• Celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Month: Combatting Loneliness One Act of Kindness at a Time

     Print This PostAs spring blooms, April brings a special occasion: Volunteer Appreciation Month. It's a time to reflect on the incredible impact volunteers make in our communities daily, to recognize their selflessness, dedication, and the profound difference they bring to the lives they touch. Yet, perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of volunteering is its ability to combat social isolation and loneliness, not just for those being served but for the volunteers themselves. Loneliness has become pervasive in today's fast-paced world, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. For the seniors in our communities, many find themselves disconnected due to geographical distance from family and friends, homebound due to age-related health challenges, or no longer being able to drive. This is where volunteers step in. For the recipients of volunteer services, whether delivering food stock boxes or providing companionship to those in need, the impact extends far beyond the immediate assistance. Volunteers offer more than just practical support; they offer human connection, empathy, and a sense of belonging. In moments of vulnerability, a friendly face or a compassionate conversation can make all the difference, alleviating feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, the benefits of volunteering are not one-sided. Volunteers often experience a profound sense of fulfillment and connection through their service. Engaging in meaningful work that contributes to the well-being of others fosters a sense of purpose and belonging. Studies have shown that volunteering is not only good for the soul but also for mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, boost mood, and even enhance longevity. By actively engaging with others and making a positive impact, volunteers create a ripple effect of kindness that reverberates far beyond the confines of their volunteerism. As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month, let us express our deepest gratitude to the millions of individuals who generously give their time, skills, and hearts to make our communities a better place. Specifically, we want to thank the dedicated Eras volunteers who activate our mission of serving seniors and engaging generations daily. Here’s to you – your impact is immeasurable. Thank you for being the light that shines bright in the darkness, for reminding us all that even in the smallest of gestures, there lies the power to change lives and bring hope to the world. Together, through acts of kindness and compassion, we can continue combatting loneliness and building a more connected, resilient world.As we transition into a new season, it's crucial for our clients to have support with yard clean-ups to ensure safety, reduce the risk of falls, and provide an enjoyable environment for their overall wellness. Gather your family, friends, and colleagues and spring into action as a volunteer! Hear from Linda about her experience as a seasonal yard clean up client:Client ResourcesIt May be Springtime, but We are Preventing Falls! Did you know that Falls Free Wisconsin is a free resource for reducing your risk of falls? Mary (age 72) says, “I’ve learned to be more observant and to put my needs ahead of others. If people are going up or down the stairs quickly and I can’t, I don’t worry about that anymore like I used to. I tell them to go ahead! Aging has many different faces.” Watch the video below for 6 easy steps to prevent a fall:S.T.O.P. Frauds and Scams Tip of the Month Never give out personal or financial information over the phone, email, or online unless you know the recipient's identity. Legitimate organizations like banks or government agencies will never ask for sensitive information like passwords or Social Security numbers via unsolicited calls or emails. Learn more from Phyllis, who shares her story in this video:Registration is still open for the AARP WI: Scam Jam


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  • Wellderly Day: Celebrating Healthy Aging and Happiness

    Wellderly Day, celebrated annually on the third Monday of March, is a special occasion dedicated to honoring the health and happiness of our senior community members. Wellderly Day, also known as Well-Elderly Day, was conceived by Dr. Dale Anderson in collaboration with Act Happy Day. Dr. Anderson emphasized the health benefits of happiness, humor, and laughter, encouraging individuals to start their days with a hearty laugh in front of the mirror. His philosophy is beautifully encapsulated in his book, "Never Act Your Age," which highlights the profound impact of humor and laughter on overall well-being at any age.Understanding Healthy AgingAccording to the World Health Organization, anyone over 65 is considered elderly, while the United Nations sets the threshold at 60. Healthy Aging, a concept introduced by WHO, focuses on creating elder-centric health systems, developing sustainable care services, creating friendly environments, and improving the assessment of older people's health. What causes aging? Aging is a complex journey affected by many factors, such as our genes, lifestyle choices, and the wear and tear our cells endure over time. Recently, social isolation has emerged as a significant contributor to aging. Research indicates that lacking social connections can hasten the aging process. When we feel lonely or isolated, it triggers chronic stress responses, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances, all of which accelerate aging. A study from 2023 showed that older adults who experienced prolonged loneliness and social isolation faced a 49%-60% higher risk of developing dementia compared to those who maintained social connections. This underscores the critical need to understand how social factors interact with our biology to influence aging, paving the way for interventions that promote healthy aging. Does stress cause aging? Stress is our body's reaction to any demand or challenge. It's like when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or pressured. When stressed, our body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can help us deal with immediate problems. However, if we're constantly stressed out, these hormones can cause damage over time. They can mess with our immune system, making us more prone to getting sick, and they can also speed up the aging process. Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in our bodies, which damages our cells and makes them age faster. So, while a little bit of stress now and then is normal, too much of it can take a toll on our bodies and make us age quicker. Aspects of aging well: Aging well means staying healthy and happy as we get older. There are a few important aspects to aging well. First off, taking care of our bodies by eating healthy foods, staying active, and getting enough sleep can make a big difference. It's also essential to stay socially connected by spending time with friends and family. Another key aspect is keeping our minds sharp through activities like reading, puzzles, or learning new things. Managing stress is crucial too, whether through meditation, exercise, or talking to someone we trust. Lastly, having a positive attitude and finding things to look forward to can help us navigate the ups and downs of aging.Why Wellderly Day is Important:Positive Perspective: Celebrate the present and the years to come, embracing the natural and inevitable process of growing old. Investing in our Aging Population: Remind seniors of their continued value and potential contributions to family, community, and society. Humor and Laughter: Wellderly Day uses humor and laughter to celebrate a life well-lived, promoting joy and positivity. This Wellderly Day, let's come together to celebrate the health and happiness of our senior community members. Join in the mirror laughter exercise, engage in physical activities, and adopt healthy nutrition habits. Spread awareness about the positive aspects of aging and the importance of investing in the well-being of our elderly. Embrace Wellderly Day as an opportunity to celebrate a life filled with laughter, wisdom, and fulfillment.Let’s Observe Wellderly Day, Together!Mirror Laughter Exercise: Start your day with a hearty laugh in front of the mirror to promote happiness and physical health.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p4dZ0afivkPhysical Activity: Engage in regular exercise, be it walking, gardening, or dancing, to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors.Healthy Nutrition: Adopt balanced eating habits, plan your meals, and explore new healthy recipes to thrive.


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  • Reframing Aging

    A note from our Executive Director: At Eras, we strive to support and engage seniors in every Era of their life and part of our mission is to advocate for a society that respects and values the aging population. Despite the well-documented social, economic, and health impact of ageism, it’s time to focus public and political attention on ageism within diversity, inclusion, and racial equity work. Join our team as we celebrate Ageism Awareness Day (October 7, 2023) which provides an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impact of ageism in our communities. Check out this opinion piece, written by the American Society on Aging, on the importance of understanding ageism. Then, head to our page about Wisconsin's aging population and what Eras’ is doing in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties to combat ageism. Let’s reframe how we talk about aging and older adults, together.      Darryl Anderson Executive Director Eras Senior Network Check out other resources hereAging Good … Ageism Bad By Barbara Croyle “There are six myths about old age: 1. That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2. That we are mindless. 3.That we are sexless. 4. That we are useless. 5. That we are powerless. 6. That we are all alike.” Maggie Kuhn, Founder of the Gray Panthers “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel García Márquez, Author “By the time you’re 80 years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.” George Burns, Comedian Which of these quotes can you relate to? And did you laugh at the last one? I bet you did. And maybe that’s okay as long as you don’t translate your own foibles onto every older adult you meet. That would be an example of ageism. Ageism is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the stereotypes (how we think), prejudices (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.” Also, according to WHO, ageism often intersects and interacts with other forms of stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination including ableism, sexism and racism. We know that any kind of prejudice or discrimination based on stereotypes can be harmful not just to the person being subjected to it, but also to the person doing the stereotyping. And to be clear, ageism is not just a problem for older adults; people of other age groups can be the target of this prejudice at various times in their lives. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Social Issues Todd Nelson said, “Ageism is prejudice against our future self.” Can that be healthy? No. Ageism can shorten a lifespan by 7.5 years, according to a 2002 study by Becca Levy. Individuals with a more positive self-perception of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions. This advantage exists even after age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health were considered. Furthermore, people with a more positive self-perception about aging experienced better overall health. Consider how older people are typically portrayed in the media. Overall, there are still significant negative representations in advertisements, television and movies. These ageist stereotypes can have a negative impact on an older adult’s self-esteem, health status, physical well-being and cognitive performance. Also, in the absence of positive portrayals of older people, they are left to wonder, “Where are the people who look and act like me”? Ageism is a hurtful, insulting and uninformed type of discrimination. Even well-intentioned “compliments” or comments—such as calling any older adult “honey” or “sweetie” promotes a demeaning and infantilizing view of an older person. Older adults are a vital and important part of society. They make countless contributions and represent a meaningful and growing segment of the population. On Ageism Awareness Day, Oct. 7, let’s take a moment to consider how we treat older adults and how we want to be treated as we age. And maybe take a lesson from media star and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey who said: “Every year should teach you something valuable; whether you get the lesson is up to you. Every year brings you closer to expressing your whole and healed self.” Or Frank Lloyd Wright, architect: “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” … Barbara Croyle, JD, is the Founder of AgingConfident LLC, and consults with family caregivers and solo agers in the greater Philadelphia area. She is also a member of the American Society on Aging’s Ageism & Culture Advisory Council.


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  • Eras Senior Network Welcome New Executive Director

    Eras Senior Network is excited to announce the hire of Darryl Anderson as its new Executive Director, effective April 5th, 2023. Anderson joins Eras Senior Network from the Racine Family YMCA, where he served as Vice President of Social Responsibility and Chief Operating Officer for two years. Anderson brings over 10 years of leadership experience from both the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs to this new role. During his tenure at the Racine Family YMCA, he oversaw significant growth and expansion of programs and services, including the creation of a new community outreach initiative that provided resources and support to underserved populations. “I am thrilled to join the team at Eras Senior Network and to continue the important work of serving older adults in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties,” said Anderson. “I am deeply committed to the organization’s mission and look forward to building on the strong foundation that has been established under the leadership of previous Executive Director, Kathy Gale.” Anderson succeeds Gale, who served as Executive Director for 22 years. During her tenure, Gale led the organization through tremendous growth and expansion. Growing the organization by nearly 10-fold, Gale oversaw the expansion of Eras services into Milwaukee County, grew the number and types of support offered, and established Eras as a trusted leader and thought partner in supporting older adults in the state and region. “We are thrilled to welcome Darryl to Eras Senior Network,” said Board President, Angela King. “His proven leadership, passion for serving the community, and commitment to innovation make him the ideal candidate to lead Eras Senior Network into its next chapter.” As Executive Director, Anderson will be responsible for overseeing Eras Senior Network’s programs and services, managing staff and volunteers, and developing and implementing strategic plans to ensure the organization’s continued growth and success.


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