Better than bingo? Seniors take field trip to Seattle pot store

Seniors on a field trip to the Vela pot store in Sodo get a seminar in terpenes, aromatic oils that provide cannabis with various aromas and flavors. The group made it a day trip from Sound Vista Village in Gig Harbor. Barbara Krause, 84, center, enjoys the presentation. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

A van full of seniors visited a marijuana store in Seattle for a Pot 101 tour. They came away with tinctures, ointments and a new understanding of a substance few had tried.

Bingo was never that interesting.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Barbara Krause, 84, of the field trip she and other residents of an assisted-living community took Thursday to a Seattle pot store. “I was raised at time when you didn’t do marijuana.”

After a tour of the Vela store in Sodo, and getting a look at Suncliff, an adjacent growing and processing business, Krause came away impressed. “It was very professional. I’m hopeful. I think a lot of people should open their minds to the health thing.”

With the help of a walker, Krause left the store with a small container of an ointment infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain without getting you high, or very high. She said she bought it for her daughter’s arthritis. (“I don’t have arthritis yet,” she explained.) But Krause said there was a good chance she would try it.

The visit to Vela was part of a Pot 101 trip eight seniors from Sound Vista Village in Gig Harbor took to learn more about the cannabis plant, its products in the legal market, differences between them and their therapeutic properties.

Research shows that pot use by older Americans is on the rise. For Washingtonians 65 and older, the proportion consuming pot in the previous month increased almost threefold from 2011 to 2014, from 0.9 percent to 2.4 percent.

“We’ve had a lot of questions about cannabis,” said Tracy Willis, director of corporate development for Village Concepts, which owns the Gig Harbor facility and 16 others in Washington state. “The idea is to demystify it.”

To that end, Krause and others got an earful during the lunch-hour visit. They heard about sativa (more uplifting) and indica (more sedating) plants. They learned about terpenes, or aromatic oils that give strains their signature smells. They were briefed on differences between smoking, vaporizing and eating marijuana.

And, they got a warning about Maureen Dowd, The New York Times columnist who ate an entire pot-laced candy bar in a Denver hotel room and lay panting and paranoid for hours. Go slow on edibles, they were advised, and have a little bit at a time because it can be an hour before you feel any effects, and you don’t want to overdo it like Dowd.

Verna Gregg, 88, could have used that advice a few years ago when she was staying with her grandson, his wife and two children. “My nerves were shot,” she said. A bit of a marijuana-infused cookie helped calm them, she said. The next day she ate a good bit more of the cookie. “It took me out of my head,” she said.

Maria Scott, who cleared the store’s ID check by 70 years, said she had never tried marijuana. But as a gardener, she said she wanted to grow a pot plant because they’re good-looking. She bought a container of a CBD tincture. “I’m going to try this tonight,” she said, for her sciatica pain.

And she said she might just grow that plant, though it would be illegal unless she got a medical authorization. “I’m 91,” she said. “What are they going to do about it?”

Virtual dementia tours offer rare glimpse into patient care


ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Imagine what it would be like to have no memory, pain in your feet, numbness in your hands, and vision and hearing loss. That is what millions of Americans with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease deal with every day.

Now there’s unique training offered at Village Concepts Retirement Communities where health care workers and family members can experience what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a dementia patient.

It is a dementia sensitivity program that shows what it’s like to live with macular degeneration, arthritis, neuropathy and sight and hearing problems. Participants typically wear goggles that impair eyesight. They also wear shoe inserts that have miniature spikes in them, headphones that play loud background noise, and wear rubber gardening gloves turned inside out. Then an instructor gives the participant a list of five things to do, like folding laundry or tying a tie.

“You’re kind of flying by the seat of your pants,” said Judy Blasko, resident care director of Spiritwood at Pine Lake in Issaquah. “We’re trying to make it known the changes that happen with the resident.”

Because it’s not state-mandated training, many health providers do not offer this kind of service. Village Concepts says it is one of two facilities in the state that offers it to its staff members and the community.

“It was very eye opening,” said Paula Parks, whose mother is an 86-year-old dementia patient. “I just felt like a bundle of nerves after I got out of there. My mom will say, ‘I’m just so nervous’ over just the littlest things, ‘ but now I can kind of see where just getting dressed or figuring out what she’s going to have for lunch is a lot bigger task than I realized.”

Mill Ridge Village Named Community Champion of the Year by FME Chamber

Mill Ridge Village received the 2017 Community Champion Award from the Fife Milton Edgewood Chamber of Commerce

Some 80 members of The Chamber for Fife Milton Edgewood gathered for the annual meeting this morning and announced the winner for Business of the Year in each community, as well as a Community Champion.

Jennifer Reich, installed as 2017 chair for the Chamber during the breakfast, congratulated her predecessor, Scott Dumas, on the selection of his firm AlphaGraphics Tacoma as Fife Business of the Year.

The restaurant and lounge Dave’s of Milton collected the most votes among members to be Milton Business of the Year. Founder Tom Greene and his crew at Nightside Distillery earned Business of the Year honors in Edgewood.

Mill Ridge Village, a retirement community in Milton, was named Community Champion of the Year by FME Chamber.

One of the keynote speakers for the Economic Forecast and Prosperity Awards event, Louise Tieman, executive director of World Trade Center Tacoma, was extremely candid in her assessment for the future of international trade.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” she said in recounting how many national policies related to global commerce are being called into question by the new Donald Trump presidential administration.