Category: Senior Centers

Overcoming nutritional challenges with older adults

You probably have witnessed it: An older relative who just does not eat the same way he or she once did.

As we age, our bodies undergo inevitable changes, even when we’re at our best health. Many of these changes affect how we consume, absorb and use the nutrients from food.

Without awareness of these changes, we can easily begin to experience a decrease in health because of lack of nutrients.

To stay healthy, older adults—or those caring for them—need to recognize the biological changes as well as habitual obstacles that keep them from optimal nutritional health. They need to know how to adapt their lifestyles and diets to overcome such challenges.

Biological changes that affect nutrition

The simple process of aging can affect many ways our bodies consume and use nutrients from our food. Click here to consider the following…

What does the RAISE Family Caregivers Act really mean?

Every year, tens of thousands of family caregivers deliver support and personal care to loved ones without training, pay or, in many cases, help from anyone.

In fact, family caregivers make up the core of our nation’s caregiving workforce, yet they often struggle with financial challenges, workplace issues, stress-induced health problems and more.

In January, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act became law, starting an initiative to better support family caregivers on both local and national levels.

RAISE stands for Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage. The RAISE Act will create a nationwide strategy to support family caregivers by providing education and resources, fixing workplace issues that limit a loved one’s ability to provide care and assessing current and future health systems to ensure caregivers’ central role in their loved one’s care.

With the act passed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has 18 months to develop a strategy to bolster family caregivers in their roles. Along with the HHS secretary, an advisory council made up of caregivers themselves, older adults, veterans, adults with disabilities, health and long-term care providers, employers and state and local officials will work together to make recommendations for the new approach.

Click here to read more about what the RAISE Act is supposed to do…

A simple lesson on aging: What you feel today may indeed be what you feel then

He’d called a former girlfriend of his.
That’s what the older gentleman we sometimes helped by providing transportation to medical appointments told me, in casual conversation in the midst of a return trip home.
Even though his wife had passed away a few years before, I was a bit shocked by this—particularly when he told me he’d last seen the “girl” nearly 70 years before.
Their conversation apparently went nowhere fast, for she was married, he learned. Beyond that, he proffered, chuckling a bit, she still seemed miffed that he had asked her to wait for marriage until he returned from World War II.
Waiting, he mused, had not been in her character.
Fast-forward a few years to this week. As I stood in line to vote, an older man in front of me seemed ready to pick a political fight with another older gentleman standing off to the side. Perhaps they knew each other, perhaps not, but it was certainly obvious one was “blue,” the other “red.”

Living, learning at lake brings reward, award

Living just down the road from Sweet Arrow Lake County Park in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, has been a blessing in so many ways.

The location has made it convenient for my husband, Barry, and me to take advantage of all the park has to offer. The facilities have served as gathering places for family reunions, a way to fish and kayak with friends, and geocaching—an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS mobile device or other navigational methods to hide and then seek containers—with our children.

The park also has served as a venue for learning how to plant a garden, worshiping at sunrise on Easter Sunday, and just taking a walk to the waterfalls with my Mom.

Living with Alzheimer’s … some bonds just can’t be broken

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progressively harms and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions.

People are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if they are more than 85 years of age; they may have a reduced risk of developing memory loss-related diseases if they maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Because people experience Alzheimer’s disease differently with varying symptoms, it is important that a doctor provide the diagnosis. Symptoms generally include the loss of problem-solving ability, impaired judgment, and loss of short-term memory.

Alzheimer’s disease occurs gradually. In fact, after a diagnosis is made, family members often say they believe they should have “seen it coming.”

As families learn to deal with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they must become aware of the reality they face—the disease gets progressively worse and families should make plans to handle that decline.

Volunteer helps a “Buddy”

One of some 230 meals on wheels volunteers with Diakon Community Services, Michelle Eshelman enjoys helping people. Sometimes, that help takes a different turn …making her a new “Buddy” in the process…. She writes about the experience:

The first time I delivered meals to “Buddy’s” owner, I could not help but notice Buddy. He barked from the time I pulled in until the time I left. This continued for the next three or four deliveries. Every time I made a delivery, I would talk to him, but he just barked.

Why not volunteer?

Why volunteer? Why not? A meals on wheels volunteer, Barbara Carduff, shares her reasoning:

“I work at Schuylkill Medical Center South and a coworker of mine volunteers for Meals on Wheels and said they were in need of someone in Shenandoah[, Pennsylvania,] for Wednesdays. My daughter, who is a nursing student, was off from classes that day so we thought, why not?

Happy Halloween…but first, let us take a selfie

Every few months we hold photo contests for our Diakon staff members. Originally, we launched a contest to obtain content for our 27 Diakon Facebook pages, but the process has evolved into a fun way of bringing staff together with one another and the people they serve.

Our last employee Facebook photo contest was themed as the “fall selfie” edition. We had so many terrific entries from a multitude of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries programs and Diakon Senior Living campuses that we wanted to share some of them here.

Making a difference in their community

I recently had the opportunity to tour the five senior community centers Diakon operates in Schuylkill County, Pa., under contract with the county Office of Senior Services.

These community centers offer a variety of programs and services geared to people who are 60 and older, though lots of programs are open to those of all ages. In addition to daily programs and services, the centers offer nutritionally balanced lunch-time meals at each location, as well as delivered via the Diakon-sponsored Meals on Wheels program to people in the community who have difficulty leaving their homes.