Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wine Around the World 2017: Reinventing Eldercare with Robotics in New Zealand

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Reinventing Eldercare with Robotics in New Zealand

The New Zealand population is expected to get a lot older in the next few decades, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand report. The number of people aged 85 years and older will more than triple, from about 83,000 in 2016 to between 270,000 and 320,000 in the next 30 years. The population of over-65s will roughly double–from around 700,000 now to between 1.3 and 1.5 million in 2046. As the population ages and the gap between births and deaths narrows, overall population growth is expected to slow to less than 1 percent in the 2030s.

In response, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently announced it will fund two teams to work collaboratively with Japan on innovative ways to improve elderly care through robotics and human assistive devices, specifically the design and scoping requirements for a lightweight robotic arm as well as improvements to a robotic assistive walking suit in collaboration with the Japanese Shinshu University.

In addition, New Zealand has begun building multi-purpose residential communities, effectively reinventing how residential aged care is provided. By having small communities or “households” of twelve residents within the larger community of the care home, the new residences provide an environment where people who live there have a real sense of belonging and are truly at home.

Leanne and Sue, Meals on Wheels volunteers

Friends of a Feather

by Leanne Christensen, board member and Meals on Wheels Volunteer

One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering for Meals on Wheels for me, is building rapport and genuine friendships with our clients. Seeing them on a regular basis, gives us a chance to become familiar with many aspects of their lives… their blessings and their challenges. We find in our travels, that everyone has a story, and when we make the time to share/listen to these stories, we can create meaningful connections. Sometimes, if we are lucky, these connections provide an opportunity to assist our clients in truly significant ways.

Recently, a widower on our route mentioned that he wanted to find homes for his large birds. The birds were his late wife’s passion, and although he was doing his very best to care for them, at 94 he was not able to give them the attention, love and care that they had received from his wife. Having the full responsibility of their care made it difficult for him to leave his home for any length of time to travel, visit family, etc. My fellow volunteer, Sue Kennedy happened to have connections with the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, and she offered to make a few calls on our client’s behalf. After a few calls, and a few days we were told that foster homes had been found for all four birds! Our client was overjoyed with this news. The following week we arranged for pickup and delivery, and with the help of our husbands we were able to safely transport the birds, cages and all to the rescue facility in the Charlotte area. Such a happy ending for everyone involved.

Many MOW drivers have had similar situations with their clients over the years. Thankfully, with the help of the Council on Aging staff and their community partnerships, connecting and assisting our clients with needed services is truly just part of the job, and a very rewarding one at that.

With each life story that we hear, we realize the Meals on Wheels Program is so much more than delivering a healthy meal; it is a connection, a fellowship and much needed support in so many ways, and we are so deeply grateful to be a part of the process.

Wine Around the World 2016: Uruguay

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.


waw-uruguayby Patti Digh

With the largest proportion of people 60 years and older, Uruguay represents the “oldest” nation in Latin America — indeed, in the entire Western Hemisphere. As with other Latin American and Caribbean countries, declines in infant mortality have helped spur increases in life expectancy in Uruguay.

Uruguay is also one of South America’s wealthiest and urban nations. In Uruguay, a girl can now expect to live to 78 years — some 27 years longer that her Haitian counterpart. In Haiti, still a largely rural society, 103 infants die for every 1,000 births — seven times the rate of Uruguay.

Decreasing birth rates have also influenced the growth in the proportion of older people in Uruguay. Their drop in birth rates reflects — among other things — relatively high achievements in education. Adult literacy is high, with 98 percent of female Uruguayans 15 years and older being literate, compared with 97 percent of males.

In recent years, Uruguay has established around 150 “grandparents clubs,” state-sponsored recreational centers for the elderly. The centers are part of an array of services that has made Uruguay, the “grayest” country in Latin America, an international model for treatment of senior citizens.

For about $2 a month, club members, some well into their 90s, enjoy all the yoga, aerobics and dance classes they want. Medical care is a few steps away at a well-stocked clinic. And, like all Uruguayan retirees, if they want a change of scenery, they can take a state-subsidized vacation at a dude ranch or beach resort.

In Uruguay, there are about as many retirees – 700,000 – as there are children in grade school. What could have been a social disaster has become a source of national pride. Uruguay has become internationally recognized for its treatment of the elderly. Even the Japanese have come to study programs considered more advanced than those in many wealthier First World nations.

Besides financial assistance to the grandparents clubs and subsidized vacations at two government-owned resorts, the state provides psychological therapy to help citizens adjust to retirement. Grants are offered to more than 400 retirement homes scattered around the nation, slightly larger in size than New York state. The poorest receive housing and low-cost access to private health care.

The Uruguayan Congress is preparing to debate a new bill of rights for the elderly to extend benefits further. Already, the state mandates that sons or daughters care for their aging parents or provide for them financially.

The kindness, however, has a cost. Almost half the taxes – which are higher than those in most of Latin America – go for pensions and social services for senior citizens. Sales taxes alone top 23 percent.

But it isn’t merely the state that embraces the old – it’s society.

“For us, it’s cultural,” said Elbio Mendez Areco, general director of Uruguay’s Labor and Social Welfare Ministry. “We go beyond the Latin tradition of family closeness. For us, it is a social crime not to give the elderly the attention they deserve.”

The government has launched “age sensitivity” classes for children this year, reinforcing the message that the elderly are to be revered and cared for. In other state-sponsored classes, the two generations do arts and crafts and sing songs. The program, less than a year old, is so successful that some children sent homemade cards to their new “adopted family” on Uruguay’s Grandparents Day.

Wine Around the World 2016: Chile

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

Aging isn’t just a biological process; it is also a cultural one. Frequently the average life expectancy bears on what age counts as “old.” For example, in the United States, where the average life expectancy is over 78 years, people are not considered “old” until they are in their sixties or seventies. However, in Chad the average life expectancy is less than 49 years. People in their thirties or forties are therefore already middle­ aged or “old.”

Over the next two weeks, leading up to our Wine Around the World event at The Cedars, let’s grab our passports and go on this amazing journey into aging in many cultures.


by Patti Digh

Chile is a developing country with a rapidly expanding economy. In fact, it is expected to become a “developed country” within 10 years, one of the first in Latin America to obtain that designation. This rapid economic growth has brought significant changes in social organization. For example, an increasing number of older adults are now living alone versus in an extended family, and Chile has one of the largest proportions of older adults in Latin America.

In fact, the number of elderly in Latin America will triple as a share of the population by 2050. By 2050, there will be one Latin American elder for every child. The result will be a dramatic slowdown in population growth and an equally dramatic aging of the population. Latin America’s median age will climb by 14 years, from 26 to 40.

This coming age wave poses two fundamental challenges for Latin America. The first is to create national retirement systems capable of providing an adequate level of support for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. The second is to boost living standards while populations are still young and growing. While the United States, Europe, and Japan all became affluent societies before they became aging societies, Latin America may grow old before it grows rich.

In particular, Chile is in what is referred to as an advanced demographic transition stage. The population over 60 years of age represents 13% of the total population. It’s anticipated that the aging population in Chile will continue to increase to represent 20.8% of the population by 2044. Thus, in the near future, Chile will experience “super-aging.”

And because of the gender gap in life expectancy in Chile, more women will be living alone, a new phenomenon in Chile, and may experience increasing isolation. Additionally, more women may face reduced economic status in their later years as most did not participate in the labor force and were dependent upon their husband’s salaries and pensions.

It’s important to note that life expectancy in Chile also varies by geographic location and is up to 10 years less among certain indigenous populations there (e.g., Aymara), attesting to pockets of underdevelopment and poverty particularly among Indigenous populations and in rural areas.

To promote healthy aging, the government of Chile has been providing a nutritional supplement to older adults since 1998, distributing micronutrient fortified foods to adults 70 years or over who are registered for the program through their Primary Health Centers.

In 2002, a national effort to focus on health issues related to aging was initiated in Chile, focused on improving living conditions and health programs specific to the needs of older adults, developing and implementing elder abuse laws, and enhancing access to public spaces so that older adults can participate in tourism or use public transportation at reduced rates. The importance of specialized health care for the elderly such as comprehensive geriatric assessments is becoming an increasing focus of attention, as the prevalence of risk of falls and chronic diseases increases.

Access to participation in meaningful activities can be challenging for older adults in Chile. In Santiago, the city is divided into provinces with each responsible for organizing events for older adults. Provinces with more resources offer enhanced activities including travel opportunities, free exercise facilities, and opportunities for social engagement. A rising concern, however, is the lack of meaningful opportunities to remain socially and economically integrated as one enters old age in Chile. Not surprisingly, there has been a rise of mental health issues and in particular, depression. In Chile, it has been reported that clinical depression in older adults has reached 47%, which is a much higher percentage compared to estimate of 16% and 19% for adolescents and young adults.

To answer these needs, Chile has developed “The Integral Policy for Positive Aging” with three general objectives: protect the functional health of older people, improve their integration into the different areas of society, and increase their levels of subjective well-being.

Upcoming Medicare Classes

Provided by Council on Aging for Buncombe County

August 12 2 – 4 PM Goodwill Training Center, 1616 Patton Ave. Asheville

August 18 2 – 4 PM Fairview Public Library, 1 Taylor Road, Fairview NC

August 23 6 – 8 PM Weaverville Public Library, 41 North Main St. Weaverville

September 9 2 – 4 PM Goodwill Training Center, 1616 Patton Ave, Asheville

September 13 6 – 8 PM Leicester Public Library, 1561 Alexander Road, Leicester

September 19 10 AM – 12 PM Reuter YMCA, 3 Town Square, Biltmore Park, Asheville

September 21 10 AM – 12 PM Woodfin YMCA, 40 N. Merrimon, Asheville

September 21 5:30 – 7:30 PM Woodfin YMCA, 40 N. Merrimon, Asheville

September 22 2 – 4 PM Pardee Signature Care Center, 1800 Four Seasons Blvd. Hendersonville

Classes are free and open to the public. Register at   Click on programs.

Sprout’s Fairy Garden Looking to Relocate

Our Etowah Thrift Store has a fairy tenant looking to relocate. There’s a silent auction going on at their store which will close next Wednesday, June 29th. Bids are already rolling in. Check out Sprout’s story below.

Meet Sprout, a friendly fairy who tends his lovely garden with a lot of hard work and a sprinkle of magic. He is looking for the perfect spot to settle down, preferably with a sunny site, at least 4-6 hours of sun a day. A spot on a sunny porch would be ideal, although gentle rains won’t hurt him or his house. Help him care for his garden by watering it every 1-2 days and pinching back the plants as needed to keep them from becoming a jungle. His garden includes sweet potato vine, polka dot plant, purslane, succulents, sedums, caladiums, million bells, and mosses. He amended the soil with extended release fertilizer so hold off on adding any extra for a few months. This is a summer garden and will need to be brought indoors for winter, or replanted in the spring.

Etowah Thrift Store for the Council on Aging
97 Etowah Center Drive
Etowah, NC 28729

Tuesday – Friday: 10AM – 4PM
Saturday: 10AM – 1PM

Community Hero

Richard-snowplowhero-RDLast weekend, after the first big snow of 2016, Richard, a Henderson County resident, was out removing the 12″+ around his residence. After finishing his own driveway, he remembered his neighbors down the road in the St. John’s Commons community, many of whom had no way of digging themselves out without some help. He took himself and his plow down to St. John’s and just started clearing driveways. When people came out to offer him payment he told them he wouldn’t accept payment, but anything they wanted to give, he would donate to Meals on Wheels.

After John’s mother passed away, his father received Meals on Wheels and he said it kept his father alive. This is why he chose to donate the $375 he collected to our Meals on Wheels program. May Richard be an inspiration to us all to consider our neighbors. He’s a real community hero!

Thank You Henderson County!

holidaythankyou2015Our volunteers and community go above and beyond at the holidays. From fulfilling client Christmas wishes through our Angel Tag program, to shoe boxes, and food donation and delivery, you help us brighten the lives of at-risk elders in Henderson County. Many of you wished to remain anonymous, and simply gave in the spirit of the season—this thank you is for you as well!

Holiday ornaments for our Meals on Wheels clients. 

From time to time, we have groups drop off little goodies for our Meals on Wheels routes. This season, the Boy Scouts of Henderson County and East Hendersonville High School Life Skills students both dropped off beautiful ornaments to help spread holiday cheer!

Angel Tag Gifts

Starting in October, we send out surveys and make calls to clients  asking what their Christmas wishes are. Many say they want nothing at all, and some are as humbling as a warm coat or toiletries. Anonymous donors, Immaculate Conception Parishioners, Retired Teachers Association of Henderson County, and First Baptist Sunday School Class helped fulfill the wishes of 169 elders!

Christmas Day Food Boxes

The Elks Lodge #1616 has a long running program that delivers food boxes complete with turkeys and other holiday food items. They’ve been delivering boxes to many of our clients on Christmas day for over a decade.

Shoe Box Gifts

Shoe Box gifts are a long running tradition for Christmas. The idea is that you take a shoe box and fill it with gifts for someone in need. This year the Times News collected over 600 shoe boxes for our clients and others in need.  Henderson County Crafters, Park Ridge Medical Association Billing Department, and Hendersonville Women’s Club also donated shoe boxes at our office.

Meals on Wheels Christmas Dinner Delivery

The American Legion Post #77 delivers Christmas dinner the Sunday before the holiday with a turkey or ham and all the trimmings needed to make a yummy Christmas dinner.

Meal Deliveries and Christmas Day Community Dinner

Bounty of Bethlehem is a community effort that began in 1983 and is run completely by volunteers who donate their time before and on Christmas day to provide meals for the community, including our Meals on Wheels clients!

Thank you all for everything you do!



Recording Our History: The Great Thanksgiving Listen

Oral history is a human tradition. StoryCorps is a nonprofit committed to archiving real-life stories of our time. Anyone can participate. In fact, they want everyone to participate. This Thanksgiving, StoryCorps is featuring “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” where contributors interview elders in their families and communities. You could finally ask your Uncle Steve about that time he saved a man’s life at the State Fair or ask Grandma to tell you about what Thanksgiving was like when she was a kid!

Each story submitted will be archived in the Library of Congress. That’s right! Your stories will be archived in our nation’s national library! We’d like to encourage you to participate. If you submit a story you’d like us to share from the holiday, please email us at [email protected]

Do they have an app you ask? Why, yes, yes they do. Whether you’re on an iPhone or an Android, you can use their smartphone apps which can be found here:

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.29.15 PM

National Family Caregivers Month


Photo by a4gpa

In honor of the roles they serve, President Barack Obama has proclaimed November as National Family Caregivers Month and you can read his full statement below. Family caregivers are constantly giving their time and resources to care for their loved ones, often to their own detriment. This year, respite is the focus of National Family Caregivers Month. Through a grant from Land of Sky, we offer mini-grants for respite for caregivers of older adults. To find out more information about this program and other resources, give us a call at (828) 692-4203.



Day in and day out, selfless and loving Americans provide care and support to family members and friends in need.  They are parents, spouses, children, siblings, relatives, and neighbors who uphold their unwavering commitment to ensure the lives of their loved ones shine bright with health, safety, and dignity.  During National Family Caregivers Month, we rededicate ourselves to making sure our selfless caregivers have the support they need to maintain their own well-being and that of those they love.

One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens and people living with disabilities, and my Administration is dedicated to lifting up their lives and ensuring those who care for them get the support and recognition they deserve.  Earlier this year, older Americans and caregivers, as well as their advocates, came together at the White House Conference on Aging, which provided an opportunity to discuss ways to identify and advance actions to improve quality of life for our Nation’s elderly.  Through the Affordable Care Act, we are providing more options to help older Americans remain in their homes as they age, and the law is giving caregivers the peace of mind of having access to quality, affordable health insurance.  Additionally, I will keep pushing to make paid family leave available for every American, regardless of where they work — because no one should have to sacrifice a paycheck to care for a loved one.

When our men and women in uniform come home with wounds of war — seen or unseen — it is our solemn responsibility to ensure they get the benefits and attentive care they have earned and deserve.  Caregivers in every corner of our country uphold this sacred promise with incredible devotion to their loved ones, and my Administration is committed to supporting them.  We have extended military caregiver leave to family members of eligible veterans dealing with serious illness or injury for up to 5 years after their service has ended, and we remain dedicated to providing greater flexibility for our military families and for the members of our Armed Forces as they return home and handle the transition to civilian life.

For centuries, we have been driven by the belief that we all have certain obligations to one another.  Every day, caregivers across our country answer this call and lift up the lives of loved ones who need additional support.  During National Family Caregivers Month, let us honor their contributions and pledge to continue working toward a future where all caregivers know the same support and understanding they show for those they look after.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2015 as National Family Caregivers Month.  I encourage all Americans to pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.