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What does volunteering do for you? Norman Regional Health System Volunteers

It fills my soul. I’ve been doing it for a year-and-a-half.  Dana Cantwell

It truly gives me an opportunity to give back to a community that’s given me so much. Hailey Dycus

It’s a community and it’s giving back to that community and interacting with a wonderful set of people.  Jonnina Benson

It gives me something to do on Wednesdays and it’s something to look forward to that’s fun. Dixie Hurd

Dear Savvy Senior,

What resources can you recommend to help older job seekers? I’m 60 and have been out of work for nearly a year now and need some help.

Seeking Employment

Dear Seeking,
While the U.S. job market has improved dramatically over the past few years, challenges still persist for many older workers. To help you find employment, there are job resource centers and a wide variety of online tools specifically created for older job seekers. Here’s where you can find help.
Job Centers
Depending on where you live, there are career service centers located throughout the U.S. that can help you find a job. One of the best is the American Job Center (AJC) that has around 2,500 centers nationwide. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, AJCs are free-to-use resource centers that can help you explore your career options, search for jobs, find training, write a resume, prepare for an interview and much more. To find a center near you, call 877-872-5627 or go to
Some other good programs for older workers include the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and AARP’s Back To Work 50+ program.
The SCSEP – sponsored by the Department of Labor – helps place income-eligible workers over age 55 in part-time, temporary community service positions where they can learn job skills. To learn more or locate a program in your area visit or call 877-872-5627.
AARP’s Back To Work 50+ program currently offers workshops in 19 locations around the U.S. that provide career counseling, job coaching and skills development for 50-plus job seekers. Or, if you can’t attend their workshop, they also offer an excellent guide called “7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers.” To get a free copy, or see if there’s a workshop in your area call 855-850-2525.
If none of the above programs are available in your area, check with your local public library or nearby community college to see if they provide career services.
Job Search Sites
There are also a number of online job search sites that can help you connect with companies that are looking for mature, experienced workers.
Some good sites for 50 and older job seekers include:, which offers a job search site and has online assessment tools, calculators, career guides and career coaches to help you; that provides information on finding temporary or seasonal jobs, as well as starting your own business, working from home, writing your resume, finding full-time work, and continuing your education; that lets you post your resume and search for full-time or part-time jobs online; and, which has job search functions and a list of favorite age-friendly employers by industry. It also gives you the ability to sign up for job alerts.
Work at Home
If you’re interested in working at home, there are many opportunities depending on your skills, but be careful of work-at-home scams that offer big paydays without much effort.
Some popular work-at-home jobs include sales and marketing, customer service, teaching and tutoring, writing and editing, Web development and design, consulting, interpreting and medical coding just to name a few.
To find these types of jobs, a good place to start is, which filters out the job scams and lists thousands of legitimate work-at-home jobs in dozens of categories. You can gain access to their listings for $15 for one month, $30 for three months or $50 for a year.
Start a Business
If you’re interested in starting a small business but could use some help getting started, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers tips, tools and free online courses that you can access at Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Program Chair Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D. (left) and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Rizwan Qaisar.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Rizwan Qaisar has been awarded an Irene Diamond Fund/AFAR Postdoctoral Transition Award in Aging.
The award, presented by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) with support from the Irene Diamond Fund, will provide $120,000 in flexible transitional funding to Qaisar, who is researching age-related muscle loss called sarcopenia at OMRF. Postdocs are individuals conducting research after finishing their doctoral studies and are pursuing further training and a well-defined career path.
AFAR is a leading nonprofit dedicated to advancing healthy aging through biomedical research. The goal of this program, according to AFAR, is to provide portable and flexible transitional funding for senior postdoctoral fellows as they develop and negotiate for faculty positions and research programs. The award provides full-time research training and grant support.
Founded in 1981, AFAR has awarded more than $175 million in grants to investigators and students across the U.S., Ireland, Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom.
“By giving these postdoctoral fellows this extra boost at a critical moment in their career path, AFAR is helping create a research pipeline that is essential to advancing better therapies for age-related diseases and discoveries that will help us all live healthier and longer,” said Jeremy Walston, M.D., Chair of the 2017 Selection Committee for the Irene Diamond Fund/AFAR Postdoctoral Transition Awards in Aging.
At OMRF, Qaisar works in the Aging and Metabolism Research Program with under the guidance of Program Chair Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D. looking specifically at the role of oxidative stress, or free radicals, in the long-term deterioration of muscle. Qaisar researches potential interventions for the disease pathways for sarcopenia, specifically the activation of the SERCA ATPase.
Qaisar earned his Ph.D. at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. His academic focus was looking at the mechanisms of muscle aging, and evaluating potential therapies to counter age-related weakness and muscle loss.
“I am extremely grateful and honored to receive this award,” said Qaisar. “This funding will provide me with a real opportunity to push my research forward and make a difference for our aging population.”

OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D..

Jobs. Kids. Commutes. Spouses.
With wall-to-wall daily schedules, it’s tough to carve out time for healthy habits. Too often, packed days claim two victims: adequate sleep and exercise. But if you’re forced to choose between the two, should you hit the gym or the pillow?
“That’s like asking whether food or water is more important,” said Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Both are cornerstones of good health.”
Still, he said, “If we could get everyone exercising regularly, we would be better off as a society than if everyone was getting eight hours of sleep nightly.” Working out helps stave off the effects of aging, fights heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and controls obesity, which has reached epidemic levels.
That certainly doesn’t make sleep less important, though, said Prescott. Adequate sleep helps maintain a healthy immune system and, like exercise, plays a role in maintaining healthy weight. “Most of all, it keeps us alert and allows us to concentrate, whether at our jobs or while driving,” he said.
Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 72,000 accidents in the U.S. each year. An analysis found that those who’d had 5 to 6 hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours were twice as likely to get in an accident as drivers who’d slept for 7 hours or more.
“Sleep needs vary by individual, but most of us fall somewhere between 7 and 9 hours a night to get all the health benefits needed,” said Prescott. Hitting that 7-hour mark, he said, is crucial. But, perhaps, he suggested, once you reach that mark, if you have to choose between an extra hour of sleep and exercising, getting up to hit the gym could be worthwhile.
“If you can do this and not suffer any consequences from it—falling asleep during the day, disrupted metabolism, reduced energy—then I believe it’s a worthwhile pursuit,” said Prescott.
“Still, I don’t like the having to pick between the two,” he said. “And if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. We can find the time if we make it a priority.”
“I would encourage anyone with a 15-minute window to get up and do something,” said Prescott. “Even if you can’t make it to the gym, take a quick walk. Go up and down the stairs. Do something that gets your heart rate up and makes you work.”
These quick bursts of exercise aren’t optimal, said Prescott, but they’re preferable to inactivity.
“Once you start any type of regular exercise, you’ll sleep better,” he said. “And better sleep means more energy. It’s a wonderful cycle of positive effects; you just have to commit to finding the time.”

The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) is continuing its mission to protect seniors from con artists. The agency is hosting a series of free events across the state to teach the state’s most vulnerable citizens how to spot, avoid and report fraud.
“The rise in the use of technology has given crooks new ways to scam people out of their hard-earned money,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “Seniors are especially susceptible because many of them have a substantial savings, excellent credit and aren’t likely to go to police if they think they’ve been scammed. We want to give seniors the upper hand the next time someone tries to take advantage of them.”
The U.S. Subcommittee on Health and Long Term Care estimates that seniors represent 30 percent of scam victims even though they make up only 12 percent of the population. One 2015 report estimated that older Americans lose $36.5 billion a year to financial scams and abuse. The perpetrators include fraudulent telemarketers, door-to-door con artists, identity thieves and Internet schemers.
At eight events across the state, experts from the OID’s Anti-Fraud Division, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Oklahoma Bankers Association and Oklahoma Department of Securities will detail the latest scams. The conferences will be held in March, April and May. Two paper shredders will be given away to public attendees at each location.
Each seminar is free for seniors and includes breakfast. Insurance professionals can attend a conference for four hours of Continuing Education (CE) credit. The cost for CE credit is $30.
The conferences are partially funded by the Administration on Community Living’s Senior Medicare Patrol grant. Attendees must register online at or by calling 800-763-2828.

2018 Senior Fraud Conference Schedule
Registration – 7:30 a.m., Breakfast – 8:00 a.m., Conference – 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
March 13 – Ardmore – Ardmore Convention Center, 2401 N. Rockford Rd. Salons D & E, Ardmore, OK 73401
March 28 – Oklahoma City – The Tower Hotel, 3233 Northwest Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73112
April 3 – Woodward- Woodward Conference Center, 3401 Centennial Lane Exhibit Hall A, Woodward, OK 73801
April 10 – Tulsa – Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills, 1902 E. 71st St. Council Oak Ballroom A-C, Tulsa, OK 74136
April 19 – Ponca City – Carolyn Renfro Event Center, 445 Fairview Ave., Ponca City, OK 74601
April 25 – Lawton – Cameron University, McMahon Centennial Complex, McCasland Ballroom A&B, 501 S.W. University Dr. Lawton, OK 73505
April 26 – Norman – Embassy Suites Norman, 2501 Conference Dr.
Norman, OK 73069
May 1 – Broken Arrow – Stoney Creek Hotel, 200 W. Albany St. Stone Room, Broken Arrow, OK 74012

The 21st Century Norman Seniors Association is pleased that members of the Norman City Council have taken a bold step forward in an effort to create a world-class multigenerational cultural facility that all members of the Norman community can be proud of. They have requested a resolution be placed on the February 27th agenda to authorize a Senior & Cultural Facility to be built on land previously leased from the University of Oklahoma.
The City of Norman has made significant progress in developing quality of life programs and facilities for many of its citizens over the past several years and, if successful, this new effort will bring seniors into the same position. This can be a unique and visionary asset for the city over the next fifty years. We laud the courage and vision it takes to create this concept.
Our Board of Directors has voted unanimously to support the development of a Senior & Cultural Facility located on the site recently leased from the University of Oklahoma near the YMCA.
This proposal has many advantages:
*$8.75 million has been budgeted and funded for a project creating a cultural center which has been authorized by the TIF oversight committee.
*Five acres are already leased and dedicated for a senior facility, and there is open space around the site for future creative initiatives.
*The location is adjacent to the YMCA and the future Norman Forward projects of an indoor aquatic facility and a multi-sport facility. These projects include a redesign of Berry Rd. and the intersection at Westheimer Dr. where the Senior & Cultural Center would be located. Legacy Trail will be extended to this area and additional public transportation will be implemented with the new Norman Forward projects. It will be a senior friendly location.
*Creating the concept of cultural activities combined with a senior center broadens the scope and type of activities that would naturally occur in this new facility. These would include joint activities between seniors and creative organizations from the Norman community such as art shows, dance or theater productions, educational programs, etc. Seniors can bring the enormous value of experience, time and dedication to bear in helping develop these activities. It could lead to Norman being a nationwide model in the evolution of senior friendly communities.
Although there is a lot of work to do and many decisions that will have to be made to finalize the concepts in this revolutionary proposal, we urge all members of the City Council and the Mayor to vote for this resolution. It will move Norman Forward.

Eleven Oklahoma skilled nursing care centers, their nurses and other staff members were recently recognized by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
The centers, located throughout the state, were recognized through AHCA/NCAL’s Quality Initiative Recognition Program for quality and service improvements. Facilities honored were:
*Cedar Creek Nursing Center – Norman
*Claremore Nursing Home – Claremore
*Forrest Manor Nursing Center – Dewey
*Grace Living Center – Edmond
* Grace Living Center-Southwest – Oklahoma City
*Emerald Care-Southwest – Oklahoma City
*Medicalodge of Dewey – Dewey
*Montevista Rehabilitation and Skilled Care – Lawton
*Rainbow Health Care Community – Bristow
*Shanoan Springs Residence – Chickasha
*The Village at Southern Hills – Tulsa
AHCA’s Quality Initiative Recognition Program recognizes association members who attain at least four of eight quality initiative goals, President/CEO Mark Parkinson said. Those objectives include:
*Reducing hospitalizations – Facilities are assessed either for their safe reduction of long-stay resident hospital stays of at least 15 percent from December 2014 or for achieving or maintaining a 10 percent or lower rate.
*Minimizing nursing staff turnover – Centers that either accomplish a 15 percent decrease from 2015 levels or maintain less than 40 percent total nursing turnover rates meet this criteria.
*Cutting hospital readmissions – This goal aims at safely reducing hospital readmissions, within 30 days of first admission, by 30 percent, compared to December 2011 levels or maintaining a 10 percent readmission rate overall.
*Decreasing off-label antipsychotics use – Long-stay nursing resident use of off-label antipsychotics must be reduced by 30 percent from December 2011 levels to qualify for this particular achievement.
*Reducing unintended health care outcomes – Accomplishing this goal “improves the lives of the patients, residents and families skilled nursing care providers serve,” the Office of Inspector General found, according to a 2014 report.
*Improving discharge rates – Facilities are tasked with maintaining a 70 percent rate, or 10 percent improvement since December 2014, of patient discharges back to the community.
*Boosting functional outcomes – Centers must improve functional outcomes by 10 percent since December 2015 or maintain a 75 percent improvement rate to attain this goal.
*Adopting Core-Q questionnaire – AHCA developed the Core-Q questionnaire specifically for use by post-acute and long-term care providers, Parkinson said. Adopting the practices outlined, measuring and uploading results may satisfy this particular program aspect.
“Improving quality care as a profession requires dedication from many organizations,” Parkinson said. “The program provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the progress that our members have made by achieving the quality initiative goals and improving care for individuals living in their communities, and I commend their hard work.”
Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers is the AHCA state affiliate. More information about AHCA may be found on its website, located at; OAHCP’s site is

Date/ Day/ Location/ Time/ Registration #/ Instructor

Mar 1/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Varacchi
Integris 3rd Age Life Center – 5100 N. Brookline, Suite 100
Mar 2/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 681-3266/ Hughey
Woodson Park Senior Center – 3401 S. May Ave.
Mar 6/ Tuesday/ Moore/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 307- 3177/ Palinsky
Norman Regional Hosp Moore (Conf. Center) – 700 S. Telephone Rd
Mar 9/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Mar 9/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 297-1455/ Palinsky
Will Rogers Senior Center – 3501 Pat Murphy Dr.
Mar 10/ Saturday/ Moore/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 799-3130/ Hughey
Brand Senior Center – 501 E. Main St.
Mar 13/ Tuesday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 691-4091/ Palinsky
Rose State Conventional Learning Center – 6191 Tinker Diagonal
Mar 21/ Wednesday/ Okla. City/ 10 am – 4 pm/ 605-6900/ Harms
Grand Tapestry – 14201 N. Kentucky
Mar 24/ Saturday/ Shawnee/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 818-2916/ Brase
Gordon Cooper Tech. Center – One John C. Burton Blvd.
The prices for the classes are: $15 for AARP members and $20 for Non-AARP. Call John Palinsky, zone coordinator for the Oklahoma City area at 405-691-4091 or send mail to:

The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) recovered more than $3 million for policyholders in 2017. The money was paid out to Oklahomans who had claim disputes with their insurance company.
“Oklahomans have the right to expect their insurance company to uphold the agreement made in their policy,” Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said. “I am very proud of our Consumer Assistance Division for its work to recover this money and their daily dedication to educate and help all Oklahomans with insurance issues.”
OID’s Consumer Assistance/Claims Division processes and investigates all complaints lodged by the public against insurance companies. The division opened 6,220 files in 2017. In that year, employees also answered more than 16,000 phone calls. The money recovered for last year totaled $3,326,828.16.
“Our department’s mission is to protect consumers by making sure insurance companies are following all laws and regulations,” said Lydia Shirley, Assistant Commissioner of the Consumer Assistance/Claims Division. “We are here to make sure Oklahomans are getting the coverage they were promised.”
Oklahomans who believe their insurance claim has not been handled properly are encouraged to call the Consumer Assistance Division at 800-522-0071.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.

Accel at Crystal Park to offer BCBS and Humana options

In a move that increases health care insurance options and manages cost for consumers, StoneGate Senior Living, LLC, an award-winning full spectrum senior care and housing facility, announces new in-network insurance provider agreements with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana for Accel at Crystal Park. Accel at Crystal Park is a skilled nursing care and rehabilitative facility serving the Oklahoma market, and its newest agreements join existing contracts with Medicare Advantage, the Health Insurance Marketplace, Tricare military health benefits plan and the Oklahoma government employee’s health plan.
“Our commitment at Accel at Crystal Park is to ensure the highest standard in patient care and rehabilitation, and access to in-network insurance providers is a critical part of this effort,” says Tamara Meadows, RN-BC, StoneGate Senior Living Divisional Director of Clinical Operations, Oklahoma. “We are proud to add Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana to our in-network insurance options, and offer expanded choice and cost management to our patients.”
The new in-network insurance provider agreements with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana for Accel at Crystal Park will allow admittance for short-term, inpatient therapies and skilled nursing with lower, in-network copays, deductibles, & annual out-of-pocket expenses.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield contract agreement was effective as of December 1, 2017, and the Humana agreement took effect February 1, 2018.
For more information, visit:
Accel at Crystal Park opened in February 2017, and features 59 private transitional care suites designed for patients recovering from an acute care event. Accel delivers modern amenities and technology, with a rehabilitation gym offering modern equipment and technologies that help patients complete post-acute rehabilitation as quickly as possible and return to their lifestyle. Learn more: