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Heart disease remains a leading cause of mortality worldwide, particularly affecting the senior population. With advancing age, the risk of heart disease increases, and lifestyle factors contribute to the elevated risk. Fortunately, by making informed lifestyle choices and taking recommended preventive measures, seniors can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease. Here are some key heart health tips for seniors.

 

In May, 2023 Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, put out an advisory linking isolation & loneliness in older adults to serious health outcomes including high blood pressure, heart disease, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and even death.

According to Dr. Murthy, "Connection is the essential glue of our lives. It is what brings us happiness and fulfillment. We need social connection for our survival and collective well-being."

Spectrum’s newest senior service program, Connect, was created to facilitate connections between friendly visitors and callers and housebound older adults to alleviate social isolation and loneliness.  In November, 2023, we began training  and matching volunteers with older adults who desire companionship through in-home visits or telephone reassurance calls, if they are unable to meet in person.  

Meeting and connecting with a friendly visitor on a regular basis helps lift the spirits of socially isolated older adults. Sharing interests is a great way to build bridges, but often just being present and listening empathetically goes a long way towards enhancing another person’s quality of life.  We all need to be heard; to be seen. John Tarrant, director of the Pacific Zen Institute, teaches that “Attention is the most basic form of love. So, when we give our undivided attention to another person, it is love that we show them.

Volunteers also benefit from building these new relationships. Older adults often have so much wisdom to impart and interesting life stories to share. One volunteer reflected on her experience, “singing old songs was wonderful…it is a great way to bring a smile and share a cheerful moment.”  Our volunteers unanimously agree that the services they render are worthwhile and the clients positively benefit from their visits. 

The Surgeon General also advises, “To address this crisis of loneliness, we need to return to the core values of kindness, generosity and friendship that are so essential to the fabric of our communities.”  Your attention and kindness to others can help solve this epic problem. It does not take a great deal of time and effort to make a difference.  A smile or a kind word or gesture can make the world a better place to live in. 

We encourage you to consider becoming a friendly visitor or caller and making an impact in the lives of older adults in your community. Click here for more information or to sign-up today.

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!

Your willingness to connect can make a difference!

As winter blankets California with a touch of chill, it's time to think about how we can stay warm and cozy without causing a spike in our energy bills. Energy efficiency isn't just about saving money; it's also a sustainable way to reduce our environmental footprint.  Not all energy efficiency measures require spending money—in fact, it's possible to reduce your energy usage by changing a few simple habits.

Let the Sun In, Keep the Chill Out:

  • During the day, open curtains and blinds to let natural sunlight warm your home.
  • Close them at night to retain heat and add an extra layer of insulation.
  • Stuff cracks in drafty windows and doors with old, rolled up t-shirts or socks.

Layer Up Indoors:

  • Instead of cranking up the thermostat, layer up with cozy blankets and warm clothing. You'll be surprised how much you can reduce your heating expenses by embracing the comfort of sweaters and blankets.

Temperature Management:

  • Set your furnace thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (68°F) or lower, health permitting. Three to five percent more energy is used for each degree you set your furnace above 68°F.
  • When you leave the house, set your thermostat to 56°F. By turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save five to 15 percent a year on your heating bill.
  • Set your water heater thermostat at 120°F or lower to reduce the amount of energy it takes to produce and maintain your hot water by not overheating it.

Efficient Cooking:

Hang-dry laundry:

If you reside in an older home, it is unlikely that you'll be able to drastically improve your energy efficiency without incurring some costs. For households that are experiencing low-income, this financial burden is often a deterrent. For families faced with this dilemma, Spectrum's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and weatherization program can provide free assistance and make a big difference. Submit an application or contact us today to see if you're eligible!

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for families experiencing low-income, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance, outreach programs, and services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Visit our website for more information on our senior meals program or to download a copy or our energy assistance application.

Now more than ever, many of us have a strong desire to stand with our communities and help solve real problems for our neighbors. Unfortunately, we don’t necessarily always have the budget to make donations at the levels we wish we could. Yet there are plenty of ways to give back to the community without spending money — and what’s more, opting for them can actually be just as satisfying and meaningful as making a donation.

Here’s why volunteering is a budget-friendly way to make the world a better place, and how it can change your own life for the better.

The Benefits of Volunteering for Your Community

The purpose of every nonprofit and charity is to fill specific unmet needs in their surrounding area and to implement the most impactful methods of addressing them. This means the work you do for them is calculated for efficiency and effectiveness, doing real good where it’s most needed. In addition, donating your time allows nonprofits to make their funding stretch further, allowing them to do the greatest good possible on a limited budget. In short, volunteering will directly change the lives of your community members in incredibly far-reaching ways.

The Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering

Here are some of the ways you’ll feel better about yourself and life in general when you volunteer with a nonprofit near you.

Reducing Stress

Engaging in community service activities has been shown to decrease stress levels. This is a priceless benefit in and of itself, and it’s as good for your body as it is for your mental health. Reducing stress can promote the following:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Improved digestion
  • A stronger immune system
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers

Increasing Sense of Control and Accomplishment

No one likes to feel helpless, especially in the face of increasingly troubling (and overwhelming) national and local news cycles. But the solution is simple: when people dedicate their time and effort to a cause they care about, they directly contribute to positive change, often acquiring marketable new skill sets in the process. Both of these outcomes offer volunteers an empowering sense of agency and achievement, which improves their outlook on life.

Making Meaningful Connections

The social aspect of volunteering can’t be overstated. Volunteering helps you connect with nonprofit missions and the community as a whole in the following ways:

  • Collaborating with other volunteers from various backgrounds, expanding your social network and fostering new friendships
  • Meeting nonprofit staff, learning about nonprofit best practices, and gaining a deeper understanding of community needs and resources
  • Interacting with community members, including the recipients of nonprofit services, representatives from local business partners, city officials, event attendees, and donors

Seeing Positive Change in Action

As a volunteer, you’ll witness firsthand the successes that your work has helped to bring about for your nonprofit of choice and your community as a whole. You’ll get to make a difference in measurable and tangible ways, which is uniquely fulfilling and can foster a lifelong commitment to service.

Give Back (for Free!) With Spectrum Community Services

At Spectrum Community Services, we have witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects that isolation has had on our senior clients, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer a variety of essential senior services to address that need. However, we can only do this with your help. Donate the budget-friendly way in 2024 by volunteering in our Meals on Wheels, Senior Meals, or Fall Prevention programs. You can help as we build another quality service program, Connect, by becoming a reassurance caller or a friendly visitor. Apply today!

Spectrum is committed to improving the quality of life forfamiliies experiencing low-income, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and senior services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more. We can't wait to work with you!

Seniors are the bearers of history, wisdom, and the traditions that have shaped our social fabric; they have been making contributions to society, large and small, since before many other age groups were born. Yet, as they age, many face challenges that can leave them incredibly vulnerable.

As Americans, it’s our collective responsibility to ensure that seniors, particularly those who may be underresourced, are able to live with dignity, good health, and joy. Volunteering with nonprofits that provide essential senior services — including meal delivery, social dining, companionship programs, fitness activities, and more — is an excellent way to show that we can be there for our older “neighbors” just as they have been here for our communities.

If you volunteer helping seniors, you can help to address the specific problems that impact this group most, especially if you work with nonprofits that offer assistance for seniors experiencing low-income.

Isolation and Loneliness

A significant number of seniors live in isolation, a situation that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loneliness can have severe health consequences for older adults, including increased risks of heart disease, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. Volunteers can make a meaningful difference by participating in companionship and social dining programs, offering vital social interaction for seniors in their homes and at community centers.

Poor Nutrition

Good nutrition is critical for seniors, particularly those in already fragile health. Yet many older adults face challenges in accessing or preparing healthy meals due to:

  • Mobility and dexterity challenges
  • Transportation barriers
  • Illness or cognitive decline
  • Poor appetite due to age-related changes or limited sense of smell
  • Food insecurity (due to financial challenges, living in food deserts, or both)
  • A lack of motivation to prepare fresh meals that can stem from eating alone on a regular basis

Nonprofits that offer meal delivery services provide balanced, healthy meals to seniors who are homebound or unable to cook for themselves. Volunteers play a pivotal role in these programs, ensuring that not only that seniors receive these, but that the social interaction involved brightens their day and makes them feel remembered and cared for.

Mobility Challenges and Fall Risks

Staying physically active is vital for seniors because it builds strength and balance, which is essential for maintaining mobility and overall health as well as reducing the risk of falls and injuries. All of this in turn helps seniors to age in place in their own homes, retaining a greater sense of independence and dignity. Volunteers can assist in organizing and running fitness programs and workshops, encouraging seniors to stay active and healthy.

Support Seniors With Spectrum Community Services

At Spectrum Community Services, we have witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects that isolation has had on our senior clients, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer a variety of essential senior services to address that need. However, we can only do this with your help. Donate the budget-friendly way in 2024 by volunteering in our Meals on Wheels, Senior Meals, or Fall Prevention programs. You can help as we build another quality service program, Connect, by becoming a reassurance caller or a friendly visitor. Apply today!

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