Sense of Community

March, June, September, December

From poverty concerns to major policy decisions, this series dives beyond the headlines to provide in-depth coverage of issues facing people and organizations in the Ozarks. KSMU's team of reporters combine for 10 stories each quarter, to air the final weeks of March, June, September and December.

Michele Skalicky / KSMU

Exercise Class

You’re hearing the sounds of an aerobics class at Mercy Fitness Center.  One of the participants is Lois Smith.  She’s a huge advocate for exercise—in fact, she says it enters into almost every conversation she has with people.

She exercises five mornings a week—taking classes like Zumba and Get Up & Go—an aerobic dance class for seniors.

The 82-year-old is in great shape—and that’s partly because of something that happened years ago while she was snow skiing.

Garry Knight / Flickr

Living the way you want to live as you become elderly requires some planning.  If you don’t make decisions before you can no longer make them on your own, someone else will make them for you. 

Chris Blaine, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, believes it’s never too early for kids and their aging parents to discuss the future.  He recommends having those discussions when the child is about 40 and the parents are around 70.

(Photo: KSMU/Randy Stewart)

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are utterly devastating to both the person diagnosed with the condition, and to their family and loved ones.  One of the most heartbreaking aspects of Alzheimer’s in particular is not just the memory loss, but that the individual is robbed of language ability and skills, the tools necessary for a person to express him- or herself.

(Photo courtesy Seniors as Stars)

It’s a well-known—and much explored—theory that keeping mentally and physically active is beneficial to older adults. Not only that, engagement in the arts can have a transformative effect on the elderly.  We’re exploring that idea on today’s KSMU’s “Sense of Community” reports. 

(Background audio up)

Scott Harvey / KSMU

Behind the wheel of his BMW, James Thomas carefully manages the turns around Springfield’s Phelps Grove Park. There are more pedestrians out walking and biking today, he tells his passenger. And he beams as I ask him from the back seat about his former job; vice president of architecture and construction under the legendary John Q. Hammons. His last big job, he says, was overseeing the design and construction of Hammons Field.  

But this is more than just a typical leisurely car ride around the neighborhood.