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Walnut Creek Village Newsletter – April 2017

April 12, 2017
  • Tech Talk: Robots, On Demand Rides give elders safety, connection and freedom
  • Walnut Creek Seniors Club walking and cycling groups
  • Seniors and prescription medications
  • Oakland woman helps grandmother with on-demand rides/no smart phone
  • A new play at the Lesher Theater: U.S. Japanese families after WWII

  In last February’s newsletter, we highlighted a pilot program on what’s being coined “personal communications technology” with robots for older adults, taking place right here in Walnut Creek. To see the New York Times profile piece, click   here.
Please join us on Monday, April 24, in the afternoon to “meet the robots” – and hear first-hand, virtually, about The Heritage Downtown residents Herbert Yarbrough’s and Maxine Duncan’s experience with their telepresence robot, Jimmy. Robot creators OhmniLabs and sponsor Home Care Assistance will be on hand to describe the current benefits and future possibilities of technology that can change the lives of millions of Americans – making us safer in our homes, and more connected with family and friends.
 Late-breaking: We’ve also invited Oakland entrepreneur Amy Stice (see article on Arrive Rides later in this newsletter) to talk about a new option for on-demand ride sources such as Uber and Lyft – even when you don’t have a smart phone. Know your options!
Where: Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
When: Monday, April 24, 2-3:30 pm; light refreshments will be served
RSVP: by Friday, April 21:; or 925-956-1990
Parking: Available in the synagogue or parking overflow as marked
Sponsored by Walnut Creek Village, Home Care Assistance and The Heritage Downtown
Enjoy the company of friends and get some exercise! The Walnut Creek Senior Club offers “Walking Buddies” twice a week. The Tuesday group is for all walkers on local trails for 1 to 1.5 hours. The Thursday group is for more experienced hikers, lasting at least 2 to 3 hours. The groups meet from 8:15 am – noon in the lobby of the Civic Park Community Center, and there is a $2 drop-in fee.
For more information, call coordinators Rolando Salazar at (925) 934-8830 or John Walkinshaw at (925) 933-8220. There is also a Cycling Club that meets Thursday mornings. Walnut Creek Seniors Club membership is required. Contact Peter Culshaw at for more information.

At a recent SHARE (Social and Health Agency Resource Exchange) meeting, we heard about prescription drug abuse and how to avoid it. April Rovero, Northern California Executive Director for the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, said that nationally, prescription drugs are more abused than all illegal drugs combined. Even though these drugs are considered “safer” because they are prescribed, they can be just as deadly as illegal drugs. Up to 31.5 million people overdose on prescription drugs each week.
Rovero said an estimated 10 percent of the elderly misuse prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety drugs (like Xanax), sleeping pills (such as Ambien), and opioids (such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, and Percocet). If you or a loved one shows any of the following signs, it may indicate abuse: changes in mood or attitude, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss or gain, or pinpoint or enlarged pupils. You’re at risk of opioid overuse if you use them long-term for chronic pain, or take higher doses (greater than 100 milligrams of morphine equivalents). You may experience significant organ dysfunction, a decreased respiratory rate, migraines, or pinpoint pupils.
Instead of medication, consider trying alternative forms of pain management, including over the counter medications, acupuncture, biofeedback, physical or water therapy, massage, exercise, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practice.
Julie Fulmer-Mason, PharmD, President of MedFolio, said there are many issues for seniors trying to manage their medications at home. They often take multiple medications for several health conditions. She recommends keeping all active medications in one location, storing them in a dry environment (not the bathroom or kitchen) and disposing of expired or discontinued medications. Set up a medication reminder system to help reduce the chance of missed doses. Take your meds at set times in your daily routine (e.g. with dinner, or first thing in the morning). Use one pharmacy, so that your record of all prescriptions and refills is in one place. This improves the pharmacist’s ability to catch drug interactions, duplications of therapy, and provides better coordination of refill dates.
Learn more at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( or call 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). You can also visit
 Oakland resident Amy Stice was worried about her grandmother, who lives in Moraga. Like so many East Bay elders, Grandma’s house is on a steep hill at the end of a twisty road. Amy was concerned that her grandmother would become isolated when she stopped driving last year.
“I tried to help out as much as I could, driving her myself, and found other resources in the community, such as Mobility Matters – but even with the services already available, I could see she wasn’t going to be able to maintain her former independent schedule, especially with her preference for on-demand rides,” Amy explained. “While there are lots of other companies trying to help, most assume all seniors understand smart phone technology and the on-demand protocol of Uber and Lyft.”
Amy turned to an old high school friend, Elizabeth Legg of Seattle, to see if together they could develop a better model. In January 2017, they launched, a concierge phone service for Bay Area seniors who want on-demand rides for everything from grocery store and hairdresser trips to doctor appointments and social events.
“Basically, we’re trying to take the stress off the older adult and other family members: you make the ride request, and we handle the details. We figure out the best route, find out where the driver needs to meet the customer, reschedule a new ride if a driver cancels, and provide the driver with information on any special customer needs (i.e. she uses a walker, or he is hard of hearing).”
The service is membership-based, with dues of $10 per month and a $3 surcharge added to the ride cost ($7 surcharge for before- and after-hours rides, when scheduled in advance). Ride fees are payable to the driver, like a taxi. Service is available seven days a week, from 9 am until 6 pm. You’ll get a quote at the time of the service, so there will be no surprises. Learn more:, 1-866-626-9879 or email
We’ve scheduled Amy to appear at our April 24 afternoon session on technology; please see event article in this issue for details.
“Sisters Matsumoto,” a play about post-WW II Japanese sisters, will be featured at the Lesher Center for the Arts March 31 through April 29. Three sisters discover secrets, lost opportunities and new beginnings in this charming story of a bittersweet homecoming. For tickets and more info, visit the website at:



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