Kenwood Press

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Senior Social Club seeks new clients

group listens to live music

In a bid for new clients, Oakmont’s Senior Social Club held an open house recently to showcase a program offering a wide variety of stimulating activities designed for older adults with beginning cognitive impairment and memory issues.

A lively five-piece band and a toe-tapping 99-year-old set the tone for the two-hour session. The club, sponsored by the Council on Aging, provides respite for caregivers while promoting and encouraging physical, mental, social and emotional well-being, according to the council. “We accommodate varying skill levels and a variety of engaging activities for people with memory loss.”

The club is “a wonderful way to meet new people,” said Helen Kivell, the 99-year-old who showed off some fancy dance steps at the open house. Her granddaughter, Nancy Hand, said the club has given her grandma back “some measure of the social life she needs.”

The club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the second floor of Oakmont’s West Recreation Center. The cost is $400 a month with pre-payment required. This averages $10 an hour, compared for $30-$35 an hour charged by home care agencies, according to the COA. There are no walk-ins.

The staff includes Debbie Baldaramos, the site manager, and Michael Hohne, who has taught art in public schools and leads sketching exercises. A typical session includes creative arts and music, stimulating brain games, lively discussions and sitting and standing balance exercises. A box lunch and snacks are included. Special events include holiday parties, music groups and special visitors speaking on various subjects.

With the kickoff delayed by the October wildfires and the temporary closing of the recreation center, the club has been slow attracting clients. Renee Tolliver, director of social services for the COA, said the Oakmont community “needs to let us know they want us.” She said if the fee is an issue, the council will try to work out something.

To make an appointment for a visit or get more information, email or call 525-0143, ext. 103.

The club started with five members, Tolliver said, but three have moved on. She said their goal is to have at least six clients. All must be Oakmont residents.

Julie Jones, an early advocate and driving force behind the creation of the club, said it has given her spouse, Tekla Nyberg, “a new outlook on life.” She had begun to withdraw from activities and lost interest in socializing. Diagnosed with memory loss and dementia, it is difficult for her to concentrate.

Jones said Tekla has made new friends, enjoys having a place to spend social time and discovered there are games, exercises and crafts she can enjoy. “I see that it has improved her self confidence and her attitude. All the hard work it took to bring the Senior Social Club to Oakmont was well worth it for my family.”

A highlight of the open house was the music of the five-piece band, Take Your Medicine, led by Patrick Michael McCarty and featuring Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson favorites. Dancing soon broke out, with Kivell cutting a rug with other clients, visitors and volunteers.

The band plays about once a month at COA senior social clubs in Sonoma, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, as well as Oakmont. McCarty likes to say, “Music is good medicine for anything that ails you.”


Community Calendar

Researcher presents “Living with Mountain Lions” session
Volunteer trail work
Music at Oakmont presents Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale
Blue Christmas Eucharist at St. Patrick’s
Live Nativity Pageant in Glen Ellen
Mushroom Hike
Caroling with the Clydesdales
Public invited to annual State Parks meeting
Kenwood Fire’s annual crab feed

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