Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Stress of Aging: Growing Old Is Not for Sissies!

by Mary Haberman 

On April 4th, at the West Parish Congregational Church, a panel of experts presented a program on STRESS as it affects the older population. The event was sponsored by the To Your Health committee of Western Mountain Senior College, The Bethel Health Center, and MSAD#44 Continuing Education. The panel included Brie Weisman, OTR/L; Jane Chandler, R.N., BSN; Karen Reilly, Sc.D.; Rev. Dr.Tim LeConey; and Wendy Youmans, LCSW. Ellen Cocker, M.Ed. served as moderator.

Karen Reilly and Tim LeConey
The speakers detailed the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that are a normal part of aging. We learned how important it is to our health to recognize and find ways to deal with stress. The loss of a loved one, moving away from the community, financial worries, loss of independence, fear of death.....these are common stressors. We cannot do all we once did. We may feel an estrangement from ourselves because we are no longer the same person. How to manage? How to find purpose? Joy?
Wendy Youmans

Among the footnotes provided by the panel: Be sure our Doctors know about all of our medications. Poor posture increases your risk of falling. Oldsters have more cavities than youngsters! Maine not only has a high percentage of elders, it has increased cases of depression.

Jane Chandler and Ellen Crockett

 The second half of the program was given over to the audience. Many had suggestions and some themes kept coming up. Love of music for one. Enjoyment of the outdoors, gardening, taking classes, having a pet were others.
Brie Weisman

Resources mentioned were AARP, the Age Friendly Community Initiative (200 rides were provided last year by the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program), the University of Maine system, and the many overlapping organizations in the area.

Here’s the bottom line. Stay physically and mentally active. Search out whatever brings you joy. Lastly, make connections because that will give you a purpose for being and doing. And it can help RELIEVE STRESS!

Audience members Ruth and Jim Bebko
Moderator Ellen Crocker

Photos by Iris Roberts