Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Aging in Place" Draws Large Audience

by Lorrie Hoeh

Peter Morelli, AARP
On Thursday, May 21, a large and enthusiastic group attended the To Your Health program, “Aging in Place.” Speakers were Peter Morelli, representing AARP and its work on age-friendly communities; Julie Allaire, representing Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel and their age-friendly network; and Joe Perkins, representing At Home Downeast in Washington and Hancock Counties.

Morelli noted that our median age is rising, as 18,250 people per year turn 65 in Maine. Some issues to be addressed include transportation, housing of continuing long-term care, family and caregiver support, and elder abuse. AARP is trying to address these issues without government support, by encouraging volunteer programs in communities. Morelli mentioned Bowdoinham, a member of AARP’s age-friendly communities, noting that their plan can be found on the town’s website.
Julie Allaire, Kennebunk's age-friendly network
Julie Allaire advised that a community start “where you are.” This involves identifying and assessing assets. People need to know what services are available and how to access them locally. She recommends organizing a working group to coordinate a health care network which might include a gerontologist, an attorney, and other health care providers. Assessing local needs is also key.

The last presenter was Joe Perkins from At Home Downeast. He noted that each community is unique, and what works for one may not work for all. To quote Perkins, “If you’ve seen one village, you’ve seen one village.” Joe stressed the importance of volunteers. He pointed out that the Blue Hill Peninsula consists of nine towns comprising 14,000 residents year-round. Perkins said that the Washington Hancock Community Agency, of which At Home Downeast is a subset, does have a paid staff consisting of a program manager, social worker, and volunteer coordinator.

Joe Perkins, At Home Downeast
At Home Downeast has a sliding-scale membership fee of $130 to $1,300 annually. Paying a fee helps to fight the reluctance of some to ask for help. The membership fee entitles one to four rides per month within a 50-mile radius; contract with Eastern Maine Home Care for twice a month visits; help with grocery shopping; prescription delivery; phone check-in or home visit; home safety assessment; all available with a single phone number.

Reaction to this presentation was that the Bethel area has many assets, and with some organization and volunteer work, this could be a truly age-friendly community.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembering Larry Engdahl

We are saddened to announce the death of WMSC member Lawrence "Larry" Engdahl on May 16. A life-long New Englander, Larry loved the mountains, ocean, fishing ponds, gardens and birds, and he loved to chronicle the landscape around him with his sketch book, paints, and camera. He was an active member of the Congo Craftsmen, served on the Bethel Planning Board, and was a member of the Bethel Rotary Club. WMSC's Great Decisions class benefited from Larry's extensive knowledge of business, politics, history, engineering, technology – you name it. He was often a facilitator and always a contributor to our discussions. He will be greatly missed. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 6th at 3:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Photos from the Step Falls Wildflower Hike

Lynne Zimmerman introduces the hike to our intrepid group.  photo J. Bebko

Harriet Gilpatrick and Jim Bebko check out a patch of red trillium.  photo K. DeVore

Red trillium....  photo J. Bebko
..... and the showier painted trillium  photo L. Zimmerman
Mayflower.  It's scent is exquisite!   photo L. Zinnerman

Step Falls.  photo L. Zimmerman

Bonnie Pooley sitting on Ken Bohr's bench.  After this we went back down and on to the potluck supper.  photo K. DeVore

Potluck supper at Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge.  photo L. Zimmerman

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, May 18, 2015

Spotlight on Hardcover Bookbinding and Introduction to Auto Detailing

Here are some photos from two of WMSC's recently completed hands-on classes.  Enjoy!

Hardcover Bookbinding

Internet-based instruction presented by Hardcover Bookbinding class facilitator Jim Bebko.   photo A. Chapman

Ruth Barrett and Jim Bebko trimming a text block.  photo A. Chapman

Michele Gagnon attaching book board to outer cover.  photo J. Bebko

Michele Gagnon gluing the text block to the cover while Bonnie Pooley and Ruth Barrett look on.  photo J. Bebko

Bonnie, Michele and Ruth loading the book press with the finished book.  photo J. Bebko

Introduction to Auto Detailing

Shampooing the interior of Carlie Casey's car - Carlie was the lucky participant whose car was chosen for detailing!  photo D. McMahon

Kay Larson vacuuming.  photo D. McMahon

Carlie and Kay look on as instructor Tim McMahon and Tim Roberts clean floor mats.  photo D. McMahon

Tim Roberts cleaning rims.  photo D. McMahon

Roberta Taylor buffing on the wax.  photo D. McMahon

A very pleased Carlie!  photo D. McMahon

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Local Food Initiatives" Discussion Sparks Opportunities for Community Involvement

by Nancy Davis
The final Brown Bag Lunch program of the year was held on May 5.  Facilitators were Amanda Moran, coordinator of the Edible Bethel project, and Meryl Kelly, Executive Director of the Local Food Connection.
The audience of experienced, passionate vegetable gardeners responded enthusiastically to the energy and creativity demonstrated by the facilitators.  Already generally knowledgeable about local food initiatives, participants learned new opportunities for contributing to the cause.  Amanda and Meryl were delighted with the fresh ideas that were suggested and hope they will have volunteers for the Edible Bethel project and Meryl’s culinary project. You may remember WMSC’s "Bridging the Generations" program two years ago in honor of our 10th anniversary.  From her lively involvement on that day, Ms. Kelly has developed an adult/student cooking program that would welcome the involvement of WMSC members.

The Edible Bethel project, featured in a recent Living Bethel magazine, has announced its first workday for Wednesday, May 13, meeting at 1:00 at Nabos parking lot. They are eager for volunteers to prepare beds at several Main Street sites and also suggest that “If you have your own tools or would like to donate hay, soil, seedlings, or garden fabric in lieu of gardening, all of these things would be very much appreciated!” For more information, you may contact Meryl Kelly at

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, May 4, 2015

Large Group Attends "End of Life Care"

by Lorrie Hoeh

On Thursday, April 29, an enthusiastic crowd of 55 people attended the latest To Your Health program, "End of Life Care: Having the Conversation," at the Congregational Church in Bethel.  A panel of five professionals, moderated by Al Cressy, shared their expertise on the subject of death and dying and how to prepare oneself and his or her loved ones.

Cressy began with the question: "Why have this conversation about death, and what should be talked about?"  The Rev. Dick Bennett's response was that in our culture we are programmed to fear both death and life. Jane Chandler, a hospice nurse, offered that it is important to listen and hear what a dying person's wishes are. Dr. Roger Austin, medical director of Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, posited that many are reluctant to have this important conversation, fearing it might induce the person to give up. Emily Ecker, a nursing home social worker, told of the kinds of problems that arise from not having had the talk, not the least of which is the expense involved, as well as quality of life issues. Home Health Aide Michelle Lowell told of her personal experience with a mother whose Alzheimer's disease prevented her from having the talk, resulting in many problems. Her father, however, when diagnosed with cancer, did have the conversation, and the outcome was good for all.

Other questions asked by the moderator were: "How do you start the talk before a crisis situation occurs?" "What do you do if an end-of-life crisis occurs before the conversation takes place?" "What are the things to consider in regard to the conversation?"

In answer to the last question, Ms. Ecker stressed starting early, appointing a health care proxy, determining the type of care in an irreversible condition, and, especially, being sure to complete an advanced directive.  Ms. Chandler advised considering everything, including such things as a "bucket list," letters to grandchildren, etc.   She also emphasized that a patient's wish to stop treatment is not suicide.

 Dr. Kevin Finley of the Bethel Family Health Center stepped up and advised us that one should talk to people of all ages about death and dying and make sure an advanced directive is in place, pointing out that the BFHC has living will forms.  He, too, emphasized the importance of starting the talk EARLY.

After a ten-minute break, the panel addressed audience questions that had been written on cards.  The buzz at the end of the program seemed universally positive.  Most people seemed to feel that they had learned a good deal and were glad they came. 

Moderator Al Cressy, Rev. Dick Bennett, Jane Chandler, Dr. Roger Austin, Emily Ecker, Michelle Lowell    

Rev. Dick Bennett

Dr. Roger Austin     photos L. Hoeh

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at