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Giving back to the community is an important way of making a positive change in the world and staying connected to the people around you. Not only does giving back make the community stronger, but studies have indicated that people who feel a sense of security and belonging in their communities tend to be healthier.

Regardless of your abilities or situation, there are always ways you can help make a difference—both in your community and the larger world. Here are a few ways of creating positive change and getting involved in the community to consider:

  • Giving your time and energy to a cause or organization that needs help is an excellent way of making an impact. Look for opportunities to volunteer for nonprofits, or consider joining a local community event. In addition to helping the people around you, odds are you'll benefit too—studies have shown that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates. On top of that volunteering can have benefits for your mental health and can lead to networking opportunities that could even improve your career.

    Looking for a rewarding volunteer opportunity? Spectrum is always looking for new volunteers for our senior meal and fall prevention programs!
  • Often, people assume that making a donation means giving money. While it's true that financial gifts can be incredibly useful for community organizations and nonprofits, they're certainly not the only way you can help. Many nonprofits) also accept in-kind donations of materials, food, clothing, or household goods. Check with nonprofits in your area and see what they need—it might be something you already have lying around.
  • Support Local Organizations.
    Not everyone has the means to donate their time, money, or goods. However, that doesn't mean that you can't still make a difference. For example, many nonprofits struggle with visibility and publicizing their services and events. For organizations in that situation, even sharing their posts on social media or spreading the word elsewhere can be extremely beneficial. Make a call to community service organizations near you and ask what you can do to support them.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

Falls pose a serious health hazard for older adults. Each year, around 3 million individuals end up in the emergency room because of falls. Of those, over 800,000 are hospitalized for conditions like head injuries or hip fractures.

As such, fall prevention is a crucial component of home and personal safety for seniors. We've written previously about how to fall-proof your home; here, we'll go over even more strategies for senior fall prevention to help keep you and your loved ones safe (and upright!).

How To Prevent Falls

Fall prevention is an ongoing process. Even after you've fall-proofed your home, it's important to continue maintaining your home environment for safety and actively working to reduce your risk. There are a few ways you can do this, including:

  • Get Regular Checkups. Have your eyes and feet checked at least once a year. Talk to your doctor about any risk factors that might make you more prone to falls, such as chronic conditions, medications that affect your balance or coordination, and previous falls, and ask them for suggestions on how to manage those risks.
  • Keep a Clean, Organized Home. Even if your home is properly fall-proofed, clutter on the floors can be a major tripping hazard. Be sure to keep things tidy or hire someone to help. Consider rearranging shelves, closets, and other storage space to ensure that everything you need is easily accessible.
  • Have a Plan. Falls happen even despite our best efforts to prevent them. Work with a caregiver, doctor, or other professionals to ensure that if you do fall, you know what to do to get help quickly. Remember that depending on the extent of your injuries, you may not be able to get up or move. Keep your cell phone with you at all times, or invest in a medical alert device. Consider setting up a daily check-in system with a family member or friend, and ask them to alert authorities or check on you if they don't hear from you.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!

The goal of Spectrum’s Fall Prevention Program is to teach our older adult population how to recognize, and reduce, the factors that lead to falls.  With a combination of evidence-based fitness and educational programming, we help older adults identify their fall risks. We work to help them make the physical improvements, behavioral changes and environmental modifications that will keep them fall free. Visit our website at www.SpectrumCS.org for more information about the Fall Prevention Program or click HERE to see current program offerings.

As people age, it's not uncommon for them to feel as though their social circles are shrinking. There are many reasons for this: retirement, living alone, lower energy levels and/or mobility issues, grown children who live elsewhere, and of course, the social distancing measures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But whatever the cause, the result is often the same: on average, older adults are at a higher risk for loneliness and social isolation. And, as we'll discuss next, this can be dangerous.

Seniors and Social Isolation

Social isolation does much more than affect your mood. In fact, there's a large volume of research connecting social isolation to a long list of health issues. One study by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found that seniors who experience prolonged social isolation are at significantly higher risk for dementia, heart disease, stroke, and death.

In light of these findings, social support and community involvement aren't luxuries for seniors. Rather, they're an integral part of the healthy, independent aging process. Having a social community has been associated with better health outcomes, higher levels of activity, and more positive moods for older adults. On top of that, having a social network can also provide seniors with a sense of purpose and a support network in the event of loss or health issues.

How To Connect Seniors to Community

Many senior living and retirement communities offer opportunities for seniors to socialize with their peers. However, help for isolated seniors who have chosen to age in place can be trickier. Below are a few ideas on how older adults can stay connected:

  • Join a hobby or interest group
  • Sign up for group fitness classes, or find a walking buddy
  • Attend community events, such as religious services, farmers' markets, or public concerts
  • Spend time at community centers
  • Take advantage of senior meal services (both in-person and delivered)

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Your tax-deductible gift helps fund vital programs. Visit our website for more information, or contact us to learn about current volunteer opportunities. We can't wait to work with you!

There's a lot to enjoy about summer: the longer days, warmer temperatures, and sunshine are all great incentives to enjoy some time outdoors.

However, summer comes with its own set of dangers and risks—namely, heat stroke. Recent years have seen record-breaking heat waves across large swaths of the country, thanks in no small part to the progression of climate change. While this poses a potential public health danger to everyone, it's particularly concerning for older adults, who have greater difficulty staying hydrated and handling changes in body temperature.

Preventing Heat Stroke

If untreated, heat stroke can be deadly. In California alone, at least 599 people died of heat-related causes between 2010 and 2019—and experts believe that number might be an underestimate. For that reason, it's extremely important that seniors and their caregivers know the basics of heat stroke prevention:

  • Stay in air conditioning as much as possible. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, consider spending time in public air-conditioned spaces, such as libraries or community centers.
  • Try to reduce your oven and stove usage as much as possible to keep the heat down in your home.
  • If you exercise outdoors, try to do so early in the morning or later in the evening.
  • Wear sunscreen and clothing that is lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting.
  • Stay hydrated, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water. If you have trouble remembering to drink fluids regularly, consider setting a recurring alarm to remind yourself it's time to hydrate.

Recognizing the Signs of Heat Stroke

Being able to prevent heat stroke from happening in the first place is ideal, but failing that, it's equally important to be able to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke and respond appropriately. Here's what to look for:

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion, dizziness, nausea, lethargy, or other mental or behavioral agitation
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and/or elevated heart rate
  • Flushed appearance
  • Dry, cold, or clammy skin

If you suspect that you or someone you're with is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 or get medical attention as soon as possible. While waiting, do everything you can to keep them cool: move indoors or into shade, remove any unnecessary layers, and drink water or electrolyte beverages. If possible, apply wet cloths to their skin, spray them with water, or have them sit in a cool bath to lower their body temperature.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Your tax-deductible gift helps fund vital programs. Visit our website for more information, or contact us to learn about current volunteer opportunities. We can't wait to work with you!

Aging in place refers to the choice many seniors make to remain in their homes as they grow older (as opposed to moving into a retirement community or nursing home). It's one of the more important decisions that most individuals make during their golden years, and as such, it bears careful consideration.

 

Remaining at home isn't feasible for everyone; however, for those who can manage it, the benefits of aging in place are significant. For example: