Category Archives: Engagement

Getting Older with Grace

Covered Bridge: How Do You Know You’re Getting Older?

When I started working in the Medicare industry 15 years ago, I was ignorant about Medicare and insurance of any kind really. It seemed like a growth industry to me.

15 year later, I have a much more personal interest in the subject, having quite a few family members over 65. This aging thing is not as easy as I thought it would be. Things change.

I’ve made progress in the meantime. I also used to think being online and connected was not that necessary. Now I couldn’t live without it. Please note, the perception that older people don’t like to use technology is false. According to Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 seniors own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013.

I have an almost 8-month-old and an 8-year-old and have “mom brain” most days. I used to take extra time getting ready for a big event or even a regular day. When I was done, I would look in the mirror and say, “You look very well put together.”  Now, when I go through all the same steps, I look in in the mirror and say, “You look clean.”

When did I stop hearing, “You look great,” and start hearing, “You look great for your age”? Probably around the same time folks went from saying, “I like your new glasses,” to “Your new glasses take 5 years off your face.” Ugh.

I’ve learned not to ask anyone how old they are unless they are under the age of 12. Even then, I would think twice about it. If anyone forces you to guess how old they are, make a fair guess, and then subtract 15 years. No one ever complains.

The Population Reference Bureau says that from 2014 to 2060, the number of people age 65 and older in the United States will more than double from 46 million to over 98 million. Surprisingly, people over age 85 are the fastest growing 10-year age group of the older population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aging is tough. Often, we have to forgo many of the activities of our youth, such as:

  • Driving a car
  • Living independently
  • Eating anything you want
  • Staying up all night
  • Getting a haircut
  • Worrying about the small stuff (Oh wait, that’s a good thing.)

While I still have a way to go before some of these activities are things I have to forgo, I try to remember those family and friends that are maturing and reaching a stage where they may have to give up some of these activities. I try to show as much grace and dignity to them as I hope someone will show to me. Maturing is tough.

 

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Goal Progress

Vantage Point: Progress is Progress

It’s been a month since you put your best intentions forward and made your New Year’s resolutions. You’re now a month into those goals and making them work (or not) for you. So here might be the welcomed or dreaded question (depending on how you’ve kept to your goals): How are you doing? Have you totally fallen off the wagon, or are you still moving forward? If you’ve kept up your New Year’s goals, awesome! Keep moving forward and making your way to a better and brighter 2019. You are an inspiration! We celebrate your determination and your discipline to make things happen. Shine your light by sharing your tips with others around you. But what happens if January has come and gone, and you’ve fallen off the proverbial goal horse? Are you like me, where a cheat meal turns into a cheat day, then a cheat week, then a cheat month, and then to totally giving up your New Year’s resolutions, like I have in years past? To those out there struggling like myself, I say a mighty and loud, YOU CAN DO THIS! Get up, dust yourself off, climb back on the goal horse, and ride away into the victorious sunset. Braveheart speeches aside, how does one get back on track for their goals? Well, I can only tell you how I’ve managed to get back on mine, and that is with this thought: Progress is progress, no matter how small. I try not to look at my mess-ups, but to a new day where I make progress, no matter how small. I take it one day at a time, and I try to think about my choices before I make them. Is eating this or that going to help me make progress or hinder my progress? If it hinders my progress, I’ve really got to think about if it’s worth it. To some, a cheat treat is worth it, but only if it helps push you forward and past that craving rather than drag you down into the cheat meal spiral, which I’m famously known for. Cheat treats can also be altered to make them less of a hindrance. For instance, over the holidays, I made macadamia nut brittle rather than regular peanut brittle. It had less of the bad stuff, and I still got my brittle craving taken care of. Score! Sticking with my goals has led to finally hitting my 40-pound weight loss goal, but I’ve also fallen off for months at a time. During our Annual Enrollment Period in 2018, I totally fell off the goal horse, and I put back on 15 pounds, but a New Year’s refocus has put me back to my goal. Yes, I’ve floundered here and there, but I stay focused on the small decisions I make and decide if they would push me toward progress or in the other direction. Maybe it would help for you to keep a journal of the things that push you away from progress. Take that list, and master it, one thing at a time. Pretty soon, what’s pushing you toward progress will grow, and the list of those things pushing you away from progress will grow smaller and eventually be pretty much nonexistent. I know if I can do it, you can, too! Just remember, progress is progress, no matter how small. Let’s refocus and do this!   Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.
Winter Senior Games

Long View: Sack Those Winter Blues, Get Active at Winter Senior Games

When I was in high school, I had a crush on the hunky, curly-haired quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chuck Long. Sigh, just saying his name takes me back to those days.

In my youth, sports of any kind ruled my world. Volleyball, softball, track and field, and basketball, I took a shot at all of them. I even earned a varsity letter for basketball in high school. I often say that the first thing God is going to let me do when I get to heaven is shoot the gap, slam through on the blind side, and sack the quarterback. But that quarterback will be someone I don’t like, like Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers, not Chuck.

Well, as it tends to happen, I grew up. I decided to become a Cyclone instead of a Hawkeye, got married, and raised a family. I stopped having crushes on college quarterbacks and started dreaming about minivans that could corner on a dime and the day my sons would stop taking swings at each other and just get in the car. Oh, and I went to work for Health Alliance, a company based in Champaign, IL, and full of Fighting Illini. Go figure. But I’ve always hung on to that love of sport. The body doesn’t always cooperate, but the heart is still alive and willing to give it a try.

February is a great month for all lovers of sport because Health Alliance is sponsoring the Winter Iowa Senior Games in the Quad Cities, and you are invited whether you’re an Illini, Hawkeye, Cyclone, or something else. You don’t need to be an Iowa resident to compete. In fact, competitors come from all over the United States. The only requirement is that you must be over 50 years old.

Still worried about the heart being more willing than the body? Don’t, everyone else is in the same boat because you compete with your own age group. Age groupings start at 50 and go up to over 90 years old. The playing field is even!

Registration is being taken for bowling, pickleball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and all track and field events. Events will take place throughout the Quad Cities, but most will happen at Augustana’s PepsiCo Arena in Rock Island. Yes, that is an indoor track.

Here is the best part. Chuck Long runs the Iowa Sports Foundation, the sponsoring agency of the Iowa Senior Games! Sometimes he even comes out to run the 800 meters in his age group. Making one’s heart go pitter-patter is an aerobic exercise, don’t you know? Come out and have some fun and shake off those winter blues.

The Winter Iowa Senior Games will be held February 22 to 24 in the Quad Cities. Register for events at IowaSeniorGames.org or by calling 1-888-777-8881.

Reading this article too late for the Winter Games? The Eastern Iowa Senior Challenge happens in April in Cedar Rapids, and the Iowa Senior Games is later this summer in West Des Moines. Check their website for all available events and dates.

 

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month

It’s National Mentoring Month, and mentoring changes lives.

 

It’s easy to become a mentor in your community!

Become a Mentor!

 

Mentoring in your workplace is also a great way to encourage and foster young talent.

Fostering Talent in the Workplace

 

Learn more about advocating for mentoring in your community.

Advocate for Mentoring

 

Mentoring can both shape mentees and impact the community.

Impact Your Community with Mentoring

 

Mentoring is also a great way for mentors to grow and learn more about others.

Foster Personal Growth through Mentoring

 

While a majority of Americans think mentoring is important, most aren’t involved in actually making it happen. Donate or become a mentor now.

Donate to Mentoring

Declutter Your Life

Covered Bridge: Downsize and Declutter for Safety

The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.

Did you know that our local Area Agency on Aging, LifeStream, has a program called “Safety Solutions” that not many within their newly expanded service area in Indiana know about? This program allows individuals to send a referral to LifeStream to assess the needs of someone on safety item(s) that may need fixed to make their living environment safer.

When I think of Safe At Home Week, what came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug when it comes to paperwork. I somehow have a hard time parting with things I might need down the road.

I’m finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the papers seem to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale), and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)

Reid Health Alliance has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Morgan.Gunder@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Teachable Moments

Covered Bridge: Teachable Moments

Recently, we purchased a “new” home, only 54-years-young, to begin the next chapter of our lives. We were looking for simplicity as we moved from a home in the country that had farm animals and more fixer-upper maintenance than I ever care to share.

In the search for our new home, we wanted something that was structurally sound, with only a few items on the honey-do-list to update. We could handle a few updates, such as painting, flooring, or the like. We wanted to make sure that from the roof to the electric, we wouldn’t have to worry that something would go wrong in the next few years.

I know that’s never a guarantee (that just comes with home ownership), but I was determined to stay within our budget, and eventually something would come about. We spent our weekends and weeknights going to showing after showing, until we stumbled upon a delightful, quaint, ranch-style home that seemed to fit what we were looking for.

We decided to take our 7-year-old daughter with us to view the home. Our daughter walked in, and the first thing she said was, “What’s that smell?” The previous owners were in their mid-eighties, and the house’s smell reminded us of our grandparents’ old homes.

She then stared at the bathroom’s blue tiles with big eyes and asked if we would be updating that soon. She quickly exclaimed this was going to be her bathroom, because she loves blue. Our daughter also noticed the various brass fixtures and was not too fond of them.

She continued to search the house. Walking into the kitchen, she hollered for us. She pointed to that “thingy” on the wall. It was a wall-mounted telephone. Oh, how things have changed! We had to explain to her that people used to make calls from them, and some of them even used to have a rotary dial. Imagine her face contorting, unable to comprehend that one.

With all new things comes change. Those smells are memories for some of us, while to others they are new. Those thingies on the wall are what kept us in contact with our friends and family, regardless of distance, without the option of a text message or email that lacks personal touch and effort.

It really blew her mind when she realized those “stickers” she constantly wanted to use actually cost money and let us send letters overseas to our family serving in the military or birthday cards with a handwritten note, which may be the only one they received in the mail.

I hope to teach our daughter about the simplicity of days gone by, and I hope this will remind you of some of yours.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Finding Hidden Treasure

Long View: Finding Hidden Treasure

Recently, my husband and I attended a community meeting at one of our local libraries. Across the hall from the meeting, there’s a bookstore. Usually when I visit this library, the bookstore is closed. But this day, it was open, so my husband and I decided to peruse. What we thought would be a brief visit turned into an adventure.

The bookstore had a lot of friendly finds, from used books to magazines, videos, and gifts, all of which had been donated and were available for low prices. It had long rows of shelves hidden behind the walls of the library’s lower level. I felt like I was going through rarely traveled tunnels to find hidden treasures, like Indiana Jones in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There were books on just about every topic you could imagine. Not only were there printed books, but there were also audio books, large print books, and books in Braille.

The most memorable books my husband and I bought were about finance, agriculture, church hats, and dinosaurs.

The dinosaur book is this gigantic oversized book with vibrant, full-color drawings of every kind of known dinosaur. We didn’t see this book in the display window until we passed it on the way out the door. My 2 young boys are so fascinated with dinosaurs that we just had to go back in and buy it.

This newfound treasure was too good to keep to ourselves. My husband read it to my sons’ entire daycare class. It was so worth it to see their eyes light up on their little faces. Oh, the joy of finding hidden treasures!

Since my last visit to the library, I’ve learned there’s a whole week dedicated to libraries. National Library Week is each year in April, generally the second full week. This year, it’s April 8-14. It’s a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This is also the perfect time for us to plan another expedition to the library. We may even take the children with us this time to find some treasures of their own.

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.