Liz Shumate, LCSW, says resources are available to help seniors find happiness at any age.

by Bobby Anderson,
Staff Writer

As a licensed clinical social worker, Liz Shumate understands sadness and depression are not a normal part of aging.
But for thousands of Oklahoma seniors, happiness is something they believe is long gone.
“Happiness is obtainable,” said Shumate, program manager at Norman Regional Senior Counseling Center. “Even though you’re an older adult that doesn’t mean that your older years need to be unhappy. There’s ample opportunities to help people be the best version of themselves and make changes and find new happiness.”
Throughout the week at Norman Regional Moore, 700 S. Telephone Rd, you’ll see seniors working on finding that happiness once again.
There’s smiles, tears, coffee, conversation and even lunch.
Shumate says the later years of life should be a time of enjoyment and continued positive, intellectual and emotional growth.
Senior adults experience a variety of unique and difficult life changes that can be overwhelming at times. For some, these challenges include declining physical or mental capabilities, the loss of independence and the loss of loved ones. These changes may cause confusion, depression, anxiety and withdrawal.
Many who lived through the Great Depression and war years often try to overcome their emotional obstacles on their own. Often unrecognized for a treatable condition, depression and feelings of sadness are allowed to remain untreated for years, allowing senior’s mental and physical health to spiral downward.
Counseling is also something unique to many older Americans.
“I think sometimes older adults are often overlooked,” Shumate said. “But they just seem to be very appreciative of the consistency of a caring person helping them get to where they want to be.”
Many of Shumate’s patients live alone. Isolation can be the worst thing possible for those struggling.
“The great thing about our service is the primary service we offer is group therapy,” Shumate said. “That’s an opportunity for people to not only interact with a therapist but to get that peer support. Often times they’re able to realize ‘I’m not the only one or other people have problems, too.’ When you’re isolated you tend to focus on what you don’t have and what you can’t do. Often smaller problems will exacerbate into bigger issues and they are something we can help you work on if you’re open to meeting new people and participating in the process.”
Transportation is provided within a 35-mile radius and vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts. Program services are offered during the day which allows patients to return to their homes in the afternoon.
Norman Regional Senior Counseling Center provides three group therapy sessions that incorporate fun and friendliness while discussing life’s victories and challenges.
A relaxed, comfortable environment is provided where patients are encouraged to participate in groups and is designed to promote achievement of individualized treatment goals.
Participants are served a lunch and provided snack breaks between sessions. Inspiration provides bathroom assistance to meet each patient’s individual needs. Services are approved and monitored by a physician.
Farhan Jawed, MD, is the medical director of the counseling program.
“Norman Regional Senior Counseling Center provides stability for a vulnerable population,” Jawed said. “Our services create routine and structure as we support the patient’s overall well-being. We collaborate with family to provide education about their loved one’s psychiatric disorder to support successful treatment outcomes.”
Shumate said each day often begins with patient arriving and greeting one another over coffee.
Relevant group therapy curriculum is always planned but Shumate says the beginning moments where patients are encouraged to share victories and setbacks often will steer the conversation.
There are breaks and then lunch is served.
Shumate knows the lunch hour is often a time when seniors are able to begin processing their morning.
“Often times you’ll hear people say ‘I never thought about that. This is motivation for me to try new things,’” Shumate said. “A lot of our folks who have been isolated or depressed we don’t just say ‘call this number.’
“You’ll hear a lot of encouragement in the dining room – peer support – and then they go home on the bus and that’s more socialization time.”
Signs you or a loved one could use help:
*Irritability or agitation
*Loss of interest in activities
*Feelings of suspicion and mistrust
*Excessive worry and anxiety
*Tearfulness or crying spells
Norman Regional Senior Counseling Center offers two schedule options for participants. The morning program runs from 9 a.m. to noon and the afternoon program is offered from 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. with transportation offered.
If you or someone you know could benefit from this program simply call (405) 912-3495. A screening will be provided at your convenience in the comfort of your home. Medicare is accepted.

Oklahoma Wound Center Medical Director Dr. TaySha Howell (second from left) and cardiologist Dr. Archana Gautam (far right) and Karen Ritchie, RN, hosted Save a Leg, Save a Life founder Dr. Desmond Bell to promote limb salvage awareness.

by Bobby Anderson
Staff Writer

Karen Ritchie, RN, has seen the looks come across the faces of new patients walking into the Norman Regional Oklahoma Wound Center.
There’s the understandable fear, anxiety and trepidation that comes with a process that has the possibility of unthinkable outcomes – the loss of limb and possibly life.
As Norman Regional Health System’s diabetic limb salvage nurse navigator, Ritchie always has a smile, caring word and a message for those patients: There’s hope.
That was just one of the messages stressed by Dr. Desmond Bell, DPM, CWS, president and founder of the Save a Leg, Save a Life Foundation (SalSal) during his presentation “The Gift of a Second Chance.”
Bell’s presentation capped a month-long awareness campaign spearheaded by Dr. TaySha Howell and staff at the Oklahoma Wound Center.
“SalSal is about creating awareness in the community and educating patients as well as the medical community,” said NRHS cardiologist Dr. Archana Gautam. “For many years everyone knew about peripheral vascular diseases but nobody was aggressive at treating it.”
Ritchie says that in any given year Oklahoma is No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation in total amputations.
The statistics Bell shared are alarming with more than 65,000 major amputations performed annually for crucial limb ischemia (CLI) alone.
Within five years nearly 70 percent of those patients are dead.
“Amputation should not be seen as a treatment option, but a treatment failure,” Bell said, quoting one of his colleagues.
The five-year mortality rate for a non-healing neuropathic ulcer is 45 percent.
Bell singled out the Oklahoma Wound Center as a national leader in promoting wound care awareness.
“Your group here has done a phenomenal job and I just can’t thank you enough,” he said. “You may not realize this but Norman … you all have been the model for what is to come and I’m sure what we’re going to accomplish you’ll look back on this day and be very, very proud in the next few years.”
After Bell addressed the group, patient after patient shared stories about their treatment journey at Oklahoma Wound Center.
“I drive a truck for a living and I was worried about not being able to do what I did,” said Eldon P., who presented with a diabetic toe. “I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. It’s pretty scary and I went through some pretty rough times emotionally thinking I might lose a limb.”
The therapies, including hyperbaric oxygen dives, helped save his foot.
“It was a long journey, but well worth it,” said Carol T., beginning to tear up while sharing her diabetic ulcer story. “I definitely got the second chance message. There are things you take for granted until you could be missing it. I just thank Dr. Howell and her whole team.”
Bell said the SalSal Foundation is in its infancy, much like the Breast Cancer Awareness group Susan G. Komen Foundation was years ago.
That group started with a promise from one sister to another.
“Imagine what we could do if we had a dollar from every single person with diabetes in this country. It’s mindboggling but it’s achievable,” Bell said. “Five years from now we’ll look back and the things you all have done for our organization will be among the most impactful.”
Bell pointed out that the underlying factors such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease and obesity are more universal than cancer.
“If someone gets the word cancer thrown at them then all the wheels are set in motion and they become their own best advocate,” Bell said. “Yet our patients don’t understand what’s happening. They don’t understand the pain that’s ahead of them. It’s probably one of the most undignified ways to leave this world.”
“We have to do better, simply stated.”
Howell, wholeheartedly agrees and has a message for patients and clinicians.
“It’s so vital because either the patient doesn’t realize how serious it is … but also sometimes to primary care doctors the wound doesn’t look really infected, big or the patient doesn’t complain it hurts,” Howell said. “So a month goes by and another … and they get bone infection or no blood flow and it just blows up into some disaster where if they come when they first have a wound it’s so much easier to turn around.”
That’s why Ritchie loves her job, because she understands she truly saves lives. “It’s awesome. Wound care is very different than being a staff nurse or floor nurse,” Ritchie said. “With those patients they come in and you make them feel a little bit better and they are discharged and go on their way. With wound care they come in with wounds they know are going to take time to heal and you see them for weeks.”
“Once you know they’ve been successful – that’s the most awesome, most fulfilling feeling.”
“That’s what you went to nursing school for.”

Dear Savvy Senior, My husband and I are interested in getting a couple of bicycles for leisurely exercise and fun, and would like to get your recommendation. We’re both approaching 60 and are a little overweight, and it’s been a while since we rode. Easy Riders

Dear Easy,
If you’re interested in leisurely, recreational riding for fitness and fun, a great option is a “comfort bike,” which is very popular among baby boomers. Here’s what you should know about this option, along with some tips to help you shop and choose.
Comfort Bikes
A comfort bike is a style of bicycle that’s easy on an aging body because it lets you ride in a more comfortable upright position. These bikes have high handlebars so you don’t have to hunch over, which eases lower-back strain and reduces pressure on the wrists and hands. They also come with wide tires for a smooth ride, offer fewer gears, and have soft, wide seats to eliminate saddle soreness.
Most comfort bikes also come with shock-absorbing forks and seat posts for additional comfort. And some offer unique design features like an ultra low step-over bar that makes getting on and off easy for people with limited flexibility (like the Biria Easy Boarding at Biria.com), or the “flat-foot” design offered by many manufacturers where the pedals are moved forward, away from the seat. This allows you to get a full-leg extension when you pedal, but keeps the seat in a lower position so when you’re stopped, you can put your feet down flat on the ground while seated, which is a great safety feature for older riders.
Most major manufacturers including Electra, Sun, Raleigh, GT, Giant, and Trek all make a line of comfort bikes that costs between $300 and $800 or more depending on its features.
Shopping Tips
To find a quality comfort bike, your best option is to find a good bike shop in your area. Bikes from big box stores, like Walmart and Target, are mass-market bikes that may be less expensive, but the quality isn’t as good and they’re typically seven to eight pounds heaver. They also come in only one size, so you’re not likely to get a great fit.
Before you buy any bike, be sure you take it for a test ride first to ensure that the seat and fit of the bike is comfortable, the brakes and shifters are easy to use, the gears can go low enough for climbing hills, and the frame and suspension adequately smooth the bumps.
Recumbent Bikes
If the comfort bikes don’t meet your needs, another popular style among older riders is a recumbent bike. These are the low-to-the-ground, stretched-out frame bikes with La-Z-Boy style seats that allow you to recline with your legs positioned in front of you.
Recumbent bikes are very comfy, easy on the back, arms and shoulders, and aerodynamic which make them ideal for long rides. The disadvantages, because they are low-to-the-ground, they can be harder to balance and maneuver, and are more difficult for other vehicles to see.
If you worry about falling or want more stability when you ride consider a three-wheel recumbent trike. See SunSeeker.bike and TerraTrike.com for a nice variety, but be aware that recumbent bikes are more expensive, typically ranging between $1,000 and $2,500.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Amy Chlouber, LPC-S was recognized recently for her work with the 2017 C.V. Ramana Award. She is pictured here with the late C.V. Ramana’s wife, Marjorie, left, and their son, Rob Ramana.

Amy Chlouber, Sunbeam Family Services Early Childhood Mental Health Coordinator, LPC-S, was recently honored with the 2017 C.V. Ramana Award. The award recognizes Chlouber for her outstanding contributions to children’s mental health in Oklahoma.
The C.V. Ramana Award was established to honor individuals who have played exceptional roles in enhancing awareness of children’s needs and the development of education and services to meet those needs.
Amy leads Sunbeam’s Infant Mental Health efforts with enhanced and expanded Infant Mental Health services across the organization’s four core programs: early childhood, foster care, counseling and senior services. She and her team also provide training for child welfare professionals and the District Courts of Oklahoma County as well as community presentations that create awareness about the mental health needs of infants and very young children who experience stress and trauma.
“Amy leads this initiative with her vision and passion for the youngest and most vulnerable in our community. She is the Russell Westbrook of Infant Mental Health. Talented. Passionate. Resourceful. Focused,” said Sunbeam Family Services CEO Jim Priest. “I don’t know how well she shoots free throws, but I know she consistently scores a triple double in the arena of Infant Mental Health.”
Amy is an Endorsed Infant Mental Health Mentor-Clinical/IMH-E ® (IV-C) who has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years, specializing in infant and early childhood mental health in public, private and non-profit organizations. She has provided home and office-based therapy services and support to biological, kinship, foster and adoptive families. Amy developed and served as Clinical Director of a private mental health agency satellite office where she provided consultation and training to child welfare professionals and foster families as well as content expertise in juvenile court. She served on the Board of Directors of Canadian County CASA and provided training to CASA volunteers for many years. Amy was one of the original therapists chosen to participate in Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation pilot in licensed child care facilities. She served as the Mental Health and Disabilities Coordinator for Early Head Start through Sunbeam Family Services where she provided consultation and training for direct care and administrative staff and was instrumental in the design of the mental health program of OKC Educare. Amy left Sunbeam to work at the state level for seven years providing leadership and oversight of the Oklahoma Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Strategic Plan. She has served on numerous local, state and national early childhood work groups. Amy is on the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health (OK-AIMH) and is currently President-elect. She returned to Sunbeam in 2015 as the Early Childhood Services Manager.

The Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble presents “Bach and Brahms II” in its sixth annual spring chamber music festival at St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City.
The four-concert festival will present some of the best-loved works by two of the world’s greatest composers, including two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and works for organ, a cello suite, a cantata, and the powerfully moving Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor, described by violinist Joshua Bell as “not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. “ Also on the program will be works by Brahms: sonatas, organ and chamber works and lieder featuring Philadelphia baritone Randall Scarlata.
Fourteen Brightmusic musicians will be appearing during the Festival. See the attached sheet for a complete list.
All concerts will begin at 7:30 pm, except for the 4:00 pm Sunday concert, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 NW 7th Street (at Robinson). A pass for all four concerts is available at the door or on our website at www.brightmusic.org/concerts for $50 each (a savings of $30 over individual concert tickets of $20). Students and active-duty military personnel are admitted free with ID. Also, any who would like to attend but feel they cannot due to financial hardship as a result of recent layoffs in the energy sector are invited to join us as guests of the musicians by simply advising the person at the front desk that they are guests of the musicians and no questions will be asked. More information about the festival is available on Brightmusic’s website at http://www.brightmusic.org.

ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN

The American Nurses Association (ANA) today announced its continued opposition to the pending American Health Care Act (AHCA) and urges Congress to reject this flawed legislation. ANA, which represents the interests of more than 3.6 million registered nurses, has expressed serious concerns throughout negotiations about the critical impact the AHCA would have on the 24 million people who stand to lose insurance coverage if AHCA becomes law.
“This bill is an extreme departure from ANA’s priorities,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “AHCA would cut Medicaid funding by $880 billion over 10 years, dramatically increase premiums on seniors, restrict millions of women from access to health care, weaken the sustainability of Medicare, and repeal income-based subsidies that have made it possible for millions of families to buy health insurance.”
Under AHCA, states would have the option to waive essential health benefit protections which prevent insurance companies from charging Americans with pre-existing conditions significantly more for coverage. Even worse, insurers could decline coverage for substance abuse treatment, maternity care, and preventive services. “As the nation’s most trusted profession and largest group of health care professionals, nurses understand the importance of health coverage,” Cipriano continued. “ANA urges Congress to not deny peoples’ right to health care and quality of life by standing with the American people in opposing AHCA in its current form. ANA will continue to work with Congress to help improve health care delivery, coverage, and affordability for all Americans.”

Central Oklahoma Chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America has received scholarship applications and is now in the process of determining which two applicants will receive $1,000 each for the fall semester of college next year. This is the second year that the Central Oklahoma Chapter of HLAA has given scholarships to local students. The summer season sees activities slow down but one would not know it from the schedule. This is a time of fun and planning for HLAA Central Oklahoma Chapter. May and June the chapter holds “fun” nights instead of regular chapter meetings. Several local members are preparing to attend the national convention in Salt Lake City this June. In August we have an ice cream social where new chapter officers will be introduced and our scholarships will be awarded. All events are open to the public and there is no charge for attendance. Visit our website for more information. WWW. OKCHearingLoss.org.

The 19th Annual Caregiver Survival Skills Conference is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Friday, June 9 at Church of the Servant Community Hall, 14343 N. MacArthur Blvd.
The theme for this year’s conference is United in Caregiving: You Are Not Alone. The conference affirms for caregivers that being responsible for another person is challenging and many caregivers feel unprepared, overwhelmed or stressed. The Annual Caregiver Survival Skills Conference will bring expert speakers together to equip conference-goers with important skills and resources they can implement immediately.
Jerry Shiles, estate planning and elder law attorney with Parman and Easterday, will be one of the event speakers. He is the co-author of two books, Estate Planning Basics: A Crash Course in Safeguarding Your Legacy and Guiding Those Left Behind in Oklahoma: Settling the Affairs of Your Loved One. He is a speaker on estate planning and elder law on television, radio, newspapers and for community groups. He is one of 21 certified elder law attorneys in the state of Oklahoma, a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Other speakers include Andrea Sneed, Sunbeam Family Services Respite Services Coordinator; and keynote speaker Meredith Shafer, executive director of the Wegener Foundation, an organization that supports programs that serve at-risk children and youth. She is also a wife, mother and author of My Pink Champagne Life and Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story.
The Annual Caregiver Survival Skills Conference is sponsored by Sunbeam Family Services, Concordia Life Care Community, Home Instead Senior Care and Mercy Hospital. In addition to the speakers, the conference will provide complimentary breakfast and lunch as well as a resource fair. The registration and resource fair will open at 8:30 a.m. There is a suggested donation of $10 to attend the conference; please make checks payable to Mercy Community Outreach. Registration deadline is June 1. For more information or to register, call 405.936.5821. Please leave a message with your name and phone number, and your call will be returned for confirmation.

Q. I never really thought about “conversational intimacy” and the role it plays in a relationship. It is much harder than people think and sad to think I lost my marriage because of it. I wanted to make others aware of the knowledge I gained and to encourage you to do it before it is too late.

A. My name is Jim and I was married for 16 years. My wife and I both worked full time and we were raising two children. We were busy like all married couples with children’s activities and managing a home.
My wife would occasionally tell me that we needed “to talk” and I would get very busy hoping she would forget. She didn’t. These “talks” always made me anxious. She wanted to discuss a problem or issue related to our marriage or “my behavior.” I would attempt to talk, she would get frustrated and I would completely forget the English language. She could “out talk” me.
We went to counseling and my wife would vent her frustrations to the counselor, often crying saying how alone she felt. I would sit there and pat her on the back, which interesting enough made her dislike me even more. That’s when I learned about “conversational intimacy.” (which I was lacking).
The counselor had us sit facing each other and make eye . (Also hard to do). It was really grueling and strangely informative. I realized that my wife and I had no trouble with physical intimacy (that is until she began to really dislike me) but I’m not sure we ever really had conversational intimacy to begin with. Of course we “talked” during dating and engagement and I’m sure after we married but intimate conversations were rare.
We practiced in the counselor’s office but at home we struggled. My wife had developed some resentments towards me for my lack of concern for her desire to talk, apparently building for several years. I learned that resentments can’t easily be discarded.
She was upset that it took so long for me to “get it.” When she told me that she wanted a divorce I was devastated. I had no idea I had caused so much damage by not making myself available, listening, validating her feelings and trying to find solutions. Having physical intimacy was way more enjoyable and didn’t really require much talking. I made myself very available.
As I sit here in my apartment, alone, after taking my children back to my ex-wife’s house (previously my house too), I have become wiser. I learned how important it is to occasionally have deep conversations, to really get to know the person that I have grown to love.
new drug and you find it does help your symptoms. But when you are told it will cost $475 after your samples are gone, what is the point.
I was personally given a prescription for a skin cream, with a coupon because the doctor told me it might be expensive. When I went to pick up the prescription the pharmacy tech had a strange look on his face when he told me the small tube of cream was $1042 after the coupon!!
Be cautious. Pay attention to the side affects listed for these drugs. If you can make behavioral or life changes, try that first. Your health and your money are at risk.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at news@okcnursingtimes.com