2023 TKO Inductee into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame – Kathyrn McGrew

Kathryn B. McGrew is an impressive woman.  Miami University Professor Emerita of Sociology and Gerontology, Dr. McGrew has spent her career researching and teaching others about our aging population, elderly services, long term care policies, caregiving, and support networks, but that is only the beginning. 

When you meet Dr. McGrew, or “Kathy” as she prefers to be called, it is impossible to ignore her energy and intellectual curiosity, her down-to-earth personality, and her genuine beauty.  Kathy has done more than just teach about navigating the “fourth season of life”—she is living it.  McGrew explains, “My professional world, filled with teaching and research about aging, long-term care and caregiving, is now my very personal world.”

McGrew followed a clear path in her education by completing a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology in 1969, a Master of Social Work in 1971, and a Ph.D. in 1990 from The Ohio State University, College of Social Work.  Her career also evolved to demonstrate not just an intellectual interest in social work and psychology, but a true desire to help others improve their lives and relationships.  Career highlights include:

  • Residential group home counselor for adult women with developmental disabilities
  • Psychiatric Social Worker and Clinical Instructor
  • Hospital Social worker for patients and Alcoholism out-patient clinic
  • Family Group worker for range of clients including incarcerated women, parents of teenagers, single parents, abusive parents, parents of disabled children and foster parents.
  • Social Worker for Family Services of Butler County, Ohio which included Coordinating the Comprehensive Services Center for School-age Expectant and New Parents.
  • Mediator for dispute resolution in the nursing facility setting.
  • Senior Research Scholar at Miami University’s nationally recognized Scripps Gerontology Center
  • Associate Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

McGrew’s experience and research has also made her a sought-after consultant to organizations like the Butler County Board of Mental Health, the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Hamilton, Ohio, and nursing facilities needing assistance with policy and procedure development, program development, social services supervision, in-service education and training, records audit, and crisis intervention. 

In addition to all of this, McGrew still found time for community service by serving on the Boards of organizations like:

  • Butler County Probate Court
  • Butler County Mental Health Center,
  • Family Services of Butler County
  • Oxford Advisory Welfare Service
  • Oxford Chamber of Commerce 

What may have been her most important volunteer position, however, is her board membership with The Knolls of Oxford, Continuing Care Retirement Community.  The impact of this position was likely not realized in her earlier years as a founding board member, but McGrew and her husband David now call The Knolls of Oxford home.  Kathryn admits, “I thought then, in my relative youth, that I was building a great community where “others” could grow older.  Those others soon became my friends, my own mom and dad, and more friends.  Then—no surprise—The Knolls of Oxford became my home with my husband Dave.”  Residents at The Knolls recognize McGrew’s expertise and often seek her advice while navigating the world of health care directives and spousal caregiving.  They also recently elected her to serve on the organization’s joint foundation board as the sole resident representative.

McGrew’s most personal experience in the field, however, has been the reality of dealing with the very issues she researched and taught for so many years.  Kathryn’s husband, David—a retired and beloved local veterinarian—was given a very sobering diagnosis years ago that has progressed to serious cognitive, communicative, and physical decline.  McGrew became her husband’s full-time caregiver and experienced, first-hand, the extremes lived by so many facing the same reality.  While she is the first to be transparent about the struggles, Kathryn has also been an unwavering advocate for her husband, herself, and others in similar situations. 

Kathy is not slowing down any time soon.  She continues to advocate for quality long term care and respite for caregivers.  She is a vocal supporter of resources like Adult Day Services, caregiver support groups, and the continued development of programming for those with dementia and other cognitive decline.  For example, McGrew recently became certified in the nationally recognized program TimeSlips in order to bring it to The Knolls skilled care community where her husband now resides.

For all her accolades, Kathryn B. McGrew is incredibly humble and one of the most approachable people you will ever meet.  Her genuine care for others is what continues to make her a distinguished asset to the field of aging, and such a respected and loved member of the community.

The Importance of Involvement

Social involvement is important at any age, especially for older adults. Having an active role in the community adds purpose and meaning to their lives while also providing opportunities to build lasting friendships. Residents of The Knolls of Oxford are encouraged to be as involved in their community as they desire. Some of the biggest ways residents can be involved on campus include resident committees and social and recreational programming.

Resident Committees
At The Knolls of Oxford, we believe that the best way to improve community life for our residents is by listening to the residents themselves. Knoll’s residents have the opportunity to be involved in the Resident’s Council. This council is overseen by Laura Lacy, Executive Director, and is comprised of various committees focused on dining, safety, technology, hospitality, and activities as well as a representative from each neighborhood. Residents work with staff in these committees to provide suggestions and ideas to enhance campus life. These suggestions are reviewed at Resident Council and then passed onto administration.

Social and Recreational Programming
The amenities at The Knolls allow residents the freedom to be as active as they wish. Our 84-acre campus features a gorgeous walking paths, and gardens providing an outdoor sanctuary. You will also a Bistro, Library, Salon, and multiple spaces for resident gatherings.

Each level of care at Maple Knoll Village has trained Activity staff dedicated to ensuring our residents live their lives to fullest. This can be seen through various planned social, cultural, and educational programs. Local entertainment from the community and area colleges are frequently brought in for residents to enjoy as well.

One of the most popular activities offered is the weekly Happy Hour. Independent living residents come together to enjoy food and drinks, socialize, and even meet new people. Residents also have frequent opportunities to enjoy life outside of The Knolls by visiting the Cincinnati Zoo, attending Miami games, or enjoying an afternoon immersing themselves in the arts.

To learn more about socialization opportunities offered, check out our social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram @knollsofoxford for an inside look at life at The Knolls of Oxford or give us a call at 513-524-7990.

Importance of Hydration in Older Adults

glass of ice lemon water

Staying hydrated is an essential part of healthy aging, especially for those 65 and older. As we age, our risk of becoming dehydrated increases for a number of reasons. Foremost, our ability to conserve water decreases with age making it more difficult to stay properly hydrated. Older adults may also experience a diminished sense of thirst, which can be caused by age and even some medications. While dehydration might not seem like a major health concern, it can ultimately lead to poor health and medical outcomes, increased hospitalization and even premature death.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the ten most common causes of hospitalizations in older adults. While dehydration can look different for each individual, there are some common signs which can include headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, dry mouth and fatigue. Dark urine is also a common side effect of dehydration and can act as a good warning sign. If a person is getting enough water, their urine should be lighter in color. However, it’s important to note that some medications can interfere with urine color. Other common symptoms of dehydration can include decreased urination, dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, cold hands and feet and increased heart rate.

Benefits of Drinking Water

Drinking enough water is a simple way to take charge of your health. While it can feel difficult at times, getting adequate hydration throughout the day actually has numerous health benefits such as improving cognition and reducing joint pain. Here are a few ways your body benefits from hydration:

  • Improved brain performance. According to the National Council on Aging, even mild dehydration can affect one’s memory, concentration and reaction time. Proper hydration helps stabilize your emotions and can even decrease feelings of anxiety.
  • Aids with digestion. Proper hydration can decrease the risk of constipation and ensure the digestive system is working properly. Water helps transport nutrients throughout the body and also allows waste products to leave.
  • Provides more energy. Dehydration can decrease the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain, causing your heart to work harder and ultimately making you feel more tired. By drinking more water, you’ll prevent dehydration and feel more energized throughout the day.
  • Decreased joint pain. The cartilage in our joints is actually made up of 80% water. Staying hydrated throughout the day can increase lubrication in our joints, reducing friction between the bones.
  • Regulates temperature. Our bodies store more heat when we’re dehydrated, which lowers the ability to tolerate warm temperatures. Dehydration also prevents our bodies from being able to sweat when we overheat, putting us at great risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
  • Prevents kidney stones. Kidney stones develop when mineral crystals form within the urinary tract. Kidney stones can be extremely painful to pass and can cause complications if gone unaddressed. Staying hydrated helps dilute the minerals found within the urinary tract, which helps prevent kidney stones from developing.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. In addition to consuming water, there are a number of different ways we can stay hydrated from the foods we eat. In fact, most fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe and oranges are great sources of hydration and have added fiber and nutrients that also boost immune function. Eating soups and smoothies with your meals will also help you consume water in a more fun and filling way. Adding raspberries, lemons and cucumbers can make drinking water feel like a treat.