Philip Sharp: Senior with cancer chooses between medicine and food – Entertainment – Austin American-Statesman

Philip Sharp is battling a case of the sniffles, but, beyond that, he says he’s feeling good.

He’s got his cat of 13 years, Sweetheart. He’s talked to his daughter, Jessica, recently, and the PBS signal is still coming in strong.

You’d never know that days earlier the soft-spoken Sharp had finished his most recent round of chemotherapy treatment.

Sharp is not prone to self-pity or asking for much help. On the day in question, as he stands in his modest apartment talking to me via a Zoom connection facilitated by his case manager with Family Eldercare, Sharp expresses gratitude for the assistance he’s received and the minimal side effects of the treatments for a cancerous lesion recently removed from his bladder. He also is slated to undergo gallbladder removal surgery in the spring.

While his polite demeanor and tender nature serve as no sign for concern, the truth is that recently the 65-year-old, who lives alone with Sweetheart, was dangerously close to having to make this choice: paying for medicine or paying for food.

On lean days like those, Sharp turned to a simple diet of canned beans. You’d be hard-pressed to get him to complain about it. He will talk about food, however. The things he loves. Like a pizza loaded with meat. Tacos. And the Hungry Man meals that Jessica delivered to him recently.

Sharp has lived in Austin since 1998, and while he’s had a long tenure in town, his social circle remains limited. He turns to online chat rooms to make friends with folks his age and talk about their lifestyles, and finds joy in watching PBS shows about American history and science.

“I’m not a real socialite,” Sharp says.

Sharp, who successfully manages schizoaffective disorder through a medication regimen, studied chemistry in college. The jazz flutist also studied music, forestry and computer science but eventually cut short a college education that included stints at Stephen F. Austin University and what is now Texas State University.

“It was all so boring; I couldn’t take it anymore,” Sharp says dryly.

After a period of homelessness following a divorce and car accident, Sharp received assistance from Family Eldercare, the organization that nominated him for Season for Caring, which helped stabilize his living situation.

The nonprofit has assisted Sharp, who lives off of disability benefits, with the stress of managing his finances and staying on top of his medical appointments and mounting bills. For that, Sharp is very grateful.

“It makes me feel very comforted to know somebody is going to be there,” Sharp says.

More Season for Caring.

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SilverSneakers Supports Senior Fitness by Opening Its On-Demand Library

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Tivity Health® Inc. (Nasdaq: TVTY), a leading provider of health improvement solutions, is now offering free, unlimited access to the entire SilverSneakers® On-Demand™ library through December 31, courtesy of eHealth, Inc., a leading online Medicare insurance marketplace. SilverSneakers provides eligible Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and group retiree plan members access to a network of more than 17,000 fitness locations nationwide, virtual workouts, social events and a variety of class types, all at no additional cost to our members.

SilverSneakers Logo (PRNewsfoto/Tivity Health)

SilverSneakers On-Demand is a video library of over 200 workouts, wellness videos, and fitness programs designed by top instructors. From now until December 31, anyone can access hundreds of workout and nutrition programs at home for free by checking eligibility and creating an account at silversneakers.com. Flexibility/mobility, balance, cardio, strength, and more: regardless of abilities or interests, there’s something for everyone of every fitness level and specially designed programs to keep participants on track:

  • Balance and Strength Yoga
  • 31-Day Fit for Life Challenge
  • Stress Management Education

“While some seniors are returning to the gym, others are choosing to stay fit at home during COVID-19,” said Richard Ashworth, president and CEO, Tivity Health. “Virtual exercise options are providing SilverSneakers members critical access to fitness and social connection, both vital for maintaining optimal health. Our partnership with eHealth allows us to help seniors explore a new world of fitness options in the comfort of their own home with our trusted SilverSneakers fitness instructors. There has never been a more crucial time for seniors to stay socially connected, physically active and virtually engaged.”

The Medicare Advantage Annual Election Period (AEP) began on October 15 and continues through December 7, 2020. During this time, individuals eligible for Medicare can choose a Medicare Advantage plan for the upcoming year that includes SilverSneakers. We’ve partnered with eHealth, whose licensed Medicare agents are prepared to give seniors the support they need to find the plan that matches individual needs and budgets.

“At a time when so many seniors are exploring new ways to maintain their health through the COVID-19 crisis, eHealth’s partnership with SilverSneakers to make the On-Demand fitness platform available to all seniors nationwide reflects the spirit of both our businesses,” said Gregg Ratkovic, Senior Vice President for Carrier & Business Development, eHealth. “We are thrilled to announce this partnership, bringing new innovative solutions to better serve Medicare beneficiaries.”

SilverSneakers is available in all 50 states and is offered through more than 70 health plans nationwide including the nation’s leading Medicare Advantage health plans, Medicare Supplement, and group retiree plans. Members can determine their eligibility, find their closest participating location or learn more about the program by visiting SilverSneakers.com. For seniors who need help picking a plan, our friends at eHealth can simplify the process. Call 844-798-0050 to speak to a licensed eHealth agent now.

About SilverSneakers
SilverSneakers®, by Tivity Health, is the nation’s leading community fitness program for older

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Senior Health & Fitness Day is Tomorrow

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

www.tgfymca.org
www.tgfymca.org (The Gateway Family YMCA )

The Gateway Family YMCA and Shaping Eastern Union County will join an estimated 1,000 local groups nationwide to celebrate the 27th Anniversary of National Senior Health & Fitness Day (NSHFD) on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. The YMCA is offering free virtual programs with registration available at

In addition to National Senior Health and Fitness Day events, The Gateway Family YMCA has been providing virtual chronic disease self-management programs free to the local community throughout the global pandemic. Interested participants can also register for the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program (BPSM) and the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) at www.tgfymca.org.

Throughout the day, the community is invited to visit The Gateway Family YMCA’s Facebook page for helpful resources, information and updates and discussions at www.facebook.com/GatewayFamilyY

According to Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA, “National Senior Health & Fitness Day is the perfect opportunity for seniors to make, renew, and revitalize their commitment to lead healthier lives through wellness, nutrition and programs designed specifically to meet their needs. This is even more important today while we are practicing social distancing and may not be as active as usual.”

During National Senior Health and Fitness Day, participants will join with an estimated 100,000 older adults across the country participating in local virtual activities to help promote active, healthy lifestyles through physical activity, good nutrition and preventative care. Although previously scheduled in May, the national event proposed an additional date to accommodate everyone.

“With the onset of social distancing and safety practices in early March, our YMCA pivoted and began offering virtual programming to our members and the community,” stated Melynda A. Mileski, EVP/COO. “What we have found is that our active older adults are participating consistently from home, and enjoy the socialization as well as the wellness benefits our live group exercise programs provide.”

National Senior Health & Fitness Day is typically held on the last Wednesday in May. The program, the largest senior wellness event of its kind, is organized by the Mature Market Resource CenterSM, a national clearinghouse for professionals who work with older adults.

The Gateway Family YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, health and community service organization of caring staff and volunteers dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community and stands For Youth Development, For Healthy Living and For Social Responsibility. The Gateway Family YMCA impacts the community by providing quality services to people of all ages, races, faith or incomes.

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An award-winning reporter and author, Mr. Richissin helped revive Patch and launch the careers of young journalists. He will be missed.

Todd Richissin, Patch National Editor, Beloved Mentor, Dead At 57

Shaping Eastern Union County is committed to improving the health and well-being of county residents and creating strategies to support improved health, nutrition and physical activity for all. Shaping Elizabeth, Shaping Rahway and Shaping Union are also sponsoring this event.

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Companionship and Senior Mental Health – Let’s Talk About Depression

Most of us believe that caregiving must focus on the mind, body and soul. When seniors are lonely, they get depressed, just like you and I. Human beings need companionship, but we also need the right type of companionship. Perhaps like you, I strongly believe in matching a caregiver’s personality with that of their client and I find it so unfortunate that many companies in the in-home care industry do not concentrate on this. Matching client personalities makes for a positive relationship, stronger mental health, and a stress free in-home caregiver situation. Everyone wins.

Yes, it takes a little longer to find the right caregiver, but that’s okay, because in good in-home care companies they’ve found it prevents turnover, which is one of the complaints that many in the industry have. A true companionship-based caregiver scenario is one where the client is treated like family. The best way to achieve this is to make a proper match so that both the caregiver and the client see each other as family, it is best when it is a two-way street.

There was a very good research study in the “Journal of Health Psychology” put out by the American Psychological Association in 2011 (Cite: Vol. 30, No. 4, 377-385. DOI: 10.1037/a0022826). The research is titled; “Loneliness, Social Isolation, and Behavioral and Biological Health Indicators in Older Adults,” by Aparna Shankar, Anne McMunn, and Andrew Steptoe. In conclusion the research paper notes:

“Loneliness and social isolation may affect health independently through their effects on health behaviors. In addition, social isolation may also affect health through biological processes associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.”

For those of who work as caregivers, they are hardly surprised. In fact, experts in the sector have been saying this all along. The families of elderly tell us that they too are concerned and it is often one of the primary reasons they contact a company for in-home caregiver services. I hope you understand and agree with myself, the families, and the empirical scientific research.

I believe no one should have to be lonely in old age, we are here to serve, and glad to help our clients live happy, healthy and with compassionate companionship. As our population ages these issues emerge to the forefront, and it is all of our responsibilities to makes sure everyone concerned is served fairly and treated with dignity. Please do the research and think of those people you know who are in need, we must make such positive steps a reality for all.

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