By Steve Holt, Thousand Oaks Acorn

Nobody is ever turned away from Senior Concerns for financial reasons

Older residents of the Conejo Valley can get information and assistance at Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks.

Andrea Gallagher, the new president of Senior Concerns, and Carol Freeman, former president, presented an hourlong seminar on the nonprofit organization last Friday.

The audience was this year’s class of Leadership Conejo, a Conejo Valley Greater Chamber of Commerce program. It’s a group of people who want to improve their manage- ment and communi- cation skills and increase their in- volvement in the community. (The Chamber finally gave me permission to join after I begged them so much I wore out a pair of pants.)

If Gallagher’s name rings a bell, it’s because she writes “The Other Side of 50,” another Acorn column. She’s a certified senior adviser. Although she’s busier now, I hope she can continue writing it.

Older people have fewer resources for guidance than younger people, according to Gallagher. Senior Concerns fills the void.

Gallagher discovered Senior Concerns soon after moving to Westlake Village in 2001.

She and her husband hosted a housewarming party for their neighbors and met an elderly couple without children who were living next door.

The husband took care of his wife, who used a wheelchair and had dementia.

They had no place to turn after the husband had a stroke and couldn’t drive, so Gallagher became their caretaker. She found help at Senior Concerns.

Gallagher eventually became a volunteer at Senior Concerns, which she described as “the resource of first and last resort” for older people and their families, friends and helpers.

Senior Concerns, Freeman said, is a nonprofit that was born in 1975. The City of Thousand Oaks recognized a need for its older citizens.

Meals on Wheels was the first program offered by Senior Concerns. It delivers a hot and cold meal every day except Christmas to people who are living at home but are unable to cook or to shop for groceries.

Senior Concerns at 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks offers day care for senior citizens. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekday program includes storytelling, singing, exercise and other activities for frail elderly people. They’re divided into three groups: mild dementia, more advanced dementia and severe dementia.

Day care is $60 per day. Extended care from 7:30 to 9 a.m. is also available for an additional $11 per day and from 3 to 5:30 p.m. for $16 per day.

Nobody is ever turned away from Senior Concerns for financial reasons. Fees can be applied with a sliding scale.

The state-licensed day care program serves two purposes. It keeps senior citizens healthy and alert, and it provides respite for their caretakers.

The latter, it seems to me, is as important—or more so—than the first.

Freeman said studies have shown that thinking, problemsolving and exercising the brain can slow the onset of dementia. (Now if I can just remember where I left that book of crossword puzzles, I’ll be all set.)

Senior Concerns gets a third of its revenue from fees, a third from grants and donations, and a third from fundraising and the Bargain Boutique at 80 E. Hillcrest Drive, across the street from Office Depot.

I’ve done some volunteer work at the thrift store through the Kiwanis Club of Thousand Oaks, and for savvy shoppers there are bargains galore.

Senior Concerns also assists with the senior advocates program at the Goebel Senior Center and other locations.

If you have a question, a problem or any situation regarding senior citizens, call (805) 497- 0189.

They genuinely care about helping you.

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