‘Graceful Aging’ the goal of local experts

Now that people live much longer, we face new challenges, both in our own lives and in those of our parents. How do we make sound financial plans? How do we mitigate the risks that the mind might break down before the body, or that a stroke might result in incapacity? How do we manage the wide array of new pains that often emerge?

In other words, how do we age gracefully?

The Petaluma Senior Center will address six aspects of that question in “Graceful Aging,” a series of free, weekly talks beginning Feb. 1. The talks will be held at the Petaluma Senior Center, 211 Novak Drive. Each talk will begin at 1:30 pm, and will end with a question-and-answer period.

The first speaker will be Heather Campopiano, a local attorney specializing in estate planning for seniors. Her theme is “Using Wills and trusts to secure long-term care options for your loved ones.”

In practice for 24 years, Campopiano knew even before she enrolled in law school in Santa Clara that she would specialize in Elder law. In the 1980s, as a college student in Berkeley, she observed the challenges faced by her parents as they served as trustees for the Estates of their respective parents.

“I saw them go through the process of securing long-term care,” she said. “I watched it unfold.”

Campopiano realized that a huge need for such services was on the horizon, a view endorsed by her law-school teacher and mentor, David English, who wrote the first series on Elder law published by legal Publisher Matthew Bender.

“People are living longer and experiencing incapacity in greater numbers than ever before,” Campopiano said.

One result is that the natural human desire to leave an inheritance for one’s children may conflict with the need to provide long-term Nursing care for oneself or one’s parents. With the costs of such care averaging about $12,000 a month in Sonoma County, working with an Elder law attorney knowledgeable about cost-saving alternatives can be important.

It’s Feb. 8, the speaker will be Wynnelena Canio, MD, a psychiatrist and chief of Geriatric medicine at Kaiser Permanente San Rafael. She will speak on “Geriatrics and Psychiatry.”

Canio is also an expert on dementia, serving as Regional Dementia Care Clinical Lead for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Her work and advocacy extend beyond Kaiser — she has been involved in shaping public policy with the California Governor’s Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force and the State Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Committee.

It’s Feb. 15, Leonard Leinow will speak on “Cannabis and Aging.” He is the co-author of “CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis—Healing Without the High.” With three decades of experience cultivating and studying medicinal cannabis, Leinow founded Synergy Wellness in 2008, a not-for-profit medical cannabis collective in Northern California with more than four thousand patient members. The company specializes in products rich in CBD, the non-psychoactive molecule in cannabis that has become known for its healing properties.

It’s Feb. 22, Dennis Zerbo will speak on “Nutrition and Self-Care.” He graduated from the California School of Herbal Studies in 1986, followed by graduation from Bauman College of Nutrition, where he received state certification as a Nutrition Educator and consultant. Complementing formal training in nutrition, herbology, homeopathy and massage therapy, Zerbo has more than two decades of experience in natural foods and nutrition. He specializes in customized health plans for individuals using a multi-disciplinary approach.

On March 1, Dennis Pocekay, MD, will speak on “End of Life,” a subject he has been interested in since medical school. Pocekay practiced at Kaiser Permanente in Sonoma and Marin Counties for over 25 years, specializing in internal medicine, geriatrics, Nursing home medicine, fibromyalgia, chronic low back pain, and sports medicine. Since his retirement from Kaiser, he has taught science and math as a substitute at Casa Grande High School, and public health and medical students at UC Davis. He currently serves on the Petaluma City Council.

On March 8, the series will end with “All About Strokes,” by Allan Bernstein, MD, a neurologist in Sebastopol. He is Affiliated with multiple Hospitals in the area and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Bernstein is the author of more than fifty publications in medical Journals and textbooks, covering dementia, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, pain management, Nutrition and stroke. He is currently directing a research study on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease in people at risk.

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