Senior Corner: Promoting healthy aging

Senior Corner: Promoting healthy aging

By Mary Belanich

Many of Virginia Hospital Center’s programs and services exemplify its mission, “to be the best health system,” including the offerings of the senior health department.

For more than 20 years, senior health department staff has been a resource to the community by providing education and outreach about healthy aging. The programs, information and options can enable seniors to maintain independence and safety, both in their homes and in the community.

Here’s a look at the programs offered:

Philips Lifeline: Recognizing the value of — and need for — the Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service for vulnerable older adults, Virginia Hospital Center staff personally serves more than 1,000 individuals via the only hospital-based Lifeline program in the Washington, D.C. area.

Lifeline provides simple, fast access to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to the standard product, subscribers may also choose:

  • Auto Alert, which detects a fall and automatically calls for help
  • Wireless options for those homes without a landline
  • GoSafe Mobile Help Button, which enables access to help both while at home and on the go
  • GoSafe has built-in fall detection and is the only mobile system with six advanced location technologies to help find the subscriber in an emergency.

The Lifeline Assistance Fund covers 50 percent of the monthly subscription fee, and is available to at-risk community members who otherwise may not be able to afford the service.

Walk-Fit: Virginia Hospital Center and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City partner to host the intergenerational Walk-Fit group. This mall-walking program originated 28 years ago and continues to be free and open to the public.

Walkers meet at the mall on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and complete laps along its top three levels. A cool-down stretch led by senior health department staff concludes each session.

Healthy aging lecture series: This lecture series offers a free, monthly presentation during which medical specialists and other professionals share their expertise on a variety of aging issues. Knowledge of current healthcare trends and service options can help individuals age in their homes safely and confidently.

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver support group: As the number of Alzheimer’s and Dementia diagnoses continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, the need for direct caregivers to share and receive support also rises.

For more than nine years, Virginia Hospital Center has offered a free, monthly caregiver support group. This program is facilitated by Jane Work, a former caregiver and Alzheimer’s Association board member and myself.

We offer more than 20 years of personal experience and practical expertise to loved ones who are navigating the uncertain, ever-changing and emotionally charged role of the family caregiver.

Senior health exercise classes: Regular exercise is associated with many health benefits, including successful management of chronic medical conditions. Virginia Hospital Center provides a diverse selection of exercise classes that are sure to meet everyone’s needs.

For more information on these and other senior health programs, please call 703-558-6859 or go to

The writer is the manager of senior health at Virginia Hospital Center.