Grant to Support Healthy Aging

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards $100,240 to Healthy Waltham for Waltham Connections for Healthy Aging

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced a two-year grant of $100,240 to Healthy Waltham to support Waltham Connections for Healthy Aging, a city-wide initiative focused on connecting older people to one another and creating a more age-friendly city. The grant reflects the Foundation’s commitment to advancing inclusive policies that create thriving and vital communities that work for people of all ages.

“Communities have greater interest in age-friendly initiatives. There’s a growing understanding of the critical role older people play. They are an asset to community, and their voices and insights are invaluable to the public discourse on what communities need,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, vice president, corporate citizenship for Tufts Health Plan and president of its Foundation.

Waltham Connections, a collaboration of 12 agency partners led by Healthy Waltham, including the Waltham Council on Aging, Neighbors Who Care, Brandeis University’s Heller School, Brandeis-Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (BOLLI), Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Springwell, Waltham Family YMCA and others, focuses on community and civic engagement to plan and advocate for changes to programs, services and policies so Waltham is more age-friendly for all residents. A key component of the work supported by the grant is Waltham Connection’s outreach to diverse populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income, immigrants and isolated older adults. The initiative has had strong support from local leaders, including Mayor Jeannette McCarthy.

“We are grateful to Tufts Health Plan Foundation for their generous continuing support,” said Stacey Gallagher Tully, Executive Director of Healthy Waltham. “Waltham Connections for Healthy Aging is about taking the long view, and building on the work of our outstanding team of partners and senior volunteers to move our healthy aging work forward. We are excited to continue to build on our work from last year to make Waltham even more age-friendly.”

Project Director Maria DiMaggio from Healthy Waltham said, “Based on the Brandeis study that led to the project, we focused on seniors’ calls for more social connections. We’ve held adult learning brunches and weekend afternoon teas that have attracted seniors who are looking for more opportunities to connect with others. We’ve also started a walking group that meets three times per week in response to what we heard in focus groups.”

In all, Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced eight new grants totaling more than $1.1 million and representing collaborations with nearly 80 community organizations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

About our grant program

Twice a year, Tufts Health Plan Foundation awards grants supporting healthy living with an emphasis on older people. Interested organizations should submit a letter of intent (LOI) through the online system accessible via www.tuftshealthplanfoundation.org. Letters of intent for the Systems and Best Practices or Collaboration and Community Engagement focus areas are due on January 22, 2018.

About the Tufts Health Plan Foundation

Established in 2008, Tufts Health Plan Foundation supports the health and wellness of the diverse communities we serve. The Foundation has given more than $27 million to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island nonprofits that promote healthy living with an emphasis on older adults. Tufts Health Plan Foundation funds programs that move communities toward achieving age-friendly policies and practices that are relevant, focus on seniors, and include them in community solutions. Visit www.tuftshealthplanfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

 

In the Spotlight

By Meagan Smith, Heller MPP Candidate, class of 2017

This week’s interview was with Amanda Cleary, Health and Wellness Director of the Waltham YMCA. The Waltham YMCA serves many communities including Waltham, Lexington, Watertown, Belmont and Arlington. The YMCA promotes youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. This branch features an outdoor pool that can be used during the summer months. We hope you enjoy reading more about the YMCA below!

Why did the YMCA want to join in this initiative with Healthy Waltham to promote an age-friendly community? Why is healthy aging important to your organization? How do you see Waltham continuing to grow as an age-friendly city in the years to come?

We wanted to get more involved with the Waltham community so that we could better identify needs and both specialize and supplement services. We hope to show people that we are a resource. Healthy aging is at the heart of the YMCA. We encourage physical activity, tight social networks, and emotional satisfaction. When people have strong physical, social, and emotional lives, they have better health outcomes. To grow as an age-friendly city, Waltham needs to continue to provide opportunities and outlets for seniors to get involved. These opportunities should be accessible and affordable to all seniors.

What are the YMCA’s current goals, projects, and events, particularly in regards to healthy aging efforts in Waltham?

We offer a variety of classes targeted for the senior population; some of these classes include: aqua, aerobic, and yoga. We have developed a diabetes prevention program in which we see individuals over the age of 65 have great success. We are also working to implement an enhanced fitness program which is already available at our Chinatown and Huntingon Ave. locations. This program is offered three times per week and focuses on arthritis, strength training, and cardio.

What healthy aging successes has your agency achieved thus far?

We see steady participation within both the group exercise classes and personal training.

What is the most unique project or event the YMCA is taking on in the Waltham Connections program?

We have had the diabetes prevention program for a year and a half for all ages and are looking forward to implement the enhanced fitness program. Both programs can be offered off-site if people are unable to make it to the YMCA.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your organization?

The YMCA offers financial assistance for membership. We do not want cost to be a barrier for someone to get involved with us. We strive to take away the intimidation factor that can often come with working out. The Waltham YMCA is located at 725 Lexington Street Waltham, MA 02452 and can be reached at 781-894-5295. Check out our website here!

Fresh, Frozen and Beyond!

Healthy Waltham was delighted to be back at the Waltham Family School for another morning of nutrition education and cooking demonstrations!

While we all know to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, shopping for produce can be difficult. Balancing taste, nutrition, cost, and convenience, among other things, can be quite a task. With that in mind, our latest workshop focused on the pros and cons of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables. Participants had the opportunity to taste test vegetables in three forms (fresh, frozen, and canned) and compare. Afterwards, Chef Reva offered up a roasted vegetable salad using frozen carrots and green beans, and fruit salad using fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties – plus a hint of lemon and ginger!

So what are our best tips for navigating supermarket produce? Check out our handy info sheet here. 

All forms of fruit and veggies are healthy, so next time you’re in the kitchen, mix it up a bit– add canned beans and vegetables to a soup, blend frozen fruit into smoothies, and throw some craisins into your morning cereal. And remember to try out our workshop recipe with fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (para la receta en español, clic aquí).

In the Spotlight

This week’s interview is with Denise McQuaide, the Vice President of Post-Acute Care at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and President of CareGroup Parmenter Home Care & Hospice. As a masters prepared geriatric nurse practitioner, she is responsible for strategic planning for transitions of care and developing models to support wellness initiatives outside the hospital. For over 100 years, CareGroup Parmenter has been providing in home healthcare to Waltham and the surrounding communities. A subsidiary of Mount Auburn Hospital, they provide Home Care, Palliative Care and Hospice care, keeping patients healthy at home.

Denise McQuaide

Denise McQuaide

Why did your organization want to join in this initiative with Healthy Waltham to promote an age-friendly community?

In 2004, Mount Auburn Hospital provided financial support and technical assistance to the new coalition called Healthy Waltham. Since then we have collaborated on many projects to promote healthy living.

Mount Auburn Hospital and CareGroup Parmenter Home Care & Hospice, Inc. have been supporting the Waltham Community for decades. CareGroup Home Care was formed in 2000 as a merger of Mount Auburn Home Care and Waltham VNA.  CareGroup Home Care merged with Parmenter VNA & Hospice in 2015 to form CareGroup Parmenter Home Care & Hospice, Inc. (CGP).

Waltham is a special community for us, and close to 150 of the hospital’s employees reside here. As a hospital, a homecare and a hospice we are committed to keeping people healthy by supporting their personalized care in the community and throughout the health continuum. Our outstanding services are provided to Waltham residents at convenient clinic locations and in the patients’ own homes.

People are living longer, and while nationally the life expectancy is 78 years, we see many people in Waltham living healthy lives well beyond. At the hospital, 80+ is our largest growing demographic. Our Geriatric Medicine service utilizes an individualized, family-centered approach to create a plan that fits each individual patient’s and family’s needs.

We are excited to partner with Waltham as it takes these essential first steps-engaging key stakeholders and increasing communication about healthy aging- to creating an age-friendly city through Waltham Connections.

What are your organization’s current goals, projects, or events, particularly in regards to healthy aging efforts in Waltham?

We are very excited to continue to participate in the Waltham Connections project and strengthen Waltham’s in-home services network with better collaboration and integration. In addition to participating on the Steering Committee, we continue to work closely with Healthy Waltham and the Council on Aging (COA). Currently we have an active Stroke Awareness Campaign with the COA, participate in Health Fairs and our staff offer free monthly blood pressure clinics. Healthy Waltham’s Chef Reva is assisting Mount Auburn Hospital staff in a new Healthy Eating program that started in March of 2017.

We are meeting in April with Neighbors Who Care (NWC). This will give the Mount Auburn Hospital staff a better understanding of the NWC services and vice versa.

What healthy aging successes has your organization achieved thus far? 

In 2016, Mount Auburn Hospital and CGP served more than 400 individuals in their Waltham homes. For many years, we have provided maternal and child health visits, VNA services, telehealth, hospice care and bereavement programs for Waltham residents of all ages. We are proud of our record of improving quality of life.  We compassionately provide excellent patient-centered care for people when they are sick, disabled or struggling with mental or behavioral health problems. However, the future is where we are focused. The future is about strengthening ties with the community groups involved in Waltham Connections, especially Springwell, which is uniquely positioned to address other areas that affect the health of senior citizens such as housing, transportation, and long-term services and social supports. Working together, our goal is to keep the residents of Waltham healthy at home and not in the hospital.

We remain committed and grateful for the opportunity to work with the Waltham Connections project, as well as Healthy Waltham, and to support residents of Waltham in their endeavor to be well.

School Breakfast Rocks!

Parfait Table

Mix and match parfait models

Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, but it can also be the most fun! In honor of National School Breakfast Week March 6-10, Chef Reva prepared “fun-fetti” breakfast parfaits using lowfat yogurt, granola, whole grain waffles, fresh fruit, and just a touch of whipped cream and sprinkles for a special treat. All six Waltham elementary schools got to try the new parfaits at lunchtime with Chef Reva. Friday breakfast parfait parties throughout the month of March further encouraged the kids to participate in school breakfasts.

Our first breakfast program kicked off with a visit from Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, and officials from the USDA, Project Bread, Superintendent Drew Echelson, and Representative Tom Stanley. Our tasty and beautiful parfaits were well-received by students, administrators, and special guests alike. Fun-fetti breakfast parfaits are now part of the regular school breakfast rotation here in Waltham. You can read more about the festivities in the Waltham News Tribune article here. You can also see more photos here.

Beautiful Parfait

A healthy breakfast complete with whole grains, protein from yogurt, and a variety of fruits!

Want to make something similar at home? Fill small cups with low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt (make it Greek for extra protein) and top with cereal, granola, berries, bananas, nuts, graham or animal crackers, waffles or any other topping you’d like. Finish with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkles (optional). For a dairy-free parfait, substitute cooked oatmeal or mashed banana for the yogurt. Enjoy!