Caring for Those Who Have Cared for Us

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Caring for Those Who Have Cared for Us

It is predicted that by 2030, the population of older Oklahomans, known as seniors (over 60) and super seniors (over 80), will increase by 21.3%. As the aging population increases, available services may be stretched to meet the needs of the growth. But rather than that be a source of concern, good planning can ensure that you live a life that is healthier, longer and with greater independence.

Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI) is a statewide network through the section of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, designed especially for seniors and their loved ones. OHAI offers a wide range of healthy aging educational programs and resources to people living in Oklahoma to help seniors maintain an active and healthy lifestyle as long as possible. With five locations across the state, OHAI provides health education to all 77 counties. 

Stay Healthy With Free Classes

Classes available through OHAI include Tai Chi, walking classes and fitness programs to increase strength, mobility and improve balance in order to reduce falls. Educational classes teach good nutrition, diabetes self-management, using medications safely, chronic illness management, older driver safety and encouraging life-long independence. A range of classes help caregivers navigate and excel in their roles by providing support and helpful tips. The classes also provide a way for seniors and caregivers to connect with others in similar roles for support and friendship.

If attending classes in person is not an option, OHAI provides programs that are available online and an OHAI health education specialist can create and deliver presentations at a site in local communities.

A 2017 report from AARP revealed that there are approximately 530,000 informal caregivers in Oklahoma and these caregivers provide approximately 440 million hours of care that would cost $5.8 billion if the service was provided by paid caregivers.

Learn the Tools for Self-Care

James Browning found himself as primary caretaker for his mother and he struggled with feelings of guilt and self-doubt. He came across OHAI through a Google search and enrolled in the free class, Powerful Tools for Caregivers. The six-week course taught him practical strategies to manage the care of his mother, as well as helping him improve his communication skills. James is now using the tools he learned to help support others who find themselves in a similar position. He hosts a podcast called, “The Unconventional Caregiver,” using humor to share tips he has learned.

The goal of OHAI is to help seniors stay healthy and live safely in their own homes and community for as long as possible. Good health is key to successful aging and small things make a huge difference to quality of life.

All upcoming events can be found online at the OHAI website, as well as helpful information about the classes.