According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 40 million Americans provide care to an elderly or disabled person every year. Taking care of a loved one can be difficult, especially when you have other time-consuming responsibilities, such as managing your relationship with your spouse, looking after your children, or building your career. You may feel overwhelmed and frustrated at times, and you may even neglect yourself. It’s harder to care for others if you do not maintain your own physical, emotional, and mental health and happiness, so consider these strategies for help:
Assess your level of self-care and identify places where you may need improvement. Are you eating well? Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising regularly? These habits are essential for good health and mental wellbeing and will help keep your body running at its best.
Have a plan in place for when you start to feel burned out. Your plan can include taking a break to relax, asking for help, or treating yourself to an activity you enjoy.
Learn how to recognize and cope with negative feelings and be honest about what you feel. Recognize that these are common human emotions, and it is okay to have them. Forgive yourself and move on.
Build a personal support system which may include family, friends, religious groups, organizations and anyone who makes you laugh, stay grounded, provides valuable information and/ or advice, or just listens when you need to vent. Having a strong support network helps us feel loved and cared for, which can help reduce stress.
Recognize the role and importance of humor and laughter. Humor and laughter can take negatives and turn them into positives, so look for humor in all things, good and bad.
Find more tips and resources at Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Family Caregiver Toolkit here.
In our community, older adults are a key source of strength. Through their experiences, challenges and successes, they have built resilience that helps them face new challenges. When communities tap into this, they become stronger too. That’s why AAHP celebrates Older Americans Month (OAM) with the Administration for Community Living by promoting their theme for 2022: Communities of Strength, which recognizes the important role seniors play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
Observe OAM by connecting with the seniors in your life. If you’re a senior, celebrate your strength and share your story with people from younger generations. OAM is a great time to:
Look for joy in the everyday. Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.
Reach out to neighbors. Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a homecooked meal.
Build new skills. Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.
Share your story. There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Interviewing family, friends, and neighbors can start new conversations and strengthen our connections.
When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share experiences—through action, story, or service—we help build strong communities. And that’s something to celebrate!
Dancing has several health benefits for seniors, including improved cardio, balance, and mood, as well as other advantages you may not have considered. Some seniors report more energy, greater flexibility, better posture, and a stronger sense of accomplishment after participating in dance courses. They were also happier and had a stronger feeling of community and camaraderie. Dance Exchange in Takoma Park is hosting two free dance lessons for seniors.
Saturdays at 11:00 a.m., Dance Exchange will host Takoma Park Moves in collaboration with the Takoma Park Maryland Library. Join Dance Exchange artists as they move with a diverse group of families, professionals, and community people of various ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. There is no need to register; simply drop in whenever you like. Beginning March 26, the program will meet on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. on the library's front lawn at 101 Philadelphia Ave. These activities are free and take place outside.
Dance Exchange’s Dance On Class takes place Thursdays, 11 am - 12 pm. This creative aging class is geared toward older adults but open to all ages. To register and join class via Zoom, go to danceexchange.org/dance-on-creative-aging-class
Cognitive decline is bound to show up in all of us sooner or later, especially if we are blessed with longevity. The goal is for this to happen later rather than sooner. Healthy habits, such as eating nutrient-rich foods, staying physically active, engaging in positive relationships, managing stress in productive ways, and living a full and active life can help to prevent or delay cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other forms of dementia.
A well-stimulated brain is more resilient against cognitive decline. “Brain training” games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku have been used to improve memory, thinking and problem-solving in people showing signs of cognitive decline. Learning a new language or musical instrument can have a similar effect. In one study, older adults with no previous musical experience improved their communication skills and processing speeds after a few months of weekly piano lessons.
If cognitive decline progresses to AD, fewer options are available other than treatment and management of symptoms with medication. The newest medication, aducanumab, slows the progression of the disease by reducing amyloid (abnormal tissue) deposits in the brain. Other drugs target behavioral symptoms, allowing patients to live with greater independence, dignity, and quality of life.
MedStar Montgomery Medical Center has recently opened a NEW senior primary care center, the Center for Successful Aging (CSA), which utilizes a new model of specialized care to address the specific needs of older adults. CSA provides assessments, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions; medication management; access to resources and support to help seniors remain in their home as they age; and more.
“Successful aging” can be defined as having high physical, psychological, and social functioning in old age without major diseases. The senior population in Maryland continues to rise to epic levels, making clear the need for comprehensive care and services to help seniors successfully age. The State Department on Aging predicts that people over the age of 60 will make up 25% of the population by the year 2030, up from 18% in 2015.
CSA accepts Medicare and Medicaid, along with a wide variety of health plans.To learn more about CSA and its COVID-19, protocols, visit their website. For more information call 240-817-2639.
A recent study indicates that a structured diet and exercise regimen may help reduce blood pressure with persons with resistant hypertension, which is blood pressure that cannot be controlled after appropriate dosages of at least three separate antihypertensive drugs. In a research trial of 140 participants with the average age of 63, 90 were enrolled in a four-month lifestyle program that included counseling on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and weight control, calorie and salt restriction, and an exercise program. The other individuals were allocated to a control group that received a single blood pressure management counseling session. The lifestyle program participants had a bigger average drop in systolic blood pressure during office visits—12.5 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) compared to 7.1 mmHg in the control group—as well as improvements in other cardiovascular health markers. So if you have resistant hypertension, an organized diet and exercise program may help you manage your blood pressure and other aspects of cardiovascular health.
AAHP’s Chronic Disease Management Program (CDMP) helps Black/African American Montgomery County residents reduce and control their blood pressure. The Program provides education on cardiovascular health, exercise classes, free health screenings, and more. Call 240-777-1833 to learn more.
As people continue to live longer and longer, having a positive attitude about aging can help to reduce the social stigma associated with aging. September is Healthy Aging Month as well as World Alzheimer’s Month. We should celebrate growing older and enjoy the success we’ve had in improving health for seniors.
Without a doubt, aging can be difficult at times, but for many people, it can be much easier with smart lifestyle choices. Staying physically active can help seniors remain independent as long as possible. In addition to exercise, diet can also affect the quality of life in the Golden Years. Eating a nutrition-rich diet can help with weight management, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and slow down muscle loss. It’s also important to get adequate sleep, surround yourself with good people, and do activities you enjoy. And it’s never too late to find a new passion or hobby or work on your health issues.
As we age, our brains change, but the same healthy behaviors that help prevent some kinds of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease may also reduce your risk for cognitive decline. Although we can’t control our genetics or our age, a report from the Lancet Commission suggests that addressing risk factors can delay or even prevent up to 40% of dementia cases.
We’re all getting older and each day is a blessing. Whether you’re eighteen turning nineteen, or eighty turning eighty-one, enjoy your life!
AAHP is partnering with Kingdom Fellowship A.M.E Church on Sunday, October 10th to present a virtual breast cancer panel discussion from 11:00am-12:30pm. The event will include special presentations from Dr. Nancie Richberg, Kick Start Your Health instructor; Mrs. Serena Holtz, a SMILE nurse; Mrs. Wanda Smith, AAHP’s social worker, as well as three other thriving survivors, followed by a Q&A session and then a heathy cooking demonstration with Mrs. Robina Barlow. All registrants and attendees will be placed in a raffle for tremendous prizes, including massage gift card, mani/pedis, comfort bags and more!
This Sunday, October 3rd, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Harvest Health ministry, in collaboration with the African American Health Program and Hepatitis B Initiative of Washington DC (HBI-DC) will host a free health fair in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Participants can take part in a health screenings for blood pressure, glucose, BMI, and mental health. Testing for Hep B, Hep C, HIV, and cholesterol are also offered, with six hours of fasting required. Participants can also get their medications evaluated at a brown bag session. There will be food demonstrations, line dancing, raffles, and more. No registration is required. For more information, call 240-801-7136 or visit https://www.harvestersolney.org/events/2021/10/3/harvest-helth-ministry-breast-cancer-screening-amp-health-fair?fbclid=IwAR04GYzaA8Wvsf0B7rSdTYGysgqKrrMCrWLOMFnxgj-iMummaLZLLS7qJhc
Older adults and residents with disabilities can receive free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination and testing locations from taxi companies operating in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will reimburse these companies for the cost of rides.
To Schedule a Trip
Call Connect-A-Ride at (301) 738-3252 and provide your name, address, phone number, age, and receive a “Free COVID Taxi Code.”
Call one of the taxicab companies listed below and provide the following:
Your “Free COVID Taxi Code”
Name, phone number, trip information – date, time, origin and destination
At the end of each trip, sign a trip voucher
Taxicab Companies offering this service:
Action Taxi: (301) 840-1000
Anytime Taxi (301) 637-9292
Regency/Barwood Taxi: (301) 990-9000 or (301) 984-1900
The African American Health Program is funded and administered by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and implemented by McFarland & Associates, Inc.