Category Archives: Health

High School Sweethearts: A Caregiver Story

JohnandWilma-croppedToday, Friday, November 27, Joe and Wilma have been married 58 years. They met in 8th grade and were high school sweethearts. Like any great partnership, it’s been a long road full of bumps and beautiful moments.

In 2000, Wilma had a stroke which they believe was a catalyst for the Alzheimer’s. It’s been a relatively slow progression, and as Wilma’s only caregiver for 13 years, Joe happily took care of everything for his wife. As a disease like Alzheimer’s progresses, caregivers take on more and more tasks. In 2013, Joe reached out to the Council on Aging of Henderson County, “I realized I was at the end of my rope, and I needed help.” said Joe, “trips out had just become nearly impossible and dangerous for her.”

Through our Caregiver Respite program—provided by a grant from the Land of Sky Regional Council—Joe now receives a small amount of financial assistance to help pay for Wilma’s secondary caregiver, Tracy. Being able to rely on Tracy gives Joe the much needed freedom to take care of errands and his own appointments. Self-care is one of the first things to go in the life of a caregiver, and it’s important to take time for yourself to prevent the ever increasing “caregiver burnout.”


Joe, Wilma, Tracy and the pups.

When we asked Joe what kind of advice he could offer to other caregivers, or those with the role in their future, he said “Be patient and kind and remember that they’re in there somewhere, and spend as much time with them as you can, because one day you won’t be able to.”




Aging Around the World: Spain

by Patti Digh, Council on Aging for Henderson County Board Member

In this series, we are exploring the norms around aging in each of the countries that will be represented at our Wine Around the World event on October 22, 2015. There are only a handful of tickets left, but they’re going fast. Tickets can be purchased at our office or online here: coa.eventbrite.


What if we are all wrong about the brains of older adults? Cognitive neuroscience, a subfield of psychology that incorporates methods from neuroscience, uses measures of brain activity to understand human thought. The emphasis is on how the brain shapes behavior.

Using cognitive neuroscience methods to study aging has unexpectedly revealed that aging brains remain somewhat malleable and plastic. Plasticity refers to the ability to flexibly recruit different areas of the brain to do different jobs.

In contrast to the earlier, largely pessimistic view of aging, neuro­ imaging studies suggest aging brains can reorganize and change, and not necessarily for the worse. Social and emotional abilities are relatively well ­preserved with age, it seems, suggesting that brain regions underlying these abilities may not exhibit the same downward trajectory with age as those associated with cognitive abilities. These brain areas may show different patterns of reorganization and change.


WAW-Spain-blogpostAs it emerges from tough economic times, Spain must confront the challenge of adequately managing the health and well-being of its older citizens in the face of rising medical costs, limited economic growth and changing social and family dynamics.

Along with other countries in Europe, Spain’s population is graying after decades of falling birth rates. Nearly one ­quarter (24%) of Spain’s population was 60 or older in 2013, a percentage that is expected to rise to four in 10 (40%) by 2050.

Purpose Well­Being

  • You like what you do every day
  • You learn or do something interesting every day

Social Well­Being

  • Someone in your life always encourages you to be healthy
  • Your friends and family give you positive energy every day

Financial Well­Being

  • You have enough money to do everything you want to do
  • In the last seven days, you haven’t worried about money

Community Well­Being

  • The city or area where you live is a perfect place for you.
  • In the last 12 months, you have received recognition for helping to improve the city or area where you live.

Physical Well­Being

  • In the last seven days, you have felt active and productive every day
  • Your physical health is near ­perfect

Social well­being appears to be the key to improving health outcomes for older people in Spain, based on findings from the Gallup­ Healthways Global Well­Being Index. For example, Spaniards who are thriving in social well­being are 45% more likely to evaluate their overall lives highly. These effects extend to physical well­being ­­ those who are thriving in social well­being are more than twice as likely to be thriving in physical well­being as those who are not.

Individuals who are not thriving in social well­being, on the other hand, are 30% more likely to say that they experienced stress yesterday.

How is Spain hoping to increase social well-being among older Spaniards?

  • Local and community outreach programs designed to promote health and prevent illness, such as a diabetes care program
  • Programs that emphasize regularly checking in on and interacting with elderly residents and ensuring their wellbeing needs are met
  • Meal delivery or preparation assistance to ensure proper nutritional intake among older Spaniards
  • Help with managing tasks such as home maintenance, cleaning and shopping
  • Improvements in information, transparency, monitoring and evaluation of services
  • Alternatives to traditional hospitalization such as home care for less acute conditions
  • Strategies to reduce inequalities in healthcare, including outreach to poorer communities and populations who are less likely to receive care

How is the work of the Council on Aging for Henderson County in alignment with this framework of improving social well­being in the aging? Through our “Lunch at the Sammy” program, we provide a place for the older adults of Henderson County to socialize and grow a community. Our Meals on Wheels volunteers, don’t just deliver a meal. Our volunteers are a friendly face at the door, 5 days a week, our clients can count on.

Prep on Wheels, Emergency Preparedness Kits

The Henderson County Department of Public Health and Council on Aging partner on “Prep on Wheels” Emergency Preparedness Kits for High-Risk Homebound Seniors


Terri Arrington, Henderson County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator and Sierra Arant, a Hendersonville High Senior & Health Education Intern drop off more bags at the Council on Aging in preparation for Hurricane Joaquin.

 Hendersonville, NC, October 1, 2015 – The Henderson County Department of Public Health was selected as a Bright Ideas $10,000 grant recipient from the NC Public Health Preparedness Branch. With the funding, the health department partnered with the Council on Aging for Henderson County to provide 175 senior emergency kits for the highest risk homebound clients. For the Prep on Wheels project, a backpack with emergency supplies was assembled and is being distributed by the Meals On Wheels volunteers. Supplies include flashlight, AM/FM radio, fleece blanket, emergency water and food, first aid kit, hand/foot warmers and sanitation items. Seniors are encouraged to add personal items like medications, phone numbers, and important papers.

“We wanted the kits to be senior friendly, by choosing items that they were familiar with and easy to use,” said Terri Arrington, preparedness coordinator. “For example, the radio is battery operated with only a few functions. Newer emergency radios are hand cranked and can be difficult to work for those with limited physical abilities.”

Prep on Wheels, Emergency Preparedness Kit. Flashlight, AM/FM Radio, Whistle w/ Lanyard, Dust Mask, First Aid Kit, Hand Sanitizer, Pill Box am/pm, 12hr Lightstick, Water Pouches (9), Food Bar (2400 cal), Fleece Sleeping Bag, Hand Warmers, Emergency Info Magnet, Preparedness Booklet

Prep on Wheels, Emergency Preparedness Kit. Flashlight, AM/FM Radio, Whistle w/ Lanyard, Dust Mask, First Aid Kit, Hand Sanitizer, Pill Box am/pm, 12hr Lightstick, Water Pouches (9), Food Bar (2400 cal), Fleece Sleeping Bag, Hand Warmers, Emergency Info Magnet, Preparedness Booklet

In anticipation of Hurricane Joaquin and forecasted flooding and power outages, Council on Aging Meals on Wheels volunteers began distributing the kits to high-risk clients on their routes this morning. Shortly after routes began the Council received a call from client Johnny Sams who said “I’m 70 years old and this is more than anyone has ever given me and I really appreciate everything in the bag.”

“During inclement weather we worry a great deal about the safety of our clients. These kits will provide reassurance to many seniors who endure these types of storms all alone.” said Trina Stokes, Executive Director at the Council on Aging. “We rest easier knowing they have a working flashlight, an AM/FM radio to keep them updated on changing conditions, and spare food and water if they were to run out.”

Annette Buckner, Nutrition Director at the Council on Aging said “Distribution will continue through tomorrow and the remainder of the season in preparation for winter storms as well.”

For more information about Prep on Wheels and emergency preparedness, visit and click on Public Health Preparedness.