2018 Conference Program

Leave No Elder Behind: Overcoming Barriers to Healthy Aging

This year’s theme is intended to bring attention to those older adults in our communities who face social and environmental barriers to healthy aging. They may be vulnerable due to many factors: poverty, race, language, education level, physical and/or mental disabilities, unsafe neighborhoods, rural or suburban setting, inadequate or no transportation, or living alone. All of these older adults deserve the opportunity to thrive. In this year's conference, we hope to offer best practices for professionals and individuals to ensure that none of these elders are left behind.

Download 2018 Conference Program Flyer here.


Opening Session

Gwendolyn Graddy-Dansby
Aging in the 21st Century: Overcoming Barriers to Healthy Aging

Morning Breakout

Session 1. Sok Kean Khoo
Move It or Lose It: Influence of Physical Activity on Brain Function
Session 2. Catherine Jacobs
Five Things You Need to Do Before You Lose Your Mind
Session 3. Michael Patrick O'Connor
AARP HomeFit Program: How to Stay in the Home You Love as You Age
Session 4. Paula Baughman & Renee Van Y
Montessori: Enriching Lives of Persons Living with Dementia
Session 5. Sandra Spoelstra
Aging in Place to Advance Better Living for Elders in Michigan: An Evidence-Based Model
Session 6. Darleen Hoffert
Geriatric Population with Mental Illness Impacted by Bias: Are WE All Guilty? 

Student Research Posters

Early Afternoon Breakout

Session 7. Jing Chen
Life Expectancy, Zip Code, and Telomeres 
Session 8. Marta Rodriguez-Galan & Deb Covell
Older Adults Helping Other Older Adults: Productive Aging through the Senior Companion Program
Session 9. Christi Demitz & Holly Tiret
Caring for the Caregiver
Session 10. Melissa Seifert
Call Me, Maybe!
Session 11. Ginnie Smith & Jay Steffen 
Grandy Land: Traveling Towards an Age-Friendly Grand Rapids
Session 12. Geraldine Terry
Later Life Lessons from a Healthcare Provider and Caregiver

Mid Afternoon Breakout

Session 13. Anne Ellermets & Lisa Misenhimer
The Power of Resilience in Aging Well
Session 14. Karen Vander Laan & Sanford Freed
Why What Matters to You Matters to Me: How Person-Centered Advocacy Overcomes Barriers Aging Well
Session 15. Nicholas Wahl
I'm Going to Pump You Up! Exercise for Seniors in Community and Long Term Care Settings
Session 16. Lily Fossel 
HomeSharing: Friendship, Financial Support and Help Within the Home
Session 17. Stephanie Hamacher & Denver Lawrence
Role of Leisure for Veterans through the Ages
Session 18. Leara Glinzak & Timothy Tuthill
Building Relationships: Caregivers and Loved Ones with Dementia

Closing Session

Panelists: Lori Dillman, MA, David Rothbart, BS, Veronica Kirin, BA
Moderator: Priscilla Kimboko, PhD
Telling Their Stories: Finding Ways to Help Self and Others Overcome Barriers to Healthy Aging 



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

Pick up packets and name badges
Continental Breakfast CEU
CEU Check-In Tables [Room 119E]:

  • 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
Jennifer Feuerstein, Associate State Director, AARP MI

Conference Overview & Introduction
Dr. Priscilla Kimboko, Conference Coordinator

Aging in the 21st Century: Overcoming Barriers to Healthy Aging
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

As Americans are living longer the growth of the aging adult population is unprecedented. In 2014, 14.5 million were 65 years or older.  By 2060, 23.5% or 98 million will be 65 years or older. With this rapidly expanding population comes both challenges and opportunities. It will no longer enough to provide just healthcare to this population. They are expecting something far greater. And that is HEALTH. Who decides what health looks like and how it can be maintained. In this session, we will examine the issue and the roles from the individual and system perspectives to achieve this important task.

Keynote Speaker: Gwendolyn Graddy-Dansby, MD, FACP, Medical Director for PACE Southeast Michigan

Dr. Gwendolyn Graddy-Dansby completed her undergraduate education at the University of Michigan in 1980. She graduated from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1984. She joined the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in 1987. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and is also a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. Dr. Graddy has been the Medical Director for PACE Southeast Michigan (PACE SEMI) since 2001. PACE SEMI (formerly known as the Center for Senior Independence) was the first Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly in the state of Michigan. Dr. Graddy-Dansby was named ‘Top Doc’ in her field by Hour Detroit magazine. She joined the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in 1987 and is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. She is also a Fellow in the American College of Physicians.

Special interests include: Alzheimer’s disease, Nursing Home care, Spirituality, Aging and Wellness, health disparities and cultural competency, the role of women’s support groups on stress reduction and improvement of work-life balance just to name a few. She speaks extensively on healthy aging, caregiving and Alzheimer’s dementia. She has also begun to study the role that PACE has on facilitating controlling hospital utilization through understanding the role of PACE on care coordination. She is the founder of Daughters of Christ Standing Steadfast (DOCSS).

Hour Detroit Magazine has consistently named Dr. Graddy as “Top Doc” in her field. In 2015, Crain’s Detroit Business named her as Healthcare Hero and the Henry Ford Health System presented her with the Diversity Hero Award. She is also a Physician Advisor for Community Catalyst.

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

  1. Describe key factors that will impact aging adults.
  2. Understand how to develop strategies for improving health outcomes both individually and systematically.
  3. Include in their own ‘toolkit’ holistic approaches to improving health outcomes.

10:15 am BREAK


Loosemore Auditorium

Move It or Lose It: Influence of Physical Activity on Brain Function
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder without a cure. There is emerging evidence that non-pharmacological interventions such as physical exercise have beneficial effects on patients with PD. Regular exercise is known to protect memory and thinking skills, in addition to improve mood and reduce stress. In PD, physical exercise may improve postural control, cognition and overall quality of life.

Presenter: Sok Kean Khoo, PhD, Associate Professor, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Sok Kean Khoo has more than 20 years of experience in genetics and genomics research. Her ongoing research includes identifying and developing molecular biomarkers for neurological disorders, especially Parkinson’s disease (PD). Accurate biomarkers may be used to diagnose, differentiate, and monitor disease progression to improve disease management and treatment. She recently expanded her research to investigate molecular changes in PD patients with non-pharmacological interventions such as physical exercise.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this session, participants will be able:

  1. Describe how PD affects normal functions.
  2. Describe neuroplasticity.
  3. Discuss how physical activity affects the brain.
  4. Practice elderly chair exercise.

Room 111D

Five Things you need to Do Before You Lose Your Mind
[O, NHA, S, T]

An estimated 5.4 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease. Too often individuals fail to plan for cognitive decline. From naming individuals to act in the event of incapacity, there are other considerations, including preparing a detailed care plan, addressing housing issues, and learning about prevention, care, and treatment.

Presenter: Catherine Jacobs, JD, Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, Cottrell & Jacobs, PLC

Catherine Jacobs is an estate planning and elder law attorney. She is committed to the advocacy for issues important to older adults. Catherine serves on the boards of Elder Law of Michigan, Senior Neighbors, Council on Aging - Kent County, and is an active member of the Caregiver Resource Network. She frequently speaks to groups and organizations about estate planning, Medicaid, and elder law.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this session, participants will:

  1. Have a checklist of things that they can do to prepare for the possible cognitive decline.
  2. Understand why the items on the checklist are important.
  3. Have many examples of resources to assist them as they work through the check list.

Room 109D

AARP HomeFit Program: How to Stay in the Home You Love as You Age
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

The AARP HomeFit program was developed to educate older adults how to navigate all living spaces independently to allow them to remain in their own homes as they age. Participants receive information on how to easily evaluate their own home for “livability” should they themselves or one of their family members become unable to use stairs, or must rely on assistive devices. It is designed to help individuals plan for independence, choice and dignity as they age.

Presenter: Michael Patrick O'Connor, OTRL, CAPS, CBIST, Occupational Therapist, Executive Director, O'Connor Occupational Therapy Services, PLLC

Michael Patrick O’Connor has worked in the field of rehabilitation since 1988 and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy with a minor in Gerontology from Eastern Michigan University in 1994. O’Connor’s clinical experience across the continuum of care from acute care and inpatient rehabilitation hospital, sub-acute rehabilitation center, residential brain injury program, home/community based setting as well as traditional home care. Additionally, his experience includes roles as healthcare administrator of both a for-profit national neuro rehab provider and a non-profit Michigan based provider where his responsibilities included program development of home and community-based services.

O’Connor’s credentials include registration with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and licensure with the State of Michigan (“OTRL”). O'Connor is designated a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (“CAPS”), established by the National Association of Home Builders. Additionally, he is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer (“CBIST”) by the Academy for Certification of Brain Injury Specialists.

O’Connor has a long-standing commitment to providing education to the community volunteering to provide training and education on topics related to brain injury, safety and prevention, and rehabilitation to groups such as the Brain Injury Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and AARP. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor for Baker College of Owosso’s Health Science Division, where he has taught anatomy and physiology for nursing and allied health students since 2001.

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

  1. Describe the purpose and nature of the HomeFit program.
  2. Identify strategies that someone can use to evaluate their livability of a person’s home for them to age in place.
  3. Identify steps that an individual can make to promote their safety and independence in their home.

Room 138E

Montessori: Enriching Lives of Persons Living with Dementia
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

Montessori is a philosophy of life that focuses on creating an environment that supports and empowers older adults living with dementia to be as independent as possible and to live fulfilling lives. Having a prepared environment which provides interesting and appropriate levels of stimuli, people living with dementia are able to independently engage in activities of their choosing which aide in development of fine motor skills, sequencing and other skills that transfer to other activities of daily living. By working side by side with the individual, we are able to develop roles based on his or her strengths that provide purpose and meaning.

Presenters: Paula Baughman, BS, Certified Montessori Practitioner, Life Enrichment Specialist, Clark Retirement Community; Renee Van Y, BS, CTRS, CMP, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Life Enrichment Specialist, Clark Retirement Community

Paula Baughman graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s in Health Professions and Psychology. Paula is a Certified Montessori Practitioner and has a background in long term memory care. Paula is currently working to fully implement the Montessori Program for Aging and Dementia throughout the memory care continuum at Clark Retirement Community.

Renee Van Y graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Montessori Practitioner. With a background in long term care, Renee focuses on continually developing new programming for older adults living with dementia to provide the highest quality of life. For the past year and a half, Renee has been working with international researchers to implement the first Certified Montessori Program for Aging and Dementia in the United States.

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

  1. Define the principles of the Montessori Philosophy for those living with dementia at various stages.
  2. Identify environmental cues and supports that empower independence in those living with dementia.
  3. Participants will understand the key components to person-centered living.

Room 136E

Aging in Place to Advance Better Living for Elders in Michigan: An Evidence-Based Model
[N, O, S, T]

Forty-two percent of older adults have a functional limitation or disability. The number of disabled is expected to increase due to obesity and living with chronic conditions longer. Disability can lead to falls, poor quality-of-life, and nursing home placement. Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) is a 24-week multi-component model of care aimed to reduce effects of physical function and address individual capabilities and the home environment through OTs, RNs, SWs and home modification. CAPABLE improves function and reduces falls, ED use, hospitalizations.

Presenter: Sandra Spoelstra, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, Associate Dean of Research, GVSU Kirkhof College of Nursing

Dr. Sandra Spoelstra is Nurse Scientist (PhD) with expertise in aging (Fellow Gerontological Society of America) with 40 years of clinical and 10 years of research experience on aging-in-place. Over 30 peer reviewed publications, 200 abstracts, and multiple invited presentations. Currently conducting an implementation project for the State of MI Medicaid program on aging-in-place.

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

  1. Explain the importance of using evidence-based care to aid aging-in-place.
  2. Determine how to implement CAPABLE.
  3. Determine how an evidence-based interprofessional intervention reduces falls, hospitalization, and nursing home place in an elderly disabled population in MI.

SESSION 6                                                                                                    
Room 117E

Geriatric Population with Mental Illness Impacted by Bias: Are WE All Guilty?
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

This workshop explains the meaning of bias as it relates to mental illness. The participants are introduced to knowledge and empathy to help overcome personal bias toward individuals with mental illness. A brief review of important key historical facts regarding diagnosis and treatment is provided to establish empathy. The reality that mental illness is a medical condition is confirmed. Attendees participate as a group throughout the presentation which allows the development of novice skills to self-identify personal bias.

Presenter: Darleen Hoffert, DNP, RN, AGNP-C, QMHP, LNC, Assistant Professor, KCON, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Hoffert’s passion is improving the health outcomes and quality of life for adult/geriatric patients. Over the past 15 years, she served as an RN in acute care, home care, and case management roles focused in the areas of general medical, mental health, and traumatic injury. She is a practicing adult/geriatric NP at the GVSU Family Health Center in Grand Rapids, and an assistant professor at GVSU Kirkhof College of Nursing teaching undergraduate and graduate students in mental health, clinical application, interprofessional education, and advanced assessment.

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

1. Define bias.
2. Recognize mental illness as a medical condition.
3. Identify various ways media impacts stigma related to mental illness.
4. Verbalize key historical points in the care of mentally ill patients.
5. Perform self-assessment to identify some personal behaviors of bias as a novice.

11:15 am STUDENT RESEARCH POSTERS                                      
West Hallway, DEV E

  1. Presenter: Samuel Afoakwa, Masters, Master in Public Administration
    Faculty Advisor: Priscilla Kimboko, PhD, Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration
    How Technology Can Influence Aging in Place
    The study examines the concept of aging in place and how emerging technologies can aid seniors to age independently in their preferred residence. The paper further addresses some of the circumstances of the aged in developing countries (Ghana) that prevents their successful aging in place with the aid of these same technologies. Finally, the research explores the usage of advanced technologies that help older adults, aging in place, to transition smoothly into end life.
  2. Presenter: Brooke Armistead, Masters, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Faculty Advisor: Sok Kean Khoo, PhD, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Alpha synuclein-related microRNAs as biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease
    Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex and heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorder. It is characterized by degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and intraneural accumulation of alpha synuclein protein. PD diagnosis relies on presence of motor symptoms. By this time, 50-80% of the patient’s dopaminergic neurons have been lost or damaged. Thus, there is a need to develop measurable and unbiased biomarkers for early detection of PD. Here, we examine expression of four microRNAs which regulate alpha synuclein in healthy controls, newly diagnosed and advanced stage PD patients.
  3. Presenter: Morgan Casault, Bachelors, Biomedical Science & Psychology
    Faculty Advisor: Jing Chen, PhD, Psychology
    Chronic Pain Management Through Mindfulness Meditation
    A literature review detailing the benefits of meditation, specifically mindfulness, on chronic pain in older adults. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be achieved through meditation practices. This review will also discuss how these practices can be incorporated into the lives of older adults, and how incorporation of certain mindfulness practices, such as body scanning techniques, can improve mental health and quality of life for the individual by promoting relaxation and the release of pent-up emotions.
  4. Presenter: Liza Felix, Masters, Social Work
    Faculty Advisor: Joan Borst, PhD, Social Work
    A Qualitative Assessment of Saint Joseph County’s Response to Dually Eligible Senior’s Needs
    Dual eligible seniors face unique social challenges regarding access to healthcare and resources within their community. The purpose of this research was to explore and identify the social determinants dual eligible seniors face when attempting to access vital health care and community resources. Twenty-four face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve dual eligible seniors and twelve Medicare only eligible senior citizens. Key themes were drawn from these interviews, which include dependence on informal supports and locality, dependence on hospitals when in need of a service, and most seniors had no set plan for aging.
  5. Presenter: Nicole Gustin, Bachelors, Biomedical Science & Nursing
    Faculty Advisor: Meridell Gracias, DNP, Nursing
    A Literature Review on the Effects of the Opioid Epidemic on Pain Management in Vulnerable Populations
    Despite all the recent healthcare advances, older adults continually live in pain that is made tolerable through their opioid prescriptions, yet still undertreated.  The current opioid epidemic has these vulnerable patients who suffer from chronic pain fearful that their pain will now be severely undertreated. This poster is meant to serve as a literature review of articles that address the effects of the current opioid epidemic has on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.
  6. Presenters: Ashleigh Harrah, Bachelors, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Sarah Robertson, Bachelors/Masters, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Faculty Advisor: Sok Kean Khoo, PhD, Cell & Molecular Biology
    miRNA-34b/c as disease progression biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease
    Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes impaired motor control, tremors, and bradykinesia. Currently, no objective method to track disease progression exists. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, regulatory molecules that decrease protein expression. Using quantitative real-time PCR to evaluate the expression of miRNA34b/c in sera of patients with fast and slow progression PD at the time of diagnosis, we found fast progression PD patients have significantly higher expression of miRNA-34b (p-value= 0.0025) and miRNA-34c (p-value=0.0156), when compared with slow progression PD patients. Thus, miRNA-34b/c may be used as potential biomarkers to differentiate fast from slow progressing PD.
  7. Presenters: Michael Hudson, Bachelors, Biomedical Science & Behavioral Neuroscience
    Paige Matusiak, Bachelors, Biomedical Science and Behavioral Neuroscience
    Faculty Advisor: John Capodilupo, PhD, Biomedical Science
    Investigation into the Cellular Processes of the GAP-43 Protein and Association with Learning and Memory in Alzheimer’s Disease
    Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder marked by cognitive and behavioral impairment that drastically interferes with occupational and general functioning. Although extensive research into -Amyloid plaques and Neurofibrillary tangles has been conducted, the primary pathogenic factor of Alzheimer’s disease, neuronal death and synaptic dysfunction, is often overlooked. The growth associated protein GAP-43 appears to facilitate neuronal pathfinding and branching during development and regeneration. It has been shown that GAP-43 may contribute to presynaptic changes that positively induce neurotransmitter release, spatial memory formation, and learning. We believe the main focus for finding a cure should include restoring normal neuronal synaptic activity.
  8. Presenter: Benjamin Kim, Masters, Health Administration
    Faculty Advisor: Priscilla Kimboko, PhD, Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration
    Healthy Behaviors for the Aging Population
    This project focuses on healthy behaviors individuals can adopt in order to increase their health span and decrease their health care expenditures. This research identifies blood sugar problems, reduced oxygen deliverability, systemic inflammation, and hormone imbalances as root causes of accelerated aging.  There are three diseases that kill 60% of people: cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. This research identifies tactics to prevent or delay these diseases through adequate micronutrient intake, controlling insulin levels, reducing inflammation, prioritizing gut health, getting enough sleep, and periodizing exercise to optimize for longevity.
  9. Presenter: Macie Weiland, Masters, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Faculty Advisor: Sok Kean Khoo, PhD, Cell & Molecular Biology
    Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2)-Related microRNAs as Progression Biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease
    Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, is known to progress at different rates in patients. Currently, there is no objective method to track and stratify progression of PD patients.  Thus, it is essential to identify PD progression biomarkers to better monitor the patients. MicroRNAs are small molecules that regulate gene expression and can reflect pathological status specific diseases. Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a gene involved in the pathogenesis of PD. Here, two LRRK2-related microRNAs, miR-29a and miR-29c, are evaluated in serum with the aim to differentiate slow from fast PD progressors.

11:45 am-1:00 pm  LUNCHEON [Gordon Gallery, Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall, Regency Room]


SESSION 7                                                                                                    
Room 117E

Life Expectancy, Zip Code, and Telomeres
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

In this talk, Dr. Chen will discuss a very recent study that reported shocking differences (i.e., as many as 20 years) in life expectancy among different areas of the United States over the period 1980 to 2014. The discussion will also be devoted to exploring the socio-economic, physical, and behavioral factors that may potentially contribute to these geographic inequalities in life expectancy. At the end, she will present the research on telomeres, a psychobiomarker of aging, in an effort to search a possible mechanism that may explain these inequalities in life expectancy at the cellular level.

Presenter: Jing Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, Psychology, GVSU

Dr. Chen is an associate professor of psychology at GVSU. She earned her Ph.D. in experimental psychology /cognitive aging from Washington University. Her recent research focuses on autobiographical memory and maternal characteristics that affect early developmental outcomes. She teaches developmental courses including Perspectives on Aging and Lifespan Developmental Psychology.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this session, participants will:

  1. Be familiar with the most recent research on geographic inequalities in life expectancy in the United States.
  2. Be able to identify and discuss factors that contribute to the geographic inequalities in life expectancy.
  3. Have a basic knowledge of the research on telomeres and aging.
  4. Be prepared to take actions to help reduce the inequalities in life expectancy in the US.

SESSION 8                                                                                                    
Room 109D

Older Adults Helping Other Older Adults: Productive Aging Through the Senior Companion Program
[N, O, S, T]

This session will report the results of Dr. Marta Rodriguez-Galan focus group study of members of the Spanish Language Senior Companion Program in Rochester, NY.  A common scenario was being a recent émigré who did not speak English, experienced social isolation, feelings of depression and had a desire to feel connected through volunteer work.  Along with Latinos/Hispanics many older adults experience boredom, anxiety and depression.  Volunteering can make older adults feel connected, useful and feel a sense of worth through the Senior Companion Program.

Presenters: Marta Rodríguez-Galán, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY; Deborah Covell, BS, Senior Companion Director, Senior Neighbors, Inc.

Dr. Marta Rodríguez-Galán is an associate professor of Sociology at St. John Fisher College, where she also directs the Gerontology program. She received her PhD in sociology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, she also holds a Masters in Hispanic Studies and a Certificate in Gerontology. For over a decade now, she has been conducting research on aging and health with a particular focus on Hispanic/Latino communities in the U.S.

Deb Covell is the Director of the Senior Companion Program at Senior Neighbors in Kent County. She has been the director of the program for three years. Her goal is make sure senior never feel lonely and stay independent as long as possible.

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

  1. Describe barriers to volunteering and other positive aging experiences among older adults.
  2. Identify reasons why older adults want to help other older adults.
  3. Describe the Senior Companion Program and how it benefits volunteers, their clients, family, friends and communities.

SESSION 9                                                                                                    
Room 136E

Caring for the Caregiver
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

Caring for the Caregiver describes the situation that many caregivers find themselves in; they end up needing care themselves as there are likely to experience a decline in their physical and mental health when they become a caregiver for a spouse, parent, child or other close relative or friend. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a statewide, self-management program for caregivers. The workshop will provide the importance of such a program to caregivers in Michigan, some strategies taught during a workshop, and an overview of the curriculum.

Presenters: Christi Demitz, MSW, BS, Extension Educator, MSU Extension; Holly Tiret, MA, BA, Senior Extension Educator, MSU Extension

Christi Demitz is an Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension. She provides disease prevention and management education in community settings related to diabetes, pain management, fall prevention, and self-management. Christi has worked in public health disease prevention and management since 1996. She currently provides community education in Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa counties.

Holly Tiret has been a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator with Michigan State University Extension for the past 16 years. Her focus is on helping people be socially and emotionally healthy so they can lead satisfying and productive lives. She has taught is a co-author of RELAX: Alternatives to Anger.

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

  1. Recognize the importance of caregivers and caring for self in long-term caregiving situations.
  2. Practice some strategies of positive self-care through sampling Powerful Tools for Caregivers.
  3. Determine how the Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshop can complement the programs they currently provide.

SESSION 10                                                                                                  
Room 111D

Call Me, Maybe!

Despite an all-out advocacy campaign opposing the move, the Michigan legislature and governor have approved legislation that allows telephone service carriers to discontinue landline services to consumers when the carrier can demonstrate that there is a comparable voice service available to the consumers. This new policy took effect on January 1, 2018 and may catch many seniors and other consumers unaware. In this workshop, the options that are available to consumers will be presented. The session will highlight ways that individuals can protect themselves when they find the lack reliable telephone services.

Presenter: Melissa Seifert, MPA, Government Affairs, AARP Michigan

Melissa Seifert works in Lansing in Government Affairs for AARP Michigan. In this role, she executes AARP Michigan’s legislative priorities to both state and federal elected officials. AARP is a nonpartisan 501(c) (4) organization with approximately 1.4 million members in Michigan. AARP advocates on issues that matter the most to people age 50+ and their families, such as health and long-term care services, income security, support for family caregivers, retirement planning, and protection from fraud and financial abuse. Melissa has worked around the capitol for 13 years as a legislative staffer and a multi-client lobbyist. She has worked for AARP for 5 years first as the Associate State Director for Economic Security and Work focusing her attention on financial security, workforce development, and Social Security. Melissa holds a Master’s degree in Administrative Science from Central Michigan University.

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

  1. Define 'comparable' phone services and understand the type of service they currently have.
  2. Describe potential consequences of this change on consumers' access to 911 and home security services.
  3. Identify the steps involved in a petition to the Public Service Commission when experiencing a lack of reliable phone services without a landline.

Room 138E

Grandy Land: Traveling Towards an Age-Friendly Grand Rapids
[N, O, S, T]

Hear the results of innovative community outreach and listening techniques focusing on older adults. A presentation including techniques used, and resulting themes from a recent 20 location city-wide listening tour that included robust conversations and outreach to older adults, including those that may be dealing with issues of race, language, financial insecurity, physical and mental health, housing, literacy, transportation and isolation. Presentation will include emerging themes and proposed solutions.

Presenters: Ginnie Smith, Age-Friendly Community Coordinator, City of Grand Rapids Planning Department; Jeff Steffen, BS in Landscape Architecture, Assistant Planning Director, City of Grand Rapids Planning Department

Ginnie Smith is currently the project manager for Age-Friendly Grand Rapids, and is a passionate advocate for the needs of older adults and age-friendly communities. She brings to this position more than 40 years of customer service background from single family business to international sales and marketing, including 12 years at Spectrum Health. She says, “Customer service has been an excellent training ground because it has taught me to really stop and listen to the words of others in order to meaningfully understand their needs.”

Ginnie also has 8 years as a family caregiver and advocate for older adult family members including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and hospice care. More recently she has worked for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan in programs and public outreach with older adults and persons with disabilities. Currently she is conducting research, interviews and outreach for Age-Friendly Grand Rapids including completing a 22 location citywide listening tour including diverse groups of older adults. She was also instrumental in creating Grandy Land, an interactive game about age-friendly communities and Grand Rapids.

Jay Steffen is the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He leads the Long Range Planning and Community Engagement Division. Recent project management efforts include the Michigan Street Corridor Plan, GRForward Downtown and Grand River Plan of Action and the Age-Friendly Communities listening tour.

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

  1. Interview older adults about aging obstacles, using innovative techniques, including the newly created game "Grandy Land".
  2. Utilize active listening and reflection with older adults from diverse populations to identify practical solutions.
  3. Engage older adults in assessing living conditions on 8 different topics and proposing solutions for action.

SESSION 12                                                                          
Loosemore Auditorium

Later Life Lessons from a Healthcare Provider and Caregiver
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

This workshop will be an open forum to discuss my experiences as a caregiver in terms of what worked, what the surprises were, and what was unresolved or failed. We will review a toolkit that includes pre-planning, such as living wills and durable power of medical decision-making, the values of autonomy and advocacy, and health literacy, and how these were deficient to meet the demands of aging in place. We will discuss how assessment such as Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) and the Modified Caregiver Strain Index (MCSI) may be helpful in discussions with family members/caregivers. Lastly, we will discuss the underutilization of hospice.

Presenter: Geraldine Terry, MD, MSN, BSN/MD, RN, Caregiver AND Assistant Professor, KCON, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Terry’s expertise originates from her role as caregiver and healthcare liaison to my extended family. Though formally educated as a pediatrician she has spent almost 20 years as a caregiver for aging or dying family members. With the advantage of her medical credentials, she has been invited to a behind-the-scenes view by many healthcare providers and has tried to influence their decision-making, all the while being a patient advocate.

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

  1. Discuss what it is "to be prepared" for aging in place.
  2. Explain what happens when the value of autonomy collides with beneficence and non-maleficence.
  3. Describe how to maintain hope and joy as a caregiver.

2:00 pm BREAK


SESSION 13                                                                          
Loosemore Auditorium

The Power of Resilience in Aging Well
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

This workshop will address building resilience to help us and others deal with adversities we face in all areas of life.  The aging process brings unique challenges, and building resilience throughout a lifetime can help mitigate those difficulties and bring personal growth even through challenging circumstances.

Presenters: Anne Ellermets, MPA, Director of Contracted Services and Program Development, AAAWM; Lisa Misenhimer, MSW, Director, Rethinking Dementia, Accelerating Change

Anne Ellermets is Director of Contracted Services and Program Development. As such she manages the funding processes for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan [AAAWM] nine-county region and oversees the Caregiver Resource Network and Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids. Her career has focused on providing services and resources to older adults and family caregivers to help them along their journey.

Lisa Misenhimer is the Director of Rethinking Dementia: Accelerating Change, where she oversees a collective impact process to address the needs of people with dementia and those that care for them. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in aging from the University of Michigan. Lisa has experience advocating and creating programs to address the needs of seniors and educating the community about health topics including dementia, current aging policy issues, and services for older adults.

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

  1. Apply examples of others who have faced adversity to the circumstances of their own lives.
  2. Describe six methods for building resilience throughout their own aging journey.
  3. Define the “Platinum Rule” of resilience and apply it to helping others through difficult times.

SESSION 14                                                                                                  
Room 138E

Why What Matters to You Matters to Me – How Person-Centered Advocacy Overcomes Barriers Aging Well
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

The workshop will begin by cultivating participants’ understanding of person-centered advocacy. A holistic approach to life management—including environment, psychosocial, health, and financial/legal planning—will be introduced as a framework for helping older adults consider their current strengths and future opportunities. Advocates invite older adults to identify what matters most to them, then share strategies.

Presenters: Karen Vander Laan, PhD, MSN, RN, Nurse Advocate, IKOR of North Grand Rapids; Sanford Freed, BS, Certified Senior Advisor, Managing Director, IKOR of North Grand Rapids

Dr. Vander Laan brings 32 years of professional nursing experience to her current role as Nurse Advocate for older adults. Her practice roles as a critical care staff nurse, nurse educator, regional burn center nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist for neuroscience, orthopedic, and surgery patients, senior nurse researcher, and ethics consultant provide a strong interprofessional foundation for interacting with clients, their family members, and their health care team members.

Sanford Freed is the Managing Director if IKOR Life Care Management. He began serving older adults and their family caregiver in 1995 when he founded SafeCall Home Medical Alarms. After selling that company in 2015 he opened the first IKOR office in Michigan. Sanford is active with the Caregiver Resources Network, Council on Aging of Kent County, Elder Abuse Coalition of Kent County, Making Choices Michigan, Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids, and holds certification as a Senior Advisor.

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

  1. Construct a person-centered approach to advocacy.
  2. Employ resources to help older adults identify and communicate what matters most to them.
  3. Jointly appraise progress toward goals and formulate next steps for change.

Room 136E

I’m Going to Pump You Up: Implementing Exercise Routines for Seniors in Community and Long-Term Care Settings
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

This presentation will explore the benefits of exercise for seniors, but also how exercise is changing as the Baby Boomer generation gets older. It will cover the presenter's experiences of implementing exercise groups in LTC setting, as well as resources used to implement such groups. Community resources will also be discussed, with handouts given of different opportunities based on preferences of individuals. Lastly, technology and applications will be discussed and their potential benefits for seniors.

Presenter: Nicholas Wahl, BS, CRTS, Recreation Therapist, Brookcrest Rehabilitation and Life Center

Nicholas Wahl holds a BS in Therapeutic Recreation. He has worked in LTC settings for the past 4 years as Director of Life Enrichment, as well as CTRS of Subacute Rehab unit in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). He currently leads high intensity exercise groups 3-5 times per week for persons with physical and/or mental disabilities in SNF facility.

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

  1. Identify 3 physical or mental benefits of exercise.
  2. Identify 3 different interventions/types of exercise.
  3. Identify 3 ways to use the internet or technology to search for exercise routines and classes.

SESSION 16                                                                                                  
Room 117E

HomeSharing: Friendship, Financial Support, and Help Within the Home

This session will explore the concept of home sharing - opening your home to a housemate, or becoming a housemate yourself - for Grand Rapids seniors. We'll address local senior housing support options, GRHomeShare Program specifically, how to find a compatible, safe housemate, the benefits of home sharing to homeowner and renter alike, and the importance of staying in your own home with supportive, live-in help.

Presenter: Lily Fossel, GRHomeShare Program Manager, New Development Corporation

Lily Fossel is a 3-year veteran of the non-profit sector and a 2-year AmeriCorps alumna specializing in disaster relief, financial education, housing, and senior concerns. She is a MSHDA-certified Homebuyer Educator and Financial Coach. She currently serves as the Program Manager of the GRHomeShare program seeking to match senior homeowners with individuals struggling for housing.

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

  1. Leverage their home as a source of rental income.
  2. Safely find a housemate to share their home and life.
  3. Expand their options to stay in their home with supportive options for home maintenance, companionship, safety, and care.
  4. Describe how Grand Rapids senior housing options are growing and changing.

SESSION 17                                                                                                  
Room 109D

Role of Leisure for Veterans Through the Ages
[O, NHA, S, T]

This workshop provides insight into leisure and its purpose for the aging veteran community. How different war eras effected leisure involvement for veterans will be examined. Personal interviews with veterans from various eras will be discussed in detail in regards to their leisure and health. We will discuss how understanding leisure awareness through different war eras allow us to be more versatile in our treatment planning and interventions as recreational therapists. Finally, we will provide personal ideas and recommendations for professionals when working with the growing veteran community.

Presenters: Stephanie Hamacher, BS, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans; Denver Lawrence, BS, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans

Stephanie Hamacher graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2014 where she was nominated 'Student of the Year.' She received the Peg Connolly scholarship in 2014 allowing her to work the Annual American Therapeutic Recreation Association conference. She spent two years working at a children's psychiatric hospital. Stephanie currently works with elderly veterans in the Grand Rapids area. She develops and implements daily activities, improving the quality of life and overall health for the veterans she serves.

Denver Lawrence graduated with a Bachelors in Health and Human Services specializing in Recreational Therapy from Eastern Michigan University in 2016. During his studies he participated in internships which in physical medicine and rehab, TBI and spinal cord injuries. He has been working at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans since June of 2017.

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

1. Understand the purpose and importance of leisure for veterans.
2. Gain insight on how different war eras effected leisure involvement.
3. Knowledge of possible interventions to use when working with aging veterans.

SESSION 18                                                                                                  
Room 111D

Building Relationships: Caregivers and Loved Ones with Dementia
[O, NHA, S, T]

Leara Glinzak and Tim Tuthill co-led a 6 week therapeutic modality focused on enhancing psychosocial needs through art therapy, connection, mindfulness and spirituality with caregivers and their loved ones living with memory loss in the greater Grand Rapids area. Authentic relationships were created among three categories: caregivers to caregivers, those experiencing Dementia with one another and then between the caregivers and their loved ones with Dementia. Presenters will share the curriculum format designed from a person centered model, the outcome of the art pieces as it acted as a direct reflection of bridging those relationships in addition to personal reflection for introspective work and results from participant evaluations.

Presenters: Leara Glinzak, MSAT, Owner and Art Therapist, I LIGHT, LLC; Timothy Tuthill, MDiv, MSW, Director of Pastoral Care, First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids

Leara Glinzak has her own practice, I LIGHT, and is an Art Therapist working in the Grand Rapids area. She specializes in grief, dementia, terminal illness and distress. She has research published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and has presented nationally and locally.

Timothy Tuthill has worked in multiple settings with older adults in home, community and residential settings. His approach is to work alongside of people, centering on their human need to find meaning and purpose in the face of life changes and circumstances.  He holds a M.Div. from Southern Methodist University and an MSW from MSU.

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

  1. Identify the benefits of creating connections through positive relationships during a time of grief.
  2. Describe effective techniques to build/enhance relationships between caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.
  3. Understand the curriculum developed by the presenters as a basic format on which build, in order to create their own curriculum.

3:15 pm  BREAK

3:30 pm  CLOSING SESSION                                                 
Loosemore Auditorium

Telling Their Stories: Finding Ways to Help Self and Others Overcome Barriers to Healthy Aging
[N, O, NHA, S, T]

Sometimes the topic of ‘overcoming barriers to healthy aging’ seems to be either too abstract or too personal. Yet the reality is that many of those who face barriers do succeed in overcoming them, usually with the help of others. The goal of this session is to illustrate through personal stories how three very different types of barriers encountered by older adults were overcome. Two stories derive from personal experiences, while the others are collected through interviews with older adults by a local researcher. Such barriers often seem insurmountable - a life threatening case of sepsis; the sudden death of a spouse resulting in a new widowhood and ‘living alone’; and the disconnect from family and friends which can come from changing communication technologies.  Hear the panelists’ stories as they share how they or others overcame setbacks and barriers, who they turned to for help. Interact with the panelists and participate with the audience to explore what you can do to help yourself, others you know, or those whom you encounter in your daily work and life, when facing such challenges.  

Panelists: Lori Dillman, MA; David Rothbart, BS; Veronica Kirin, BA

Lori Dillman was born and raised in the Chicago area. She dropped out of college to get married, but that first marriage did not work out well. However, her second marriage did last for many years until the death of her husband in 1998. Between the two unions, she has seven children, with 23 great grandchildren and six great grandchildren. The family came to Michigan in 1987, when her husband became a professor of English at CMU. Lori worked at CMU as a secretary. She was able to complete both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree while there, because the credits were free for employees. After she finished her Master’s degree in 1999, she retired. As a widow now for nearly 20 years, she has found way to fill her life with her interests and passions – quilting, family, exercise, reading, health eating, and more recently service as a coach and participant in Senior Odyssey and a coach for Matter of Balance classes.

Two years ago, David Rothbart became gravely ill with septic shock, stroke and open-heart surgery to replace his mitral and aortic valves. He chronicles the event and his will to survive in the book Game Changer. He has since become an advocate for sepsis awareness and life after a catastrophic illness. David was born and raised in New Jersey and now, along with his wife, is a resident of Grand Rapids. He and his wife, Janet, married in 1976, have two married sons and two grandsons, whom they adore. David grew up in a multicultural family of Russian and Polish descent which made for a very interesting childhood, which he wrote about in his published book, Little Jersey Boy.

David is a 1976 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University. He did post graduate work at the Lincoln Graduate Center in environmental studies. After finishing his environmental studies David opened a building inspection business which was bought by US Inspect, a national inspection company outside of Washington, DC. He worked for US Inspect for many years in management as a building consultant. Eventually he became director of the Reserve Study division at USI Commercial until his retirement in 2014. David is a long-time photo artist and has authored and published 4 books, Game Changer, Little Jersey Boy, My Zen and Poetic Imagery, a collaboration with Buffalo poet Fred Whitehead. He is currently collaborating with playwright Ryan Kaminski in developing “Game Changer” into a stage play.

Veronica Kirin is a GVSU alum, Social Anthropologist, Coach to LGBTQ Entrepreneurs, and the author of Stories of Elders: What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology that You Don’t (2018, Identity Publications). In 2015, she traveled 11,000 miles nationwide to interview elders about how technology changed society over their lifetimes. Through this work she discovered some of the common themes in elders’ pursuit of healthy aging and the influence of technology on their relationships, health, and access to information.  Her forthcoming book tells their stories and takes a hard look at just how technology affects every aspect of our lives. When she is not traveling the world, Veronica can be found residing in her restored historic home in Grand Rapids with her cat, Turbo.

Moderator: Priscilla J. Kimboko, PhD, Professor, School of Public, Nonprofit & Health Administration; Coordinator, Art & Science of Aging Conference

Priscilla Kimboko has nearly 40 years/experience in the field of aging, as a faculty member and leader at the local, state and national levels. She worked with the Wyoming Commission on Aging in the 1980’s to develop a care management system throughout that rural state, and has served in an advisory capacity to AAAs in Colorado and Michigan, as well as with nursing homes and retirement communities. She has extensive experience conducting program planning, implementation and evaluations for aging service providers, and leading training programs for the general public around aging issues. She worked as a researcher at the Regional Research Institute for Human Services at Portland State and as an adjunct faculty member and researcher at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work Institute on Aging. She served in the masters and bachelors programs in Gerontology at the University of Northern Colorado, where she taught grant writing, program planning, program evaluation as well as management of aging services and the aging services system.

Priscilla is currently a full professor in the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration in the Masters of Public Administration and the Masters in Health Administration programs, where she teaches courses on aging, long term care organization and administration and public management. She spent nearly 20 years as a higher education administrator, with responsibilities for graduate education and sponsored programs. Currently, she serves as Vice-Chair of Advisory Council of the AAAWM, and co-chair of the Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids initiative. With regard to dementia, she was the primary caregiver of her husband with vascular dementia for over 7 years. She has coordinated the annual Art & Science of Aging Conference since 2005.

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

  1. Understand the wide array of barriers that they and others may encounter in the aging process.
  2. Identify who older adults typically turn to for support in overcoming barriers.
  3. Describe ways in which each of us can, in turn, help others overcome such barriers in their personal and professional lives.

Page last modified February 16, 2018