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09.29.22 | Sage Advice

Travel the World From The Comfort of Your Home

Traveling is one of the best ways to experience new cultures and hear from other walks of life. However, because of the global pandemic, many of us haven’t had the opportunity to continue checking off bucket list locations in a few years. And although there’s nothing like stepping into a new place, new travel-like opportunities are beginning to emerge, including armchair travel.

What is Armchair Travel?

Have you ever wanted to visit a different country from the comfort of your home? Well, now you can! Armchair travel provides a sensory experience to those looking to learn about a location without going through the hassle of actually traveling. The virtual activity invokes everything from local sights and smells to mindsets and cultural conventions. 

We’ve had the pleasure of embracing the value behind armchair traveling in our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. With the help of DeShunn Bray, our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement, participants in our Vibrant Learning Program have had the opportunity to experience everything from an African safari to a trip to Germany and Columbia. 

Participants of our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons participating in armchair travel

How to Participate 

Becoming an armchair traveler is easier than it sounds, thanks to the do-it-yourself element of the activity. Start by considering if you’d rather travel alone or gather a group of family or friends to accompany you on your journey; traveling with a group tends to spark more engaging conversations and perspectives after the activity. 

Once you’ve decided who you’re traveling with, make a list of general themes and ideas for your travels. These can include everything, from national parks and landmarks to the location of famous events or your favorite movie. Once you’ve created your list, search for resources to assist you in your travels. If you’re tech-savvy, head to YouTube or take a stroll to your local library to find even more free films and videos. Once you’ve found a video accompaniment, pair your trip with a craft activity and serve a local delicacy to complete the experience! 

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your armchair trip now!

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07.28.22 | Sage Advice

How to Combat Senioritis As An Adult

It’s not just teenagers who can feel senioritis adults can too. We’ve all experienced it at some point; laziness, disinterest, having no motivation, not caring about the outcomes of our life. But just because these symptoms of checking out are universally experienced doesn’t make them okay to ignore. Today, we’re investigating adult senioritis, how checking out can affect your wellbeing and tools you can use to combat it:

What Senioritis Looks Like As An Adult

You might know senioritis as the affliction many seniors in high school experience as they enter their final year when their motivation declines and their drive to succeed diminishes. Though this phenomenon isn’t just found in young adults, anyone can experience senioritis. 

Typically, senioritis begins when there is a sign of a major transformation occurring in life, like graduating high school or even starting a new job. It begins with a fear of the future and feeling like you may not have control over a situation. As we age, many of the small tasks we enjoy earlier in life become tiresome and lose value to us, which can lead to checking out. 

However, it’s important to remember that checking out looks different to every person. The key is to recognize the signs and signals once you see them and begin taking action to snap out of the senioritis. 

How You Can Combat It

After acknowledging that you may be checking out, don’t start by setting unattainable goals for yourself – start small. Give yourself a to-do list of a handful of goals to reach every day, whether that’s going to the grocery store to run errands or making sure you respond to all of your emails. 

Once you’ve given yourself a list of small goals to aim for, the next step is to pair an incentive to it! Use motivations that connect back to why you might be checking out in the first place; if you’re starting a job, go shopping for new work clothes. Whatever your incentive is, use that to help drive you to complete your goals. 

As you tackle senioritis and become an active participant in your life again, remember to take it one step at a time. It might not always feel like you’ll be able to step out of it, but you will. 

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06.16.22 | Sage Advice

Simple Ways You Can Expel Stress This Summer

As one of the pillars for our model of 9 Ways of Vibrant Living at Sage Collective, we believe stress reduction is crucial to living a vibrant life. And while stress is a normal component of life, our focus isn’t to eliminate it but rather to learn how to manage, control and minimize it. Today, we’re spotlighting four tools everyone can utilize this summer and throughout the year to reduce stress:

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress throughout the summer. While sunshine is accessible year-round, summertime is when you can benefit the most from the vitamin D it supplies! Vitamin gain leads to stronger and healthier bones and boosts immune systems. Research has even found that exposing yourself to fresh air and natural light for as little as 15 minutes a day helps to decrease emotional distress. 

Spend Time With Friends and Family

Time outdoors isn’t the only thing you should be adding to your daily routine in the summer. Another way to assure less stress and anxiety is by spending more time with your friends and family. As the proverb goes, “it takes a village.” Community and safe spaces are extremely significant to our wellbeing, especially when going through a stressful time. So, setting aside time to spend with family and friends is a sure way to help you stay stress-free! 

Reflect on Your Day

Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or simply practicing gratitude, taking time to reflect on your day is another way you can expel stress. As little as ten minutes of any of those activities can leave a profound impact on how you view your days, even when you may be facing stress. Along with reflecting on your own, taking opportunities to practice acts of service is another powerful way to relieve stress while engaging with your community and building relationships!

Take a Nap

Naps aren’t reserved for just little kids and are much better for our health than many people realize. Along with being a great way to break up your day and provide a much-needed break, naps have been found to lower the risk of heart disease, increase the body’s energy and lower stress! Naps don’t have to be long either; studies show that the most beneficial nap length for our bodies is only 10 to 15 minutes.

Living with stress isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but once we utilize the correct techniques and tools, controlling and minimizing stress is much easier than it sounds.

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06.03.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Board Member: Camille Love

With a passion for the empowerment and health of her community, Camille Love always knew that she would thrive in the healthcare field. And today, with more than 16 years of experience under her belt, she continues to search for opportunities where she can lend her expertise in community healthcare. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board recently created such an opportunity for Camille Love and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Camille Love as the newest addition to the Sage Collective Board of Directors. Get to know Camille in her introduction below: 

Can you talk a bit about your professional background and how it has added to your expertise in your field?

I originally started my nursing career when I was very young, around 16, when I decided to become a certified nursing assistant. I’ve never been in any other field besides nursing. From starting as a CNA, to becoming a registered nurse and now a nurse practitioner, I recognize that I have been completely focused for nearly two decades in work that is meaningful and fulfilling every day.

I transitioned into being a nurse practitioner when I felt that I wanted to broaden my scope of work. And now, I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to take on leadership roles where I can empower and mentor other nurses and healthcare providers.  

What should those outside of the healthcare ecosystem know about the community caregiving experience?

Overall, I feel that there are two factors that everyone should keep in mind. On one side, I see the need for more compassion, which I say because we often see people now who have compassion fatigue. In general, we all need to show more sympathy and compassion to one another because you never know what others are going through at that moment. They might be a very fatigued healthcare provider, or if they aren’t a healthcare provider, they may be completely isolated. 

The second point is to practice safe behaviors. It’s easy to brush little things off of your shoulder when they might not affect you, but try to keep in mind that your actions could, in turn, affect someone else. If you’re possibly exposed to something like COVID-19, be considerate and make the smart decision to stay home and wear a mask so you don’t accidentally expose anyone else. 

Sage Collective believes that a sense of ‘care for the collective’ is essential for not only individual health but the health of a community. How does this belief translate through your own work and past experiences?

My experience has taught me that the health literacy of those outside of healthcare is very low, and I feel  that if we did a better job of communicating within our communities, that simple act of just talking to one another lessens the burden of providers and relieves some anxiety for community members. For example, parents need to understand that if their child has a temperature and a runny nose, it’s not something out of the ordinary and often doesn’t require attention from us in the hospital. 

If someone in that parent’s family had told them that this level of illness is normal, that would help create literacy in the community. So, in turn, they wouldn’t be burdening the providers to address a set of symptoms, which, in their eyes, is a simple matter. 

I also deal with older adults who have chronic illnesses like diabetes. In the African American community, we traditionally go heavy on salt, which leads to high blood pressure and other conditions. In the Latinx community, we have patients whose diets rely on tortillas, beans and other high-carb foods. Communication within these communities is essential when talking about wellness, since it completely changes the game when it comes to the knowledge and decisions people make about their diet. So, if you have a simple conversation amongst family, friends or community members, you could change a whole community’s health based on word of mouth and education. So, the healthcare-focused component of my work completely aligns with the community component that Sage provides.

What other unique values held by Sage Collective have drawn you to join the Board?

I’m currently working for an organization that is a federally-qualified health center, so our objective is to provide excellent quality healthcare to underserved communities. This has always been my mission in healthcare since that population is, well, underserved in nearly every aspect of life. So, working with Sage Collective, I can help populations that are both underserved and overlooked. 

Within the Sage ecosystem, you have people of color, and you have the elderly, and then you have people who face financial hardships, so these circumstances are not affording them luxuries that other persons would normally get. My fuel is to always target and give the best to underserved communities, so I was immediately drawn to Sage Collective because of our parallels. 

What is the significance of having intergenerational relationships in the healthcare world? Specifically in community health?

Intergenerational relationships are integral to the success of communities. They offer the opportunity to bring together the tried-and-true conventions that exist within the healthcare field with the energy, innovations and new perspectives of younger generations. 

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of Sage Collective’s board? 

I’m very excited to be working with the other leaders on the Sage Collective Board, and to have the opportunity to learn from them, pick their brains, and of course, contribute to the organization itself. I’m also eager to serve and have the opportunity to continue the work that has inspired me for so long, but in a different capacity, through housing and programming.

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01.13.22 | Sage Advice

How to Continue Aging Successfully in 2022

At Sage Collective, we advocate for aging better, whether you are 75 years old or 55. No matter your age, incorporating these strategies into your life can help dramatically as time passes. Here are a few secrets on how to successfully age in the new year: 

Gain Self-awareness

As we age, health continues to be a huge priority for many adults. Gaining self-awareness means taking a critical look at your life right now and deciding what you’re able to maintain and what is no longer possible. As you continue to age, reflect on how your body reacts to certain activities and make adjustments where you feel is needed. For example, if you’re noticing that your usual workout routine is becoming too strenuous on your body, switch it out for something more forgiving like swimming or yoga. 

The same goes for your appearance! If it’s becoming too much work to color your grays away, embrace your natural look. A major key to aging successfully is embracing the changes in yourself and your body and adapting as necessary. 

Stay Active

In the same vein, staying active plays a huge role in how your body fares as you age. For older adults, studies have shown that maintaining an active lifestyle rather than a sedentary one leads to a longer, happier life. In the new year, engage in exercise that is more forgiving for older adults; we recommend water aerobics, pilates, walks and resistance bands workouts! As you exercise, listen to your body and pay close attention to how your muscles and joints are feeling – if you’re feeling tense and achy, opt for something gentler. 

Adopt Super-Aging Techniques 

Keeping your brain healthy is as important as keeping your body fit while aging. A ‘cognitive super-ager’ is someone who is towards the end of their life but has the brain cognition of someone thirty years younger. Scientists are looking to these special seniors for additional tips on keeping your mind pristine as you get older. The main takeaways right now are that many super-agers are highly educated, consume a Mediterranean-style diet, take time for themselves and socialize with their peers. In the new year, try adopting some of these tips to up your chance of being a super-ager.

In order to live a vibrant life as we age, we must take vital steps to ensure the best for our bodies and mind. Gaining self-awareness, staying active and adopting super-aging techniques are just a few of the countless approaches you can take in 2022 to continue aging successfully.

My love Granddaughter
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12.14.21 | Sage Advice

Deliciously Healthy Winter Dishes For Any Gatherings

When winter comes around, no matter where you end up, it’s not difficult to find the sweet treats and savory meals that are traditionally associated with the season. However, for those inspired to maintain or start conscious eating habits, the winter can be a difficult time filled with temptation. Today, inspired by our vibrant living principles, we’re sharing a few deliciously healthy winter dishes that anyone can enjoy this winter. 

Sweet Potatoes

A favorite during this time of year, sweet potatoes are hard not to enjoy. While most people enjoy sweet potatoes even sweeter, baked with brown sugar and marshmallows, there are various methods to cook the vegetables that are just as enjoyable but much healthier. Like a standard potato, sweet potatoes can be served in a variety of ways. Baking them whole, mashing them, and even dicing them in a salad proves how versatile the vegetables can be. No matter how you cook them, we promise they won’t lose the sweetness that makes them so delectable in the first place. 

Winter Crudités

Who doesn’t love a mix of fresh vegetables? Crudités make the perfect winter dish for that reason. Not only can the appetizer appeal to virtually anyone, but it comes with a plethora of highly vitamin-packed vegetables that you can personally pick and choose. If you want to put a twist on the classic appetizer, make your own tasty dip to pair with the refreshing produce. 

Festive Fruit Salad

While it might seem out of season, a festive and healthy fruit salad is sure to excite taste buds in the winter. Similar to the crudités, not only is this dish healthy, but you can bring it and eat it anywhere and anytime. The nourishing food makes a perfect option for a morning snack or a late-night dessert. Along with the fruit, don’t be afraid to add in extra ingredients that bring even more flavor to the salad like mint, basil, lavender or even cayenne pepper for a little heat. 

Seasonal Squash

Another versatile food, squash is the perfect vegetable to substitute in and out of almost every traditional meal. Typically harvested in the fall, the nutrient-packed acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are available for cooking your favorite dishes year-round. Some seasonal favorites include butternut squash mac and cheese, soup and casserole, stuffed acorn squash and roasted spaghetti squash with kale

Even with the sweet temptations that surround us throughout the holiday season, healthy options are never too far out of reach. Whether you’re serving food at home for yourself or preparing a dish to bring to a gathering, there are various methods we can each take to continue practicing conscious eating habits and living vibrantly.

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11.30.21 | Sage Advice

How Spirituality and Religious Involvement Can Help You Age Better

With aging comes many difficulties and moments of emotional turbulence, leaving some to believe they are alone on their journey. However, the aging process also introduces many people to new hobbies, fulfilling purposes and other approaches to life that they had never experienced before. Vibrant living is always at the forefront of our vision at Sage Collective, and one chief aspect of our inspired model is engagement in spirituality and religion. Today, we’re the significant impact that spiritual and religious involvement can have on the aging process.

Sometimes as you age, a sense of community and support is all you need. Churches, and other places of worship, are hubs for mutual respect and are the perfect places to discover connections, engage in thoughtful discussion and participate in meaningful action. 

Despite the anxieties that come with aging, like increased loneliness and isolation, religious attendance has been found to establish a stronger feeling of community support. A recent study published by Geriatrics Journal found that religion and spirituality played a variety of roles in the lives of older adults who participated in them, including strengthening emotional connections and enhancing feelings of comfort and hope during hard times. 

Because religious and spiritual institutions often encourage connecting with those around you, they are one of the best ways for older adults to immerse themselves in a supportive social network and embrace vibrant living. Many religious institutions practice a “door’s always open” policy and will gladly welcome anyone who walks through their entrance. 

Because of these uplifting benefits and more, we encourage you to explore your community and discover a faith of your own if you haven’t already. And no matter the religion, we’re sure that a vibrant community full of love will welcome you with open arms and help produce essential support that will lead to better aging. 

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11.16.21 | Sage Advice

The Magnitude of Mentorship as an Older Adult

While reflecting on the past, fortunate people will immediately recall someone who made a lasting impact on their lives. It may have been a coach, a teacher, a parent or a neighbor, but one throughline is shared by all:  the powerful and lasting influence of having a mentor. The process of mentoring and sharing guidance is a valuable and life-changing experience for mentees and can be just as significant for mentors. 

Intergenerational mentoring is a mutually beneficial way to provide both youth and older adults with new perspectives and opportunities for happier and healthier lives. For older adults, sharing life experiences and critical advice with young people can help dismantle generational barriers while fulfilling a sense of purpose many desire. 

We often think that loneliness and isolation are the exclusive domain of older adults, forgetting that young people experience these same emotions. With mentorship, the generations can come together to create a sense of belonging and stability. Youth who receive mentorship, specifically from older adults, have higher self-esteem, improved leadership and communication skills and often find themselves more willing to explore new ways to learn and grow. 

Among its many benefits, mentoring is a great way to diminish ageism and educate younger people about the aging process, expanding their empathy and strengthening their understanding of what others are experiencing. While mentees benefit from improved self-awareness, respect for their elders and other insightful perspectives, mentors gain invaluable knowledge themselves, creating a dynamic, elastic system for communities to thrive together. 

Anyone can be a mentor. The process is uniquely flexible and can be as easy as offering advice and creating a safe space for younger family or community members to visit if they ever need assistance or support. For those who prefer more structure, there are numerous mentorship programs in Bronzeville and around Chicago that anyone can join.

AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents Program, offered through the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, allows volunteers age 55 and up to care for and guide Chicago’s youth, enriching the lives of everyone involved. The program actively serves 3,500 Illinois children and provides everything from educational support to essential care some may need. To learn more about their program and how to become involved, visit their website here

Mentorship is a critical asset to youth, older adults and communities that shapes positive outcomes in all directions. For older adults aspiring to empower others and share their essential voices, mentoring is the opportunity you’ve been seeking.

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11.04.21 | Sage Advice

Practicing Empathy: How it Can Create a More Vibrant World

Empathy is a universal tool for understanding. By definition, it’s a way of emotionally recognizing and validating what someone else is feeling. At Sage Collective, we approach all of our work with empathy, and believe that with practice, exhibiting empathy improves communication, heightens creativity and enhances appreciation.

What the Science Says

Empathy has always been an essential skill for communication and understanding. However, it’s more important now than ever, in light of the enormous levels of stress many confront today. Displaying empathy serves as an antidote for burnout and anxiety — producing beneficial effects on wellbeing and supporting positive social interactions for individuals and groups alike.

According to a recent study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, empathy in older adults may play a sizable role in shaping the regularity and types of support they exchange within social networks and the ramifications associated with the exchanges. The study concludes that empathetic older adults grant emotional and instrumental support more often than older adults who display less empathy. Furthermore, those who are more empathetic enjoy greater levels of emotional comfort from their networks and uphold more positive moods throughout the day, producing significant exchanges of care and more powerful controls over temperament. 

Practicing Empathy

Because empathy is a crucial element for collective support, everyone can benefit from improving their skills, whether practicing empathy comes naturally or must be learned. However, with time, an empathetic approach to all situations becomes instinctive. Here are three kinds of empathy that a person may encounter and should strive to understand:

Cognitive empathy consists of putting yourself in someone else’s situation to try and
comprehend what they might be going through at that moment. Even if it involves
something unfamiliar, the effort of understanding can transform anyone’s perspective. 

Somatic empathy requires the ability to experience someone else’s feelings. It usually
includes physical reactions to situations like feeling sick, sweating or blushing.

Active listening is a large part of being empathetic, but taking action and giving appropriate feedback takes the skill a step further. Affective empathy entails understanding the emotion someone else is feeling and answering accordingly. The awareness establishes personal connections and leads to a more profound concern for others’ feelings. 

As more and more people recognize the power of using empathetic techniques, a mutual understanding and compassion will blossom, empowering our communities to become more vibrant and rich in emotional support.

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10.19.21 | Sage Advice

How Museums Might Reduce Your COVID-19 Stress

One of the largest challenges in modern-day life is finding a treatment for the frequent burnout that most of us feel daily. At Sage Collective, one of our most cherished beliefs is that wellness, health and empowerment should be made priorities in every community. That’s why today, we’re exploring how museums might be the perfect answer to your post-pandemic stress and burnout. 

Many individuals, especially older adults, have faced higher stress levels over the past year and a half than ever before. Feelings of uncertainty and unpredictability due to COVID-19 have also led to many feeling alone, anxious and burnt out, with little reprieve. However, there is growing research that offers tangible steps toward alleviating these negative feelings. 

Often in the present day, many feel like time is limited, and burnout is constant. However, solace can be found in the relaxing and revitalizing spaces of a museum. For many, the knowledge that curated spaces of art and history can provide a wealth of benefits for mental and physical health is new.

Recently, doctors in Belgium received permission to prescribe museum visits to combat the mental health crisis in their country, and similar actions have been implemented in Canada. Patients who get the prescriptions can go anywhere from an intimate art gallery to a fashion exhibition at a history museum. 

The goal behind the three-month-long trial is to promote an engaging learning experience and shift people away from the stress of their daily routines in hopes of having a positive impact on mental and physical health. The museums and exhibitions act as safe and welcoming places for patients to unwind from their day-to-day responsibilities and explore new ideas and areas of interest. Not only does the time off allow patients to catch their breath and spend time with loved ones, but it also acts as a moment of respite from the harsh realities of the pandemic. 

Instead of relying on drug therapies, this mode of enrichment has the possibility to be expanded to other areas of mental health beyond pandemic-related stress and anxiety to alleviating symptoms of depression, psychiatric disorders, anxiety and more. 

Numerous museums, galleries and art centers around Bronzeville present the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to combat stress and relax — in person or virtually. The South Side Community Arts Center, Gallery Guichard, Smart Museum of Art, DuSable Museum of African American History, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry are all wonderful choices to spend an afternoon enhancing your wellbeing and expanding your mind. 

Furniture and a crowd of people fill a bright museum interior.
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