Johnson County group hosts Atul Gawande simulcast viewing Monday

Coralville event celebrates 15 years of nationwide movement to help seniors age in place

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TRAIL of Johnson County and the Iowa City-Johnson County Senior Center will co-host a simulcast presentation by Atul Gawande, a nationally-known surgeon, public health researcher and author, as he talks about aging, dying and talking with your family about how you want to do both.

“Dr. Gawande asks ‘What do you want the end of your life to look like?’,” said Susan Shullaw, a TRAIL board member. “Many of us have been through tough times with our parents or other aging relatives and we know there’s a better way to do it.”

The free event, “Being Mortal’s Villages: The Value of Community and Choice as we Grow Older,” is from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Schwab Auditorium of the Coralville Public Library, 1401 Fifth St. Attendees will watch a televised simulcast from Boston, where Gawande is a professor at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health.

Gawande’s best-selling book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” explores the concepts of aging, living life with purpose and “how to transform the possibilities for the later chapters in everyone’s lives,” according to a news release.

The hourlong simulcast will be moderated by Robin Young, host of National Public Radio’s “Here & Now.”

The Gawande event celebrates the 15th anniversary of the founding of Beacon Hill Village, in Boston, and the start of a national movement to help seniors age in place. TRAIL — or Tools and Resources for Active Independent Living — is a Johnson County nonprofit started in February that is part of the national Village to Village Network of similar groups.

TRAIL has 80 members so far, Shullaw said. About 60 of those have partial memberships, which include access to a list of prescreened service providers and participation in TRAIL-sponsored social events. A full membership, which costs $600 a year for singles and $960 a year for households, also includes volunteer assistance.

The volunteer assistance could include daily check-ins, minor repairs, computer help or someone to accompany a member to a doctor’s appointment to help with taking notes and asking questions.

“As we move forward this fall, we plan to do more to encourage more people to become full members,” Shullaw said. Some people may be reluctant to ask for help if it’s not an emergency, she said. But TRAIL has a host of volunteers ready to help with small or large tasks.

“Services like TRAIL can relieve you of stress,” she said.

Space is limited, so to the hosts would like people to register at the TRAIL website, http://trailofjohnsoncounty.org/calendar, or by calling the TRAIL office at (319) 800-9003 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The hourlong presentation will be followed by refreshments and a short presentation about TRAIL, Shullaw said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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