Saving Lives Participants Launch “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry”

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, in cooperation with UA’s Saving Lives Academy, is holding workshops designed to inform the congregation about good health and wellness practices. In June the church launched “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry” to provide tools for members aged 50 and over to become healthier in mind, body and spirit.

The new ministry is a result of the church’s participation in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships’ Saving Lives program. Saving Lives is piloting a Saving Lives Academy, which conducts workshops to show church members how to foster healthy living activities.

“We were so fortunate to have this leadership academy training from The University of Alabama,” said participant Letrell Peoples. “This has been a journey. I knew this was something we needed to do and all of you being here today is just awesome.”

More than 30 people participated in the first of what is scheduled to become monthly workshops. The program included presentations from two health professionals.

Christina Pierpaoli Parker, a fifth-year doctoral student in UA’s clinical geropsychology program, talked about how life gets better with age. “I’m so excited to be here because I know in my bones through my clinical work that this is how change happens,” Parker said. “It happens when one person decides to start making positive changes in their lives, and then that person influences another person, and that person influences another person. Over time, not only do you have a healthier person and a healthier family, but you have healthier communities.”

She discussed how people are living longer and finding more satisfaction with age because of improved health, increased financial stability and reduced stress.

Dr. Beth Tobing-Ruiz, a nephrologist specializing in kidney function and diseases such as kidney-related hypertension, was invited by New Zion to discuss holistic medical care and answered questions from the audience. “My interest is in the empowerment of patients, the education of the patient, and providing information to the patient,” Tobing-Ruiz said. She advised participants to ask their doctors questions and not be afraid to see a specialist or to get a second opinion.

As healthcare costs escalate, according to Tobing-Ruiz, medical professionals are studying the benefits of treatments such as acupuncture, prayer and yoga to create a new form of integrative medical treatment. “In this day and age you have to look at not just one possibility, but multiple possibilities. With aging comes good things and bad things. But it would be nice if the medical community would educate us on what to look for, how to prevent bad things, so that you will reap the benefit as you get older.”

Participants said they enjoyed the new ministry and said they looked forward to the next workshop. “I came today because I wanted more information that will help me as I age,” said Ann Brown. “It was really informative and I learned how important eight hours of sleep is to your overall health.”

Rev. Greg Morris, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church’s pastor, said he believes the meeting was a good start to what will become an enriching experience for his parishioners. “This church has had a pretty long-standing relationship with the Saving Lives Program and I wanted us to continue that,” said Morris, pastor at New Zion for the past five years.

Bobbie J. McKinney called the health session a “prefect addition” to the noon Bible Study.

“I need to know all I can about heathy living because I have high blood pressure and arthritis,” she said. “You get around other people and see what’s going on, ask questions and learn a lot.”

Mt. Zion’s next meeting in the “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry” is scheduled for July 25 at 12:30 p.m.

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of UA’s Division of Community Affairs.