Category Archives: Senior Living

Spreading positivity: Just how impactful volunteers can be

James Rochow joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a pilot in the Korean War.

by Katie Dawes

80-year-old James Rochow was a well-known resident in his assisted living community. Preferring to go by Jimmy, he was friendly with the staff, social with other residents and stole the hearts of many volunteers. Despite his approachable nature, he was not always so willing to engage. James had Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the central nervous system that affected his bodily movement resulting in severe tremors. Parkinson’s disease is incurable and it is estimated that seven to ten million people are living with Parkinson’s disease.

Before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, James lived in Brooklyn. He eventually joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a pilot in the Korean War. Post-war, James moved to California where he met his wife and had a daughter. After 30 years and his diagnosis, James and his wife were unable to care for themselves. They both decided to move into an assisted living community where they spent most of their time together. Two years after they moved in, James’ wife passed away, leaving him alone with an incurable disease.

James became depressed and isolated himself from both his community and extended family. He was placed in a wheelchair indefinitely and had constant joint pain. His disease brought upon severe tremors and uncontrollable shaking. The loneliness and solitude became increasingly more apparent to staff. Pacifica Senior Living Executive Director Stacie Dawes recognized James’ loneliness and wanted to come up with a way to engage him on a more personal level. Stacie decided to pair James up with volunteers in an effort to increase his level of communication and personable interaction.

The importance of volunteers in senior lives is incredibly necessary,” said Pacifica Senior Living Executive Director Stacie Dawes. “I always believe volunteers breathe life into the souls of seniors because it allows them to tap into the youth of their lives. The smile it brings to their faces makes our volunteer program a vital staple to our daily activities.”

James and several volunteers immediately established a strong connection, one that was visible to the entire community. James went from being isolated and introverted to having daily visits with the volunteers in communal spaces. His face would light up as he told them about his days in the Korean War. He shared the significance of his Air Force baseball cap that never left his wheelchair and always encouraged the volunteers to join him for after lunch ice cream. He taught the volunteers how to play poker and checkers, which eventually inspired James to set up a poker club within the assisted living community.

I remember the first time James taught me to play poker. He was so excited.” said Pacifica Senior Living volunteer Katie. “He won, but offered to buy me ice cream as a consolation prize. We would meet every Thursday to play and James would always have a huge smile on his face when he saw me walk in.”

After interacting with the volunteers, James went from being in a depressive and isolated state to a youthful and engaged community member. He did not let his Parkinson’s disease consume his life and allowed the volunteer program to enhance his assisted living experience. James became a teacher, listener and a friend to the volunteers, impacting not only his life but their lives as well.

The volunteer program has made a significant impression on James’ life and on the lives of so many other assisted living community residents. Pacifica Senior Living has continuous  volunteering opportunities for anyone looking to make a difference in a seniors life. For more information on becoming a volunteer please visit our website,

The Townhouse thanked all participants in their Veterans Day Celebration

The Port Hueneme Color Guard participated in the Veterans Day Celebration.

The Ventura Townehouse has been home to many Veterans and spouses over the years. They have enjoyed the company of Veterans from every branch of the armed services, including Veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Regardless of service type, rank, or role, they sincerely appreciate the service of all Veterans. On November 11th they celebrated Veterans Day in a big way.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony began with color guards, 30 minutes of patriotic music by the Ventura British Brass of 27 pieces, and a program at the front garden by the flag pole.

A bagpipe procession, to a wreath-laying at the flagpole concluded the commemoration, followed by the viewing of Veterans posters made by their Intergenerational Group; Pacifica High School Staff & Students.

Personal recognition was given to the Veterans of Ventura Townehouse who spoke about their call to duty. The Townehouse thanked all Veteran’s and all Veteran’s families for their sacrifice and dedication to the United States and its citizen’s by giving us the right and privilege to freedom in our homeland.

The Townhouse thanked all participants in their Veterans Day Celebration. They are Ventura British Brass, Port Hueneme Color Guards CSSN Cruz, AC3 Shaw, CS2 Vaughan, and CS2 Henson, National Champion Bagpiper Steve Bausch, Ventura Townehouse Veteran Speakers Beatrice Haitz, Joseph LaRocca, John Wright, Art Karma, Chris Christman, and Lois Argend.

Livin’ the dream: The sky’s no limit

It was her actual 94th birthday on the day of the jump.

by Mike Macke, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing Cypress Place Senior Living

Have you ever had a dream? Winifred “Winnie” Lester did. Winnie is a resident at Cypress Place Senior Living in Ventura. She resides in their Independent Living community, a specially designed community for active seniors.

One of the signature programs at the community is called Livin’ The Dream, the purpose being to provide residents with the opportunity to accomplish a goal or dream that they have always wanted to do.

Just shy of her 94th birthday, Winnie shared that her dream was to go skydiving. Asked why she wanted to skydive she replied, “When I was 80 I saw that George Bush Sr. jumped when he turned 90. If he can do it, I can do it,” she said.

When Cypress Place Senior Living Vibrant Life Director, Kathy Vernon-Cole, got wind of Winnie’s dream, Kathy and the staff at Cypress Place went to work to fulfill that dream. With the help of Winnie’s granddaughter, Christi Lester, and the staff at Skydive Coastal Camarillo Winnie made her first skydive, at the tender age of 94!

Since it was her actual 94th birthday on the day of the jump, residents and staff from Cypress Place, along with a large contingent of family and friends, were waiting for Winnie at the landing site with a birthday cake and candles, and monumental cheers.

“I loved it, I loved it, I loved it,” enthused Winnie in between trying to regain her equilibrium once on solid ground.

The adventure was nothing short of incredible according to Winnie. And having her family and friends, and neighbors from Cypress Place, there to greet here when she landed truly made it a memory-making, adventure of a lifetime for Winnie.

Cypress Place Senior Living is at 1200/1220 Cypress Point Lane. To learn more about Cypress Place Senior Living of Ventura, visit their web site at

“Giving Back”

Family Caregiver Resource Center
Catholic Charities/OASIS
by Connie De La Rosa

There are many ways of “Giving back” that makes a difference especially for those who are lonely during the fast approaching holiday season and daily basis with very little to no communication with family or friends. Family caregivers who do not live close by may feel some concern for their aging loved ones who live alone and who may have some limits on their mobility.

Programs for the elderly offer a variety of services at no cost but it is not possible without volunteers like Bruce Archer who is a retired Chef from the Santa Paula Senior Center and volunteers wherever help is needed. The “Friendly Visitor” program is one of many services offered in Ventura County for those elders who are lonely and just need someone to stop by and say hello, read the paper if they are having difficulty reading or just sit and play one of their favorite games.

Socialization is part of living a longer and happier life so if you know someone who can benefit from this program or would like to volunteer, please call the Family Caregiver Resource Center at 420-9608.

Understanding hospice and palliative care

Learn how hospice and palliative care support a person and their loved ones. Understand what transitions, challenges, and choices there are at the end of life. Identify when a person might be ready for palliative or hospice care.

Thursday, November 9, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Fremont Junior High School Cafeteria, 1130 N. “M” St., Oxnard. Presented by Teri Helton, RN, MSN, FCN, and Program Manager for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association. Ms. Helton is a hospice nurse faith community nurse, and educator.

For more information, please contact: Tri-County GLAD

644-6322 or

256-1053 (VP)

644-6323 (TTY)

Is it Medicare Or Medicaid?

by Essie L. Landry
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Sierra West Area

A lot of people have a difficult time understanding the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Both programs begin with the letter “M.” They’re both health insurance programs run by the government. People often ask questions about what Medicare and Medicaid are, what services they cover, and who administers the programs.

Let’s start with Medicare. Medicare is the national healthcare program for those aged 65 or older and the disabled. You pay for some Medicare expenses by paying the Medicare tax while you work. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the agency in charge of both Medicare and Medicaid, but you sign up for Medicare A (Hospital) and Medicare B (Medical) through Social Security.

You can apply for Medicare online from the convenience of your home at the link on our website: If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits when you reach age 65 or are in the 25th month of receiving disability checks, we will enroll you automatically.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (Prescription Drug) plans are available for purchase in the insurance marketplace. Social Security administers a program called Extra Help to help people with low income and low resources pay for premiums, co-pays, and co-insurance costs for Part D plans. You can find out more about Extra Help and file for it at Each year, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes Medicare and You available online at their website at This publication is a user’s manual for Medicare.

Each state runs their own Medicaid program under guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicaid offers care for the most vulnerable among us. While it does not require paying taxes while working, it does have guidelines about how much income and resources you can have to qualify. Medicaid provides coverage for older people, people with disabilities, and some families with children. Each state has its own eligibility rules and decides which services to cover. The names of the Medicaid program may vary from state to state. You can read about each state’s Medicaid program at You can find each state’s Medicaid contact information at

Medicare and Medicaid are two of the major insurance programs that provide healthcare to the American public. Understanding each program, as well as how the two programs differ, can help you and those you care about find the right healthcare program.

Senior happenings in Ventura

Join the Ventura Council for Seniors (VCS) on the third Wednesday of each month from

9:30-11 am. The next VCS meeting will be held Wed., Nov. 15 at Ventura Adult Continuing Education (VACE), 5200 Valentine Rd., Ventura.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) is a resource we encourage Ventura adults to utilize. The VCAAA, is an agency of the County of Ventura, and is the principal agency charged with the responsibility to promote and advocate for the needs of those 60 years of age and older in the county, providing leadership and promoting citizen involvement in the planning process as well as in the delivery of services. For more information visit the VCAAA website.

The Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Senior Lunch Program will be holding two Thanksgiving Café Celebrations.

Thanksgiving luncheons, with all the trimmings, will be served at both the Eastside Café (Silvercrest, 750 S. Petit Ave.) & Westside Café (Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 N. Ventura Ave.) on Thursday, November 16. Lunch will begin at 11:30 am with a traditional meal including pumpkin pie for dessert. Sam Hobel will provide musical entertainment to attendees at the Westside Café.

Both centers are currently taking required reservations for this event. There is a suggested donation for people 60+ years of $3.00 and a $6.75 fee for people under 60 years. There is a sign-up sheet at the front desk at the Westside Café. At the Eastside Café, registration is being taken by kitchen staff. Spaces are filling fast, so sign up today! For more information visit the Adult & Senior Services webpage.

Steve Spira recipient of Award for Outstanding Executive Director

Steve Spira came to Cypress Place with extensive hotel food and beverage management experience.

The California Assisted Living Association (CALA) is pleased to announce that Steve Spira with Cypress Place Senior Living, an Integral Senior Living community, has received the organization’s prestigious Outstanding Executive Director award at their Fall Conference & Trade Show in Rancho Mirage. CALA chooses recipients of these awards based on their commitment to providing outstanding, quality care and service to residents in the communities where they work. Spira received his award on November 6.

Spira came to Cypress Place with extensive hotel food and beverage management experience. His management skills, along with his focus on improving the customer experience through service, has gained him the respect of his team and the appreciation of residents and family members. Colleen Webb, Cypress Place’s business office director, says, “Through Steve’s leadership and teamwork style of management, we have grown closer and have become more effective as a team, all the while staying personally connected with residents and staff alike.”

Spira is skilled at hiring right-fit individuals and elevating them to positions where they can grow and maximize their talents. Residents say they feel protected, cared for, heard and understood by him. Given his accomplishments, he was promoted to Senior Executive Director, taking on responsibilities beyond his role at the community. Integral Senior Living’s Divisional Vice President of Operations, Jason Engelhorn, says, “Steve is extremely organized, creative, and a great spokesperson for his fellow executive directors.”

According to Spira, “When I started working with seniors I realized it was what I was supposed to be doing. It has brought such joy to my life. I get up each morning looking forward to everything about my work. Most of all I look forward to making a difference for all seniors that live at Cypress Place.”

With 625 provider members and growing, CALA is the only association solely representing the state’s Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, which encompass Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. CALA provides leadership through advocacy efforts and education to support providers in their efforts to offer the highest quality programs and services to their residents.

Cypress Place Senior Living is a premiere senior community in Ventura County. The beautiful senior living campus features an Active Senior Living community and adjacent Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care community connected by a lushly landscaped courtyard.

This safe, loving environment offers residents a continuum of care through life’s transitions. Amenities include three meals daily, weekly housekeeping, transportation, activities, utilities, as well as personal caregivers and laundry service in the Assisted Living and Memory Care communities.

Cypress Place Senior Living is located at 1200/1220 Cypress Point Lane. To learn more about Cypress Place Senior Living of Ventura, call 650-8000 or visit their web site at

City of Ventura Parks and Recreation offering Zumba Gold series

The City of Ventura Parks and Recreation is offering a Zumba Gold series at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center from 12:00-1:00pm every Monday and Wednesday until January 17, 2018.

Zumba Gold is perfect for all active adults, 50+, looking for a Zumba class at a lower-intensity level. This easy to follow class focuses on heart rate, balance, range of motion, and coordination. Come ready to sweat, leave feeling empowered, strong. Regain flexibility and strength while having fun learning a dance step or two!

For more information call (818) 515-8590. Sign up by Phone 658-4726 and request Zumba Gold-9614

Senior Profile – Jerry Mahoney

Patricia and Jerry have hiked to elevations of over 14,000 feet in the Andes.

by James Francis Gray

Jerry lived a storied life as a world traveler, businessman, explorer, military veteran and college graduate. Now in retirement, 70-year old Jerry is as busy as ever as a volunteer in Yosemite and teaching watercolor classes to seniors at the Ventura Marina Mobile Home Park on the shores of Pierpont Bay here in the city of Ventura.

He and his lovely wife, Patricia, entertain in a small local community band. Jerry plays ukulele and Patricia is the lead female singer. The band features pop tunes from the thirties to the present.

Apart from his varied accomplishments, he’s a lifelong surfer and participated in the California Street Surfing Championships in September, 2017. He placed 3rd in the Men’s Longboard Legends (age 70+) division. Way to go, Jerry.

After leaving the East Coast, Jerry landed in Redondo Beach where he started surfing in the late fifties. The Mahoney Clan dates back to old Ireland. Jerry originally hails from Boston, Massachusetts. He studied at the California Maritime Academy, traveling the world as a cadet in the US Merchant Marine at the early age of seventeen.

Jerry’s professional career turned to work on the high seas as a navigator and a cargo officer on commercial ships in the days of celestial navigation. This included banana ships from Central and South America, and ammunition ships to Viet Nam, during the war.

He owned a navigational instrument company on the US Gulf, making the only ship’s compass and became a certified compass adjuster in the USA.

Jerry’s many talents found him racing sailboats and working on tall ships, including ocean crossings all over the world. He later managed operations and business development on the US West Coast for some of the world’s largest steamship companies until his retirement in 2012.

He’s had a lifetime of hiking, backpacking, rock climbing and travel adventures, including jungles and mountains worldwide.

Jerry and his wife, Patricia, stayed at a biological research station in the Amazon basin of Ecuador, where they hiked to elevations of over 14,000 feet in the Andes.

They haven’t missed a beat in retirement with their music interests and his painting classes. Jerry has been a watercolor painter for more than twenty-five years and has many accolades. He has won several first and second place awards at shows in Ventura.

His paintings began selling at local Ventura and Carpentaria restaurants, art shows and galleries in 2016.

Jerry was honored, this past summer, as a co-featured artist at an art opening show at the, “Very Ventura Gift Shop & Gallery”, on Main Street in downtown Ventura. He’s a contributing artist there, too.

Jerry said, “I have traveled the world and now I’m forever grateful to live in Ventura with my wife, Patricia. Ventura offers an environment that showcases the ocean, open-air beauty and serenity that I try to capture in my paintings and accompanying my wife with our musical interests.”

Do you know a senior that should be featured in the Breeze Senior Profile? If so email us at for our consideration.