Senior Life’s Ask Irma: Concerned Daughter Needs Advice to her Mother’s Grief

Senior Nation is committed to offering resources to help us deal with the challenges and opportunities of aging. To that end, we are launching a new monthly column called “Ask Irma” by Irma Toce, where we focus on all topics related to aging.

Dear Irma,

Dad passed almost a year ago. Mom took such good care of dad. After my dad’s passing I’ve noticed Mom is not enjoying the things she once loved, she is not spending time with friends or taking care of herself. What can I do to help? Mom is healthy and was once vibrant.


Concerned Daughter


Dear Concerned Daughter,

Thank you for reaching out and showing concerns for mom.

Your mom is going through the grief of losing her husband. You also wrote that mom used to take care of him which implies that he was ill.

While taking care of a spouse is a difficult thing to do, it does give a sense of being “useful” and needed.

After your father’s passing all of a sudden the feeling of being needed is no longer there and mom might feel “useless.”

It also seems mom might suffer from depression because of her lack of interest in friends and taking care of herself

I would suggest to take her to her physician to check for depression and once she receives a clean bill of health to slowly introduce her to volunteering.

The Senior Center might be a good first place to start.

I hope you find a way to re-introduce mom to a social setting so she can enjoy herself among her peers.

Good luck to you and your mom.



Irma Toce is the  CEO of Londonderry on the Tred Avon with over 25 years experience work with seniors. Her years of experience in the field is accompanied by BS in social work and an MA in health management, Irma not only leads the dynamic community of Londonderry, but she is also nationally recognized as an expert in the field of aging.


Profiles at Londonderry: Bob Welte

Londonderry has started a new series of “Resident Profiles” highlighting a Londonderry resident with an interesting and compelling story. We often hear, “you never know who your neighbors are” within the Londonderry and greater Easton community, and offer these profiles as a way to highlight some of our very talented, accomplished and interesting friends and neighbors.

His Londonderry friends and neighbors may know him best as their witty and competitive bridge teacher, but Bob Welte’s story spans 86 years and both coasts of the United States.

Photo Caption: Following a satisfying career in engineering and physics spanning both coasts of the U.S., Bob Welte has made his home in Easton at Londonderry.

Bob Welte was born in 1932 in what would later become Silicon Valley, CA, and was part of the region’s transformation from fruit orchards to the hub of technological innovation for the country. He attended the University of Santa Clara, and then Stanford University for graduate school, where he studied electrical engineering and physics.

He married his wife, Diane, and together they had six children in five years. Described by Bob as “some kind of babe,” he also lauded her patience, kindness and skill as a “superb organizer” to manage their full, yet hectic, life making a home for their growing and active family.

Bob spent his early career in California’s Bay Area working on military contracts supporting the design and development of fighter jets used by the United States Navy and Air Force during the Cold War period.

After their children were grown, Bob continued his career in military defense and accepted a new position based in Manhattan. He and Diane relocated to New York while the children stayed in California. In reflecting on the move, Bob commented that “getting the kids out of the house” was the best thing he and Diane could have done for them, as it forced them to finally be on their own.

After 25 years in New York, Bob and Diane began considering retirement and had planned to return to California until they received an invitation to Easton’s storied Waterfowl Festival. They had been to the Shore previously when Bob’s work brought him to Washington, D.C., but had never considered retiring here. After a fun Festival weekend with friends, the decision was made. Easton would be their new home.

For the next 25 years, Bob and Diane lived on five acres on the Ratcliff Manor property in Easton. They were active members of the community and Bob gladly played the role of “Mr. Gopher” to support Diane’s volunteer work.

In 2014, Bob’s beloved Diane passed away. After selling their home at Ratcliff Manor, Bob joined the Londonderry Community where he has made a name for himself as a formidable bridge player. His mother, who Bob says, “was a little old woman who would beat the pants off you,” taught him to play. He now shares the family bridge playing secrets four times a week when he teaches lessons to his friends and neighbors.

Bob enjoys the Londonderry community and appreciates his neighbors and his ability to create a balance between activity and time alone. Bob remains close with his children and grandchildren and returns to California several times a year to visit.

For more information on Londonderry on the Tred Avon please go here

Mid-Shore Hospice Care: The Special Needs of Vets with Deborah Grassman

It’s hard to think of anyone more qualified to talk about the needs of war veterans as they enter their final stages of life than Deborah Grassman. A nurse practitioner by training, Deborah has had a remarkable record of working at the Veterans Administration specifically focused on hospice care for 30 years, and has directly participated in the final days of over 10,000 veterans.

Those experiences led Grassman to start her own organization, Opus Peace, to educate family members and hospice volunteers to be more aware of the very different emotions many aging vets have at the end of their lives when wartime memories involuntarily surface after years, sometimes decades, of suppression.

That was the primary reason Talbot Hospice invited Deborah to the Mid-Shore so she could share those stories and what she learned a few weeks ago. The Spy sat down with her before her evening lecture to talk about the extraordinary coming to terms to take place with many veterans as a come to the close of their lives and what families can do to help facilitate an honorable and peaceful death.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Hospice please go here

Beacon Hill to Talbot County: A Needed Village for Those Wanting to Age in Place

One of the unique shared experiences for those who helped start the Talbot Village Connections (TVC), or became a founding member, was learning about an experiment in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston in 2002 at almost the same time.

For TCV president, Lee Newcomb, it was an NBC News special, for Marion Donahue, vice president, and a founding member, Shirley Sallet, it was an ongoing series in the Boston Globe, but the net effect on all three was being intrigued by this revolutionary new program to help seniors age in place.

The idea was surprisingly simple. A core group of members and volunteers created a collective with modest dues to provide services or share resources aimed at those over 65 years old. From handyman jobs to connecting Roku streaming boxes, offering rides for doctor appointments, or provide healthy social opportunities, the Beacon Hill project made it easier for members to stay in their homes for as long as possible.

With Lee seeing this as a volunteer extension to her work with Talbot County’s Department of Social Services. and Marion a great link to her former career as a nurse, the two helped form the Talbot Village Connections in 2014 to try and replicate the Beacon Hill model for the County’s large senior population.

The Spy sat down with all three women a few weeks ago to talk about Talbot Village Connections, and understand the goals and mission of this new approach to senior living.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Talbot Village Connections will be having a Meet and Greet and  on Tuesday, March 27 at 2 PM – 7121 Station Road, Newcomb. RSVP to Suzanne Fino Carley – 410-829-3678. For more information on Talbot Village Connections please go here



Senior Nation: A Chat with Upper Shore Aging’s Gary Gunther

While it is true that the Mid-Shore has benefited significantly from the number of affluent couples who have chosen to retire in Kent, Talbot, or Caroline Counties, there are an equal number of those over 65 years old who are some of the region’s most frail and at-risk elders with their physical and mental health. With an estimated total of over 22,000, these individuals now faced even greater hardship as the threat of both federal and state funding caps on essential programs make it even more difficult keep pace with the cost of living and inflation.

This funding gap directly falls on the shoulders of one particular agency to fill these much-needed services to Mid-Shore elders, and that would be Upper Shore Aging, who has been doing just that for the last 43 years.

The Spy thought it would be a good time to sit down to check-in with Gary Gunther, who has been leading Upper Shore Aging for close to three decades, to understand more clearly their role in helping seniors. Gary has been one of the most consistent senior care advocates on the Shore as he and his agency face the ongoing challenge of providing essential services to the aging, manage three senior centers in Chestertown, Denton, Easton (and very shortly in St. Michaels) while continuing to run such well-used programs like Meals on Wheels and low-cost warm lunch meals to thousands in the region.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information or to make a donation to Upper Shore Aging please go here

Talbot Hospice Offers Memoir Workshop

Talbot Hospice is offering a six-week memoir workshop – Looking Back with Gentle Eyes – facilitated by Anne McCormick, M.Ed., Tuesday mornings 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., March 20 – April 24, 2018. The class is free of charge and open to the public. Class size is limited to ten participants. Advance registration is required and can be made by calling 410-822-6681.

McCormick is the retired Associate Director of the Learning and Counseling Center and adjunct professor of English at American University, Washington, D.C. She is the co-author of two books and numerous journal articles about accommodating college students with disabilities. Since retiring to the Eastern Shore, Anne has co-offered numerous workshops in memoir writing and served on multiple advocacy boards for individuals with disabilities.

Senior Nation: Store Opens on Mid-Shore to Help Seniors Age in Place

101 Mobility, experts in mobility and accessibility solutions, is now open on Kent Island. 101 Mobility sells, installs and services products to help seniors age in place, or individuals with illness or limited physical mobility stay in their home. They are your one-stop shop for stairlifts, modular ramps, in-home lifts, vertical platform lifts, inclined platform lifts, patient lifts, hospital beds, scooters, auto lifts, lift chairs, pool lifts and more. Rental options are available on some equipment. 101 Mobility also provides bathroom and other home modifications to adapt your home to your changing needs.

101 Mobility/Kent Island is locally owned and operated, and serves both sides of the Chesapeake Bay and Southern Delaware. They offer a wide variety of products from the most trusted manufacturers in the industry, backed by their signature service warranty. 101 Mobility is the leading provider of accessibility and mobility equipment with over 60 locations across the US and Puerto Rico.

Call 443-453-5737 to schedule a free, in-home assessment to find the best affordable options to meet your needs. To try before you buy, visit their new showroom in the Chesapeake Bay Business Park at 58 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville, MD. They have working stairlifts, vertical platform lifts, scooters, lift chairs, modular ramps and more. Hours are 9-5 Monday-Friday, or evenings and weekends by appointment.

Bayleigh Chase: The Future of Memory Loss on the Delmarva with Dr. Terry Detrich

Showing his strong native roots on the Mid-Shore, the first thing Dr. Terry Detrich notes about the establishment of the Samuel and Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh Chase in Easton was his long-festering grievance that the center’s location had replaced his favorite goose hunting spot. Growing up as a boy in Easton, he and his friends had used the farmland west of Route 50 for that purpose before leaving the Shore to attend college and medical school to become a neurologist.

Dr. Detrich returned to Talbot County after that intensive training to become the Delmarva’s first general neurologist and since the 1960s has been watching his field go from “diagnosis and adios” to stunning new breakthroughs in eldercare treatment for cognition disorders.

And while there have been peaks and valleys in the understanding of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease since the doctor started his practice forty plus years ago, he noted in his recent Spy interview that he has never been more encouraged than over the last two years as he and his colleagues began to see an evolution in how patients are treated with better results and more precise tools for prevention.

That was one of the reasons that led Dr. Detrich to join the staff of the Bratton Clinic this year and the Spy caught up with him on first day on the job late last year to talk about this new phase of Neurocognitive work and his renewed faith that real progress is being made.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Samuel and Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh Chase please go here

Senior Nation: Updating Dixon House with Residents in Mind

For Don Wooters, co-owner of Dwelling and Design, taking on a large manor house’s interior and creating a totally new environment for its occupants is nothing new. For years, Don has traveled the country doing just that for dozens of clients who have purposely sought out his unique eye for design.

What is new is that one of his most recent clients, the historic Dixon House, the assisted-living residence on North Higgins Street in Easton, was seeking more than a fresh look. With most of its residents well over 90 years old, Dixon was asking to use a new design with colors, fabrics and textured wallpapers that were both comforting but also stimulating to the eighteen men and women that call it their home.

And now that the paint is dry and the work crews have left, the Spy thought it would be a good time to check in with Don, and with Dixon House’s director, Linda Elben, to talk about this particular project.  Challenged to ensure that the non-institutional feel of Dixon was preserved, Don and Linda speak in their interview about their selection of colors, getting feedback from residents, and how the new look has dramatically changed for this group-living space.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Dixon House please go here

Inside the Sandwich: Muscular Dystrophy Carnivals and Annual Giving By Amelia Blades Steward

During the 1960s and 70s, it wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t hold a Muscular Dystrophy Carnival in my neighborhood near the high school in Easton. A group of about 10 kids from my neighborhood looked forward to these backyard carnivals, to benefit “Jerry’s kids.” The Muscular Dystrophy Carnival kits came in the mail and included tickets, posters and an idea pamphlet to help us raise the funds to help find a cure for the disease. It was an important and noble cause. We had watched for hours the Jerry Lewis Telethons on the television and wanted to do our part to help the kids we saw in the images on the screen. We didn’t have many children in wheelchairs in our school, so it seemed particularly important to reach out to those who were unfortunate enough to be in that situation.

We used each other’s backyards to host the carnivals and rotated from house to house each year, based on the parents who agreed to having their card tables placed in the grass outside and their clotheslines strung with sheets, providing backdrops to the games we played. The O’Briant family’s yard was the most popular one in which to hold the carnivals. We each had aluminum wash tubs to contribute for bobbing for apples or for the floating duck game, where you picked a duck and got a prize based on the number on the bottom of the duck. There were magic shows, fortune-telling booths, and Kool-Aid stands. Everything required a ticket and the tickets cost about five cents each.

We assembled our props and got the carnival set up, borrowing from each other’s households. An alley connected our backyards, so it was easy to get things from one place to another. There was Kool-Aid to be stirred, cookies to be baked, and we had to get out the word so people would come to our carnival. The nearby

Elks Club pool provided the perfect place to share our news. Word spread among the kids when the carnival would take place. Of course, we counted on our mothers coming – they helped fill out our numbers and usually donated extra money.

The carnival started around 11 a.m. and went until 1 p.m., when the pool opened. We didn’t like to miss our pool time. We took our carnival jobs seriously, whether running a game, performing, or selling drinks or food. We knew the more we smiled and encouraged our patrons, the more money we would make. As the day wore on, however, so did we. The sun shone high overhead and the humidity rose. Some of the excitement waned and my friends and I grew weary.

Once we had drunk the Kool-Aid and eaten the cookies, we were ready to pack up the games, return the tables, chairs and props and head to the pool. Before we did, however, it was exciting to see how much money we had raised. If we made over ten dollars, we were excited! We weren’t old enough to have checkbooks, so one of our parents would deposit the money and write a check to be mailed to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We waited anxiously for the return “thank you” letter in the mail from Jerry. It confirmed our hard work had paid off and showed we did something meaningful with our summer. These backyard carnivals instilled in us a compassion for helping others, something that still rings true today as the annual appeal letters arrive in the mail. While I no longer get that personal letter from Jerry, I still find satisfaction in anticipating the “thank you” after my annual donations are made – a confirmation that we can still make a difference, no matter how small the gift.