Washington Co. OSU extension helps seniors face winter

November 9, 2004

BEAVERTON - With winter looming, the Washington County office of the Oregon State University Extension Service is holding a series of events aimed at helping seniors cope with the perils of winter and combat indoor mold.

OSU Extension educator Jeanne Brandt is conducting seminars at Washington County senior centers to prepare people for hazards including coming home in the dark, dealing with leaves on sidewalks and coping with wet floors. Her work aims to quell the dramatic increase in emergency room visits among older people needing treatment for falls and burns as the weather gets dark, cold and wet.

During the heart of winter, Brandt already has programs to beat the winter blues. Focusing on dealing with depression and coping with loss, monthly programs will tackle these important topics.

Working through a U.S. EPA-sponsored education funding, Brandt also put together a seminar on combating mold, an ongoing indoor health problem in the damp Northwest.

Year-round, one of her most popular ongoing programs is about medication management. Given the number of pills that many seniors may need on a daily basis, managing medications can become quite a challenge. To help, Brandt couples OSU pharmacy interns with seniors.

"I have the pharmacy intern sit with seniors and review their medications, vitamins, herbal remedies, everything they take," said Brandt. "Many people may get their medications from multiple sources including through mail order or the Internet, so it's nice to have a real person to talk with."

By spring, age-related memory loss is the subject of choice for senior seminars.

OSU Extension responds to community requests and interests. Brandt and her colleagues are constantly looking for gaps in information that Extension can fill. Washington County Extension is available for presentations to organizations, said Brandt.

"From rotary clubs to church groups with a specific interest, they can contact us for presentations," she said. "We're always looking to get information out to the most people."

In addition to their office in Beaverton, the Washington County office of OSU Extension holds programs at Wilsonville, Forest Grove, King City, and Hillsboro senior centers. Close to the extension office's Beaverton location, the Elsie Stuhr Center is a particularly popular place for programs.

For a full list of upcoming programs, check out Washington County Extension's website at http://Extension.oregonstate.edu/Washington/index.php. There is also a host of related web links.

Author: Virginia Gewin
Source: Jeanne Brandt