By Maria Stella Gulla
In this month’s letter I would like to highlight the importance of men’s health, as June is Men’s Health Awareness month. This is a special awareness period first recognized by Congress in 1994 and celebrated across the country. The goal is to educate men, boys, and their families and friends about preventable health problems, and to encourage them to be more actively involved in their own health care.
It is a well known fact that women tend to outlive men, and it is very true that our senior client base includes more women than men. That being said, we do serve at the ABCD North End/West End NSC (NE/WE NSC) men who are long-term Italian residents of the North End, and Chinese men who live at the Blackstone and Amy Lowell Apartments, among others. Also, our women seniors have brothers, friends, cousins, companions, and other males in their lives whom they care about, and to whom they can pass the critical health education information we provide on nutrition, health insurance, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more. I also speak from personal experience, as the mother of three grown sons and a husband that do not always take the initiative to prioritize the care and information that they need!
The NE/WE NSC provides home cooked meals twice a week at our 1 Michelangelo Street Drop-in Center and once a month alternating buildings in the West End (Amy Lowell and Blackstone). For the men we serve, it is much more than a meal. It is a chance to get out of isolation; chat with their peers in their native language; access health information and health services; and apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and use our food pantries to access fresh and nutritious foods to maintain good health. Our center has been a front door for our male clients to live healthy and independent lives.
Walking is another way to keep older male seniors active, especially as a number of them cannot participate in strenuous exercise. Impressive benefits of walking include decreasing the chance of developing chronic illness; lower rate of heart disease; avoidance of type 2 diabetes; reduced chance of developing asthma and lessons the severity of symptoms for those who already diagnosed with asthma. To that end, the NE/WE NSC has formed walking groups with staff and volunteers to walk the neighborhoods in good weather.
Supporters of Men’s Health Month are encouraged to wear blue ribbons as a way to remind men of the importance of staying healthy, to let the men in your life know you care and to ultimately increase the quality of life.
In closing, we at the NE/WE NSC are using this month to care for and celebrate the men in our lives. I and my capable staff are at your service to assist you. The center is open Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM. Please call for an appointment so that we may serve you.