It’s been called the silent epidemic: Diabetes afflicts more than 10 percent of Americans, with the numbers growing exponentially. Simply stated, it’s a condition in which the body does not make enough insulin—a hormone that removes sugar from the blood and puts it to work as energy. High blood sugar over time can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, vision loss, and other serious health problems, each year claiming 4.2 million lives around the world and ranking as the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.
Who says aging is a time of decline? With renewed perspective, it can be a time of activity, vitality, and ongoing wellness.
“Aging successfully is much more than looking after our physical health,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. “It’s about engaging our minds, nurturing our spirits, and developing satisfying relationships.” Whitwell’s company provides whole-person wellness solutions, along with life enrichment and recreational programming, to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and memory care facilities.
Once upon a time, activity and recreational programs in senior communities were typically low priority. Yet as the senior population continues to surge, many senior living communities have gone back to the drawing board on ways to enhance senior wellness and promote life enrichment.
In expanding their focus, many are finding they can’t go it alone. They’re looking for trusted partners to extend in-house resources and design an engaging, person-centered experience.
As senior health care providers continue to expand their wellness offerings, the time-honored practice of Tai Chi has attracted a new audience. This gentle, meditative movement program has been a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In recent years, it has gained popularity among older adults, as it is low-impact, self-paced, senior-friendly – and a safe and easy way to improve balance and flexibility. In fact, studies have found that more than half of those who practice this exercise begin after age 50.
Loss is a part of life.
Eventually, we all experience the death of a loved one and the time of grieving that follows. Managing grief is particularly challenging in these pandemic times. As Americans mourn the loss of more than 500,000 lives to the coronavirus in just one year, another pandemic wave is cresting — one of national grief.
Benefits, especially health insurance, are a vital part of employee compensation and satisfaction. Yet getting employees to use all services available, such as wellness programs, can be challenging. Although research has found that daily engagement in wellness programs produces long-lasting behavior change, employers report that participation in wellness programs often falls short of goals.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, however, in the past decade the picture has significantly improved as the number of seniors afflicted with the disease has decreased significantly.
“Our experience suggests senior care providers may have helped ignite this improvement by initiating heart-focused prevention programs,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer, and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. “Many believe that heart disease is a fact of life in our senior years. Yet we have plenty of ways to keep our hearts in great shape, at every age. Understanding how to best approach daily health is essential and being in the know about a heart condition can alleviate anxiety,” she continues.
As health systems continue to navigate the global pandemic and plan for beyond it, the need to focus on employee well-being is more critical than ever. A programmatic approach to wellness gives employees the tools and resources to make better choices, develop healthier lifestyle habits, and deliver enhanced patient care in times of unprecedented stress.
With pandemic restrictions, many senior communities continue to prohibit visitation, resulting in no face-to-face interaction between residents and their family and friends. These precautions are needed to keep the virus from harming at-risk seniors but can present many challenges to helping seniors stay “socially well.”
In these challenging days of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, senior living and health care facilities that have been hit hard by the virus are searching for new ways to connect residents with the outside world.
Karly Zelaska, wellness director for Lifetime Wellness – a leading provider of whole-person wellness programs for senior living communities – is helping to implement a revolutionary digital health initiative that enables resident connection with families and health providers.
With the ongoing global pandemic, caregivers – in professional health care settings and at home – are operating in overdrive.
“Caregivers strive each day to give it their all, but they’re at continuous risk of burnout and compassion fatigue,” says Stephen Chee, director of employee wellness at Lifetime Wellness. “The extra layer of concern posed by Covid-19 has magnified the risk of caregiver fatigue.