On Saturday, April 22, 2017, 80 Moravians and guests from 23 different congregations met at Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. for the first Aging Well Conference.
Replacing the “Older Adult Spring Retreat” previously held at Laurel Ridge, the Aging Well Team developed this event as a different approach in an effort to reach a larger audience of older adults in the Southern Province.
Established in 2014 by the Board of Cooperative Ministries, the Aging Well Team realized its purpose was to “help congregations recognize the need for and then find meaningful ways of providing programming and resources for their members who are older adults as they age and deal with a variety of challenges.”
The new logo for this team is the sunflower. “The sunflower is rich in history, admired for charm and wholesome beauty, unique in its ability to provide energy and nourishment and reminds us that we can be like a sunflower at any age, under any circumstance, bringing joy to others.” This symbolism reflects the meaning and purpose of the Aging Well Team.
At the Older Adult Fall Rally in October 2016, participants from around the Southern Province completed questionnaires about their needs and interests; the subjects addressed at this Aging Well Conference were based on that feedback. Six speakers volunteered their time and knowledge to lead a session for the participants, who had the difficult decision of picking just two of the six sessions to attend.
Serving Calvary Moravian Church since 1996, the Rt. Rev. Lane Sapp presented a session on “Common Sense Tips for Caring.” He explored methods of care through visitation, emphasizing the gift of listening. Ben Limehouse, a Winston-Salem elder law attorney, discussed “End of Life Challenges, Issues and Solutions,” including durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and living wills.
The Rev. Lori Carter, a registered nurse and ordained pastor, led a session on “Pray as You Can, Not as You Can’t,” sharing some new and various ways of expressing oneself to God. Dr. Christina Hugenschmidt, an assistant professor of the Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, presented an overview that defined dementia, emphasizing the risk factors and prevention (exercise, exercise, exercise!).
Maria Moerk, a licensed physical therapist, also stressed the health benefits of exercise: preventing Alzheimer’s and diabetes, increasing bone density and improving heart health. Participants were taught how to begin, continue and progress with a program suited for their individual needs in her session, “Exercise at Home.”
Andrew Cox, the Communications Coordinator of the Board of Cooperative Ministries, in his session on “Engaging Technology Without Fear,” discussed the problems of navigating the technical world. He also addressed questions from participants who were having technology problems. One great idea from this session was the realization that many older adults need ongoing technical advice; he is taking up this challenge in the hopes of having a regular session addressing these needs.
After a delicious lunch served by the Women’s Fellowship, we participated in an upbeat and enjoyable afternoon with a Singstunde lead by the Rt. Rev. Sam Gray, Director of Intercultural Ministries and New Work, Board of World Mission, Moravian Church, North America. The music was interspersed with short descriptions of ministries of churches in the Province, including Kathy Sparks from Macedonia Moravian presenting Tuesdays at Two (a community outreach program); Grace Shutt and Kay Windsor from New Philadelphia Moravian discussing Healing Through Faith (a grief support group); Pam Prevatte from New Hope Moravian sharing Caregivers’ Support Group; and Joy Cole from Unity Moravian,presenting Single Sisters. The information shared allowed us to see that congregations are identifying the needs of their church families and are addressing them in creative and helpful ways.
At the end of the day, it was apparent that the participants and the presenters had shared in a great inspirational and educational experience. We learned much and enjoyed the fellowship with one another, and are looking forward to the next Aging Well Conference!
Pam Prevatte, New Hope Moravian and Joy Cole, Unity Moravian, worked on the Aging Well team. Photos by Andrew David Cox.
From the June/July 2017 Moravian Magazine