Church program to focus on older-adult issues

Connie Wood.

A Topeka church will be the site of a seven-part series aimed at helping people navigate resources available to older adults.


The series, titled “Planning Ahead,” will be offered from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 13 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1701 S.W. Collins.

Besides the church, series sponsors will include Homestead Assisted Living and Midwest Health.

Connie Wood, a longtime advocate for older adults in Topeka and currently a consultant for Midwest Health, said the series will feature a different topic each week, with experts speaking on a wide range of issues.

Among topics to be addressed in the series are: retirement funding and estate planning; care options in Topeka; and end-of-life decisions.

A major focus will be on health care and the various options available to older adults in the capital city, she said.

“We’ll be talking about changes that have happened with health care,” Wood said. “We didn’t used to go to the doctor’s office that often when we were younger. Now, we’re finding that as we’re getting older, we’re going to see physicians more often.”

To illustrate her point, Wood said the average is 14 doctor visits per year for adults 65 and older.

A church setting is an appropriate place for the series, Wood said, as it provides a more relaxed atmosphere for attendees.

“It’s a more comfortable environment,” Wood said. “It’s not as threatening. They’ll see friends there.

“We’re trying to get them the resources they need. Hopefully, some of their family members can be with them at the programs.”

Ultimately, she said, the series is a way of helping older adults get a head start on planning for their future.

“It’s about knowing how to navigate the system and what questions to ask and where to go, and when to make decisions,” Wood said. “Hopefully, this will be a way of going through your aging process and knowing what’s available— when do you stay at home and use the resources that are available, or when do you make the move to where there’s more support when family’s not around?

“Then, all of us have to face death. That’s a reality. Again, what’s available, and how do you draw on those spiritual and physical resources that are offered?”

The schedule will include:

Sept. 13: “Navigating the Health Care System,” with Connie Wood, of Midwest Health.

Sept. 20: “Being Your Own Advocate,” with Amanda Nipps, of Homestead of Topeka and Kelly House.

Sept. 27: “Funding Your Retirement and Estate Planning,” with Amanda Nipps, of Homestead of Topeka and Kelly House.

Oct. 4: “Living at Home: The Basics of Home Health Care,” with Ed Schulte, of Caregivers.

Oct. 11: “Making Move: Care Options in Topeka,” with Susan Bullock, of Homestead of Topeka and Kelly House.

Oct. 18: “End of Life Decisions,” with Val Ireland, of Great Lakes Hospice, and “Pre-Planning Funeral Arrangements,” with Jed Dunnichay, of Penwell-Gabel Funeral Homes.

Oct. 25: “Memorialization: Hope and Healing,” with Suz McIver, of Midland Hospice, and the Rev. Tobias Schlingensiepen, of First Congregational Church.

To register for the free programs, call (785) 215-3609. For more information, call First Congregational Church at (785) 233-1786.