New Outreach Program Helps
Celebrate Women, the Health Center’s highly successful health membership program, now has a counterpart: Celebrate Aging.
The new free health membership program is open to men and women of any age but is targeted to people who are retired or are facing retirement. It is modeled after Celebrate Women, which offers health education seminars, health screenings, occasional get-togethers, and health information through a quarterly newsletter and e-mail update. Celebrate Aging started in September and already has more than 350 members.
“There’s a need in the community for a program like this,” says Diane Bennett, director of Celebrate Women and originator of the Celebrate Aging program. “I think a lot of older folks want to get rid of the stigma that goes along with aging. They want to age in a healthy way. People may feel they haven’t done that yet and now is a good time to change the way they live their rest of their lives.
“This will help them stay active in the community,” she adds, “but most of all it will help them stay active in preserving their own health.”
Celebrate Aging got some assistance from a geriatrics planning committee. The UConn Center on Aging deals with problems common to all older adults, with a particular emphasis on elderly people who are frail. The committee and Bennett were thinking about what would be useful, in terms of health, to people before they retired and before disease or inactivity made them infirm and frail.
People are living a lot longer today than 20 years ago, says Bennett, and the prospect is they’re going to be living a lot longer 30 years from now than they do today.
“We want to get this generation off to a good start in retirement,” she says. “Life is just beginning. There’s a sense of freedom – the children are gone, work is not quite over or it will be shortly, and it’s time to get on with this part of their lives.”
Celebrate Aging fits in with the Health Center’s signature clinical programs, Bennett adds. Those programs involve cardiovascular health, cancer, and musculoskeletal disease, conditions that affect everyone, but older people in particular. What better place to come for health care than a place that concentrates on these three areas? she asks.
“We can meet their needs with our signature programs,” Bennett says. “We can also arrange for geriatrics consultations if needed.”
Dr. George Kuchel, associate professor of medicine and director of the UConn Center on Aging, says “This is a wonderful fit with the Celebrate Women program because of the tremendous overlap between the two populations. Many women are already members of both programs.
“Celebrate Aging is a great opportunity to bring in men also, and address their concerns,” he adds. “The program reaches out to everyone who is interested in aging issues and ultimately, that’s everyone.”
Celebrate Aging initially has drawn its membership from the Farmington Valley, but Bennett hopes to make it more of a statewide program.
“Geographically, we plan to cover the state,” she says. “We’ll be running programs in Storrs, and our health information will be relevant to everyone in Connecticut who is 50-plus.”
The program is consistent with the Health Center’s mission and vision. Says Kuchel, “Celebrate Aging highlights our institutional commitment and growing capacities to provide comprehensive care for older adults. It also underscores our dedication to health education and community outreach.”
More information is available at http://www.celebrate.uchc.edu or by calling 860.679.8899.