Encouraging Healthy Eating Among Older Adults

In recognition of National AmeriCorps Week, AmeriCorps member Simone Blake explains her work with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

SimoneBlake

I’m serving as a healthy nutrition and aging educator at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center through AmeriCorps’ Healthy Communities Corps. Its mission is to improve food quantity and quality in underserved communities across Chicago and Cook County.

The AmeriCorps program engages over 80,000 men and women in intensive service to tackle pressing problems each year, through thousands of nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community and faith-based groups across the country.

Everyone should have opportunities to reach positive health outcomes. Aging adults in our current fast food nation find themselves stranded. They need fiber and nutrient-dense foods when only high-calorie, low-nutrient foods are available.

Minority communities are overrun with corner stores, gas station food marts and cheap fast food diners. They provide quick-stop, low-nutrient, high-calorie food with excess added salt and sugar. Older adults who live in these neighborhoods need assistance as they try to take care of their health and stay independent, so that they can age well and be positive contributors to their families. The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center aims to be vessel in helping older adults attain healthy aging through nutrition by collaborating with Healthy Communities Corps.

As part of my year of direct service, I have been developing community presentation to help seniors make healthy eating a daily practice. I also attend conferences and seminars by my host site or affiliated institutions to keep abreast with dietary trends in my field. I am learning from the community as they learn from me. They are particularly interested in learning about omega-3 fatty acids, as they are essential for brain health. My position enables me to be an avenue that links older adults to resources in their community.

As a part of my rewarding service with AmeriCorps, I serve on the Training and Professional Development Committee, which assesses needs and provides members with more knowledge on public health topics and skills to succeed in their service positions and foster professional development. I have gained networking and problem-solving skills and learned how to effectively work with teams to accomplish my professional goals.

Learn more about what members in Healthy Communities Corps are doing through our blog.

Simone Blake is a Beloit College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in health and society.

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