Category Archives: Senior Living

Fate had another plan for Patricia Caloia

Caloia loves living in Ventura.

by Sheli Ellsworth

Patricia Caloia had two choices after graduating from Elsinore High School. Did she want to be a nurse or a teacher? After four years at UCSB, she was qualified to teach secondary English and Math. She received a Singer sewing machine and a Betty Crocker cookbook for graduation. All she needed to set up housekeeping was a husband.

But during the graduation process, fate had another plan. She was handed her student computer punch cards for the administration office. Fascinated by the idea of holes that could spawn information, she studied them until she deciphered what each said. Inspired by an acquaintance studying computer technology, Caloia snuck into a programming class. The rest, as they say, was history.

“In 1962, computers weren’t common. My parents were shocked that I wanted to be a computer programmer,” Caloia says. “Programming was a tedious, repetitive task eventually relegated as women’s work. But when my folks realized I was making more money than my dad, they came around.”

She started at Douglas Aircraft programming business applications and later moved to TRW. “I became head of an all-male group that maintained systems for TRW’s business sector.” Caloia transferred to the scientific sector supporting Federal Aviation Administration contracts. That led to the FAA’s technical center in New Jersey. Still following FAA contracts, she wound up in Camarillo on loan to Unisys. Loving the coast since her UCSB days, she purchased a hillside home in Ventura, but Unisys lost the contract.

Needing income, Pat bought into the candy vending machine business. She traveled around Ventura County stocking machines, collecting coins and baking cookies with broken M&Ms.

Fortunately, a former FAA employee started an air traffic control software consulting
company and asked Caloia to help maintain the ATC software at England’s CAA—equivalent to the FAA. Excited to live overseas, it was also an awesome opportunity for her young son. The home was rented out and they moved to London. “The England experience was wonderful. My son became a Sea Scout, vowing to defend the Queen.” Caloia recalls standing in the control tower at Heathrow, watching the Concord land. Her mother even visited London to see the sights. “Mom never did understand my job. She just knew it had something to do with airplanes and computers.”

Three years later, she went to New Jersey contracting with the FAA. They returned to Ventura in time for her son’s freshman year at VHS. She considered early retirement, but fate was not finished with Caloia. She received another offer from the CAA. Caloia and her son moved back to England. “It felt a little like going home.”

After two years, they came back to Ventura. Her son graduated from VHS and headed to Santa Barbara for college. Caloia continued consulting on air traffic control software in New Jersey, El Paso, and Raytheon outside Boston. Eventually, she longed to return to California.

Caloia had invested in real estate through the years, and retired in her Ventura home. These days she oversees her properties, enjoys gardening, walking, and always theater. She supervises a writer’s group and is working on a couple of novels. She recently completed a fun children’s book for her grand-daughter: London Magic based on their unique experiences across the pond. She is a voracious reader who enjoys the occasional lazy afternoon with a book and her rescued cat, Patch.

Caloia loves living in Ventura. “It has the conveniences of a city but with the feel of a small town. If I choose, almost everything I need is within a couple of miles.” Her favorite places are So Cal theatres, the beach and on a plane. Occasionally she finds herself snorkeling in Hawaii or flying to visit her son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter in Maryland.

Meet Ventura senior, neighbor Phil Boehme

Phil retired from the Department of Energy 13 years ago.

by Bob Warnagieris

I met Philip Boehme about 10 years ago in a bible study course at the Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church. We established a friendship that has involved regular coffee discussions on topics that often turn into debates. Two things are characteristic of a serious talk with Phil; he is well read and backs up any statement with facts. Secondly, we can discuss controversial topics from two different points of view without getting upset – now that’s a rare friend.

Phil and his wife Dea have been in Ventura since 1995. Phil, a physicist, retired from the Department of Energy 13 years ago after a career involving nuclear radiation safety. Dea (USC PhD) retired several years ago from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Crime Lab. They have 3 grown children, two boys, a daughter and 5 grandchildren.

Regarding retirement, Phil says he’s happy and enjoys the leisure time he has to spend more time with his family and his many hobbies and projects. Currently he’s occupied with reading, watching old movies, setting up a ham radio operation after passing the federal exam, writing a play about witches in Ojai, learning German for a trip to Germany and playing poker. His advice on the latter item is “Don’t draw to an inside straight”. He remains interested in travel and adventure, be it in California or abroad.

Looking back at his life, Phil cites the high and low of his years. The high would be enlisting in the Marine Corp and getting married to Dea. On the challenging side has been a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. His advice for a good life is “Love your family and keep meeting new friends”. As to principles to live by, Phil counts the Code of Chivalry and the Catholic religion. Having been around Phil for many years, I would also add love of country to his strong beliefs.

This introduction would not be complete without citation of Philip’s combat experience as a photographer with the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam at the age of 22. Phil is a 100% disabled veteran from PTSD with vivid memories of the war. His official DOD photos from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration can be viewed on YouTube video. Click here to see them: http://youtube/watch?v=WJ5WBLApc-k. The photos mostly cover Operation Idaho Canyon, the last major Vietnam engagement for the 3rd Marine Division. President Nixon announced the first troop withdrawal of the war during this operation in August 1969. The 3rd Marine Division was selected to leave first.

For anyone interested in other websites regarding the war and special events or people of Phil’s experience, please contact Bob Warnagieris at [email protected] for a listing.

Free services provided to seniors and to people with disabilities in Ventura County

by Carol Leish, MA

Free services provided to seniors and to people with disabilities in Ventura County

“Every program we offer at the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) is free, with no charge,” according to Roger Horne, Public Information Officer at the VC Area Agency on Aging. “We have a ‘No Wrong Door Policy,’ which means if an older adult, a person with disabilities, or a caregiver call needing help, but is not sure of what services are in the community to help them, we will first try to connect them with our programs if we can. If not, we will try to refer them to other agencies that can assist them.

“The Information & Assistance team at our agency takes the initial phone call from someone who calls asking for assistance. A social worker figures out what that person’s needs are to help them out. Our overall goal is to help people to stay in their own home, since people do better by staying in their own homes, while keeping them safe and healthy.”

Some of the various types of programs provided by the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging include: 1) Transportation; 2) the Senior Nutrition Program; 3) Digital Services; 4) Health Insurance Counseling; 5) Employment; 6) Housing through HomeShare; 7) Fall Prevention, and 8) LiveWell (annual publication).

Free transportation is provided for those who are 60 years old or older, along with those, of any age, who have an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) card through a free bus pass. Those who are 65 years old or older can get free Dial-A-Ride tickets to use for transportation. Medi-rides may also be available to individuals who have no other way to get to a medical appointment.

The Senior Nutrition Program funds congregate meals at various senior centers throughout the county. Seniors can get free meals, or give a suggested donation of $3 for a meal. “There is also a meal delivery program for those who are homebound. Some receive the same meals that the senior centers serve,” according to Horne. “At the VCAAA, we send out boxes that have a week’s or month’s amount of food in them.”

“Digital resources,” according to Horne, “help to deal with the ‘Digital Divide,’ by offering education. GetSetUp offers classes for older adults in which they can learn about anything that may interest them. Trualta offers free online support and training for caregivers. To sign up for these free services, first go to the VCAAA website at www.vcaaa.org, and click onto ‘Digital Resources.’”

For those who need free help with Medicare, Horne said, “We offer health insurance counseling through our HICAP department by giving one-on-one help, and through giving presentations to various groups. This is unbiased help to support older adults who need it.”

Employment help for seniors is also offered. The Senior Community Service Employment Program assists low-income individuals to get back into the workforce. Help on the www.vcaaa.org website is available through a video done by the Workforce Development Committee, which is part of the Advisory Council for the VC Area Agency on Aging: ‘Get That Job!’ The committee also recently did a job fair in Eastern Ventura County. A job fair in Western Ventura County is in the works.

“Housing can be difficult, especially with the high costs of housing within Ventura County,” according to Horne. “HomeShare is a program that matches home seekers with home providers. Some people may have a house that is too big for them. We help them to find compatible people to rent a room, who may be able to help them with various things around their homes.”

The Fall Prevention program aims to help people who have fallen, or who are fearful of falling, by offering several evidence-based classes that are aimed at keeping people on their feet.

“LiveWell, which is an annual publication, has various interesting articles that we think older adults, caregivers, and people with disabilities would want to read,” according to Horne. “It also has listings of agencies throughout the county that deal with topics like: 1) Health; 2) Legal; 3) Food; 4) Caregiving; 5) Community Resources; and, 6) Transportation.”

For more information about the free services provided, or to get assistance, please contact the VC Area Agency on Aging at either their phone number: 805-477-7300; or, through their website: www.vcaaa.org.

Sig Schmalhofer is living proof that retirees can have a full life

Sig has published two novels.

by Sheli Ellsworth

Sig Schmalhofer’s quest to fulfill the American Dream began in 1956 as a five-year-old German immigrant. The sum of the family’s possessions were stuffed into two suitcases when they landed at LAX. The first English words he learned became a lifetime mantra, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” His mother had memorized the Benjamin Franklin proverb and recited it often to the family. After graduating from Newbury Park High School in 1969, he married his high school sweetheart, Beverly.

Schmalhofer worked his way through college by working in plumbing shops. After he earned a degree in English from CSUN, he was an elementary teacher in Thousand Oaks. Three years later he capitalized on his knowledge of plumbing industry and made it his career.

In 1993, he was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a debilitating genetic disease which robs victims of muscular strength. “That’s when the list of tasks I could do by myself got shorter, and things I needed help with, got longer. Thank God for Bev. She’s flawlessly stepped in to help me do things that need to be done.” The couple raised three children and have seven grandchildren.

After they built a successful career in Riverside, Sig and Bev moved back to Ventura County, where it all began. “I’d planned to play golf every day of my retired life,” Sig says. “But when my physical challenges made the game that I love an exercise in ‘Hit the ball, drag Sig’, I turned my attention to other hobbies. The centerpiece of that list is writing.”

Sig has published two novels, Jelly Beans in Life and Jelly Beans in Life 2; a business book, The Reputable Rep; and a memoir: Never Really Normal. Coming soon is the first of a series of mysteries.

The Ventura resident is living proof that retirees should be armed with a manageable list of hobbies beyond asking children and grandchildren questions they really don’t want to answer. His favorite pastime is playing enthralling, winner-take-all, games of Cribbage with Bev. “We’re super competitive. We play two or three games a day and record the results of every game in what we dubbed The Book. The ultimate goal is to win a ‘World Series Championship’ which takes about six months.”

Sig and Bev also post Wordl and Connections scores on a family text, daily, and each of them maintains their own exercise program. Sig has six ‘exercise stations’ in his home where he completes a list of daily routines prescribed by Dr. Selvey, his physiotherapist.

Schmalhofer also rides around the neighborhood in his souped-up wheelchair he calls his Sigmobile. He watches baseball, golf and football but not the news. “Watching news,” he says, “is the ideal way to make yourself act like a grumpy old man.” Because I’ve been blessed to live a life well worth living with friends and family well worth having,” Sig said. “The first words out of my mouth every day are, “Thank God, I’m still alive.”

Loneliness

Art in a class is a wonderful activity to overcome loneliness.

There are things you can do to help protect yourself or a loved one from the negative effects of loneliness and social isolation. First, it’s important to take care of yourself. Try exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours), and pursuing activities you enjoy to help manage stress and stay as mentally and physically healthy as possible.

It’s also important to stay active and connect with others. People who engage in meaningful, productive activities they enjoy with others feel a sense of purpose and tend to live longer. For example, helping others through volunteering helps you feel less lonely and allows you to have a sense of mission and purpose in life, which is linked to better health. Studies show activities like these may help boost your mood and improve your well-being and cognitive function.

Find an activity that you enjoy, restart an old hobby, or take a class to learn something new. You might have fun and meet people with similar interests.

Schedule time each day to stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors in person, by email, social media, voice call, or text. Talk with people you trust and share your feelings. Suggest an activity to help nurture and strengthen existing relationships. Sending letters or cards is another good way to keep up friendships.

Use communication technologies such as video chat, smart speakers, or even companion robots to help keep you engaged and connected.

If you’re not tech-savvy, sign up for an online or in-person class at your local public library or community center to help you learn how to use email or social media.Older adult holding a dog to combat loneliness and social isolation.

Consider adopting a pet if you are able to care for them. Animals can be a source of comfort and may also lower stress and blood pressure.

Stay physically active and include group exercise, such as joining a walking club or working out with a friend. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of activity a week that makes you breathe hard.

Introduce yourself to your neighbors.

Find a faith-based organization where you can deepen your spirituality and engage with others in activities and events.

Check out resources and programs at your local social service agencies, community and senior centers, and public libraries.

Join a cause and get involved in your community.

If you or a loved one has dementia and lives alone, family members, friends, or other caregivers may be able to help in different ways.

Identify a person you trust, such as a neighbor, who can visit regularly in-person or via a video call and be an emergency contact.

Learn about home- and community-based support and services from social service agencies, local nonprofits, and Area Agencies on Aging.

Stay connected with family and friends through video chats, email, and social media. If you’re not tech savvy, ask for help to learn.

A sudden wealth loss may lead to cognitive decline

Experiencing a negative wealth shock, defined as a sudden loss of 75% or more in total wealth, was linked to cognitive decline among older adults in the United States and China, but not in England or Mexico, according to an NIA-funded study. The results, published in Lancet Healthy Longevity, suggest that factors such as government policies and social safety nets may account for cross-national differences in the adverse health effects of negative wealth shocks.

There is a positive association between household wealth and cognitive health outcomes in later life, with poorer outcomes among people with lower socioeconomic status. However, the link between negative wealth shock and cognitive function in later life had not been examined. To look more closely at a potential relationship, and whether the association varied in countries with different income levels, University of Michigan scientists in this study examined data from four NIA-funded longitudinal studies of aging: the Health and Retirement Study in the United States and international partner studies in China, England, and Mexico.

These study findings suggest negative wealth shocks may be a potential risk factor for cognitive decline. The researchers note some limitations of the study, including possible errors in wealth measurement, and respondents experiencing declines in cognitive function may face problems with money management that could then lead to loss of wealth. The authors also underscore several strengths of the study, including its large, representative sample. Future studies may explore differences in government policies and social safety nets that contribute to variations across countries.

This research was supported in part by NIA grants U01AG009740-35, P30AG012846-26, R01AG069128-04, R01AG070953-04, and K99AG070274-02.

Volunteers needed to enrich the lives of seniors in Ventura County

Is there much training involved in becoming an instructor?

by Carol Leish, MA

How do you get involved in volunteering for the Fall Prevention Classes at the Ventura County Area Agency on Agency? Is there much training involved in becoming an instructor?

“Our volunteer instructors are passionate about helping seniors in the community,” according to, Julianna Eusanio, MSW, Program Coordinator for the Fall Prevention Classes. “No previous experience is needed to become an instructor. We are flexible with our instructors’ hours to fit into their schedules.

“Volunteer trainings to instruct classes varies depending upon the class. For a Walk with Ease class, the training is 2 hours online. For the Matter of Balance class, the training is 2 days. Class members and instructors are very supportive of each other. Volunteers gain a sense of community while helping seniors. Training for volunteers, along with the classes for the community, are free to those who are age 60 and older, along with those with disabilities, who qualify for the classes.

“Carol Vaughn has been teaching Tai Chi with the Area Agency for 7 years, and is a senior advisor and master trainer. Pam Hantgin has been teaching Tai Chi for almost 2 years. Pam first started taking the classes, and enjoyed the classes so much that she decided to become an instructor of the classes.”

Through the classes: 1) Bingocize; 2) A Matter of Balance; 3) Stepping On; 4) Walk with Ease; and, 5) Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance, adults 60 and older are helped in maintaining their independence at home. A good method of preventing falls is by participating in one of these five FREE evidence-based classes. The classes help those who are mildly active and have fallen or who have a fear of falling to help them to improve their balance, mobility, and their confidence.

Bingocize is a 10-week series that meets twice weekly for 1 hour per session Participants play bingo, answer trivia questions, and participate in seated and standing exercises that they can also do at home. In a Matter of Balance, which is an 8-week series that meets once a week for 2 hours per session, that focuses on improving balance, strength, flexibility, and self-confidence.

Stepping On is a 7-week class that meets once weekly for 2 hours per session. Participants complete standing and seated exercises with gradual use of leg weights, both in class and at home. This class also offers access to a physical therapist, and a vision expert, who provides information linking vision issues to falls. A public safety expert discusses how to avoid falls in public. A pharmacist explains how various medicines affect a person’s risk of falling.

Walk with Ease is a 6-week class that meets three times weekly for 1hour per session. This class gives motivational tips on how to exercise with arthritis while still maintaining a walking goal. Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance is a 12-week class that meets twice weekly for 1.5 hours per class. Participants participate in slow and controlled seated and standing movements. Participants also focus on improving their strength, stamina, balance, and body awareness.

Those who are interested in trainings to become a volunteer to support seniors within the community, along with getting exercise for themselves, please call the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging at: 805-477-7354; or, email: [email protected].

Retiree has a Passion for Glass Art 

Her work is inspired by nature.

by Juliette Nasarenko

Pamela Klebaum found a new passion during her retirement years in Ventura. She found a love for glass art and created the art in the heart of her home. Her work is inspired by nature and her latest work deals with climate change and its effect on our earth. She is working on a new piece that references plastics in the ocean.

When Pamela was 55 years old, she was looking through old boxes and came across a diary that belonged to her dad. Her father was in the navy while on a voyage to Greenland and the diary described his journey, the icebergs, and life at sea. This was when she decided to start making art based on the diary. In order to take on this project Pamela attended Ventura College and took an art class each semester to learn life drawing and life painting. She wanted to learn the basic principles of art since she never had any formal instruction when she was young.

Pamela retired in 2010 and after she redid her kitchen she wanted to put glass figurines inside the cabinets. At the stain glass store, she found a new process and started studying all over the country taking workshops. She was invited to do residencies and fell in love with the process. In 2018, she was also invited to attend a professional artists’ residency on the northeastern shore of Scotland. It was only nine artists with two mentors, and she was able to feel at peace with nature as she fell “back in that time”.

According to Pamela, it takes 6 to 8 weeks to make glass art. It takes multiple firings and when it comes out of the kiln it is very rough and must be finished with a chemical polish to bring out the shine. After the Thomas Fire destroyed several homes in her neighborhood, she felt compelled to create Project Phoenix which is a small glass house for each neighbor who needed to rebuild their home. Each glass house was different as well as unique and she wrote in a note to each returning family, “…to hope that the glass house would bring beautiful light into your beautiful new home.” In August of 2023, she finished her final Project Phoenix house which was number 112! Out of all her beautiful art pieces her favorite is called Glaciers Disappearing which shows the ice melting. She says, “You can see through her work what we are doing to the earth.”

Pamela loves to keep herself busy and started playing soccer for the first 3 years of her retirement. She also continues to study the piano since starting retirement. She enjoys walking around her neighborhood and staying active. One piece of wisdom that Pamela always likes to think about is gratitude as it “becomes a way of our life.” She loves to think about smaller graces every day and people spreading kindness to each other. She loves to go to Yosemite every year for her and her husband Nohl’s anniversary. She loves to read and started reading the Pulitzer Award winner The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. She said it was a very compelling story and similar to her dad’s diary illustrating life on a ship and how intimate it can be. My conversation with Pamela was compelling and fascinating as she has so much ambition and passion for what she does. I loved listening to her story and journey as she has a big heart to help others and make the world a better place.

Editor: If you are a senior (over 70-years), or know of one, who would like to share their retirement, or job, with us please let us know at [email protected].

 

Spring Into Action

Leslie and her students are having fun and getting a great workout!

by Leslie Sokol

The Spring season symbolizes fresh starts. It is the perfect time to try out new and exciting workout ideas that will help you get in shape and feel great. You can also enjoy your indoor workouts outside too. With spring comes warmer weather, longer days and lots of sunshine. Wake up and smell the roses, hear the birds chirping and enjoy the benefits of getting outside. If you have been looking for fun ways to spruce up your workout routine, here are some simple suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Design an exercise plan that works for you.
  2. Find a workout you love.
  3. Stay motivated.
  4. Mix it up, variety is the spice of life.
  5. Give yourself time to rest and recover from your workouts.
  6. Stop pressuring yourself, do positive self-talk.
  7. Be consistent and dedicated – start a workout routine.
  8. Dress the part – wear comfortable athletic clothes and good, supportive shoes, preferably sneakers.
  9. Eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids.

Although humans are creatures of habit and comfort, frequently changing your workout program can help you avoid burnout or boredom. Mix up your workouts by doing a variety of different activities to improve your fitness level, get you in better shape, and utilize different muscle groups. Plan well-balanced activities that work the body from head to toe.

Here are some activities and exercises to put a spring in your step:

1) Dance workouts
2) Golf
3) Hiking
4) Brisk walking
5) Biking
6) Swimming
7) Yoga
8) Playing with your grandkids
9) Low impact sports
10) Pickle Ball
11) Calisthenics, stretches, and/or strength exercises

Spring Into a Heart-Healthy Diet

Another component of living a healthy lifestyle is eating well. Remember the old saying, “You are what you eat.” The 80/20 rule is a smart guide for your everyday diet. If you aim for 80 percent of what you eat being healthy, then the other 20 percent can be treats or snacks. Included in the 80 percent would be fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish along with unsaturated fats. “Your food is your body’s fuel.” You also want to make sure you are drinking plenty of water and other hydrating liquids. Drinking healthy fluids is important, especially if you exercise a lot. Keep in mind that your body is over sixty percent water. I always suggest to my students to drink water before, during and after any exercise routine.

Let’s get this Spring off to a healthy and happy start!

Leslie Sokol is the creator and founder of the adult dance and fitness program For the Young at Heart. You can watch For the Young at Heart by visiting her YouTube Channel or on TVSB. She also teaches in retirement communities throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

For more information contact Leslie at [email protected] 805-312-8089
or visit the website: www.LeslieSokolDance.com