Healthy Aging Task Force December news!
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Advocating to empower Vineyard elders.

Rural Scholars 2014:
Examining Elder Mistreatment on Martha’s Vineyard


A study on the scope of elder abuse in Duke’s County by the Rural Scholars from the University Of Massachusetts School of Medicine and its Graduate School of Nursing revealed that the top two types of abuse facing our elder population are neglect by a caregiver, and self neglect.

Also included in the study’s discoveries were the lack of healthy eating habits with the elderly, the isolated lives that many lead, and the difficulty with available transportation to health and mental health services.
The study was sponsored by the Dukes County Health CouncilConnect to End Violence, and the Healthy Aging Task Force (HATF).
While examining the prevailing problems, the scholars looked deeper at elder abuse and neglect, its prevention, and offered suggestions on how to improve elder care on the Island.

Four main areas for improvement were suggested:

  • Caregiver support groups.
  • Skill building, training, and an educational handbook for both on- and off-Island caregivers.
  • Reviving the Gatekeepers model to get people in the community involved and trained in recognizing signs of, and reporting, elder abuse.
  • Encouraging students to become more aware and involved in providing elder support – such as the Y's computer workshops, companionship visiting, and other ways of meeting elder needs.

The Rural Scholars also stressed that better communication between agencies involved in elder care – as well as streamlining of requests for funding – would help eliminate the possibility of agencies competing for the same resources.  
This study on the very real problem of elderly abuse within our community could hardly be more timely, as the elder population in Duke’s County is projected to grow by 160 percent over the next five years.

Photo courtesy of Alison L. Mead, The Vineyard Gazette


‘The Matter of Balance’
program of the HATF

HATF hosted the first two ‘Matter of Balance’ workshops at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center and at The Anchors in Edgartown.

The peer-led programs focused on lessening the fear of falling, teaching fall prevention, and providing exercises to improve balance, strength, and confidence. Look for new groups forming in 2015.
Bright ideas to help prevent falling at night:

The Light Fantastic - Weave Christmas tree lights (the ones that come in a clear tube) around the bottom of your banister rails so you’ll have 'footlights' to follow all the way down your stairs.
The Solar System - Stick glow-in-the-dark stars over the top and around the top edge of the doorway on the inside and outside of your bedroom – and outside and inside the bathroom. These night stars will guide you out of your room and into the bathroom, and back to your bedroom. The stars absorb light during the day (and aren't visible), and give back direction at night.

Watch a short video on A Matter of Balance:
YouTube Video.

“After taking part in the workshop, I now know what to do if I or one of my friends falls. In three steps I can easily get up safely. Our instructor, Kathleen, was so knowledgeable and made everyone feel at ease. Many folks I know don’t want to walk with a cane or a walker, so the risks are even higher. Balance is such a problem as we get older – it comes with the territory!”

- Betty Brady, Matter of Balance participant. (81 years young!)

Photo courtesy of Anchors

Caregiver Support

The Healthy Aging Task Force, together with several community organizations and faith-based groups, will start offering a class called
'Powerful Tools for Caregivers' (PTC), beginning in late Spring 2015. PTC is a six-session series of classes specifically for family caregivers, to increase confidence in managing care giving demands.

Research studies find high rates of depression and anxiety among caregivers and increased vulnerability to health problems. Class participants’ feedback shows the PTC program improves self- assurance and increases the individual belief that caregivers have the ability, resources and support to take care of themselves - while caring for one another. 

How can you help?

  • Identify how we can reach island caregivers throughout our communities.
  • Support creating an infrastructure to help caregivers address their specific needs

The program is made possible by the Healthy Aging Task Force grant from Title IIIB & D offered under the Older Americans Act, through Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands 

For a look at issues affecting caregivers nationally, visit this recent story on CBS News.

Affordable transportation for Seniors
A HATF workgroup initiative has supported the launch of an official joint effort by the Center for Living and the Vineyard Transportation Authority to offer more affordable transportation for seniors who need to go off Island for appointments and care.
Partnering with the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, the Vineyard groups will recommend a system that effectively connects those in need directly with transportation, and streamline the process of getting on an off-Island when needed – at a more affordable rate.

See how access to affordable and reliable transportation can empower older adults.

Watch now.
Important family conversations 
to have over the holidays
While the holidays are a time for family gatherings, experts say the visits are also the perfect time to talk with aging loved ones about medical care, insurance, and the need to collect and organize important documents in one secure area.   
Click these links for some helpful advice:

Most Important Holiday Conversations

Healthy Aging Task Force of Martha's Vineyard
a sub-committee of the Dukes County Health Council

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