at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and over the years has been heavily involved in the design and layout of the Gardens. His main duty, however, is taking care of and having fun in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden. Ian has spoken at local, state, national and international meetings, has written articles for several professional magazines and is currently writing a children’s book.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Grow these plants from seed, bulb or root.
  2. Grow and maintain them correctly.
  3. Describe how to use the plants and where to grow them.

There's No Place Like Home: Stay Safe with Assistive Technology and Home Modifications

Home modifications and assistive technology can play an important role in reducing fall risks in the home and enabling older adults to Age in Place safely. There are tools to help you identify the barriers and risks in your home, as well as professionals to help you create a plan for safety.  Smart solutions for making your home safe will be presented including products and equipment, simple home adaptations, and information pertaining to funding and professionals to assist.

Presenters: Joanne Feutz, B.S., Registered Occupational Therapist, OT Team Supervisor, Disability Advocates of Kent County; Renee Thompson, B.S., Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), Disability Advocates

Joanne Feutz, OTR/L, CAPS is an Occupational Therapist at Disability Advocates of Kent County. She is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) thru NAHB, chairperson of the Universal Design Committee thru HBAGGR, an AARP HomeFit trainer and co-author of the Zerostep Guidelines (Universal Design Guidelines in Residential Building). Joanne provides home evaluations to assist people in eliminating barriers and adapting their homes specializing in Universal Design, Aging in Place, home modifications, and assistive technology.

Renee Thompson is a Licensed Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant at Disability Advocates. She is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist through the NAHB. She earned a Certificate in Aging through GRCC. She is chairperson of the Community Service Committee with the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids (HBAGGR) and an AARP HomeFit trainer.  Renee is one of the co-authors of the Zerostep Guidelines (Universal Design Guidelines in Residential Building). She specializes in adaptive equipment, accessibility and home modifications.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Describe how home modifications can decrease barriers in your home.
  2. Understand how assistive technology can increase safety in your home.
  3. Identify tools and techniques to assess your own home for safety.
  4. Identify resources to use to make your home safe.

Keep Seniors Smiling: Ensuring Seniors’ Oral Health

The Keep Seniors Smiling program is a Calhoun County, Michigan program focused on providing access to dental services for low income Calhoun County seniors. The program is funded by the Calhoun County Office of Senior Services and administered through the Fountain Clinic, Marshall, Michigan that coordinates access to senior dental services through the county FQHC and private dentists. Access to dental services has resulted in low income seniors reporting increased self-esteem and improved health status due to their improved dentation that has provided them the ability to smile and chew nutritious food.

Presenters: Mary Jo Byrne, BA, Executive Director at Fountain Clinic, Battle Creek, MI; Carl Gibson, Ph.D., M.A., Director of Senior Services, Calhoun County, MI

Mary Jo Byrne has been the Executive Director for the Fountain Clinic, a free medical and dental clinic for the past nine years. Previously she was the Manager of the Social Work staff at Oaklawn Hospital. She has worked with low-income seniors for almost 30 years.

Carl Gibson has led state and local healthcare service organizations for over 20 years.  In his current position as Manager, Office of Senior Services for Calhoun County, Michigan, Gibson has managed county-wide senior services by the administration of senior millage funds through a variety of community partners. 

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop the participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss how important dental service are to the senior population.
  2. Identify the types of low cost preventative services that benefit low income seniors without dental insurance.
  3. Describe improvements in nutrition, sleeping, self-confidence and overall well-being from oral care.
  4. Understand how to design and administer a program using public funds to secure private dental services.
  5. Understand how to establish and maintain a low cost dental maintenance program.

3:15 pm  BREAK

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm CLOSING SESSION

Let Your Voice Be Heard: A Community Conversation

We all have a role to play in developing the public, private and personal solutions needed to keep neighborhoods as vibrant as the people who live here. The Community Conversation closing session will focus on the actions local officials and community organizations need to take to support residents who want to remain in their homes and neighborhoods as they age.  This interactive workshop and facilitated discussion will allow your voice to be heard.  It’s important that we hear your opinions on how local policies and programs can drive innovation at the local level and build livable communities across Michigan.  You will also learn how the City of Grand Rapids is making this part of their Master Plan for 2017 and how you can help shape Grand Rapids into an age-friendly community.

Presenters: Jennifer Muñoz, BAA, Certificate in Aging, Associate State Director at AARP; Suzanne Schulz, AICP, Managing Director of Design, Development, and Community Engagement, City of Grand Rapids

Jennifer Muñoz is a community organizer, activist, public speaker, and writer on issues related to older adults.  She is the Associate State Director for AARP Michigan and a Crew Member for WOTV 4 as the on-air expert for ‘Encore Living’. Her work involves helping older adults live their best lives and advocating on their behalf. She writes for various publications including Faith Grand Rapids and West Michigan Woman magazines on topics related to aging.

Suzanne Schulz, AICP oversees the Planning Department, Development Center, Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Historic Preservation Commission.  She is former Chair of Michigan’s Complete Streets Advisory Council, serves as Vice-President of the Michigan Association of Planning, and is an Advisory Council Member of Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Program. Current work includes the development of a Vital Streets Plan, involvement in the effort to restore the city’s namesake rapids to the Grand River, and the South Division Equitable Development Plan.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this workshop attendees will be able to:

  1. Understand the process of certifying a community as age-friendly.
  2. Provide input on what would make the City of Grand Rapids more livable for all ages.
  3. Learn how to develop a community conversation for the needs of their own city.

Page last modified February 15, 2017