ThanksGiving Back – Charities that Benefit Seniors

In this season of Thanksgiving, we reflect on the blessings we’ve enjoyed in the past year and consider all of the little things we are grateful for in our lives. It is the perfect time to think about how we might pass along and share those blessings. Giving back to others by donating time or making a financial contribution can be incredibly impactful, rewarding, and empowering.

There are many worthy causes that support seniors in need. Winter can be particularly difficult for seniors that may struggle to stay warm, eat nutritiously, and afford health services. Now is the perfect time to find your next favorite charity.

Causes to Care About

If you want to pass a blessing along to a senior in need, start here. This selection of charities work directly with or advocate for seniors. Many have local chapters that work within your own neighborhood.

Meals on Wheels operates in virtually every community in America to address senior hunger and isolation.

Feeding America is a hunger relief organization with a nationwide network of food banks feeding the hungry.

Catholic Charities dispenses love and hope to neighbors in need throughout the community including food, clothing, and housing.

United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. Many local organizations offer an Adopt-a-Family program during the holidays to support seniors and families in need.

AARP Foundation helps struggling seniors with four issues: housing, hunger, income, and isolation.

Help Find a Cure

While these charities benefit people of all ages, many seniors are affected by the issues they address.

The American Heart Association strives to reduce death caused by heart disease and stroke as well as supports education and research about cardiovascular conditions.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides information on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms, diagnosis, stages, treatment, care and support resources.

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation was established by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry to raise awareness of psychiatric and mental health issues facing seniors.

Cancer Care offers support to cope with stress, treatment and family issues related to a cancer diagnosis.

Arthritis Foundation dedicated to the prevention, control, and cure of arthritis in the United States.

Caregiver Action Network supports family caregivers through education, information, referral services, and advocacy.

Hospice Foundation of America serves to provide education on end-of-life care, advance care planning, grief, bereavement, death and dying through public information resources and professional education.

Check Out Your Charity

To make sure that your donation will be put to good use, check your chosen charity’s rating on Charity Navigator. The website helps to give you an idea of how much of your donation will directly benefit people in need.

4 Fabulous Crafts to Usher in Autumn

Fall is officially here! The cooler weather brings us the feeling of crisp autumn winds, the smell of pumpkin pie and the sound of leaves crunching underfoot. The senses are alive in the season and we’ve picked four fall crafts to please the eye and bring a festive feeling to your home.

Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Each year, the Sunday after Labor Day brings us one of Midwest Health’s favorite annual celebrations – Grandparents Day! On this special day, we get to celebrate the love, encouragement, and wisdom that grandparents offer.

So in honor of one of our favorite holidays, we’re counting down the top 5 ways to celebrate grandparents day!

5. Show ‘Em That You Know ‘Em

Give your grandparent something that shows them exactly how well you know them. Their favorite classic TV show on DVD, a beautiful bouquet of their favorite flowers, or a new fishing lure to catch their favorite fish. When you send a gift that shows you listen and care, you can’t go wrong.

4. Create A Scrapbook

Gather your favorite family photos and create a scrapbook for your grandparents. Whether you create a traditional scrapbook, professional photo book using an online tool like Shutterfly or a digital album on Facebook, your grandparent is sure to love reliving their favorite family memories.

3. Cook Up a Legacy

Grandma’s famous brownies. Grandpa’s homemade noodles. The taste and smell of that legendary family recipe can transport you back to your favorite childhood memory while you make a new memory with the newest generation. Create your delicious dish with the grandparents of honor or deliver it to them and enjoy!

2. Tell Their Story

Get out your crayons and construction paper and tell your favorite story about grandma or grandpa. Start with 4-5 sheets of paper and fold them in half. Staple the pages together at the center fold to create a booklet. Maybe you want to tell the story of when grandma took the grandkids to the park or perhaps you will tell the story of how grandma and grandpa met. Write a sentence or two on each page and have the children draw pictures to illustrate the story.

1. Go Visit!

If you can, go visit your grandparents. Let them wrap you in a hug, pinch your cheek and ask you all the questions that grandparents are famous for asking. If you can’t see them in the flesh, call them on a video chat service like Skype or Facetime. There is nothing in the world they will love more than seeing your smiling face. They will feel truly blessed and you will feel the unconditional love of a grandparent.


Worthy of Note: A Lifetime of Service

Many Americans have served, in some way, to support and uphold the values and freedoms of our great country. Not every hero has a blockbuster story, but each is in their own way, remarkable.

John Bruce Jr. is a name you may not be familiar with, but one worthy of note nonetheless. In 2011, at age 94 and with nearly 70 years of service at the time of his retirement, Mr. Bruce became the oldest and longest-serving employee of the United States Army.

Photo Credit: US Army

Enlisted Service

Mr. Bruce started his service to our country in 1942 after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. Spurred to action by the events at Pearl Harbor, he joined the United States Army. Mr. Bruce was stationed in the South Pacific. He served as a member of the Army Signal Corps working as an intercept operator. He approached his role with dedication and quickly earned a promotion to sergeant, leading a squad of radio corpsman.

In 1946, Mr. Bruce was honorably discharged from the Army, but his service to his country was far from over.

Civilian Service

After leaving the active duty, Mr. Bruce had considered moving back to his childhood home of California, but fate had other plans. With help from his uncle and the promise of a temporary job, Mr. Bruce headed to Michigan. There to pick him up at the train station was an acquaintance of his uncle’s, a woman named Jean. Little did he know at the time that Jean would later become his wife, the promised job would not be temporary, and Michigan would become his home from then on.

Mr. Bruce was hired as a civilian intern by Detroit’s Ordnance and Tank Command (later named Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, TACOM), a division of the Army dedicated to research, development, procurement, and maintenance of Army weapon systems. Starting from the bottom, Mr. Bruce showed an unrivaled enthusiasm and dedication for whatever job needed to be done. He was promoted quickly and became a Division Chief, in charge of 250 employees, at age 38. By the time of his retirement, 56 years later, he held the title of Support Equipment Product Support Integration Development Associate Director. A long title, fitting a long and distinguished career.

Advice for Everyday Americans

In his 69 years of service, Mr. Bruce learned a thing or two. At his retirement in 2011, he shared some wisdom for those seeking to have a career like his. “Make sure you enjoy what you do and give the very best you can. Don’t try to force things,” he advised.

He also recommends being fully committing yourself to the task at hand and embracing change saying, “I’d like to leave you with a few lessons I’ve learned over the years, and that is, you only get out of a position what you put into it. And maybe the good old times were good in their time, but we can never do things the same way today as we did back then. Too much has changed, and for the better sometimes.”

Mr. Bruce exemplified the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Mr. Bruce passed away in 2016 but the lessons of hard work, dedication, and lifelong learning live on in the many co-workers he mentored who have moved on to careers in the department of defense. To them, and to us, he is a hero.

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.

– Bob Dylan


Ready? Set. Summer! 5 Ways to Stay Busy this Season

Do you hear, in the distance, an ice cream truck playing a catchy tune? Can you see the brilliant colors in the evening sky as long days fade? Can you hear the birds and squirrels playing in the sun? Summer is here and it’s ripe for making new memories. It would be a shame to spend the season indoors when there is so much to do around you. The hardest part will be picking what to do first!

Hook, Line, and Sinker

The warm weather means it’s fishing season! There’s no better season to enjoy some time by the water with your rod and reel. Some states like Nebraska and Oklahoma offer discounted fishing licensing for seniors and others, including Iowa and Kansas, offer deeply discounted lifetime licenses. Check with your local senior center, parks and recreation department, or retirement community to see if you can join their next fishing expedition.

State Fairs

A fair is an unforgettable experience for all ages. From the funnel cake to the 4H programs, there’s so much you can see and experience. Enjoy the nostalgia as you stroll the midway, take in the music and entertainment, and visit the various vendors. Check your state fair to see if they offer discounted tickets for seniors or special “older citizen” days. No matter when you go, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of your nearest and dearest neighbors.

Let’s Play Ball

Catch a baseball game and maybe a foul ball! Enjoy a hot dog and beer while you relax in the camaraderie of cheering for the home team. Major league, minor league, and little league teams offer a variety of skill levels and price points for all fans. Check team websites to find value dates or games with special pricing.

Flea Markets, Craft Fairs, and Farmer’s Markets

Find your next treasure, trinket, or tasty treat at a summer flea market, craft fair or farmer’s market. Fresh air and friendly faces are always in good supply at these quaint events. Hone your haggling skills at a flea market, find a one of a kind creation at a craft fair, or find out where your food comes from at a farmer’s market. Your senses will be delighted by all there is to enjoy.

Marvel in a Museum

Play a tourist for a day and see what you discover. Determine to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes and you’ll wonder at what you find. Check out your city or county museums, historical landmarks, and legendary locations. Take your time! Read plaques, talk to a friendly museum volunteer, or just ask someone you don’t know what they recommend you check out. Pretend to be new to town and your town will become new to you!

The Meaning Of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is here, but what does it really mean? The late-spring holiday dates back to 1868, a few years after the conclusion of the Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, this day of remembrance started in individual communities to recognize the sacrifice of local heroes. Each year, community members would recite prayers, sing songs, and decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers newly in bloom after the spring rains. As time went on, Memorial Day became a day to remember all of the military men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. More recently, the holiday serves as a reminder to celebrate all those who have passed on before us.

Remembering Those We’ve Lost

Now, as then, we spend Memorial Day honoring and remembering our loved ones lost. The holiday is particularly meaningful for seniors who have lost loved ones as well as lived through WWII, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts. Each person may choose to reflect on those they have lost in a different way. Caregivers, family, and friends can encourage seniors to express their feelings by sharing their experiences and memories. You can also plan to accompany your loved one to the cemetery where they may pay their respects in person. In addition, many Americans pause to observe a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.

Celebrating Our Freedoms

While we honor the sacrifices and memories of those we’ve lost, it’s just as important to celebrate the freedoms we are blessed to enjoy.  Be sure to take advantage of the day. Take a walk outside in the beautiful weather, call a loved one to tell them you’re thinking of them, or take part in a community event. After all, cherishing life is, in itself, a celebration.

Happy Memorial Day to all. And a special thank you to all who have served our country. We will never forget your sacrifice.