Bob Bonner hosts The Silver Speaker Series, senior-friendly classes in senior living communities and American Legions throughout Denver. He works with Dr. David Gordon, a Denver and Boulder based Lifestyle and Cannabis M.D. Dr. Gordon focuses on removing the stigma of the plant and discusses details of the different products and administrations. He haves done dispensary bus tours after classes as well, to teach the seniors the process in purchasing cannabis.
We caught up with Bob to learn more about how the Silver Speaker Series is helping the senior community.
What is the Silver Speaker Series?
Silver Speaker Series is a company focused on health education in the senior space. We offer 3 different classes, 2 of which focus primarily on cannabis education, and the last focusing on improving your life through lifestyle management. These classes are hosted in Senior Living Communities, Fraternal organizations like the American Legion, and Senior Centers.
How are you fighting the negative cannabis stigma in the senior community?
There is truly only one way to fight the cannabis stigma, and it’s by focusing on education. Dr. David Gordon delivers a great introduction to the plant and how the medicine interacts with humans and other medications they are taking. He offers an open discussion for the seniors to ask questions and alleviate concerns.
CBD has also been amazingly helpful in opening the minds of seniors, as many have already seen success with CBD specific products. I believe that much of the curiosity in THC specific products is stemmed from the success of the CBD market in seniors.
What inspired you to incorporate cannabis education in the senior community?
Silver Speaker Series was a very organic development. My original intention was to find a fun and engaging subject that the seniors would enjoy in the senior community I was working in. I spoke to Dr. Gordon about classes he had hosted in the past, and he developed Cannabis 101 - Cannabis for Seniors. My initial attendance was more than expected, and much more than other classes I had hosted, so I took the show on the road to see if it was as popular in other venues.
How can the senior community benefit from cannabis?
I don’t believe there is a demographic that could benefit more from cannabis use. Cannabis treats Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Glaucoma, general pain like joint pain and arthritis. It can be used for mental disorders, including PTSD, Panic attacks, eating disorders, depression and general anxiety. Offsetting opioid use, and all of the ancillary drugs required to use opioids, is a success in itself.
Over the last year I have had many sponsors, and each has had a chance to speak at our events. They discuss their products in relation to senior specific concerns, and how they have designed them in relation to senior’s needs. Conscious Medz, 1906, Stillwater, GoFire, Altus, Saving Grace Oil, Mary Janes Medicinals, and Resource Medical Center have all been supporting Silver Speaker Series since the beginning, and this education could not be possible without their support.
What has been the most rewarding part of teaching seniors about cannabis?
After the word got out, many nurses, family members, and care-givers started traveling to attend these seminars to learn about cannabis’s effect on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
One of the nurses had been working with a resident with late-stage dementia, and this resident refused to shower, something not uncommon in memory care. The horror the resident would go through as she was put in the water was terrible, and they were looking for options to calm her. Dr. Gordon met with the patient and her family, and suggested a very low dose of CBD and THC in the form of a candy, 30 minutes prior to the shower. The patient took the candy, and completely relaxed. It turned what was a horrible experience for both the resident and her care staff, into an enjoyable one. The staff said she was even singing at one point!
Knowing I had even the tiniest role in making this woman’s life easier feels great, and I hope there are more seniors out there benefitting in the same way.
What has been the most challenging part of this work?
Finding locations to host my event has been the most difficult part of this role. I have scheduled events weeks in advanced only to lose them on the final hour because the owner or board becomes concerned about the perception of cannabis education.
Luckily, the cannabis community in Colorado is one of the most accepting and understanding. The support within these organizations is something I have never seen in any other industry.