Plateau resources for senior citizens

This week is National Assisted Living Week, an annual celebration of activities and events featured by the National Center for Assisted Living.National Assisted Living Week started in 1995 to show senior citizens that their community cares for them.

Ona Smith being helped off the Care Van by driver Nancy Nibarger

This week is National Assisted Living Week, an annual celebration of activities and events featured by the National Center for Assisted Living.National Assisted Living Week started in 1995 to show senior citizens that their community cares for them.

On the Plateau, there are many organizations and resources designed around showing senior citizens both in and out of assisted living that they are cared for.

One of those organizations is the Enumclaw Regional Health Care Foundation. Founded in 1982, the foundation has raised more than four million dollars to support the Plateau community.

“Offering programs to all residents of the Plateau, regardless of age, is important to keep our community vibrant and healthy,” said René Popke, director of the Enumclaw Regional Health Foundation.

One of the programs the foundation offers to seniors and families is the Care Van. The Care Van can be scheduled to take patients to their medical appointments and help them pick up medical prescriptions, and can pick up patients in Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Black Diamond, Wilkeson and Carbonado.

Popke said there is a hydraulic lift on the care van, “so wheelchairs, walkers, and electric scooters are not a problem.”

Another program the foundation offers is Neighbors Feeding Neighbors, and is offered to people for those that are homebound or have trouble preparing their own food.

Neighbors Feeding Neighbors delivers a hot meal every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with the option to also deliver a cold meal for the days food isn’t delivered.

Neighbors Feeding Neighbors has delivered over nine thousand meals since January 2013, said Popke, and a high number of their clientele are senior citizens.

Popke also said that Neighbors Feeding Neighbors is limited to delivering meals in Enumclaw because of the difficulty in meeting Food Department regulations while delivering so many meals.

“The more drivers we have, the more seniors we can serve,” Popke said.

The foundation also helps organize hot meals to be served at Calvary Presbyterian Church for anyone that needs a meal. This program, called Full Bellies, serves food every Thursday evenings except the last Thursday of the month. Meals are cooked and served by various groups in the community, and are served from 5:30 to 6:30 in the evening.

Colleen Michael, the original force behind organizing Full Bellies, said that there are no questions asked of people who show up for food.A separate event, put together by Pierce County’s Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference, will be holding its annual conference this Thursday, Sept. 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tacoma. The conference focuses on caregivers, family members, and friends who are caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s.

“The challenges facing caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s are incredible,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources. “Caregiving places incredible physical and emotional demands on spouses and families. While researchers continue to seek a cure, the best we can do right now is to provide the best support possible to those individuals who continue to provide loving care to people with dementia.”


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