The Aging Population – By: Mary Ellen Pratt, FACHE, CEO
Every May, the National Administration on Aging leads our nation’s observance of Older American’s Month to recognize this growing population. The 2018 theme, Engage at Every Age, emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Participating in activities that promote wellness such as being educated when it comes to your health and better managing chronic diseases are just a few examples of what being engaged can mean. No matter where you are in your life, there is no better time than now to start.
St. James Parish Hospital is committed to helping our seniors stay engaged when it comes to health and wellness. In addition to the senior-targeted activities below, seniors are invited to all hospital events, educational lunches and annual screening fairs we offer annually to the community.
ANNUAL SENIOR PICNIC & HEALTH FAIR
As a celebration of Older American’s Month, each May the hospital partners with the parish government to host a Senior Picnic and Health Fair which attracts health and wellness vendors to educate seniors. The hospital also offers several screenings free of charge. In addition, seniors participate in fun activities and are treated to a catered lunch.
ANNUAL WELLNESS VISITS & CHRONIC CARE MANAGEMENT
We recognize that chronic condition management is very important to the wellbeing of our seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three in four older adults have multiple chronic conditions (lasting more than a year and requiring ongoing medical care).
To address this growing trend, we offer Annual Wellness Visits to Medicare Patients of our family practice clinics. During this visit—which is covered by Medicare once a year—a registered nurse takes time to get to know patients through an extensive meeting that helps the nurse and patient’s physician determine which screenings would benefit the patient and if the patient has a chronic issue that needs to be better managed. Our nurses can then form relationships with the patient and stay in touch with them for guidance and reminders. Our nurses remain available throughout the year as an educated resource for patients with chronic conditions.
SENIOR CENTER ACTIVITIES
It’s important that health information gets to our senior population who may find it more difficult to stay informed through traditional media. The hospital’s Education Coordinator, a Registered Nurse, visits each of the parish Senior Centers throughout the year to provide blood pressure screenings and educate the groups on health tips, current wellness recommendations and new hospital services. The hospital also supports Senior Center activities such as sponsoring a Birthday Party and offering screenings at the annual parish Senior Olympics. In addition, the hospital partners with the local Lion’s Club to offer free Glaucoma Screenings each year. This event is often held in conjunction with the annual Senior Picnic.
St. James Parish Hospital was recently recognized by the parish government for being a “Community Agency Action Hero” for our support of the senior community. We promise to continue offering our seniors more opportunities to better manage their health. Seniors can learn about events the hospital is hosting and/or sponsoring through our quarterly Care Connection Newsletters—mailed directly to homes—and monthly calendars printed in the local newspapers. In addition, we post upcoming events online through our website and Facebook.
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