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Distinctl​y Mature

“To grow mature is to separate more distinctly, to connect more closely.”

— Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Maintaining friendships

Dec 19, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

Having a friend to help out in a time of need, or being that friend, can make all the difference in quality of life. Click on the link below to find out more.

Solo seniors with social support are less likely to need nursing home care

If you are 65 or older, the CHP can help you maintain independence by driving safer.

Dec 19, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

Read this article to find out more:

CHP helps prepare senior drivers for years to come

We need Sleep

Sep 2, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

As a psychotherapist, I hear lots of complaints about lack of sleep. Human beings are mammals and should be able to sleep well at night. The most common reasons for not being able to have a good sleep include: drinking too much alcohol, eating a meal too late at night, not enough exercise, and use of a smart phone in bed. 

Another idea is to relax before bed. Here are some ideas from Johns Hopkins and the full webpage can be found here.

Two excerpts:

Yoga Improves Sleep in Older Adults

Untreated, undiagnosed insomnia puts older adults at risk of accidents, falls and a lower quality of life. In a study published recently in the journal Alternative Therapies In Health and Medicine, researchers looked at the effectiveness at yoga in treating insomnia in adults older than age 60. For 12 weeks, men and women in the study participated in twice-weekly yoga classes and additional daily sessions at home. The yoga group reported significant improvements in overall sleep quality, sleep duration and sleep efficiency (measured by the percentage of time in bed that they were actually asleep).

Three Yoga Poses for Sleep to Try

Hold all of these poses as you breathe deeply for one or two minutes. Rowland-Seymour recommends performing this sequence as part of your nightly routine right before getting into bed.

Legs Up the Wall: Sit sideways against a wall with your legs straight out in front of you. Gently lower your upper body to lie on the floor on your back facing the wall. At the same time, swing your legs straight up the wall. Your hamstrings and calves should be flat against the wall. Keep your feet relaxed (not flexed) and your arms comfortably resting at your sides, palms up. You might need something to support lower back while doing this.

Lying Butterfly Pose: Lie on your back, allowing your knees to drop out to the sides while pressing the soles of your feet together. If you like, support your knees with pillows. Pay attention to how your body feels. Is one hip higher? Does one shoulder blade feel different?

Corpse Pose: Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs straight. Keep your hands open, palms up. Allow your ankles to roll open. You should feel completely relaxed from head to toe. Breathe slowly and evenly. As with the previous pose, pay attention to how your body feels against the floor.

Seniors and talk therapy

July 31, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

There is a significant difference between counseling and psychotherapy (traditional talk therapy). Our Senior Peer Counselors are not psychotherapists, but they do get training in some of the core components of psychotherapy and counseling, i.e. it's about the relationship and the art of listening.

Here are two articles about seniors or older adults, and the efficacy of psychotherapy:

Psychotherapy reduces functional disability, suicide ideation among older adults

Older adults respond better to psychological therapy than working-age adults: evidence from a large sample of mental health service attendees.

Grief Group in Lake County now

March 18, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

In today's Lake County News, a grief group offered by Lake County Hospice.


  1. February 11, 2021

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

At some point, pre pandemic, our team of volunteers were challenged by our local Hospice to prepare and put in place our Advance Directives. This is one of those things we put off, but it's so important to get this done. One of our volunteers was way ahead of the game, and had kept us informed of her progress in this area. I might add, that my wife and I also took this step, and it feels good to know we have our Advance Directive in place. 

Here is another take on "getting ready to die." A good reminder from the AARP website: I’m Getting Ready to Die. Why you should be getting ready, too. By Ellen Voie

Anxiety and Meaning in the Time of Covid-19 

November 16, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

 How do we survive our anxiety at times like this? We have to manage our anxiety and find meaning even in difficult and, for many, tragic times. The linked article, by Christina Berrios, a psychotherapist from the UK, is lengthy and digs into philosophy and psychology, but it's worth a read. I don't agree with everything in this article, but it helps one take a broader perspective and provides some practical advice.




October 21, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

 What is it you do at times like these?*:

manage, survive, subsist, look after oneself, fend for oneself, stand on one's own two feet, carry on, get through, get on, get along, get by, muddle through, muddle along, scrape by, bear up, make the grade, come through, hold one's own, keep one's end up, keep one's head above water, keep the wolf from the door, weather the storm, make out, hack it, paddle one's own canoe, deal with, handle, manage, address, face, face up to, confront, tackle, sort out, take care of, take in hand, get to grips with, contend with, grapple with, wrestle with, struggle with, tussle with; put up with, get through, weather, endure, withstand, stand up to, bear, brave, accept, come to terms with; master, overcome, surmount, get over, get the better of...

Whatever it is you do to make it through, here are some ideas from Dr. Laurie Santos' Yale University class "The Science of Well-Being." There are no big surprises here, and it's all free of charge. Simple, everyday activities that work based on evidence. Please follow the links below.

YouTube video link: Dr. Laurie Santos' 5 Favorite Coping Tips

Here is a link to her class: The Science of Well-Being

You have to sign up with Coursera but it’s all free, and many more courses available!

I hope you enjoy!


*Dictionary, Version 2.3.0 (239.5), Copyright © 2005–2019 Apple Inc.

Update on what we are doing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Volunteer for Us!

We need your help.

October 21, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

Both of our programs continue to provide services, uninterrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic!

Our volunteers are connecting with clients around the County via telephone. Some volunteers have met with new clients without ever seeing them face to face. We look forward to the day we can resume visiting clients in their homes.

In these Unprecedented Times...

 Volunteer for Us!

March 25, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

Many seniors in Lake County are home-bound and isolated, and for now, that counts in their favor. That is as long as they are able to access food and someone to talk to. Some seniors live alone because they enjoy their solitude and would not describe themselves as lonely. On the other hand, many seniors are alone but not by choice. Illness, poverty, stigmatization, discrimination, family discord, and substance abuse, are some of the reasons seniors find themselves isolated. 

If you would like to help and are 55 plus years old, consider volunteering for Senior Peer Counseling. For more information reading through this website. Under About Us>Volunteer you will find a downloadable application form. Once we receive the application it will be reviewed,  a background check will be initiated, and if appropriate an interview will be scheduled. Once accepted into the program comprehensive training will be provided online via a group video session. 

For now, we are doing training and providing services online. This is not the time for seniors to be driving around the Lake visiting other seniors who are sheltering in place. Under normal circumstances, all our services and training are done face to face, and we look forward to returning to that soon!

Join us for this challenging and rewarding volunteer service.

Older and Younger Generations

March 11, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

There's a beautiful story written by a woman about her relationship with her grandmother on the latest AARP blog which you can read by clicking here. Older people have a lot to give from their decades of experience.

The Helping Model

March 5, 2020

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

A core part of the training for Senior Peer Counseling volunteers is learning about the "helping model" as developed and written about by Gerard Egan and Robert Reese in The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping

For a one page summary of this approach please click here. This is from a rare and wonderful book, of which a few copies are still available, "In the Company of their Peers," p. 189.

Medical Transportation Services

December 4, 2019

by Francois van Wyk, LMFT, Director, Senior Peer Counseling

My family and I moved to Lake County thirteen years ago from the mega city of Los Angeles, and have never looked back.  We love living in the country, the slower pace, cleaner air, less population density, etc., but access to some medical services can be a challenge.  Lake Links has taken on this problem and provides transportation to Santa Rosa for medical services. Read an article about this in the Lake County News by clicking here, and for a direct link to Lake Links, click here.


November 22, 2019

Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. But being alone as in having no meaningful social connections is like being starved of something as essential as oxygen.

Click here to read an article about loneliness and making friends.

In Praise of Handwriting

November 15, 2019

Hand writing seems like a lost art, as does writing letters and face to face conversation.

Here is an article about rekindling the art of writing letters:

Feeling Disconnected? Grab a Piece of Paper!

Advance Directive

Sep 6, 2019

This is one of those things that we all need to do, but never get around to doing it. 

"Whether you’re 35, 55, or 85, it’s a good time to ensure that you and your family are prepared in the event of a health crisis or terminal medical diagnosis.

It’s the gift you give your loved ones and yourself."

Visit the Lake County Coalition for Advance Care Planning for more information.

To download a copy of the Advance Directive work book click here - do it today!

Advance Directive

Sep 6, 2019

This is one of those things that we all need to do, but never get around to doing it. 

"Whether you’re 35, 55, or 85, it’s a good time to ensure that you and your family are prepared in the event of a health crisis or terminal medical diagnosis.

It’s the gift you give your loved ones and yourself."

Visit the Lake County Coalition for Advance Care Planning for more information.

To download a copy of the Advance Directive work book click here - do it today!

Anger and Aging

July 29, 2019

Are you a "senior citizen" or "chronologically superior?"

July 10, 2019

Find out more by reading this article from AARP.


June 6, 2019

The one sure way to find satisfaction is helping others. Read this article in the Lake County Record Bee to find out more.

Medicare Explained

May 15, 2019

Confused by all the Parts to Medicare?

Here is a helpful article by Sharon Wagner from the  website:

Understanding Medicare: Tips for Seniors on How to Choose the Right Coverage

Please follow the links above the read the article and visit the website.


April 30, 2019

How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life

By Marcus Tullius Cicero (Author), Philip Freeman (Translator, Introduction), Princeton University Press (2016)

Ten lessons summarized from the Introduction by Philip Freeman*

1. “A good old age begins in youth”

It’s a fallacy to think we can begin living well in old age if we have not laid the foundations in our younger years. For example, it might sound like a great idea to learn a language or to play a musical instrument in our retirement years, but that is much harder than it seems. Learning to live meaningful and interesting lives in our youth will much more likely lead to a rich life in later years.

2. “Old age can be a wonderful part of life”

It’s not how much money and possessions you have, it’s who you are on the inside. This is also a habit that is best developed early in life, i.e., self-knowledge.

3. “There are proper seasons to life”

Learning to give up certain activities of youth, and suffering that loss, is part of aging wisely.

4. “Older people have much to teach the young”

Stay in touch with the younger generation because a long life of experience is valuable and worth sharing, and one can learn from young people also.

5. “Old age need not deny an active life, but we need to accept limitations.”

There are many ways to be active mentally and physically without trying to prolong youth and taking risks.

6. “The mind is a muscle that must be exercised”

The best approach to keeping the mind active is to move more, socialize, eat healthily, and keep learning about the world.

7. “Older people must stand up for themselves”

Fight back against agism!

8. “Sex is highly overrated”

Not that older people don’t still enjoy sex, but there are many other avenues in life to enjoy as sensual pleasure declines.

9. “Cultivate your own garden”

Find something that gives you pleasure and dive in! Again, it is best to learn how to play and enjoy life early on. If the bulk of your life was all work and no play, then it’s a steep learning curve to start in retirement.

10. “Death is not to be feared”

Make peace with the fact that we all have only one life on earth. Learn to face and accept inevitable death, and live well now.


If you are interested in volunteering for Konocti Senior Support, Inc., either as a Friendly Visitor or a Senior Peer Counselor, please call (707) 995-1417 and leave a message, or email us at

*Please consider purchasing this book or borrowing it from the local library - it’s well worth the read.


April 6, 2019

From Getting Old Without Getting Anxious by Peter V. Rabins, M.D.

Thirteen Ways Exercise Combats Stress and Anxiety in Late Life

Produces endorphins, which contribute to elevated mood and increased relaxation

Increases levels of serotonin

Aids restful sleep

Fights depression

Boosts self-esteem

Banishes worried thoughts

Increases sense of well-being

Encourages social interaction and contact

Reduces blood pressure

Aids circulation

Helps relax muscles and reduce muscular tension

Burns energy released by fight-or-flight response

Releases frustration


Check with your physician before you begin exercising, to make sure which type of exercise is safe and beneficial for you. But don’t use physical limitations as an excuse. No matter what your condition or age, there is likely some kind of physical activity that will benefit you.

Ignore old stereotypes. Resist misconceptions that it’s “too late” to exercise, or that exercise might be somehow harmful when you're older. On the contrary, inactivity and lack of initiative are implicated in accelerated aging and many diseases. Loss of muscle mass, or sarcopenia, is now recognized as one of the major contributors to frailty. Regular exercise can help lessen this muscle loss, and the benefits accrue whenever you start. And, amazingly, just eight weeks of exercise can lead to major improvements in strength and lower rates of falling, heart attacks, and stroke.

Pick an activity you love. In fact, try to pick one that you don’t consider exercise, but pleasure. Walking through a nature preserve, for example, can be a way of enjoying a view of nature along with garnering the benefits of exercise. Or ride a bike to visit a friend.

Walk! It doesn’t have to be strenuous. A daily brisk walk of twenty or thirty minutes is most beneficial, but you can start out with five minutes twice a week. A dawdling, window-shopping walk, however, won’t provide the same benefits.

Dr. Andrew Weil says: “Human beings are made to walk. We are bipedal, upright organisms with bodies designed for locomotion. Walking is a complex behavior that requires functional integration of a great deal of sensory and motor experiences; it exercises our brains as well as our musculoskeletal systems.”

Combine exercise with socializing. Square dancing at the local community center or joining in a group water-aerobics class is a way of interacting socially with others, which also improves mood and alleviates stress at the same time as you avail yourself of valuable exercise.

Make it a habit. Exercise should be a sustained and regular part of your routine. General guidelines suggest exercising for thirty minutes per day four or more days a week. Even two days a week can make a difference, especially if you are already in shape. If you’re not fit, sessions should be split into smaller segments and gradually increased in frequency and length.

Do what you can. Even if you’re sedentary or bedridden, there are stretching, toning, and yoga exercises that can be tailored for you and that can help you retain strength and range of motion.

It’s never too late. No matter how old you are, exercise has proven benefits. “I never exercised in my life until I was in my seventies,” Iris reported. “But when I became depressed after my retirement, I started walking with my neighbor after dinner. It helped my loneliness, I lost weight, and my mood really improved.”

(Getting Old Without Getting Anxious, Rabins, Peter V., M.D., London, Penguin, 2005)

Meet the Volunteers!

April 6, 2019




Konocti Senior Support, Inc. would like to invite you to meet our Senior Peer Counselors who provide free counseling services to homebound Lake County Seniors.

Come and enjoy a free cup of coffee at Lower Lake Coffee Co., 16199 Main St, Lower Lake, CA 95457 on Monday, April 29 from 1-3pm to learn more about this wonderful volunteer opportunity.

If you want to learn new skills, meet new people, and experience the rewards of engaging in a meaningful activity, then come meet with our team of volunteers which you can be part of as well.

Senior Peer Counselors are volunteers who are 55 years or above and come from all walks of life.

Konocti Senior Support, Inc. is a not-for-profit program that provides comprehensive training preparing volunteers to provide peer counseling services to Lake County Seniors in the recipient’s home or at his / her local senior center.

If you’re not 55 years or over but still are interested in volunteering, Konocti Senior Support, Inc. also has a Friendly Visitor volunteer program for volunteers ages 20 and above. Please don’t hesitate to come enjoy a cup of coffee, good conversation, and learn how you can make a difference.

Senior Peer Counseling, led by Program Director Francois van Wyk, LMFT, is a program offered by Konocti Senior Support, Inc. For more information please call (707) 995-1417, email, or visit


March 23, 2019

"Why do we treat old people like babies? That’s ageism." 

Video on Ageism over at bigthink website.

Social Connection!

March 23, 2019

Interacting with other humans is good for you. Read about a study that shows that a good buffer against stress and a boost for emotional well being comes from interacting with more people.

Happy New Year!

January 15, 2019

The "Adult Development and Aging" division of the American Psychological Association (Division 20) kicked off the new year with a Tweet we heartily endorse 

"Happy New Year! Start the new year off right by visiting an older relative or neighbor to make his/her day!"

How to Make Friends as an Adult

Nov 2, 2018

This is an interesting article from

How does one make friends as an adult. Often older persons end up isolated and lose the natural flow of making friends of earlier years. This article is worth reading. Here are a few highlights:

"The first important step is to get yourself into situations where you are around other people who have similar interests as you. Try looking at a local events calendar to see if they have something that interests you, like cooking, dancing, concerts, photography, hiking, or activism and volunteering."

"Once you are around people with common ground, the key to launching real friendships is to be interested in the other person. Many people make the mistake of trying to seem extremely interesting, but the key to making friends the other way around!"

Effectiveness of counseling with older people

Nov 2, 2018

The British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy published a summary of the literature regarding the effectiveness of counseling with older persons. A few excerpts from this report:

  • Counseling is efficacious with older people, particularly in the treatment of anxiety, depression and in improving subjective well-being.
  • Outcomes are consistent with those found in younger populations suggesting that old-age is not a barrier to being able to benefit from counseling.
  • Of the various counseling approaches CBT has the strongest evidence base and is efficacious with older people in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
  • There is a lack of research into a number of counseling approaches which are commonly-used in routine practice, particularly interpersonal, psychodynamic, client-centred, validation, goal-focused and gestalt therapies.
  • When different therapeutic approaches are tested against each other with this population, outcomes are not significantly different, indicating an absence of superiority of any one particular type of counseling.
  • Evidence indicates that individual, as opposed to group counseling, is the psychological treatment of choice among the community-dwelling elderly and that this may be the more effective modality with this population.
  • A pro-active approach to the identification of psychological problems among residential and community-dwelling older people is necessary to ensure problems are not left untreated.
  • Training counsellors to treat older people is feasible and some studies report good outcomes are associated with highly-qualified therapists who have undergone specialized training in working with older people.

International Day of Older Persons

Nov 2, 2018

October 1 was the United Nation's "International Day of Older Persons."

On this occasion the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy reported on the results of their "Older Persons" survey.

They found that while older persons benefit from counseling, access to these services is not readily available, nor is there a general public awareness of the benefit.

In Lake County there is a free counseling service for home-bound seniors who are isolated and depressed.

Old age is a carnival of losses - Donald Hall

Oct 8, 2018

Donald Hall, fourteenth U.S. Poet Laureate, talks in this video about old age as a "carnival of losses." For more about Donald Hall, who died recently at age 89, there is a beautiful article in the Atlantic.

Living well may lower the risk of dementia

Sep 17, 2018

Once again it comes down to the basics: stop smoking, move more, eat healthily and lose weight, and and manage blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. For more check out this report.

More about eating healthily:

Michael Pollan established a simple seven word rule:  "eat food, not too much, mostly plants." See what WebMD says about Michael Pollan's rule and for a good summary of how to eat healthily.


High Intensity Interval Training

Sep 17, 2018

For those of us who groan and grumble at the thought of 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week, here is an alternative, HIIT.

"Lake Links" - Transportation options in Lake County

Sep 17, 2018

Please visit to see if the options offered are of help to you or a friend/loved one.

When "sorrow's shafts fly thicker"

Sep 2, 2018

Thomas Campbell (Scottish poet 1774-1844) in his poem The River of Life, says that "a day to childhood seems a year" but as we get older "sorrow's shafts fly thicker." This leads him to say in the second to last verse:

It may be strange - yet who would  change

Time's course to slower speeding,

When one  by one our friends have gone

And left our bosoms bleeding?

There is also a sweetness to growing older...surely... not to ignore the struggles like loss of memory, friends, and an ailing body. Yes, some losses are too hard to bear, but I have the distinct pleasure of knowing people who are much older than me who are happy to have every moment and would love more.

The Emotional Benefits of Exercise

Aug 28, 2018

Feeling down, anxious, or stressed? This new #infographic from @NIAGo4Life shows how #exercise can help pick you up. 

"Ah, look at all the lonely people"

Aug 21, 2018

A short piece by Ann Burack-Weiss over at the Time Goes By blog sketches pictures of loneliness and the hunger for connection. 

Resilience in the face of the new normal

Aug 1, 2018

The fires of the last few days have left us anxious and stressed. Nobody escapes sickness, accidents, and death, but not everyone lives through a wild fire experience.

Resilience, according to the American English dictionary, means " the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties."

Resilience can be enhanced by engaging in social connections, i.e. talk to caring others about what happened to you , and listen to others share their experiences. Do this over and over again as you reconnect with family and friends. Each time you tell your story, about evacuation, loss, fear, etc., you remember more details and emotions and it's good to put this into words.

At times we become too obsessed with happiness and wellness. Life is incredibly difficult for everyone in many ways, and therefore living entails hard work. This is the work of facing our suffering and loss. What does this mean? For one thing it means allowing yourself to feel your feelings: sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, etc. It means it's okay and human to cry. It sometimes takes a while to recover and  bounce back, and that's okay.

Moving forward at least we can be fire safe (clean your gutters now, mow dead grass and trim trees near your house), ready to evacuate, and ready to help each other.

Here's to all first responders (fire, law enforcement, forestry), county officials, non profit volunteers, and also to the average person on the street who helped out their neighbors!

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