Atlanta Regional Commission’s Wellness Programs

Benefits of Wellness Programs

Senior wellness programs offer educational and health benefits that can directly improve the quality of life of the participant.  Wellness programs offer ideas and tips on how to live longer healthier lives, improve socialization and help to increase energy levels.   The focus of senior health or wellness programs is to educate seniors on how best to manage their health and activity levels for optimal function, performance, and overall happiness.   You can reach these goals through exercise classes, attending workshops, or joining your community senior center where various activities are offered throughout the week.

 Wellness Programs Goals

Prevention  

One of the goals of a senior wellness program is to keep seniors informed of the importance of awareness, preventive care, and health maintenance.  Areas explored in wellness programs that address prevention could be:

  •  The importance of yearly flu shots
  •  Driving safety
  •  Falls prevention
  • Exercise for endurance and strength
  • Healthy eating
  •  Managing a chronic health condition
  •  Taking medications as directed by a physician
  • Making difficult decisions

Independence

Encouraging and supporting seniors in their efforts to maintain their independence is very important and helps them have a richer personal life and the ability to remain in their homes longer living independently.  One way to accomplish this is through regular exercise and better fitness levels that promote the ability to achieve improved mobility, range of motion, balance, stability, strength and endurance.  All of which will improve the quality of life and help maintain independence.

Signs A Wellness Program May Help

You may notice that the person who worked a long day at the office and then spent evenings and weekends cooking, cleaning, attending social events, and other activities can no longer get upstairs without help.  Low impact activities can easily be enough to wear you out. You may be wondering what is happening.  As we age, our body can change dramatically and that includes our endurance and health status.  People 60 and over can suffer from a myriad of health challenges.  The most common, according to the National Institutes of Health are hypertension, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and bronchial asthma.  This could be a signal that getting involved in a wellness program could be a wise choice.

Some of the changes may start gradually and may be noticed by you or possibly a family member or friend.  However, some of the changes may be difficult for you to detect yourself.   Some signs of changes in physical and/or cognitive abilities may be:

  1. Changing eating habits, resulting in weight loss, appetite loss or missing meals
  2. Neglecting personal hygiene, including clothing, body odor, oral health
  3. Neglecting the home with a noticeable change in tidiness and/or sanitation
  4. Exhibiting inappropriate behavior such as being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, agitated or making telephone calls at unusual hours
  5. Changes in relationship patterns that may cause friends and neighbors to express concern
  6. Becoming withdrawn.  A decrease in activities that were once considered enjoyable such as playing bridge, attending book club gatherings, dining with friends or religious services.
  7. Exhibiting forgetfulness, unfilled prescriptions, missed appointments
  8. Mishandling finances
  9. Making unusual purchases

If you have noticed any of the warning signs consider talking with the loved ones primary care physician to share your observations and concerns.

Also, in some instances, consider a well- coordinated wellness program or self-management workshop.  These programs can help through education and providing the opportunity to be with other seniors who may very likely be challenged with the same of similar situations. 

Lynda Conner

Atlanta Regional Commission

SOWEGA Ups Wellness Activities

The SOWEGA Council on Aging, Inc. coordinates programs and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities; helping them live longer, live safely, and live well. Our service area includes 14 counties in Southwest Georgia: Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, Worth, Mitchell, Grady, Decatur, Thomas, Colquitt, Miller, Seminole, Calhoun, Early, and Baker.

Like many of our friends around the state, our Wellness Program has been booming with lots of new and exciting programming! We are all faced with the challenge of changing the stigma of senior centers from one of a “day care for seniors” to one where they can “actively age”.  Actively aging encompasses the mind, body and spirit. Through all of our various programs, I am confident we are moving the needle in this area. Here are just a few of our highlights from the past several months.

SOWEGA Council on Aging brings Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM to Southwest Georgia

 

Picture of people with Parkinson's riding a bike

Exercise Your Brain…Ride A Bike!

What if you were told that pedaling a bicycle could change the life of someone with Parkinson’s disease?

While there is no cure for the disease, which affects more than 1 million people in the United States, there is compelling evidence that Pedaling for Parkinson’s makes a real difference for many who try it. 

The program is supported by research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic which showed a 35% reduction in symptoms by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace – optimally, 80-90 revolutions per minute. Fast-paced cycling is changing the lives of increasing numbers of individuals who, before this, had no hope beyond medication and eventually surgery to slow the progression of their disease.

To better serve those in the Southwest Georgia area who are living with Parkinson’s disease, the SOWEGA Council on Aging is expanding wellness programs and has become a licensed partner of the Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM program.

We launched our very first Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM pilot group at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center in May 2018. It was a great success! We now offer this program year-round at no cost to the patient.

The mission of this program is:

·        To improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers;

·        To educate patients, caregivers, and the general public about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle after a Parkinson’s diagnosis;

·        To support research dedicated to prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM goes far beyond just meeting the physical needs of the participant. In addition, this program addresses the mental and emotional need of a “support group on wheels”. Past participants expressed an increased level of confidence and support when exercising with participants who were “like them”.

For more information on this program, contact Robin McCord, Wellness Coordinator, at (229) n435-6789.  

Group Exercise Classes help our Seniors Actively Age

Chair ExercisesAt our Senior Center in Albany, we are very fortunate to have a beautiful ballroom and wellness room where our seniors can safely exercise. All classes are led by qualified staff or volunteers who are here to serve! There is no charge to attend any of our group exercise classes, helping to remove this as a barrier to living a healthy lifestyle. Here is a list of our classes and when they are offered:

Chair Yoga: Monday’s at 3 pm & Friday’s at 9 am

Group ExercisesChair Fitness: Monday’ & Tuesday’s at 10 am / Tuesday’s & Thursday’s at 11 am

Line Dancing: Monday’s at 11 am & Wednesday’s at 3 pm

Indoor Cycling: Tuesday’s at 4 pm

Drumming: Friday’s at 10: 15 am

Community Gardening at Its Best

Like many community gardens, the idea of it is always exciting at first. Then….the real work of planting, maintaining, watering, and harvesting sets in. We are proud to say that the PAC committee at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Dougherty County has taken the community garden on as their wellness project for this year. Several members from this center are often seen arriving early to the center to beat the heat so they can volunteer their time to maintain the garden. This past spring/ summer, they grew okra, peppers, peas, zucchini and squash. Once harvested, the vegetables are used as BINGO prizes in our senior centers.

Senior Garden 1
Senior Garden 2

Tai Chi Instructors Getting Trained

In August 2018, we hosted a Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Instructor Workshop. We had 20 participants take this workshop. Of this 20, 7 of our own staff received this certification and will now be able to begin leading more Tai Chi workshops at our senior centers in our more rural areas.

Tai Chi 1
Tai Chi 2

New Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Lay Leaders

Thanks to Loreatha Jenkins and Nicole Gaither, CDSMP Master Trainers, we were able to send 3 volunteers and 1 staff person to the CDSMP Lay Leader workshop that was held September 2018. We are looking forward to being able to expand our offering of this evidence-based program in our service area in the near future.

CDSMP Lay Leader 1
CDSMP Lay Leader 2

Active Aging Week

Our senior centers in all 14 counties were challenged to create a host of active aging activities the last week in September. Many of them spotlighted their wellness classes, played games, and held community walks as part of this week-long celebration. Below are some pictures from the Riverwalk in Albany, GA. Our active seniors were encouraged to walk a half mile or a full mile. We also did a little Tai Chi in the park. All in all, it was a great day!  

Active Aging 1
Active Aging 3
Active Aging 2
Active Aging 4

For more information about SOWEGA Council on Aging, Inc., please go to www.sowegcoa.org .

Preparing for the holiday season in Northeast Georgia

From Elberton to Athens to Covington . . .

The Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging  serves a 12-county region in Northeast Georgia, including the Granite Capital of the World (Elberton in Elbert County), the home of the Georgia Bulldogs (Athens in Clarke County), and our own film-ready town (Covington in Newton County – do you recognize scenes from Sweet Home Alabama or the Vampire Diaries?).

Each of our senior centers has its own unique personality, too! Examples of activities offered include Zumba, ceramics, gospel choir, Bridge, Bingo, quilting club, walking club, senior yoga, and more! Our older adults enjoy a variety of weekly activities and special events, such as grocery shopping day, outings to Mayfield Dairy or Gibbs Gardens, and tailgating cookouts or Varsity Hamburgers and Hotdogs. Our wonderful senior center directors give of their time, creativity, and resources to provide enriching experiences for all of the older adults in our region.  

We currently offer the Living Well Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, A Matter of Balance falls prevention program, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers in our region. These evidence-based programs help our older adults manage chronic conditions or feel empowered when caring for a loved one with chronic conditions.

We also provide a monthly newsletter to our senior centers and several community partners with articles about pertinent nutrition, physical activity, lifestyle management, and medication management topics – as well as a simple but yummy recipe! You’ll find sample articles from our November newsletter below focusing on preparing for the holiday season.

For more information about wellness programs in the Northeast Georgia area, visit www.negahealthmatters.org or call Whitney Bignell at (706) 542-4067.

Too Busy to Exercise

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us yet again (and aren’t we excited?)! Here are some ideas to help you fit in activity during this busy season.

Stepping It Up

You don’t need a treadmill or track to get in more aerobic activity. Walk around the perimeter of the mall or grocery store once before you start shopping to get in extra steps.

Going for the Stretch

Sitting in the car or standing in lines can lead to stiffness. Do shoulder rolls, look side-to-side for neck stretches, and bend your knees to stretch your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to stay limber while you wait.

Strength in Cooking

Before opening cans while preparing dinner, do a few bicep curls to strengthen your arms, or do a few squats while waiting on a timer.

Care for the Caregiver

Being the caregiver for a loved one or family member with a chronic or debilitating condition can take its toll on you physically and especially emotionally. Infusing joy back into your life can help you better deal with the stress of care giving.

 Here are some tips:

  1. Create a joyful journal and add joyous, funny memories or things you notice throughout your day that make you happy.
  2. Celebrate the little things and treat yourself well. Take time out to pamper yourself.
  3. Eat well. When you are always putting others first, you may rush through your meals, skip meals, or not eat nutritiously. Make time for healthy eating and self-care, which will make you a better caregiver in the long run.
  4. Exercise when you can. This will boost your mood and energy. Even a slow walk outside can have benefits physically and emotionally.
  5. Surround yourself with happy and supportive people.
  6. Talk joyfully around the person you are caring for. Recall happy or funny memories with them, even if they don’t respond. It helps to remind you that your life consists of more than care giving.
  7. Cultivate gratitude. Research has shown that gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Your life may be full of uncertainties and difficult emotions, but finding things to be thankful for can help improve your mood.

Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes (Serves 8)

With the holiday season upon us, it’s nice to have at least a few “set it and forget it” recipes up our sleeves for busy shopping and decorating days. This delicious Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes is perfect for cooler evenings – and you’ll probably have enough for leftovers the next day! (Recipe courtesy of delish.com)

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Season chicken with basil, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; drain excess fat and set chicken aside.
  3. Place potatoes into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in olive oil, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the slow cooker in an even layer.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165° F.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and garnished with parsley, if desired.