Helena Reynolds at the Kent Senior Center in Kent, WA talks about helping seniors engage their minds.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
And Welcome back to answers for elders radio everyone. I am here with the lovely Helena Reynolds. She is the activity a coordinator for the Kent Senior Center in Kent, Washington. Helena, welcome to the program. Thank you. You know, I wanted to have you on, Helena, because you’re doing an incredible type of a program that I think is really powerful for us to learn a little bit about your story. And everybody knows that. There’s the music are musical Hamilton is like the greatest hit in the world and it’s going to be here, coming to Seattle in February, isn’t it? In the at the paramount, you’ll see that’s true. Yeah, so, Helena, you’ve actually done some additional type of research and put together a program for seniors that is actually with the intention of expanding the mind and really understanding, you know, really what’s most important and I’m so glad you’re here to talk about it. Thank you for being here. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity. So, Helena, tell me a little bit about your program and what you do. We have a started out as a one hour session of people coming together and it actually started as an as an accident. My husband had an accident, drove my car and I drove my daughter’s car and this music was just the blaring and I for Hamilton for I didn’t know it at the time that it was wrap and hip hop, which I’m into, but all of a sudden one day when I turned it on, there was a big band blaring brass trumpet fanfare, which I love. So I listened to the song and amazingly I learned something about why our American capital was not in New York and Philadelphia but was in Washington DC, which isn’t even a state. It expanded my mind and I realized that this was the same as the rap and hiphop musical, but it the whole thing, is not rap and hiphop. For fact, maybe maybe a third of it is, is only wrapping HBOP. But what I did is I watched the PBS special in October. There was a band member who said, you know, I it was about Hamilton’s America right, and the band member said, you know, I had to watch the Broadway musical nine times before I understood that part of story and I thought to myself, I won’t even get to see it one time, a litt alone nine time. And so what I did was my daughter actually obviously had the cast album was really into it, and I told her. I says, you know, we should have a discussion because there’s a lot of people who will not get to see this musical shure. But then again, if they do get to see it, some of the story is told so quickly that you don’t understand it. So there’s really two reasons. And she goes, Oh, what do you do? There is a book called Hamilton, the American, Hamilton Alexander, Hamilton the revolution, and it is written by the playwright Len Menuel Miranda and one of the critics that actually first did one of his other shows, named Jeremy mccarter, and that book is a pictorial as well as a story of how the whole six, seven, eight nine years it took to put this musical together, and that has all the lyrics, pictures of the whole cast in the album, but it also has footnotes of the playwright and why he changed things, why he didn’t, what he thought was important, and it was so exciting that we read those as part of our session. We read the lyrics and then we listen to the music and then we discuss the impacts. And the exciting thing is that most of the participants are sixty, seventy, eighty and even ninety years old. Wow, that’s interesting. And so obviously to take this story to the Kent Senior Center. What was the motivating factor to do that? I know you learned a lot, but what? Why? Why does it have significance to the seniors? Our expand in your mind series is an educational opportunity for people to go beyond what their limits are. Right, and so I put this together as part of that program but I have a personal reason in that my family is an immigrant family, as is the playwrights, as is the subject, Alexander Hamilton, and so just finding out how difficult horrendous his life was when it when he began as a as an orphan, as an illegitimate child, and then what he chose to do to overcome it was very inspiring. And so one of my big motivations is to educate and to inspire and to motivate people to realize that they can make a difference, even if they’re behind. A years old, exactly, yeah, exactly, or ninety years young, yes, exactly. They get that’s a good point. So, Helena, you’re you’re doing the series and obviously you’re getting a lot of interest at your senior center and no doubt I can’t even imagine that the whole community wouldn’t be interested in this topic because it is so pivotal to our our history. It’s kind of a foundational key stone to our you know, he was such wasn’t here first treasurer and so many things that are you know are founding fathers. He was definitely one of them and to understand how hard difficult that his life was was is pretty interesting, Suzanne. That’s another impacting part of this story. He fought everyone. They did not want what he wanted. He wanted central government, he wanted a strong global credit rating and they wanted farms and their slaves and various things, and so he fought really hard. Well, he died in a very interesting way as well, young, wasn’t it? In a duel? He died in a duel which was illegal at the time, shot by the sitting vice president of the United States at the time. Wow, so it was. It was quite a horrendous Evan. But then his detractors. One of the lines is that his enemies destroyed his reputation and America forgot him. That’s why we haven’t heard about him. They were going to take him off the ten dollar bill. Yeah, why? You know why? They didn’t? Because this musical was becoming a huge hit in New York and the time, in the two thousand and fifteen and they realized they probably couldn’t do it. Wow, that’s really interesting. It is. So we are talking to Helena Reynolds and she is the program coordinator from the Kent Senior Center and this is a kind of stuff everyone that goes on in local senior centers and and I am so glad Helena is here to share on. Tell me a little bit about some of the activities that they do at the Kent Senior Center. Surely actually there are three. We have three activity coordinators and and so we are one of the premiere, but we share. We do not have a search charge. If you do not live in Kent or pay taxes that support our senior center, there is no charge extra. We have a twenty twozero square foot building. We have an adventure program, we have an inhouse program we have a co sponsorship program where various community corporations can invest and we also have all kinds of activities in the building. We do trips and outings, fishing, hiking, biking, golfing, incredible. We have done tours in the past, not so much lately. One of my last trips. I don’t do trips anymore. I do most of the inhouse programming. I do car corporate co sponsorships, marketing, promotions, fundraising and I coordinate nearly four hundred volunteers. Wow, I do not do except for the expand your mind the seminar. I don’t do the workshops, classes in general and I do not do trips any longer. My last trip, though, was taking twenty seniors shopping in Hong Kong. Oh my goodness, it was a while back. Audible. That is incredible. I was allowed and what a great, you know thing job for you to just to be able to share these, these golden moments. And I know with our seniors and you know people like you, that the devote their days every day to our seniors. I you know I always call you guys, your angels. You know, they they you truly are, because you have such hearts and oftentimes you don’t get the thank you from the families and you know all the different things that happen and I know that senior centers locally are so important to our economy, our community, and sometimes they’re the ones that suffer the most. You, you guys are a little bit lucky in the fact that you have, you know, I support network of the city of can’t correct but there’s a lot of senior centers out there that don’t have that, that they are, you know, they’re they’re either self supporting, which is scary, or they are funded by, you know, like sound generations, which is a lot of it is united way funding and of course that was really a devastation in our community that that those funds were pulled. And so, you know, we try to raise as much awareness as we can to the importance of senior centers here in greater puget sound and certainly the work that you guys do just and the reason why I really wanted to have you on this month is because we’re really focusing on Alzheimer’s awareness and one of the things that I know that is so important is the more and more that a senior utilizes their brain, their mind, the better it is for them. Outcome of Alzheimer’s and dementia, isn’t that correct? Yeah, yes, that is true. My motherin law actually did a lot of genealogy research before the Internet. She would travel to graveyards where they wrote down things and she had she actually traced her her family’s lineage back to a revolutionary war minute man, and that was exciting in the sense that that there’s there’s a definite connection there, right, and so she has a certificate. She was before she passed away, she was a bona fide daughters of the American Revolution Mary member and unfortunately she passed away from complications with Alzheimer’s and I wonder to this day how much she expanded her mind by all the research and she might have really kept her did it ability going, because she she she wrote letters to Utah and then she kept charts by hand. She did not use the computer. Was All by hand and so she lived into her s and I think a good part because of the family having Alzheimer’s in the family as a genetic thing, she might have, you know, held it at bay for longer because of the expansion she did to her her research with with genealogy, yes, and really to understand, you know, you’re the foundations that you come from. I think that it does give you the ability to really learn and discover more about yourself. That’s right. And and you had a story that you shared with me and I would love to have you share with me a little bit more about what you’re you had an experience with the senior that went through your program. You shared with me yesterday. Would you share that story with our listeners? Sure, it’s a fun group. We have a lot of discussion and have a lot of people that share, but then some people that don’t. And so this one lady was talking a little bit about her family and all of a sudden she started to cry and she said, excuse me, I’m sorry, and I said that’s okay, and she said, you know, I’m almost eighty years old and I had a moment where my impact of what my life meant just struck me, just thinking about Alexander Hamilton and how much he made an impact in our nation and has my life really made that kind of an impact? And it just struck me and it made me very emotional. What a great way to close out the program. You are. Thank you so much for making such a great difference in our senior, you’re welcome and thank you
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.