Pickle ball helped hank maintain his heart health while having fun at the same time!
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"Roving pantry and meals on wheels have helped me maintain my independence.... I don't know what I would do without them..."
In 2002, at the age of 57, I suffered a cardiac event that ultimately forced my retirement from my profession and limited my exercise activity to strictly walking. Then, in the spring of 2011 while walking on a treadmill at my neighborhood rec. center I learned about the sport of Pickleball. This game was only available to play in Wichita at several of the Senior Centers operated by Senior Services, Inc.
- Hank Blase Senior Centers
- Read More +The sport is somewhat like indoor tennis, a sport I enjoyed while I was in school. Without my cardiologist’s knowledge, I began playing Pickleball at the Senior Centers. After six months of playing 2 to 3 hours a day for 5 days a week at Orchard Park, Linwood, and Downtown Senior Centers, I lost twenty-five pounds and began to build my endurance.
On my next visit to my cardiologist, my blood work numbers were so outstanding he told me quote: “whatever it is you are doing, keep doing it!” After I explained the Pickleball game to him, he added it to my list of approved activities. As I became more proficient in the sport, I limited my play to the competitive Pickleball group who play exclusively at the Downtown Senior Center 3 days a week for three hours each session.
Then, in September of 2012, after qualifying to represent Kansas in both Pickleball singles and doubles at the National Senior Games 2013, I suffered an ischemic stroke which led to the administration of a medication that caused a hemorrhagic stroke later that same day. I was totally paralyzed on the entire left side of my body. One week to the day after the strokes, I was playing competitive Pickleball again with very minor residual effects. My doctors and therapists credit my quick recovery to my very good physical condition. But I know that without the opportunity to play Pickleball at the Senior Centers, I would be nowhere near the physical shape that I am in today! And I quite possibly could have retained permanent impairments like paralysis, brain damage, or other side effects that may have required long term care.
I can’t thank Senior Services, Inc. of Wichita and the Senior Center enough for allowing me a chance to stay healthy by participation in a very fun activity that is GOOD for my health! And, most importantly, I thank and credit them for giving me my life back!
Mary Perez is a 67 year old woman who has been a member of Linwood Senior Center for many years. Mary has diabetes. She attends many programs at the center and has stated many times the wonderful ideas she gets from fellow members. Most recently she participated in a program called the Kansans’ Optimizing Health Program. This is an interactive program for people with chronic diseases to learn new skills to combat and manage their disorders and set goals over a 6 week period to cope or solve problems and help them manage their physical challenges.
- Mary Perez Linwood Senior Center
- Read More +Mary incorporated many of the skills and healthful eating habits into her daily routine. She was so excited when she got on the scale at the senior center and saw that she lost weight, as she has tried many times in the past and had not been able to do it before. Mary also reaps the benefits of the educational programs. She’s learned to manage her finances more efficiently. The senior center director shared with her resources like the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps her reduce her energy costs. She also gained knowledge on weatherization of her home so that her electrical bills will not be so high in the future. Mary applied for the programs and was accepted and is now very thankful for the extra spending cash.
Mary speaks highly of Linwood Senior Center and loves being around other people. She now shares her personal experiences to help other seniors who also need assistance. Mary is truly passing on information and positive influence to those around her by sharing her “firsthand knowledge.”
Walter Bilyew is an 80 year old gentleman who is full of love and laughter. Whenever you meet Walter he is always smiling. When his wife was alive Walter attended events at the Downtown Senior Center. He loved to attend potlucks and always fixed amazing delicacies to share with his fellow members! About 2 years ago Walt lost his wife to cancer, which she had battled for 15 years. Walt had been her faithful caretaker for those difficult years, but he always did it with a smile.
- Walter Bilyew Linwood Senior Center
- Read More +After Judy passed away, he battled extreme depression and even wondered if he wanted to continue to live. He decided to keep going through his strong faith and personal desire to help others. Walter found several reasons to live and with a vigor and contagious energy he became even more generous and gave all the people who helped him get through this tough time by delivering groceries and other gifts to them. At Linwood Senior Center he continually stocks Bingo prizes like home canned pickles and soups. He always has a twinkle in his eye as he is a favorite at the Linwood center especially when he comes and brings his FAMOUS cupcakes for birthday parties. Most recently, Walter started writing poetry, and sharing his thoughts and feelings in his writing. The director was honored to help Walter with his first publication of his poetry. Walter has wonderful supportive friendships at Linwood Center. The center programs also provide Walter with an outlet for his creativity and encourage him to engage in new activities and ideas like publishing his writing.
Mrs. Harris heard about the Meals on Wheels program over seven years ago from her neighbor. As a woman in her eighties Mrs. Harris experienced numerous health problems over the years so the meals service and delivery was a very beneficial service.
- Jody Harris Meals on Wheels
- Read More +In 2015 Ms. Harris phoned the office to tell Liz – Social Service Specialist in Meals on Wheels – she wanted to cancel her meal that day because she was not feeling well. Liz noted that her speech pattern didn’t seem quite normal and she questioned Ms. Harris about this. Ms. Harris felt that she should call her physician and she raised concerns about a stroke. Liz asked Mrs. Harris if she could call EMS for her. Mrs. Harris agreed. Liz directed her to unlock the door and stayed on the phone until EMS arrived. It turned out that Mrs. Harris was in the initial stages of a stroke and she was transported to the hospital.
Ms. Harris’ daughter Debbie arrived from out of state and made contact with the Meals on Wheels office. She wanted to express her appreciation in person for the care her mother received. She tearfully stated to Liz that the Meals on Wheels program had saved her mother’s life and told Meals on Wheels employees they were her “angels”. Liz humbly replied “we are just doing our jobs.”
When Irene Leiker moved to Wichita from Hays six years ago the only people she knew were her daughter and grandchildren. Irene had a 50-year career as a hair stylist and was accustomed to visiting with her clients every day. She quickly realized that as much as she loved her family, she also needed some friends and a social life that was her own. She decided to join Orchard Park Senior Center and soon found herself caught up in a number of educational, fitness and social opportunities.
- Irene Leiker Orchard Park Senior Center
- Read More +“What I gain here is exceptional,” she says. “We have a lot of wonderful people I proudly call friends. I enjoy Stretch and Tone for exercise and many other recreational events. We go on trips and out to eat – they keep us very busy and involved in the community.” Irene notes she has learned a lot at the numerous educational sessions. “We have great programs here. They say you need to learn one new thing a day and I do, every time I’m at Orchard Park.”
- Ms. Shelby Vandine Roving Pantry
Ms. Shelby Vandine is 74 years old. She began using the Roving Pantry service about 4 years ago when she was diagnosed with Kidney Disease. She performs dialysis at home and goes to the dialysis center once a week for blood work. Ms. Vandine says she really appreciates Roving Pantry services as she is not able to carry groceries up the steps to her apartment. Home delivered groceries are crucial for Ms. Vandine to be able to remain independent and living in her own home – where she wants to be.
For those tasked with caring for another 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even a small break can be a godsend.
Recognizing that unmet need, Senior Services, Inc., of Wichita started its respite program in 1987. Sedgwick County provided a grant with the request that the program serve as many people as possible.
- Doug Tripp In-Home Respite Care
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“That is how we developed the three-hour blocks of time once a week,” says Laurel Alkire, executive director of Senior Services and the creator of the program. “We started by recruiting workers from our Senior Employment Program. We wanted older people as they share many of the same interests and backgrounds as those they serve.”
In the 28 years since it was founded, respite care has provided relief for thousands of caregivers. On the average, it currently serves 35 families a week.
After 22 years together, Doug Tripp did not hesitate to step into the role of caregiver when his partner, Allan Foster, was rendered incapacitated by a stroke in February of 2004.
“I am 24/7 with Allan,” Doug says. “He can’t take care of anything.”
A certified nursing assistant funded by the Area Agency on Aging comes in twice a week to help Doug give Allan a bath. As grateful as Doug is for that professional service, he is most grateful for the three hours of respite care provided by Senior Services employee Pat Shoemaker each week.
“Pat coming in helps me keep my sanity,” Doug says. “When Pat comes in it is my time. Sometimes I go to Cheney Lake, sometimes I just have coffee or do something else. The most important thing is to have a little break.”
Even with the unrelenting demands for the past 11 years, Doug wouldn’t have it any other way. “You do it because you love them,” he says. “When you have that, it’s not something you throw away.”
Pat Shoemaker regards Doug and Allan as her sons. “I enjoy coming to the house and visiting,” she says.
Now in her 70s, Pat has been a respite worker since 1996. She joined the staff after losing her job doing in-home care with the state. She currently provides respite for seven people a week.
“I have met a lot of good people,” she says.
Two of the people working in the respite program were once clients, and they were so impressed with the service they received they wanted to pass that gift on to others.
“When my husband was critically ill, they came and sat with him so I could go to Bible study,” says Roberta Willis, who has been a respite worker for four years. “After he died, I didn’t know what to do. We had been together for 55 years. Then Dolores called and asked me to come to work for the respite program.”
Roberta joined the program in 2011 and currently has five clients.
“It is a very rewarding program,” she adds. “This gives me a purpose and it gives them a sense of safety and relief. It is so important to the caregivers to get that break and know their loved one is safe. This was a God thing. I thank Him every night when I go to bed.”
For seven years, Carolyn Rutherford cared for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s and some difficulties with her heart. She, too, received a benefit from the respite program.
“It was so nice I could go to the store and not worry about my mother,” she explains. Grateful, she has been providing the same service to others since December of 2011, caring for a total of nine people each week.
“The caregivers need care too,” Carolyn says. “My mom was in need of so much care. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I couldn’t get away to do anything recreational until we had respite care.”
For 26 years, Dolores Cooper has served as the coordinator for respite care. She takes great pride in the quality of their workers. “We are dependable, and the families know they can count on us,” she says. “We don’t have turnover, so people get the same caregivers. They are so committed and they love what they do. They make my job easy.”
Each employee is carefully screened, then receives two days of training on dealing with chronic conditions and spiritual issues. Two inservice sessions are held twice a year to provide additional education. Employees can provide light housekeeping, meal preparation and help with transfers, but their primary purpose is to serve as a companion. Dolores also visits the homes of prospective clients to ensure the safety of the respite workers.
Knowing the integrity of the program, the Alzheimer’s Association contracts with Senior Services to provide the workers for their respite care scholarship program, which is funded by an annual golf tournament and the Area Agency on Aging.
The program was free for years, but the economy in recent years forced Senior Services to begin a nominal charge of $4.00 an hour.
“For $12 a week, the caregivers can go to church, buy groceries or take a nap without worrying,” Laurel says. “They all say it is well worth it and wish they could have more.”