Senior advocates seeking help

We expect to live out our “golden years” — the time when we’ve retired from work and/or raised a family — traveling or enjoying hobbies. Sadly, many older Americans, due to health or financial problems, struggle to just get by.

  • Monday, April 14, 2008 5:32pm
  • News

We expect to live out our “golden years” — the time when we’ve retired from work and/or raised a family — traveling or enjoying hobbies. Sadly, many older Americans, due to health or financial problems, struggle to just get by.

And many in long-term care facilities (assisted living facilities, nursing homes and adult family homes) have little control over basic rights such as privacy, protection from abuse, protection of personal property, ability to manage their own funds, or make decisions about their own health care, social or religious activities.

Redmond resident John Stilz is recruiting volunteers for the King County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to ensuring their rights. “Ombudsman” is a Swedish word that means, “one who speaks on behalf of another.”

Stilz explained, “Volunteers are our front line in the protection of the rights, dignity, safety and quality of life of residents in licensed long-term facilities. We look for people who care about others — others who, for some reason such as health, age, fear (or) lack of awareness can not always speak for themselves. We need people who get satisfaction from a ‘thank you,’ a smile, a handshake, maybe even a hug from such residents.”

Currently, there are 42 assisted living facilities in east King County with 11 represented by a volunteer. Seven of these 42 facilities are located within the City of Redmond and don’t have an assigned volunteer.

In addition, there are 15 nursing homes in east King County, nine of which do not have a volunteer representative — and one of these is in Redmond. There are also many adult family homes without a representative.

A comprehensive four-day training program, usually split into two two-day sessions is provided for volunteers. “We ask for attendance at selected monthly, two-hour meetings … and a minimum one-year commitment. And submitting a monthly activity report,” said Stilz.

Prospective volunteers for the King County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program can contact Stilz at (206) 694-6747 or

Stilz also helps older people get acquainted with technology, by teaching classes at the Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Ave. NE.

“I became interested in the value of computers during ‘my other life’ as an employee of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration. One day, my mother-in-law asked me to help some of her friends at the center with some computer questions,” he said. “Subsequently, the center obtained three new computers and set aside ‘The Computer Corner.’ We now have classes each Friday on topics such as ‘Introduction to Computers,’ “The Internet,’ ‘E-mail’ and ‘Keeping Safe While Using the Computer.’”

For fees, dates and other information about the computer classes, call (425) 556-2314 or visit

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

The COVID-19 outbreak closed schools statewide last spring and has led to many school districts opting for remote learning in the fall. Pictured: A Decatur High School staff member takes cover from the rain while celebrating the graduating class of 2020 in June. File photo
Study: Virus cases must drop for state’s schools to safely reopen

Bringing students back in any capacity will lead to new infections, the report found.

Alki Beach. Photo by Alabastro Photography
Heat wave is on the way this weekend

Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-90s on Sunday.

School lunch. File photo
School district distributes thousands of extra meals amid pandemic

Congress hasn’t renewed the program, which provided twice as many student meals for free last spring.

The Enumclaw Health and Rehabilitation Center, which is located by St. Elizabeth hospital, a senior living community, and a nursing home. File photo
Inslee lifts visitation ban at long-term care facilities

Starting Wednesday, a four-phase plan will allow restrictions at nursing homes to gradually be relaxed.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

King County Election headquarters in Renton, on primary Election Day, Aug. 4. Voters can return their ballot and register in-person at the election headquarters and other voting centers by 8 p.m. Haley Ausbun/Staff photo.
Still time to vote in August primary

Turn in your ballot at any voting center by 8 p.m.

Inslee mask graphic
Free mask event for King County residents, Aug. 4 in Bellevue

The drive-thru distribution event will offer two masks per person

Bullet that killed Bothell officer came from partner’s gun

But prosecutors say that’s “immaterial,” and charged Henry Washington with aggravated murder Friday.

Inslee warns of stay home order as COVID cases rise

The governor urges young people, who are not getting infected the most, to curb their social habits.

Pandemic is spiking in South King County, governor says

Gov. Jay Inslee met with elected officials, health officials and business partners in Federal Way to hear concerns, suggestions about state’s response to COVID-19.