ElderHelp of San Diego Brings Live Well to Seniors

NEWS // July 14, 2016

ElderHelp of San Diego Brings Live Well to Seniors

ElderHelp remains dedicated to helping seniors live healthier, more independent lives in their homes and communities. They provide grocery shopping, giving seniors access to healthy, nutritious food options, as well as transportation, with nearly 3/4 going to medical-related appointments. ElderHelp strives to reduce falls, hospitalizations and readmission through comprehensive care management, home safety inspections, and modifications. An example of how they better the community can be seen through their work at Hotel Sandford. ElderHelp provides 20 hours/week of service coordination to Hotel Sandford, a single room occupancy, or SRO, hotel downtown. Hotel Sandford contains low-income seniors, many with a history of homelessness, chronic conditions, and a host of challenges that make it difficult for them to access healthcare services and community resources.

ElderHelp coordinators also create activities to engage residents. One of the most successful programs has been in collaboration with an organization called Leah's Pantry. Once a month, a staff member from Leah's Pantry provides a cooking class to residents. Here they learn how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals using the limited appliances available to them in their rooms. SROs provide a microwave, toaster oven, and a small refrigerator. After the first month, 1 resident said he lost 15 pounds from following the teachings of the class. This is the most well attended event in the building and has helped residents to mitigate the challenges to eating healthy while living in an SRO. In partnering with the County's Live Well San Diego vision, ElderHelp has made some changes to keep the 5 Areas of Influence at the forefront of the work they do.

The biggest change is incorporating 2 new agenda items to their all-staff meetings. The first item is Live Well, where we share healthy tips, recipes, exercises and other important information that helps their staff stay healthy. They have shared desk stretches, which has led to periodic, friendly reminders to take stretch breaks. The office stands up together, plays some fun, energizing music and takes a few minutes to stretch. Not only is this beneficial to their health, but it's a nice bonding moment for the team. The other agenda item came from an in-service held for staff and volunteers about bereavement. Working with the senior population, loss is an inevitable part of what ElderHelp does. They brought in Scripps to talk to their staff about how to deal with loss, but also how to help their clients deal with their own losses. They learned the value of bereavement support groups and acknowledging loss as a part of life.

ElderHelp has also added the new role of Corporate Relations and Education, to help support employed family caregivers. As the population ages, more people are finding themselves in the role of family caregiver, which comes with a whole host of challenges that can negatively impact health and wellbeing. Their Corporate Relations and Education program targets employed family caregivers who are feeling stressed with their workload and still dedicate so much time to care for others. ElderHelp is able to provide them with resources and support to give them some respite and comfort. Staff and volunteers are better able to understand grief symptoms and know the resources to use to help people from sinking into deep depressions that are often associated with loss.