This spring, Parish Health Ministry and TriHealth presented the annual Refresh Your Soul conference on healthy aging, positive aging, dementia and caregiving. The overwhelmingly positive energy of the crowd at the Cintas Center was fed by the engaging speakers to deliver a personally and professionally tremendous experience.
Tickets to the event, which was co-sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati in partnership with Xavier University, sold out in record time ahead of this year's conference.
Those 650 family caregivers and elder care professionals who were fortunate enough to get them were treated to a special presentation by the keynote speaker, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.
Using humor, candor, tears, joy and inspirational love stories to illustrate his points, Chapman challenged senior attendees to commit to continual self-improvement as they age.
He advised seniors and caregivers alike to equip themselves with love and forgiveness, with the power of technology, and with the mindful spirit that boosts relationships, health and vitality for life.
“As we age, and at any age, if we feel loved, life is beautiful,” he told those gathered at the Cintas Center. “If not, life can begin to look pretty dark."
For dementia and Alzheimer's caregivers, Chapman cautioned, it's particularly important to develop understandings of love languages like touch, tone, expression, patience and acceptance. That’s because the disease so often robs their loved ones of the ability to verbally communicate their needs.
The key to maintaining a positive outlook on aging and to every healthy caregiving relationship, Chapman said, "is speaking each other’s primary love language.”
A wide-ranging discussions on the power of positive aging
Chapman was joined at Refresh Your Soul 2018 by Brilliant Aging founder Kay Van Norman, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign aging and technology expert Dr. Wendy Rogers, and former Family Caregiver Hour radio host Liz Tassone, who each tackled difficult discussions and hard-to-quantify topics pertaining to healthy aging.
Van Norman's "Running with Scissors" was a humorous and thought-provoking presentation that provided important insights on purposeful aging. She shared ideas and strategies to change the way seniors and caregivers think of aging and advised attendees of ways to age with vitality.
In her "Technology and Aging" session, Rogers showed Refresh Your Soul audience members how, contrary to myths, older adults are willing and able to adopt technology into their lives when it supports their needs and when it's designed to their abilities.
At her "Aging with Spirit" lunchtime discussion, Tassone showed how the latest neurological research supports what wisdom teachers have said for thousands of years: that, as we age, we can continue to grow, change and become a more loving presence in the world.
“Gary, Kay, Wendy, and Liz were inspiring," said Episcopal Retirement Services' CEO and president Laura Lamb. "Along with everyone at ERS and Parish Health Ministry, we thank them for their enlightening outlook.”
Additionally, Xavier University's second Dementia Caregiving Summit was again held in tandem with Refresh Your Soul, building on the positive momentum it generated in its inaugural 2017 installment.
Parish Health Ministry: 20 years of service to Cincinnati's seniors and caregivers
At this year's Refresh Your Soul conference, Episcopal Retirement Services also celebrated the Parish Health Ministry's 20th year of serving Cincinnati and Tristate seniors.
It's been a long journey of faith for the ecumenical outreach program, which supports community nursing by connecting more than 70 churches and community organizations throughout the Tristate with ERS's network of community-based services and residential retirement care providers.
The Parish Health Ministry provides opportunities for churches to renew their role in healthcare at a time when transformation of our healthcare system is a critical priority. Refresh Your Soul grew out of that ministry.
“Our goal every year with Refresh Your Soul," Lamb explained, "is to provide an engaging, educational, enlightening event for seniors, care partners, and professionals in our industry."
"This year in particular struck a resounding chord for attendees on a personal level," she said.