While filling a need, Senior Companions get as much as they give


PHOTO:  Lucila Oblena, 91 (left), and her companion Dorothy Jones, 71, take walks together when the weather is nice enough.

Even though they both live in North Dallas, just a few miles apart, it’s not likely that Dorothy Jones and Lucila Oblena would’ve ever crossed paths. But the two women found each other by way of Senior Companions, and by all accounts, life is better for both.

Oblena, 91, lives with her daughter, Mari Davis, and is in good health. But she’s unable to drive and a bit unsteady on her feet at times. And Davis’ job takes her on the road often, sometimes for weeks at a time.

So Jones, 71, a retired nurse, helps fill the gap. Mondays through Fridays, she drives to Oblena’s apartment and spends the day there, taking Oblena to doctor’s appointments, the mall, the grocery store or to church. When the weather’s nice, the two women walk together to a nearby park with Oblena’s Jack Russell terrier, Sara.

Mostly, they enjoy each other’s companionship. Jones loves to hear Oblena talk about her life in the Philippines, where she was a school principal before retiring.

“Why would I want to sit at home with just me?” Jones says. “I get enjoyment out of this. We’re talking and having fun. It’s a win/win.”

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Heart health: Should you be taking statins? How to talk to your doctor about whether to take cholesterol-lowering statins.


Special Contributor

The Dallas Morning News
Feb. 1, 2011
Statins are almost as ubiquitous as aspirin.

One group of British researchers went so far as to propose that fast food restaurants hand out packets of statin, along with ketchup and mustard, to offset the heart health risks of a cheeseburger and fries. (In Great Britain, you can already buy the cholesterol-lowering medication over the counter in low doses.)

Many doctors prescribe statins readily and enthusiastically, because the medication is effective — it clearly lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and reduces the risk of heart attack among people with heart disease. Plus, most statins are relatively safe and inexpensive.

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Arrhythmias range from harmless to fatal Whether they’re called “palpitations” or “skipped beats,” occasional, brief bouts of arrhythmia are fairly common. Should you worry?


Special Contributor

The Dallas Morning News
Feb. 1, 2011

It’s that time of year, when love is in the air, and the heart flutters every time special someone draws near.

But sometimes the diagnosis isn’t love. A fluttering heart — the medical term is “arrhythmia” — can signal something more serious than lovesickness.

Whether they’re called “palpitations” or “skipped beats,” occasional, brief bouts of arrhythmia are fairly common. Many are relatively benign, but some types can be fatal or signal an increased risk of stroke.

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Younger Patients Seeking Joint Replacement


Special Contributor

The Dallas Morning News
September 12, 2010

Joint replacement was once the surgery of last resort for elderly folks who’d otherwise end up bedridden.

Not anymore.

For Diane Hitchcock, 56, of Noank, Conn., knee replacement surgery meant she could go rock climbing again, just six months after the surgery.

Richard Rosebrock, 56, of Sanger, expects that hip replacement surgery will allow him to return to his job as a Carrollton firefighter — lugging up to 60 lbs. of gear.

“It’s not unusual for a 50-year-old to get joint replacement surgery these days,” says Dr. Clinton Bell, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with Methodist Health System in Dallas. “Fifteen years ago, that was not the norm at all.”

“Patients have more options and are choosing to have the surgery sooner, rather than later,” says Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, Hitchcock’s orthopedic surgeon and director of joint replacement research at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

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Open Doors, Opened Hearts: Churches draw fire for welcoming Muslims for worship

Last fall, two United Methodist churches quietly opened their doors to Muslim groups, providing space for worship while their mosques were under construction. Then Fox News got hold of the story. Mary Jacobs reports.
Mary Jacobs, Mar 4, 2011 | Read more…

Disconnected: Are our general agencies a long way from the pews?

A study commissioned by the Call to Action Steering Team shows a perceived “disconnect” between United Methodist general agencies and local congregations. Mary Jacobs reports on why this is so.
Mary Jacobs, Nov 19, 2010 | Read more…

Unplugged: Tech sabbath strengthens connection to God

Facebook, Twitter, email, texting – it’s all enough to drive us to digital distraction. Some are discovering that a ‘tech sabbath’ can help and by disconnecting, they actually strengthen their connections. Mary Jacobs has the story.
Mary Jacobs, Feb 18, 2011 | Read more…

Q&A: Why healing is part of the church’s role

With both M.D. and seminary degrees, United Methodist pastor Dr. Scott Morris began one of the largest faith-based clinics in the country. He spoke recently with Mary Jacobs about his new book Health Care You Can Live With.
Mary Jacobs, Jan 14, 2011 | Read more…

High commitment: Churches find new members, step up to great expectations

High commitment churches are those that raise the bar of expectation for membership. Mary Jacobs tells why churches that ask more of their members tend to be thriving and growing.
Mary Jacobs, Oct 29, 2010 | Read more…

Does Satan really exist? Many United Methodists see evil as more subtle

Methodist founder John Wesley preached about Satan, but the United Methodist Church has no official doctrine on the devil. Staff writer Mary Jacobs explores why the UMC seems to shy away from discussion of the demonic.
Mary Jacobs, Jul 11, 2008 | Read more…

Bullied no more: Christmas tales reflect hope for the outcast

From A Christmas Carol to It’s a Wonderful Life, beloved Christmas stories often involve a bully and an outcast. Mary Jacobs explores how this trend can open up conversation that brings hope to us all.
Mary Jacobs, Dec 17, 2010 | Read more…