The sages are highly honored in many Aboriginal cultures. In the United States, they often face unique stresses, some of which are passed down through generations. Many elderly Native Americans saw Sadnes and severe racism as well as the loss of their ancestral lands and cultural practices. This can weigh them down throughout their lives and especially as they age.
However, the ties that bind Indigenous communities can do a lot to support them through the aging process, says Blythe Winchester, MD, director of geriatric services at Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, North Carolina, and a member of the Eastern Division of the Cherokee. Indians.
Winchester grew up on the Qualla Boundary Cherokee Indian Reservation in western North Carolina and lived there until his departure to Davidson College, followed by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. After receiving her Geriatrics Fellowship in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2013, Winchester became head of the skilled nursing facility at Cherokee Indian Hospital.
From a young age, Winchester was drawn to the care of her elders. She revered them, learned from them, and combined her formal medical education with the education of her heritage to care for them. She says they are the beating heart of her community.
Winchester describes the challenges they face – and what she thinks will help.
What can be done to help Native Americans avoid isolation as they age?
Winchester: “It is important to have job and volunteer opportunities for seniors throughout the confinement period to keep them engaged in their community.”
“For example, even those who have significant health issues and mobility issues can work in our cultural center. No matter what medical condition an elderly person has, it is important to spend productive time doing something with a purpose.”
What community services can help combat some of the problems associated with aging?
Winchester: “A close-knit indigenous community can make all the difference when it comes to aging care. Qualla Boundary in particular helps seniors with tasks like mowing the lawn, paying heating bills, and getting needed nutritional supplements. They can even help give Christmas gifts to those who can’t afford it. Their costs are in addition to other seniors’ services that may not be available in other communities.”
Who are most at risk?
Winchester: “Older people living in urban areas who have been removed from their home countries for one reason or another are particularly at risk. The communication and cultural understanding that can be lost when they leave their home can put them at risk, especially if they lack many of the services listed above.”
“Some seniors are in their 90s or older and have witnessed very traumatic events. For example, some remember being forcibly placed in boarding schools far from their families. Memories of these events can cause unexplained Stress for our elders.”
What are some of the health challenges that Native Americans face?
Winchester: Indigenous peoples already face issues that other societies may not. They face many of the same types of chronic diseases as the aging population, including heart failureAnd the coronary heart disease, and diabetes. But they also encounter conditions that occur more commonly in Native American communities for reasons we don’t understand, such as autoimmune diseases As well as high rates of neurological disorders such as mental illness. “
What is an example of how internal stress affects the overall health of older adults?
Winchester: “Everything is related to stress. Diabetes, for example, is a blood vessel disease that is caused by inflammation in the body. And inflammation can be caused by stress. This is one of the reasons we use behavioral health counselors for patients who are doing what they can to control their disease. Blood sugar Through diet, exercise and medication but I still don’t see results. If you don’t ask what’s going on in their lives, you could be missing out on a significant part of what’s causing the condition. And diabetes is just one example.”
What can be done to improve health outcomes in this population?
Winchester: “The more we can educate about and revive our cultural practices, the better. This connection with what used to be very important. We had a sophisticated and sophisticated way of caring for the elderly before that was taken away from us, and the more we can reconnect with that heritage, the more advanced society will benefit.” Age “.
“our Health Care It used to be energized, driven by the individual trying to bring their bodies back into balance. Now it is about the physician with full power, and for many indigenous people, there is still a lack of confidence in this method. When you feel like you have an opinion, you are more likely to be involved in your own wellness.”
Discussion about this post