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There was more talk of the Bi-County Parkway at a Prince William Committee of 100 meeting Thursday night

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Here are the 10 things seniors wished their caregivers knew

If you’ve spent time around seniors, you might have noticed some patterns in their basic needs. Many times, though, caregivers are inexperienced or they don’t know what to look for. And of course, caregivers tend to be younger than the seniors in their lives.

The challenge is that for most younger people, aging feels foreign, which make sense. They haven’t aged yet, so how can they know what it’s like to be a senior? If you are a caregiver especially, though, you need to understand seniors. And while every person is different, here are ten things most seniors wish their caregivers knew.

1.    I need to be with people, even if I don’t talk. Human beings are naturally social. But that doesn’t mean they always want to be verbal. Throw in feeling tired or introverted, and you come up with a quiet person. But silence doesn’t necessarily mean the senior in your life doesn’t want company. So long as nothing is wrong, being less vocal often means they just don’t feel like talking.


2.    I need you to know what I like. As we age, the things we used to enjoy may not be what we enjoy now. Food tastes different. Sensations feel different. Activities that used to be easy are now more difficult and might feel like work instead of play. While it’s okay to remind the senior in your life of things they used to enjoy, don’t push it. Pay attention to what they like right now and give them the opportunity to experience it.

3.    I need help keeping my balance. As we age, we tend to lose our balance more easily. There are many reasons for this. Muscle mass changes, weight changes, equilibrium changes…these all affect balance in seniors. Keep an eye on the senior in your life. Help them get to their walker if they use one. Lend an extra hand to help them feel more secure.

4.    I need you to go to the doctor’s office with me. If you’ve ever been confused by medical lingo, you can imagine what it might be like for a senior. Technology, terminology and procedures have changed, and it’s hard to keep up with those changes. Sometimes it can be difficult just getting through the office door, especially with medical or adaptive equipment and/or mobility challenges. You can help by accompanying the senior in your life to the doctor’s office. Be prepared to take notes, explain what is being said and lend a steadying hand.

5.    I need you to remind me to do certain things. This goes for seniors with and without dementia or Alzheimer’s. Seniors might need any number of reminders. From taking medicine to turning off the stove, the details in life can get overwhelming. If you see the senior in your life forgetting something, offer a gentle, kind reminder – never a reprimand.

6.    I need you to be patient. Seniors have lived longer lives. Their brains are filled with more details and experiences. Their bodies and their minds might move more slowly than we’re accustomed to, especially if we knew them earlier on in life. Expect that things will take more time. If you are on a schedule, leave enough time to account for their needs.

7.    I need you to treat me like an adult. The idea that you become a parent to your parent is somewhat of a myth. While it might feel that way sometimes, seniors are not children. They are older adults. They want respect, and they want to be as independent as possible. Being spoken to like they are children encourages dependence and is belittling, even if the speaker doesn’t mean it.  

8.    I need you to understand my fears. Between physical and psychological changes, as well as rapid changes in society and environments, the world can be a pretty scary place for many seniors. Fear of falling, fear of becoming a victim, fear of losing independence, fear of loneliness – all of these are common fears seniors experience. Help them understand the world around them and remind them of the support they have so they can feel more comfortable.

9.    I need you to understand why I get agitated. Whether it’s an uncomfortable sensation, fatigue, frustration with limitations or just pure aggravation, seniors can sometimes lose patience and lash out. Dementia and Alzheimer’s, along with personality traits, can add to that mix. Learn the warning signs. And if you need help understanding how to work with agitation, reach out to a professional.

10.    I need you to accept who I am. Caregivers have a tendency to want to fix things. But seniors don’t need to be fixed. They aren’t broken. They have lived a lifetime to become the person they are right now. They are who they are, and who they are is something special. Treat them that way.

Interestingly enough, most of these needs are shared by people of all ages. But for some reason, we look at seniors differently, as if being older means something separate from being a “normal” human. Remove that thought entirely. You’ll discover your relationship with the senior in your life will improve, and everyone’s lives will be enriched because of it.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care serving Prince William and Fauquier counties. 

Go to the park, go to the landfill (and more) on President’s Day in Stafford

From the Stafford County press release:

Stafford, Va. – Stafford offices, departments, facilities and all courts will be closed on Monday, February 19, 2018, for the President’s Day holiday. All offices of the Rappahannock Area Health District will be closed as well.

The following offices and facilities will remain open:

Fire and Rescue Information                          (540) 658-4400

Emergency 911

Sheriff’s Office Information                            (540) 658-4400

Emergency 911

Magistrate                                 (540) 659-2968

Regional Landfill                      (540) 659-5279

All parks will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Virginia may create ombudsman to help with student loans

RICHMOND – Virginia legislators are seeking to mitigate the personal and economic consequences of their constituents’ student loan debt by creating a state-level ombudsman to troubleshoot problems and educate borrowers regarding college loans.

In 2017, more than 1 million Virginians owed more than $30 billion in student loan debt, state officials say. Nationally, student loan debt is more than $1.3 trillion and climbing.

“Virginians owe more on student loans than we do on credit cards or car loans, but only student loans lack consumer protections,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, a liberal advocacy group.

This week, the Senate and House each passed bills to create the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman and establish a Borrower’s Bill of Rights. SB 394 passed the Senate unanimously on Monday; HB 1138 cleared the House, 94-5, on Tuesday.

Supporters say the ombudsman’s office would help college students secure loans and understand how to pay them off. They said the office also would establish a culture of transparency, fairness and open communication between loan providers and borrowers.

Besides reviewing and resolving borrower complaints, the ombudsman would educate loan borrowers about their rights and responsibilities and about potential problems such as late payments.

By December 2019, the ombudsman would develop a course for borrowers, half of whom are under 25.

“Too many student borrowers sign their names on the dotted line at only 18 or 19 years old without fully comprehending their rights and responsibilities associated with that debt, but also knowing that without those loans they would not be able to earn their degrees,” said Del. Maria “Cia” Price, D-Newport News, who sponsored HB 1138.

In addition, the Senate unanimously approved SB 362, which would require companies that handle the billing and other services on student loans to obtain a license from the State Corporation Commission.

Virginia is not the first jurisdiction to experiment with measures to protect student loan borrowers. Washington, D.C., established a student loan ombudsman and Borrower’s Bill of Rights a year ago.

The bipartisan approval of the legislation marks a win for Gov. Ralph Northam, who included the creation of a student loan ombudsman among his top priorities for the 2018 session.

Price also sponsored a bill that aimed to create a state agency to help Virginians refinance their student loan debt. HB 615 was killed on a 5-3 party-line vote in a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Week five: a deal on misdemeanor-felony threshold, coal ash continues

The fifth week of session brought a furious pace to legislating including some of the most contentious bills of the session as we approached “crossover” – the day the Senate and House are required to complete action on legislation originating in each chamber.  It was mostly a successful week for me.  Twenty-one of my bills are now set to pass the Senate to be considered by the House of Delegates.

First, Governor Northam announced an agreement to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500.  Once enacted, Virginia’s threshold will still be the second lowest in the United States.  I have introduced this legislation every year for nine sessions I was pleased it is finally going to be enacted into law. 

My legislation to place a 36% interest rate cap on all consumer finance loans was sent back to committee for “additional vetting” after the online lending industry retained a top Richmond lobbying firm.  Luckily, my bill re-escaped the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with only three “no” votes and I hope it will finally pass this week.

All six of my coal ash bills were heard this week.  Ultimately, I mediated a compromise between Governor Northam, Dominion and environmental groups to continue the moratorium on closing coal ash ponds for twelve months, required Dominion to issue requests for proposal from coal ash recycling companies to recycle ash, and convene a joint committee of Senate and House members to investigate the coal ash problem over the next twelve months.  My bill also allowed the closure ponds where ash has already been removed so we do not continue to have open holes in the ground.

While I was disappointed that we did not completely resolve the issue this session, the ultimate disposition of these ponds will cost ratepayers billions of dollars and it is important to proceed carefully to both build support and make sure the correct outcome in justified.  I am hopeful that the information generated last year and over the coming months coupled with other legislators focused on resolution will help generate a consensus.   

Unfortunately, my bill to impose a four-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas east of Interstate 95 was rereferred to the Senate Finance Committee where it died on a tie (8-8) vote.  Some members were concerned it constituted a government “taking” although similar legislation has passed in numerous states and survived numerous litigation challenges.  I will try again next year.

The Health and Education Committee passed my legislation to allow low income high school students to take online classes without paying any fees and requiring schools to provide them with computers.  I introduced the bill after I discovered Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge free and reduced lunch families fees up to $345 to take online classes and do not provide computers.  The bill will be on the floor of the Senate this week.

The Equifax data hack highlighted the vulnerability of personal information environment.  My legislation to require credit bureaus to freeze credit at no charge was amended to a $5 fee and my legislation to clarify the process for freezing children’s credit was passed.  The bill passed committee and should pass the full Senate this week. 

Finally, the Senate passed major legislation repealing the cap on electricity rates that the General Assembly enacted in 2015 due to uncertainty created by President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that the current Administration has taken steps to repeal.  While there were some parts of the bill I did not like, the legislation takes all of Dominion’s over-earnings and reinvests it into necessary grid modernization, will increase Virginia’s renewable energy production by ten-fold (500 MW to 5,000 MW), increases Dominion’s shareholders’ payments towards low-income energy assistance, directs Dominion’s profits towards $450 million of coal ash cleanup expenses, and expands Dominion’s Strategic Undergrounding Program in ways that could lead to underground power lines on U.S. 1. 

You can always reach me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback.  It is an honor to serve as your state senator. 

McClendon rises in rank as Stafford’s new County Attorney

From the Stafford County press release:

Stafford County announces the appointment of Rysheda M. McClendon to the position of County Attorney. Rysheda McClendon has served as Deputy County Attorney for Stafford County since 2015 and worked in the County Attorney office for seven years. She will replace retiring County Attorney Charles L. Shumate on March 1, 2018.

“Stafford County is advancing in many areas – economic development, needed improvements to our infrastructure, meeting the service needs of an expanding population and much more. Rysheda McClendon has both the legal expertise and the institutional knowledge to guide us as Stafford continues to progress,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Meg Bohmke. “She has been an integral and outstanding member of the County Attorney team for years, and we look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role.”  

Ms. McClendon has had many accomplishments during her tenure in the County Attorney’s Office. She was the draftswoman of the County’s successful 2011 redistricting ordinance which adopted new election district boundaries and polling place locations. Ms. McClendon drafted a shared radio services agreement for emergency and public safety services that resulted in approximately $285,000 in annual savings. She developed and presented a new system of methodology to assist the Board, Planning Commission and County staff with analyzing proffers under new legislation.

“I am familiar with the growing pressures placed upon the County’s infrastructure. I believe innovative ideas and multidisciplinary approaches are necessary to address those needs. I am forward thinking and offer my experience, dependability, and firsthand knowledge to aid the County in handling upcoming issues,” said future County Attorney Rysheda McClendon. “It is my privilege to serve Stafford County and the Board of Supervisors, and I thank them for this opportunity, as well as my predecessor Charlie Shumate, from whom I have learned a great deal.”

Ms. McClendon holds a Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from George Mason University.

Look twice when traveling Butler Road near Falmouth Interchange

Form the VDOT press release:

VDOT ENHANCING SAFETY ON BUTLER ROAD NEAR FALMOUTH INTERCHANGE IN STAFFORD

To reduce crash risk and driver delay, left turns from Butler Road to Carter Street and Colonial Avenue will be prohibited beginning Wednesday, Feb. 21

FREDERICKSBURG – Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will be prohibiting left turns from Butler Road to Carter Street and Colonial Avenue in Stafford County to enhance safety near the Falmouth interchange. 

To reduce the risk of crashes and driver delay on Route 1, Route 17 Business and Butler Road, left turns will no longer be possible from Butler Road to Carter Street or Colonial Avenue.

Beginning this week, crews will install message boards and signs along Butler Road to notify drivers about the new traffic pattern. All signs will remain covered until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Prohibiting the left turns will reduce the potential of back-ups into the Route 1 intersection and on Route 17 Business. It will also reduce the potential for rear-end and sideswipe crashes.

Drivers seeking to access either Carter Street or Colonial Avenue heading east on Butler Road will need to proceed north on Route 1 at the Falmouth intersection and turn right onto Forbes Street.

An average of 17,000 vehicles a day travel on Butler Road near the Falmouth interchange, according to a 2016 traffic count.

511Virginia

Motorists can find real-time information on lane closures, work zones, traffic and other incidents on 511Virginia.

Download the  free mobile 511Virginia app for Apple and Android devices to stay connected, or visit www.511Virginia.org. Motorists also can reach 511Virginia by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia.