Barbara Kim Stanton
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

When you listen to one of AARP’s volunteer speakers, you’re going to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know.

That’s how our Speaker’s Bureau coordinator, Ida Holtsinger, describes the information that our trained volunteers provide to the public on topics as diverse as brain health, retirement planning, disaster preparation and caregiving.

Our speakers have the benefit of AARP’s 60 years of experience helping people choose how they live as they age. They are volunteers; they aren’t selling anything. They do it because they enjoy helping people by giving them information they can use.

Jicky Ferrer, who speaks about brain health, said he loves seeing people’s eyes light up when they learn something.

His popular brain health presentation encourages people to do what they should probably be doing already — eat well, exercise, and keep learning and challenging their brain.

But having someone tell you something somehow makes a bigger impact than just reading it, Ferrer said.

He recently gave the brain health presentation to a Waipahu High School alumni group, many of whom are caring for parents with dementia. The message of “preventative maintenance on their own behalf so they don’t suffer the same consequences” directly related to their own experience, he said.

“When people hear it from someone else, I believe it validates what they may already know,” he said. “You read about it, you might see it in the paper, but until somebody tells it to you, it doesn’t always sink in.”

Learning the presentation also had a positive effect on Ferrer’s health. He changed his behavior and is now exercising regularly and eating better. He’s lost several pounds as a result and is taking French language classes to exercise his mind.

“I practice a lot more of the stuff that I preach now,” he said.

Holtsinger said she’s learned facts about Social Security, Medicare and financial planning because of the AARP presentations, like when to take Social Security and the deadlines to sign up for Medicare. It’s information everyone should know as they get closer to retirement age, but not everyone is aware of how these decisions can affect you for the rest of your life.

If you would like to attend a presentation, the Pearl City Public Library hosts our speakers monthly on various topics. This month’s presentation on “Disaster Planning” is full, but you should still be able to reserve a space for our “Secure Your Future” presentation on Sunday, July 14, from 1 to 4 p.m., and “5 Pillars of Brain Health” presentation on Sunday, Aug. 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. Call 1-877-926-8300 or go online to to register.

Additionally, if your community, business or lunch group of at least 10 people would like to have an AARP speaker at your event, call Ida Holtsinger at 545-6025, fill out an online form at or email her at

Finally, the information we present is available online at if you want to seek it out on your own.

Barbara Kim Stanton has been the state director of AARP Hawai‘i since 2005. She writes about living a life of real possibilities, where age is not a limit and experience equals wisdom.


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