From my balcony, I can see two big, white tents at the back of the Boys & Girls Clubs on Russell Way. Daily, now that school’s out, I see hundreds of kids flocking to those tents for a breakfast, lunch or snack. It’s part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to help children bridge summer months when parents are at work and there’s no school or home lunch.
Blue-sweatshirt-clad volunteers keep order for the 300 or so kids who come there for food, games and instruction of various kinds.
Program director Andrew Johnson is there from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily keeping things running. It’s not an easy task, as this isn’t school, with all its fixed rules. There’s a dress code to ensure that the kids are picked up by parents or guardians. And there’s an annual fee of $30 and $40 weekly program fees, excluding meals.
The boys and girls get plenty for the fees. Reading classes are held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and that’s the point of this for seniors. This is almost all volunteer-managed and -operated. There is a need for adult volunteers helping with the reading classes, something that seniors can easily do and would no doubt enjoy. There are other opportunities for seniors to help out.
To check up on programs where help is needed, seniors can contact Johnson at 775-882-8820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumer Reports asked professionals if the PET scan can be valuable to predict early onset of Alzheimer’s dementia. The scan reveals deposits of abnormal material in the brain, as in Alzheimer’s. It consists of injection of a radioactive drug into the brain and scanning the results. Often the tests suggest Alzheimer’s, but they might be just a different material than that tied to Alzheimer’s.
The scan can cause anxiety, particularly when the patient is not having memory loss. Memory loss can stem from other causes, such as a stroke, an inactive thyroid, drug interactions, alcoholism or vitamin B12 deficiency.
Having the scan requires exposure to a small amount of radiation, which is best avoided when possible. The test can cost several thousand dollars and is not covered by Medicare or private insurance.
Forgetting things is part of aging, unfortunately. But CR suggests that seniors know their numbers — control blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Exercise can help, and challenging the mind is a plus; reads books, go to the theater, learn how to play an instrument or learn a new language. And get at least six hours of sleep a night.
‘A Place for Mom’ on men vs. women
“Mom” is a interesting Web site with lots of information for seniors. Here’s a digest of one of its items about the sexes.
1. According to the World Health Organization, American women live five years longer, on average, than men.
2. One in 7 assisted-living facility residents are men.
3. Older men seem happier than older women.
6. Both genders face dementia.
7. Older men more sexually active.
8. More men are now caregivers.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 1997 just 19 percent of family caregivers were men, while in 2012 that number was 40 percent.
Sam Bauman writes about senior-related issues for the Nevada Appeal.