by Cori Hilsgen
St. Joseph Catholic Church Health and Wellness minister Marjorie Henkemeyer wants area residents to know about a few upcoming events at the Heritage Hall parish center.
One important event is the “Give Your Family a Special Gift This Year – Health Care Directives,” which will take place from 6-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 and 9 a.m.-noon Sunday, Dec. 14.
Registered nurse Angie Johnson is working to help individuals plan their health-care directives, something that often frightens many people. Often, people don’t think they will die soon or are uncomfortable thinking about death. They feel they are healthy and therefore health-care decisions don’t apply to them.
The holidays are a good time for family members to interact and have conversations about their health-care choices, and Johnson feels a health-care directive is the best gift you can give your family.
“With my background of more than 10 years in a variety of health-care settings, I’ve seen firsthand the stress that not having a health-care directive can place on family members in a very difficult and grief-stricken time,” Johnson said. “It also leaves all decisions to family members who may have no idea what some of the life-sustaining measures consist of and – furthermore – are those actually measures their loved one would want performed? I believe it is truly the most valuable gift we can give our family members, partners, friends (and others). It costs nothing and it allows them to be aware of our wishes should we be placed in a situation where we are unable to speak for ourselves and direct our health care.”
Health-care directives or advanced-care directives allow individuals to choose their own treatment choices and name a person to make those choices for them if they aren’t able to make them for themselves. Anyone 18 and older can prepare a health-care directive.
“Death is a natural part of life and putting our wishes on paper takes any guesswork out of it for our loved ones,” Johnson said. “Sudden situations may arise and by having a health-care directive in place, it reduces any burden on those who may have to speak for us. I’m only in my 30s but I’m so glad I’ve had the conversation with my husband and parents that should something unexpected happen to me, my wishes are on paper, and they have agreed to allow my voice to be heard no matter how difficult it may be. I find comfort knowing that burden won’t be on them.”
Johnson said preparing a health-care directive when a person is healthy allows them time to think about what they might want if they are unable to speak for themselves and covers specifics such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, intubation/ventilation, nutritional support, kidney dialysis, antibiotics, intravenous hydration and more.
It’s recommended people review and revise their directives on a regular basis to ensure they still represent their decisions. Johnson said people would want to review their directives each new decade of their life, after the death of a loved one, after a divorce or other major family change, if they are diagnosed with a serious health condition and if they experience a significant decline or deterioration of an existing health condition.
She said they want to help people in this process and look forward to working with them.
Certified respecting-choice facilitators will answer questions and provide information about advanced health-care directives. People can also schedule appointments to meet with a facilitator individually. The documentation is provided and specifics of documents can be explained.
For more information, contact Johnson at 320-491-1536 or Henkemeyer at 320-363-4588.
Other events at Heritage Hall include the following:
Jessica Harstad Rollison, the therapeutic recreation/validation coordinator at St. Benedict’s Senior Community, will present information about the validation communication technique from 1-2:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5. This method of communication is helpful when communicating with friends, neighbors and other older adults who are disoriented. It focuses on a more empathetic way of care giving and uses different techniques to help the person who is disoriented to express what they are feeling and what they need. No registration is required. For more information, contact Henkemeyer at 320-363-4588.
A six-week nutrition and lifestyle-changes workshop, “Healthy Eating for Successful Living,” will be held from 9-11:30 a.m. Fridays, Jan. 9-Feb. 13. The workshop focuses on heart- and bone-healthy nutrition strategies that are important to prevent and manage most chronic heart conditions and to help maintain and improve an individual’s independence and wellness. For more information or to register for the workshop, call Henkemeyer at 320-363-4588.
Area residents can also take advantage of various fitness classes and opportunities. Some of them include enhanced fitness, Tai Chi and a “Matter of Balance.”
The first session of “Enhanced Fitness,” which includes an hour of dynamic cardiovascular exercise, strength training, balance and flexibility and more will be held from 12:35-1:35 p.m. Tuesdays, Dec. 2-30. The second session will be held from 12:35-1:35 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 6-Feb. 24. The sessions are geared toward older adults and what they might need to maintain their health and function.
“Tai Chi – Movement for Arthritis” classes which include components that can improve muscular strength, flexibility and fitness will be held from 12:35-1:35 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 4-Feb. 26. Increased muscular strength can help support and protect joints, and the class adds a new movement each week. Participants will perform warm-up, wind-down, breathing exercises and 12 fundamental movements.
An eight week “Matter of Balance” program to help manage falls and increase activity levels will be held from 2-4 p.m. beginning Wednesday, Jan. 7. For more information about this award-winning program or to register for the class, call the Whitney Senior Center front desk at 320-255-7245.