Sally Sundar from the YMCA of Greater Seattle provides an overview of their senior programs. She is the Program Executive, Health Integration & Transformation.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
And Welcome to answers for elders. Everyone, we are here with two very, very special guests from, guess what, the YMCA. Did you think that the YMCA is also there for our seniors? Well, they really are. We have two wonderful ladies, Sherry Paymer and Sally Sundar, and they are both part of the development of a program for active older adults. And welcome ladies to the program. Thank you, thank you. You know, one of the thinks we always have this perception that the YMCA is for, quote unquote, families, but we think of mom, Dad, two kids, you know, etc. Etc. But really families include our seniors and and really I am so excited to learn about all the programs that you guys have with working with our older adults. And so you know, Sherry, you are the first one that really kind of reached out to me and I am really excited to hear about, you know, your program would you give me like kind of an overview of what you guys are doing right now? Well, I get to work with the active older adults who like to be outside. So we start with hiking and walking on a weekly basis and snowshoeing and winter wreck. And then inside we have some fun things like we have theater groups, knitting groups, coffee groups, bridge that’s awesome. Whenever they want to do we make it happen. And you know, socializing is and exercise could not be better in the prevention of the escalation of, you know, conditions like stroke or Alzheimer’s or dementia or heart disease, etc. So this is something that you know, as far as wellness goes, it’s an amazing way in which to, you know, to help your senior looked one and sally, you have been so instrumental in the program you know, one of the things that I know that you’ve been doing is really kind of forging some new programs and working with the organization in that way. Share with me a little bit about your role in the Cup, in the organization? Sure, so, I direct all of our healthcare and public health integration efforts out of the why I’m sea in King County and also actually throughout the state of Washington, and really the goal is to integrate the great programs and services that we provide inside our YMCA with the goals of the healthcare system to keep people healthy and prevent disease over the long term. So in doing so, we’ve been we’ve convened a work group around serving older adults and supporting healthy aging across our why? I’m seas, with a focus on keeping people healthy in mind, body and spirit and really focusing on physical activity, group exercise, chronic disease prevention, as well as opportunities to be socially active and makes new relationships like share we mentioned, you know, and that when you talk about it’s it’s so, so critical. What I’ve noticed with seniors often times, when they start to just start to maybe feel a little bit more vulnerable, instead of getting themselves and pushing themselves to be more socially active, more physically active, a lot of times they’ll coucoon, you know, they sit in front of the TV set, you know, they don’t in the depression can take over different things like that. So obviously having a program like that for seniors and understanding to work with healthcare providers is such a key in the you know, to keep a senior independent longer, and that’s what everybody’s goal is, I’m sure. Is that correct? Absolutely. A lot of our clinical partners are reaching out to us to actually further these relationships we have with all members of the YMCA, but especially our older adult community, knowing that mental health and physical health are so intertwined and that social connectivity is such a big part of that. And so all of our programs at the why are really focused on relationship building between our facilitators and the participants, but also between the participants themselves and the peer groups that they form. And so we have a special focus that we bring to working with active older adults, with groups like those that share he facilitates that are really bringing the expertise and the familiarity of working with that population, but utilizing that strategy that we bring to the why and everything that we do, which is based on relationships. Yeah, and and you know, I’m sure you guys have amazing success stories of seniors that have come to you and you know and maybe in a situation where they’re depressed or something like that. Shared you have any stories? I have so many, but I’ll try and keep it to one. So I have a Gal that I’ve known for seven years and she came she was laid off at work way before she wanted to retire and for about a year and a half. She floundered and she had a neighbor who could see that and she said hey, why don’t you come and check out the why? We have a walking program and Barb’s hesitant but she decided to come and she lived just a few miles from the why. Had no idea it was there and she was even more surprised that they had lots of programs just for her. So she has been with the why for seven years. She started out with our loose to win program and she was on medication for being diabetic for fifteen years. She’s off of her medication, she’s almost at her goal weight and she’s made a lot of friends in the progress. That’s incredible and you know, I’m sure you’ve got sally, with the programs that you’re working with, have seen some amazing breakthroughs and in health and wellness. Hmm Yeah. So one of our one of our biggest programs, is called the Diabetes Prevention Program and what many people may not know is that nationally, for people over the age of sixty five, almost one in two people are likely to be prediabetic, which means that they’re not yet inness. I had no idea about the hmmm and that basically means that they’re not yet diagnosed with diabetes, but their blood glucose level shows that their elevated risk for diabetes. And the good news is that you can reverse that condition of prediabetes and get out of that risk zone. And, like I said, if you’re over sixty five you have a fifty, almost fifty percent chance of being at risk. So we have many people in our older adult older adult population who have participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program we have a great story of a woman named Ruth who both of her parents had been diabetic and she was really afraid of going on medication right away and that was really what her doctor advised her to do as soon as she was diagnosed with pre diabetes. But Ruth said no, I’m going to turn around this diagnosis. I’m going to make some lifestyle changes, and so her she joined our our diabetes prevention program and said that for the first time she really was in a peer group and support network that helped her stick to some of those lifestyle changes she was trying to make around physical activity and being more active. She started walking more. She really quickly found that she had more energy for yard work, for walking from her parking spot at the grocery store into the store. You know, she didn’t have to park at the closest spot anymore and she started making some small, minor changes around diet and physical activity and within a few months she had dropped a full percentage point in her AC level, which essentially took her out of the risk zone. That diabet credible, hmm. And we are talking again today with Sherry paymer and Sally Soonder and they are from the YMCA. They have an amazing program for seniors that we are talking about and one of the things that I know you guys are actually work in conjunction with Medicare is that correct sally. That’s right. So recently Medicare began covering the diabetes prevention program as a covered benefit across the country for anyone who uses Medicare or Medicare advantage as their health insurance, and that will go live on April first, two thousand and eighteen. I’m sea in the Greater Seattle area. If you have Medicare, you can come take part of that class for free. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And then you know, obviously the ongoing support is well, I’m sure, is such an valuable, invaluable resource. For sure. Now, if Medicare is covering the program, would you have also access to other parts of the why? I’MC as a as well as part of that program or not? So you do for a portion of that program. The Diabetes prension program does last twelve months, HMM, and for three months you have access to a free membership at the Y. that’s awesome. That’s awesome. And then, Sherry, you’re doing obviously in the wintertime. You not. Probably not on a lot of outdoor things, are you? Oh, absolutely. We have two volunteers that take them weekly on snowshoeing across country skaters. Oh my goodness, that’s awesome. We never stop. We walk. Sounds like the rain. They walked yes Tuesday when it was really cold. They went and I stayed in and they went. Awesome. So if I’m a senior here in greater puget sound, how would I go about getting involved in your programs and how do I determine what’s for me? I guess that’s a good question to ask you guys. Well, the exciting things you just need to drive or walk over to your local hy man and from there. Our staff as well trained to take you step by step and have a little interview, walk you through the building. We don’t overwhelm you. We just really listen to you first and find out what your interests are and then we kind of tailor our activities according to what you say you’re interested and obviously you’d take into consideration physical limitations or mobility issues. So if somebody has mobility issues, are there still opportunities for them to be a part? Yes, many of our classes, including our group exercise classes, have options for people with limited mobility, including chair based exercise, pool based exercise and all sorts of other options for people that feel like that’s more comfortable for that. Yeah, and and really just to move in some way, even if you know you start out you’re on a walker and you may not be able to do a lot of things, but hopefully with a goal of getting your strength enough to be able to do more. That’s a really important part. Right exciting thing is to when you get injured. We’ve had a few that have had strokes and fallen and broken their hips and we can say soon as you get the clearance from your doctor, can come right back and we have Cheri Yoga. We have several classes that adapt to their mobility. Absolutely absolutely, and I’m probably as they’ve gone out of physical therapy to a lot of the things that they’ve been doing in physical therapy, they can obviously continue forward, you know, with the program like yours. For sure, absolutely exactly. So what’s average age, would you say of a senior that comes to you? Like are the younger seniors or they all throughout? I mean what do you normally see? Well, nobody wants to be called an active older adult at fifty five, but that really is the targeted age that we’re trying to start marketing to. Hey, I mean my s so yeah, and then really, I we have a wide range, but they’re not going to call themself an active older and don’t that will call himself an adult. But really it’s fifty five up by. My oldest Walker is eighty nine and she watches are amazing. That is absolutely amazing. So how do we reach you guys? Well, the easiest way is to call or walk into your local YMCA and ask about programs that interest you. You can also go to our website at Seattle YMCA dot org. Ladies, thank you so much for being on the program today. We’re excited to be working with you. It’s our pleasure. Thank you.
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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