Protect Your Elders

For our most vulnerable population, connection is key

If not just tuning into the national news, personal circumstances tell us that senior citizens constitute our most vulnerable population in these extraordinary times.


Isolation, illness and loneliness have always triggered emotional unrest in the elderly, and the pandemic has threatened to exacerbate those conditions.


If we quiet our minds a bit, we can subject ourselves into the experiences of these life warriors: people who might have endured the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and civil unrest, each exceeding the magnitude of what we face today. These intrepid life survivors have fibers of resiliency woven into their constitutional fabric.

And still, they need our support and protection.


In èXtra No. 16, we address the vitally important role human connection plays with our older population, from Hometown Heroes and organizations that provide personal contact, caring and food sustenance to information about avoiding telephone scams.


Here, we encourage seniors and the people who love them to document the times of their lives. We also present a profile of one diehard woman who’s taking advantage of every minute in relative isolation to connect with family, friends and herself.


Topping off this conversational feast, we present a stay-at-home Naples Pier experience you can enjoy with a healthy mocktail at any time of day.


With our utmost respect, we salute the mettle of our golden population.


in this issue



Bringing Back the Sunshine

Nurse Joanne Freeborn helps patients adopt healthy routines

by Julia Browning


There are lucky people among us who know what their calling is and strive to live it every day.

Nurse Joanne Freeborn is one of those people.

“I feel like my job, my place in life, is to help people,” she says.

Freeborn is the clinical nurse manager for GlenCare Home Agency, a nursing care service offered to residents of the senior living community, The Glenview at Pelican Bay.

Compassion, integrity, honesty and positivity are all words used by colleagues to describe Freeborn’s disposition. Ever humble and gracious, Freeborn meets the praise with a hint of bashfulness. Going above and beyond for her patients is simply her nature.


Freeborn’s nursing superpower lies in her listening. When meeting with patients, she is sure to ask how they’re coping and intuitively determines where their struggles lie. She believes there is always a way to help, if only you’re willing to listen.


“We’re all in it together. We truly are,” she says. “It’s a lot of head shaking and asking, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ And we are getting through this. We just need to be creative and think outside the box.”

For many, their main struggle is being isolated from family. Though guests aren’t currently allowed to visit The Glenview, Freeborn helps her patients connect to family remotely, encouraging FaceTime and frequently photographing the seniors with whom she meets, sending updates to their loved ones.


Having a community at The Glenview that feels like a second family also does much to mitigate loneliness, she says.

Freeborn recalls the early days of the pandemic, when fear and denial were prevalent. Now, she reports, those emotions have waned and are replaced by acceptance and strength.

“These people have been through the Depression,” Freeborn says. “They are strong people. They’re survivors. We all had that fear of the unknown in the beginning. The whole world did. We didn’t know what was going on. Now, we have a routine again.”

“The sunshine is coming back out,” she says.

Joanne Freeborn

Making a Memoir

Writing platform helps people get their memories down on paper

In the craziness of the here and now, it can be easy to forget details of our lives that we once recalled vividly: first car, first date, children’s birthday parties or family weddings.

As we age, many of us want to record those special moments in time, which is one reason to keep a journal. Eventually, a cache of memories builds to culminate in a chronicle of one’s life and legacy, perhaps to be shared with future generations of the family tree.

In this digital age, it’s not surprising that technology can help keep those treasured memories together to create something like a biography, even if you haven’t practiced journaling.

One such free platform is JamBios, assisting nonprofessional writers in documenting their lives with helpful questions and writing prompts.


The website also has a collaborative feature in which you can create your own JamBio with a group, so family members can sign on and chime in with their related memories.

The finished project looks like a personal blog. From there, you can elect to have your work turned into a book.

Learn more by visiting www.JamBios.com.

Acceptance and Routine

Seniors cope through COVID by staying connected

by Julia Browning

Everyone forced to unexpectedly isolate because of the COVID-19 pandemic has suffered the loss of the life they expected to be living.


For senior citizens, who already face the threat of isolation and its proven unhealthy side effects — elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, increased stress hormones and weakened immune systems — COVID-19 poses a particular concern.


“There are numerous studies in the last decade that have proven that isolation and loneliness have a significant negative impact on seniors’ health ... This can be alleviated by seniors socializing and having others in their lives,” says Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, president/CEO of Naples Senior Center.


Not only are older people at greater risk because of the virus, many rely on social programs, like those offered at Naples Senior Center, that, pre-COVID-19, emphasized physical togetherness. As things become increasingly technical and automated, many worry about seniors being left behind, alone.

“It’s very difficult for our organization because our programs are centered around socialization, which primarily happens during in-person activities,” says Tatiana Fortune, director of the Golden Gate Senior Center. “With COVID and social distancing, it has been a big challenge. So, we’re trying to find creative ways to keep them engaged.”


But local seniors have adapted extremely well, say organizations in place to assist them. Experts share that the seniors they work with are overwhelmingly accepting of the necessary changes and have come to look at things, like wearing masks and meeting over Zoom, as the new normal.


Jessica Short, executive director of retirement community, The Arlington of Naples, says people were wary when they first began offering lifestyle programs on Zoom. But, after some training, participation picked up momentum.

“Now they’re engaged with it,” Short says. “They’re doing different Zoom backgrounds, they know how to mute/unmute, they have all the etiquette down that we’ve had to learn in this new era of communication.”

Fortune agrees that the virtual programs provide positive impact. Though the members of the Golden Gate Senior Center long for in-person activities, they’ve embraced the digital landscape and readily attend virtual programs. Perhaps because of this, the mood is lifting.

“The panic has lessened, but the concern is still there,” she says. “They are taking measures to protect themselves and to stay safe … I don’t want to say they’re ‘embracing’ what’s going on, but the reality is setting in that this is going to be here for a lot longer.”


Senior-Friendly Virtual Activities

The Naples Senior Center provides Zoom classes, lectures and get togethers that range weekly on a variety of subjects like art, exercise and live music. To access the programming, visit: www.naplesseniorcenter.org/senior-center/ or call 239-325-4444.

The Golden Gate Senior Center hosts many programs over Zoom for seniors to enjoy. One, the Upslide Program, is specifically targeted to help women with isolation. The group meets remotely with a mental health clinician present each Thursday, to talk with other women going through similar struggles about things on their minds. To join, call Maritza Irizarry, programming director, at 239-252-4541.

Ever considered playing Mahjong online? There’s a site that offers fun facts and instructions on how to play the addictively competitive Chinese tile game, so participants can keep their skills sharpened until they can play in person once again. Visit games.sixtyandme.com/games/mahjong.

Celebrating Every Day

Jo Ann Ward stays put, investing in the gift of time

by Kathy Grey

Naples has known few people as determined to live a quality life as Jo Ann Ward. A Pelican Bay resident since 2001, Ward has survived cancer, bouts with pneumonia and a sepsis condition that had her in a coma and on life support for weeks.

“They wanted to pull the plug,” Ward says.

One would be hard pressed to pull the plug on Ward, who is forever grateful for the gift of time, even in sequester. Urged by her doctor to stay put in Naples instead of summering in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin (where there are only four ICU beds), she took the advice seriously — and in stride, too.


“I’m an endangered species,” Ward quips. “But I’m in great shape for the shape I’m in. I’m a ‘carpe diem’ kind of gal. I celebrate every day of my life.”


Her seize-the-day mentality is evident, even in relative solitude.

“If I’m going to be inside, I’ll make the most of it,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to take a world cruise. Well, I’m on the sixth floor overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the pool at the Naples Grand. Boats go by. Birds perch on the balcony. I’m on a world cruise without Dramamine. It’s not bad!”


That spirit of gratitude shines through as she marvels about her cellphone, something she affectionately calls her “window to the world.” That little device connects Ward with beloved family, neighbors, friends, grocery stores and online shopping. (She’s thinking about investing in a My Pillow, but notes she might be getting a little “experimental.”)

Connected with former Chicago colleagues and friends overseas, her 5 p.m. standing appointment is of utmost importance. That’s when she calls her daughter, Cyndi Cusack, her son-in-law, Darwin, and their two adult children (Katharine, 22 and Jack, 20) at their “little yellow cottage with a front porch” in New Hampshire.

Ward revels in her family’s accomplishments, from mountain climbing to golf; from careers to college; from installing a hot tub to putting in an above-ground pool, complete with floaties and strings of summer lights overhead.

Every night, they know where “Mimi” is, and Mimi knows were to find them, there on that front porch in New England.

“I really appreciate my cellphone,” Ward says. “If they shut down the grid, I’d be in trouble.”

She’s a social creature who delights in Zoom conferencing, takeout food delivered by neighbors and remote lunches with friends. In fact, Ward and her regular luncheon companions coordinated a birthday party for their friend, Myra Daniels, and managed to keep it a surprise.

“She looked wonderful,” Ward says. “Better than all of us.”

Sure, Ward misses perusing Trader Joe’s eclectic offerings in person and some of the grand events in Naples, but she makes do, Facetiming over coffee or wine, listening to piano concerts from her balcony, adding to her reading pile, tackling her to-organize list and tracking down old friends who are also sheltering in place.

But one special project is dedicated to her granddaughter.

“I’ve started a chapter book, a compilation of stories of people I’ve met along the way … some international figures … I’ve got a lot of stories for Katharine,” she muses.

The extra time she has these days has great benefits, she says.

“In Naples, we go from one thing to another,” she says of ordinary times.

But this is no ordinary time.

“This is a great time to take a deep breath and appreciate everyone you know and have known. It’s a gift of time for me.”

Jo Ann Ward and her grandkids, Jack and

Jo Ann Ward and her grandkids, Jack and Katharine Cusack

How to complain about government impostor scams:

  • IRS: The Internal Revenue Service advises people to fill out the “IRS Impersonation Scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Impersonation’s website, tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.


  • Social Security: The Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration (SSA IG) has its own online form to take complaints about frauds impersonating the SSA.


  • Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: In Canada, contact CAFC about all government impersonation scams at 888-495-8501 or online.


  • Federal Trade Commission: Call 877-FTC Help or visit ftc.gov.



  • Contact your cellphone carrier, which may offer free services, such as scam call identification and blocking, ID monitoring, a second phone number to give out to businesses so you can use your main number for close friends or a new number if you get too many spam calls.


Virtually Tour Historic Landmark

Spend a day at Naples Pier without leaving home!

The nonprofit organization, Naples Backyard History, can link you to the Naples Pier boardwalk, surf and sand with a click of a mouse.

With the time-lapse video, “A Wonderful Pier,” you can see a bit of Pier history, as you view a conversation between Bill Barnett, long-term mayor emeritus of Naples, and Laverne “Lal” Gaynor, who came to Naples with her parents in 1945. The video, recorded on Memorial Day 2017, takes you back in time to when the Pier was built in 1888, through its renovations and the webcam, where you can watch the comings and goings of people, in season and out.  

Despite the 2020 fireworks being canceled, the 2019 pyrotechnic display is available to watch again and again.

To take your virtual tour, visit www.naplespanorama.org. You can almost feel the sand between your toes!



Moving for Life

The importance of exercise for long-term quality of life and the moves you can start today

Though it’s important for everyone to exercise regularly to maintain health, it is more vital for seniors than any other age group, says Kevin Chiddister, owner of Florida Personal Training.

This is because the older population must work a bit harder to maintain an active lifestyle, he says.


“Our active aging clients (might be) older in calendar years, but they still want to be active, play tennis, play golf, walk, ride their bikes,” Chiddister says. “Our job is to enhance their abilities, so they can do that easier and more efficiently.”

Additionally, mobility is crucial for sustaining independence, he says, adding that keeping joints mobile and the core strong and steady is a great way to avoid injury.


To help seniors achieve the active, independent lifestyle many seek, Chiddister and his team of personal trainers and physical therapists train seniors in functional strength exercises — such as squats and lunges — that mimic natural movements needed for daily life, while working out the most crucial areas of the body.

“Functional strength training is good for clients’ physical health and longevity, keeping them able to do the things they enjoy. It’s very good for their mental health as well,” he says, citing studies showing that exercise can help with anxiety and depression, increase blood flow to the brain and produce new brain cells.

And Chiddister advises younger people not to wait until they hit their golden years to start exercising, saying that older clients who have had an active lifestyle see the best results.

“We work with clients who are 80 to 90 to 100 years old,” he says. “Most say the thing that keeps them moving is that they’ve been moving most of their life. It’s easier for them to move and function, whereas other clients we work with, who haven’t been all that active, find it much more challenging to progress and live independently.”

To learn more about Florida Personal Training visit www.FloridaPersonalTraining.com.

Save A Life

Free Covid-19 Antibody Testing for the Public


In response to urgent pleas from the NCH Community Blood Center for plasma donations, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District is partnering with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to offer free COVID-19 antibody testing to the public on August 21-22, 2020.

Researchers believe that the antibody-rich blood plasma (convalescent plasma) from recovered COVID-19 patients may help in the treatment of those currently infected with the virus, by boosting the body’s ability to fight the virus. The Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating this treatment and approval is expected soon. In the interim, doctors work through clinical trials, or gain FDA approval, to utilize plasma treatment for their most vulnerable COVID-19 patients.

WHEN:  Friday August 21, 2020 and Saturday August 22, 2020, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (or until tests run out)

WHERE: North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District Station 45, 1885 Veterans Park Drive Naples, FL 34109

REGISTRATION: Prior registration suggested.  Visit www.northcollierfire.com/antibody/

Candidates need to meet the following criteria to qualify for plasma donation:

· Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (either by a laboratory, antibody test or clinical diagnosis);

· Have been symptom free for at least 14 days;

· Are 18 years or older and weigh at least 110 pounds; and

· Have not been diagnosed with HIV, Hepatitis B or C

TEST RESULTS: Available within 10 minutes



TESTS ADMINISTERED BY: North Collier Fire Rescue Personnel


NCH will have its blood mobiles onsite for those who do not qualify to donate plasma, but still wish to support the effort by donating blood.

Fire Chief Eloy Ricardo of the North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District states, “North Collier Fire Rescue is a part of this community. When a need arises, we will do whatever we can to meet that need. This opportunity is a natural fit and extension of our District’s mission to protect the life and property of those we serve.”


Hydration is incredibly important in the hot summer months, and it’s of critical concern for people in their golden years.

And although there’s water, water everywhere … sometimes we’d like something else to drink.

If you’re looking for a thirst quencher to tantalize your taste buds, try this incredibly simple, nonalcoholic refresher that comes with a little boost of vitamin C from the cranberry and lime.


Cubed or crushed ice to your liking

8 oz. Perrier or other sparking water

4 oz. cranberry juice cocktail

1/4 lime, cut as wedge

Sliced lime (optional)


In your favorite tall glass, pour sparkling water over ice. Add cranberry juice. Finish with the juice of the lime wedge and toss it in. (You can, add fresh lime slices, too, for a beautifully hydrating summer sparkler.)

Cranberry Sparkler

This flavorful summer hydrating drink comes with a twist



Thwarting Isolation

Volunteers reach out to the elderly in uncertain times

The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped volunteers of Naples Senior Center from fulfilling its mission to combat isolation and loneliness among older adults. One of the center’s more popular activities is its weekly “Hot Lunch and More.” And when the center closed on March 18, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, getting lunches to seniors, who were advised to stay at home, was left to a dedicated corps of volunteers and staff. Although safe, the seniors often felt lonely and isolated.

Here are two of the women who make sure Naples Senior Center members and clients receive caring contact.


Jen Mitchell

As a board member of Collier County Public Schools, Jen Mitchell is a strong advocate for children in our community. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she found a different calling: delivering hot meals and bags of food to at-risk seniors on Wednesdays of each week through the Naples Senior Center.

The delivery of hot meals and bags of food gives Naples Senior Center an opportunity to interact with seniors and check on their physical and emotional well-being. Mitchell, 47, believes in the mission and vision of the Naples Senior Center and enjoys giving back. She has shared this passion with her children, allowing them to ride along and stay in the car while making the door-to-door deliveries.

“I have truly enjoyed being part of the food delivery team,” Mitchell says. “The people who answer the door are always happy to see me, because they know that the senior center cares about them.”

When she’s not volunteering, Mitchell is a local Realtor and mother of four children, two of whom have already graduated. She has resided in Naples for 23 years, but was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, where she graduated from Purdue University with a degree in elementary education.

Mitchell has been delivering meals for the Naples Senior Center for months, and with no certain end date in site to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has no intentions of stopping.

“It’s been a real blessing for me to be able to give back by doing this,” she says. “Elder care is a very important issue.”


Kathleen Kennedy

After a long career selling technology solutions for the health care industry, Kathleen Kennedy and her husband bought a seasonal condominium in Naples and sought ways to get involved in the community.

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Kennedy served on community organization boards up north and looked for the same experience here.

“I was thinking this is my community now; I’m a part of it,” she says. “I knew I wanted to contribute and was introduced to Dr. Jaclynn Faffer at Naples Senior Center.”

Kennedy, 61, started volunteering at the center, calling seniors and inviting them to the various programs and services that the nonprofit organization offers each week. Since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the center to close, Kennedy has continued to make calls, checking in on seniors’ physical and emotional well-being.

“I see how they’re doing, share a laugh and ask what they need.”

“Just to see the look on people’s faces is priceless,” she says. “They are just so grateful to receive it.”

Fraudsters Phone in Paranoia

Better Business Bureau warns of fake government scams

One of the most common scams in the U.S. today involves callers pretending to be government officials from the IRS, law enforcement and the Social Security Administration. All of them use fear and intimidation to trick victims into turning over personal information or money, often in the form of gift cards.

A new investigative study by Better Business Bureau (BBB) says scams have become more diverse and more sophisticated, having taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by posing as contact tracers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Internal Revenue Service representatives who say they can expedite economic impact payments.

A recent AARP survey found that 44% of people in the U.S., many of them seniors, have been contacted by one of these impersonators.

Law enforcement officials have received hundreds of thousands of complaints, and the Federal Trade Commission has reported $450 million in losses since 2015.

“Government impostor scams are constantly evolving, and they prey on people with threats of being arrested if money is not paid or personal information provided,” said Karen Nalven, president and CEO of BBB Serving West Florida. “Consumers need to know how to recognize and avoid this upsetting and costly fraud.”

In 2019, BBB reports received about scammers impersonating tax officials and claiming back taxes owed dropped sharply, while reports about Social Security Administration impersonators quadrupled in the U.S.


In many cases, scammers insist they are law enforcement officers and threaten to arrest people immediately if they do not pay money, usually with gift cards. They may tell consumers their Social Security number has been associated with a crime or may threaten to deport recent immigrants or arrest people for missing jury duty.

The Department of Justice recently sued two “gateway carriers” in the U.S. that provide “spoofed” phone numbers that appear to be legitimate. The FTC and Federal Communication Commission issued warning letters to others. As a result, robocalls and individual calls coming from India have declined drastically over the last several months. 

To read the full study, visit BBB.org/FakeGov

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free.