The Star-Herald

Agency on Aging offers programs on well-being

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook Agency on Aging is launching two new programs intended to improve the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of older citizens. The first is called The Conversation Project and the other is titled “Brain Health, You Can Make a Difference!”

The Conversation Project was developed to help older people and their care providers think about end-of-life decisions and begin to talk about their expectations with loved ones and health practitioners.

According to Sharon Berz, the agency’s director of long-term services and supports, the Conversation Project empowers older individuals to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts on important matters including finances, health care decisions, and living arrangements with those who matter the most.

A free starter kit is available to those who reach out.  

“While it doesn’t answer every question, it will help participants get their thoughts together and then have a conversation with their loved ones. It can also be used by caregivers to help someone else get ready to share their wishes. It can be worked on at the participant’s pace,” Berz said.

The second initiative, entitled “Brain Health, You Can Make a Difference”, is an evidence-based program to help older persons take simple steps toward better cognitive health.

Berz explained that every person is entitled to knowledge that maintains and even benefits the health of his or her brain.

“Having a healthy brain affects our mood and decreases the likelihood of having illnesses that decrease our quality of life. Knowing how exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, socialization, and mental stimulation affect brain health is important. Having this knowledge and encouragement helps us to plan and to incorporate these building blocks into our daily schedule,” she added.

Both initiatives are provided by Aging ME and led by the University of New England and the University of Maine through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Individuals interested in either program should call the Agency on Aging at 764-3396 to speak to a trained representative. Callers will receive free materials, as well as a confidential follow-up phone call with individualized support offered to review the tools provided and answer questions.

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