Senior Summit 2015

CAMARILLO, Calif. – The theme of Ventura County's fifth Senior Summit was "There's No Place Like Home." The Summit focused on resources to help seniors stay at home and age in place, and Wizard of Oz references were found throughout the program. The free event at California State University Channel Islands on Saturday, November 14, drew nearly 300 participants who came together for a day of workshops, keynote speakers, exhibits and demonstrations all focused on resources and options for aging in place.

Almost half of this year's Summit attendees arrived for the morning continental breakfast on free buses generously provided by the Oxnard-based Among Friends Adult Day Health Care Center and Thousand Oaks Transit. Volunteers from several County agencies, including Human Services Agency, Health Care Agency, Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office, and the County Executive Office wore bright yellow Summit shirts and added a personal touch assisting seniors throughout the day.

Dr. Richard Rush, President of CSUCI, provided a warm welcome to Summit attendees, and Supervisor Linda Parks noted the many milestones being celebrated this year in her opening remarks, such as the 50th anniversary of Medicare and the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

The morning keynote speaker was Sean Zellers from the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, who discussed the County's award-winning HomeShare program. He talked about the value of bringing home-providers, often seniors, and home-seekers together and the HomeShare service that does background checks and compatibility matching to match seniors together to share housing.

The Senior Summit had references to the classic film The Wizard of Oz embedded in the workshop titles, such as "Staying in Your Ruby Slippers" for fall prevention workshops, "Help for Auntie Em" for caregiver resources, and "Ding Dong – Is Affordable Housing Dead?" which addressed senior affordable housing and innovative solutions. Other workshops included a look at a pilot program in Ventura County using trained paramedics to make house checks for chronic illnesses in the workshop titled "Bringing the Wizard to You."

After the morning workshop sessions, Ernie Powell from the Congress of California Seniors provided an energetic overview of senior issues in California, and encouraged seniors to stay active and become advocates for senior needs. He was followed by one of the highlights of the day, luncheon keynote speaker Linda Henderson from the Ventura County Human Services Agency. She gave a presentation called "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," in which she presented information on the chronology of brain research and how the brain can contribute to longevity. She talked about how to create a healthy lifestyle and visualize a life with fewer possessions as people move towards old age, ending her speech with a humorous meditation.

Senior Summit 2015 offered attendees several opportunities to win prizes and gather additional information from the many activities and information booths set up on the campus. American Medical Response was on hand to give "Street CPR" instruction, and the Ventura County Health Care Agency offered free flu shots throughout the day. Ventura County Animal Services asked participants to remember "Toto too" by setting up an area for participants to learn about pet adoption and volunteering.

Two grand prize drawings were held for participants who donated canned food items to benefit Food Share, Manna, and the Senior Pantry, and for those who filled out interest cards for the HomeShare program. Information garnered from the workshops will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for possible inclusion in the County's Strategic Plan.

Photo caption: Linda Henderson, Ventura County Human Services Agency