Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Institute of Gerontology Update

By Claudia John, project director, Institute of Gerontology

In November, the Institute of Gerontology launched a winter coat drive. I am pleased to share that we collected 45 new coats. The Institute of Gerontology donated 40 of the coats to Life Pieces to Master Pieces, a non-profit organization that serves African American boys in Ward 7. I had the opportunity  to attend their Holiday Celebration and it was a wonderful event. There were over 130 young men in attendance, several of whom asked for a hug. One young man in particular gave me a big hug and he said “thank you for the coats." The young man was seven years old. I was so touched by the genuine love of the young men, they are an awesome group of young men. In addition, the president of the organization, presented me with a piece of art created by the young men. The piece is on display in the reception area in IOG. I am very grateful for the opportunity to partner with such an organization. 

The Institute of Gerontology recently held its end of the year In-Service Training for nearly 70 senior volunteers. UDC student organizations SOAR and the 9:30 Club spoke to the seniors about health matters. 
UDC SOAR Club and the 9:30 Campaign speak at Gerontology In-service 

by Carilyne Vance, marketing specialist, CAUSES

On Wednesday, December 16, 2015, the CAUSES Institute of Gerontology (IOG) held its end of the year In-Service Training for nearly 70 Senior Companion and Respite Aid volunteer workers.  Partnering with IOG for this session were the University of the District of Columbia’s student organizations SOAR (Students Overcoming All Risks) and the 9:30 Club. A synopis of the guest speakers is on the next page. 

SOAR President, Ms. Shannelle Cooper-Gormes, spoke on suicide awareness, noting the danger signs, what to do if affected directly or through association and how to obtain preventative assistance. Ms. Moore shared that in the United States, a suicide occurs every fourteen minutes and while it is the third leading cause of death among fifteen to twenty-four year-olds and the second leading cause of death among college students at a rate of 12.4 per 100,000, the rate for those sixty-five and older is 14.9 and is primarily triggered by depression and is compounded by the aversion to seeking help, whether through counseling or medications.  

She encouraged those in attendance to be aware of vulnerability factors such as the loss of a spouse or companion, decreased physical ability through disease or loss of body function or social disconnections such as isolation.  She relayed the often subtle warning signs such as expressions or feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness and self-loathing, loss of or decreased interest in daily activities, changes in sleep patterns, appetite or weight, increased anger or irritability, or reckless behavior and encouraged those in attendance to seek assistance for themselves or encourage others to do so.  

Ms. Moore highlighted the increased awareness of the causes of suicide and how those fighting against it have made major strides not only to remove the stigma associated with it, but to also increase and protect the privacy of those battling the disease thereby decreasing its’ rate of occurrence. Ms. Moore encouraged those in attendance to speak with Clergy, community organization representatives charged in this area or a medical professional if they or someone they know are affected by depression or have considered suicide.

The 9:30 Club President, Mr. Temitope Oke, presented the facts of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and how it affects those aged 50 or older.  Mr. Oke shared that Americans of that age range have many of the same risk factors as younger Americans, that persons aged 55 and older accounted for 26% of the people living with HIV infection as of 2011 and are more likely to have a later stage diagnosis than younger people. Mr. Oke explained that HIV is a virus that damages and weakens the body’s immune system that puts a person in increased danger of contracting other life-threatening diseases, infections, and cancers, and is contracted through the exchange of sexual body fluids or blood with a person infected with HIV or AIDS.  The most common means of transmission are by having unprotected sex or the sharing of hypodermic needles.   

He explained that a person can, but not always does, develop Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) from HIV and that their common flu-like symptoms such as body and headaches, coughs, diarrhea, fevers, sweats, lack of energy, loss of appetite weight loss, in addition to pelvic and abdominal cramps and short-term memory loss are often mistaken for other health issues, especially in that age group.  

He encouraged those who display any of those symptoms and/or are suffering with repeated mouth or genital sores, skin rashes or yeast infections to be tested as soon as possible and those in an at-risk category; those with same sex or multiple partners, to have a mouth swab or urine test every three months or as soon as they think they may have been exposed. He also encouraged the audience to practice protected sex at all times unless in a truly monogamous relationship where both partners are free of infection. 

Visit www.udc.edu/csdc/soar_students_overcoming_all_risks for more information on SOAR and www.udc.edu/csdc/udc_campaign_930 for more information on the 9:30 Campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment