The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reminds older persons of the importance of healthy aging: "For older adults, good health ensures independence, security and productivity as they age."
Statistics show that staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, staying connected with family and friends and managing the risk factors associated with any chronic disease are important keys to remaining healthy enough to maintain an independent life style.
The O'Neill Center continues their commitment to healthy aging specifically into the Belpre area through their partnership with the City of Belpre and the Belpre Senior Center. Since October 2008, the O'Neill has provided staff and programs at the Belpre Senior Center. There are a number of new programs and services related to healthy aging at the Belpre Senior Center.
Exercise classes are now offered on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings in addition to chair volleyball on Mondays and Wednesdays. The new "tone and stretch" class now uses a "chair dance" routine on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Zumba Gold, the new exercise craze based on Latin music moves, meets on Thursdays at 5:30 and is open to all ages. Throughout 2010, seniors chose to participate in a variety of physical activities over 1,900 times.
Chronic diseases offer a special challenge to remaining independent. According to NCOA, approximately 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease. Four chronic diseases - heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes - cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year and account for 75 percent of the money the nation spends on health care. By 2011, the cost of chronic disease is estimated to be $2.8 trillion - an average of over $9,000 per person. Diabetes is now understood to be a national epidemic as it affects over 12 million Americans aged 60 and over, or over 23 percent of the older population.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington County has a 10.5 percent rate of prevalence for diabetes. This is higher than the national average of 8percent and the State of Ohio's rate of 9.1 percent. These alarming statistics are the driving force behind a new partnership between theBelpre Senior Center and Marietta Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Center.
A nurse educator from the diabetes center provides monthly diabetes education for group and individuals plus a facilitator for the "Healthy Weight" class at Belpre Senior Center.
"The primary goal of the partnership with the Belpre Senior Center is to provide the knowledge and skill necessary for individuals to achieve and maintain optimal health in spite of diabetes," says Kathy Reis, RN and program coordinator for the Diabetes Education Center.
Reis says that the partnership with the senior center is the first of the kind for the Diabetes Center and that they are thrilled to have served 110 seniors at the Belpre center in the past year. Results include more controlled blood sugar readings and weight reduction which is a major risk factor in developing Type II Diabetes. Dorcas Stanley was recently recognized as the "biggest loser" of the "Healthy Weight" class. Mrs. Stanley says her goal is to do all that she can to "remain independent".
"Learning the importance of portion control as well as the group encouragement and weighing in" are the keys to her losing weight, says Mrs. Stanley.
Other key partnerships toward encouraging healthier life styles include home health agencies. The Medi Home Health Agency and the Ohio Home Care of Belpre provide weekly screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and weight. Doctors have indicated an appreciation when a senior brings in a record of blood pressure or blood sugar readings. Such information helps determine compliance with medications or raises as a flag when numbers remain out of the normal ranges. Belpre Senior Center participants used the services of the home health agencies more than 500 times in 2010.
In addition to on-going classes related to healthy aging, there are also special education events or topics offered by health care professionals. In the past year, seniors at Belpre have learned tips on taking care of their back, options for bladder control problems, ways to enhance memory and thinking, understanding the difference between a cold and an allergy, stroke prevention tips, sleep problems, hearing, vision and more.
For more information on a wide variety of activities and programs offered at Belpre Senior Center call (740) 423-2066 or check them out on the Web at www.oneillcenter.com.
Susie Casto is manager of the Belpre Senior Center.