In 2014 three million (9%) U.S. households with seniors age 65 and older experienced food insecurity; 1.2 million that live alone also experienced food insecurity, according to the non-profit organization Feeding America. Poverty and food insecurity has been increasing in Massachusetts affecting more seniors than ever before. An estimated 20 percent of Massachusetts residents who suffer from food insecurity are seniors. And of course food insecure seniors are at an increased risk for chronic health conditions.
I recently sat down with Bill Taube whose mother, Esther, blossomed as a patient at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Dedham (HRC Dedham). Bill’s mother moved to HRC Dedham three years earlier and was at the time, “Angry at the world and depressed.”
Before moving to HRC Dedham, she was so depressed that she would not even visit the hairdresser, a long held Saturday morning ritual. Bill was concerned that perhaps his mother would not adjust well to a move and grow only more despondent. Carol Westheimer, Esther’s geriatric care manager, pushed for the change and recommended HRC Dedham as a good match. “Carol was right,” says Bill.
At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, our expressive therapy staff helps to bring out the best in our long-term chronic care patients. Staff considers each patient’s unique background and creates meaningful ways for them to engage with one another and the world around them.
Many seniors want to continue to live a life of purpose in retirement and have turned to volunteering to satisfy that desire. The medical community recognizes the benefits of charitable work to enhance the physical, spiritual, and mental stimulation of older adults. The National Institute on Aging suggests that volunteering prevents isolation and can have a healthy effect on one’s cognitive behavior and potentially even thwart the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (“Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and What Do We Know? Is Keeping Your Brain Active Important?” Oct. 8 2015, National Institute on Aging).
Today’s technology entrepreneurs are rapidly responding to the many market opportunities for seniors and their caregivers, such as managing their health, living independently and maintaining family and social connections. Yet many technologies that come to market were not developed in collaboration with seniors and go on to fail because the promised functionality more often just produces frustration.
As we blogged about in July, the NewBridge on the Charles culinary team operates its own garden on campus dedicated to supplementing our kitchens’ “farm to fork” offerings with fresh vegetables, lettuces and herbs. Executive Chef Eileen O'Donoghue recently spent a few moments with a member of the HSL blog team to review the season’s successes and highlight the bounty of our fall harvest.