Anita Sharma

Host and Producer, Life Transitions

Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner.  She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies. 

Dr. Sharma has served as the President of the Board of Directors for Families Helping Families and as the Chairperson of the Twin Cities Mayors' Committee for the Disabled.  She has served on the Board of Directors for several organizations including Habitat for Humanity where she chaired the Family Selections Committee and set up guidelines to select families as Habitat partners.  She served as a community member on the editorial board of the The News-Star and authored a weekly column for the newspaper on topics relating to public interest.  Dr. Sharma is an active member of several community organizations serving the needs of elderly individuals and victims of family violence.

Ways to Connect

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The loss of a parent is a very difficult emotional experience.  It becomes even more difficult if one was not prepared for this loss.  It does not matter at what age a parent dies.  The grief is the same. 

This grief may become more visible on days like Mother's Day and Father's Day.  Media and social media constantly remind us to send flowers or buy gifts for our parent.  Long waiting lines in restaurants remind us of the special time spent with our parents.

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Parents always worry about the welfare of their children even, when their children begin to live their own independent lives.  It is not difficult to imagine the fears and anxieties experienced by parents of adults with severe disabilities.  Their biggest fear is that no one will take care of their "child" after they are gone.

Aliscia Banks, founding director of Families Helping Families and the parent of an adult son with multiple severe disabilities, discussed some of her worst fears about her son's future "after I am gone and his dad is gone." 

National Council on Aging / National Council on Aging

Taking care of our minds and bodies as we age is as simple as eating right and staying healthy.  Poor nutritional habits and lack of physical exercise can lead to several health issues and diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Jordan Guillot, wellness program supervisor at Vantage Health Plan, explains that education is the key to enhancing quality of life.  “You are not old till you are cold in the first place.  You are as old as your mind thinks you are.” 

West Ouachita Senior Center

Commemorating May as the "Older Americans Month" began in 1963 after a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens.  It is a celebration of the wisdom, strength, resilience, and the vigor of old age. 

Each year, a different theme is used to mark the month. The theme for 2018 is "Engage at Every Age."  Jeanette Ellington, Executive Director of the West Ouachita Senior Center, encouraged the local community to "celebrate the many contributions that our elderly have made in the community and promote their skills and talents."

Ouachita Council on Aging / Ouachita Council on Aging

They say that food is the best way to reach a man's heart.  It appears that food is the best way to reach out to anyone, irrespective of age and gender. 

Meals on Wheels can be a primary source to reach out to the world outside for elderly individuals who are living alone and unable to cook for themselves. 

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Providing various services to the elderly requires professionals trained in various disciplines and skills.  The common thread to all skills required in working with the elderly is a knowledge of Gerontology.  Gerontology is a multidisciplinary study of aging.

Roberta Andrajack, marketing director with the assisted living facility Savannah Grand, says marketing is vital in elder-care organizations.  She points out that "any field that offers services to the Gerontology population needs a marketer."

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Sometimes we are not able to find appropriate resources and appropriate solutions to a life problem.  We may not have adequate knowledge about the community resources or we may not know how to search for a particular service.  United Way provides 2-1-1 as a "tool" or a service that connects people to resources.

Jan Wawrzyniak director of 2-1-1, described the service as a "community connection" that "increases access to help for anyone and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." 

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Financial planning is very important at any phase in life.  It becomes even more important when older adults have to make crucial decisions relating to long-term care.  Pre-planning helps when the time comes to seek long-term care. 

Jordan Smith, a financial planner for senior citizens, explained that many times people may suddenly enter a long-term care facility without any financial pre-planning.  In those instances, financial advisors for senior citizens could provide crisis planning.

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Hospice Care is a phrase that evokes an image of impending death.  Hospice care is a support service for individuals dealing with a terminal illness that need special care from professionally trained care providers. 

One of the myths associated with hospice care is that it is meant for cancer patients only.  Hospice expert David O'Neal points out that hospice care is provided to all patients dealing with a life-threatening illness and limited life expectancy. 

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Grief is a natural reaction to any kind of loss.  Loss does not always imply death.  Grief occurs when we lose something or someone that is very close to our heart and we are emotionally attached to that person, object, or life situation. 

We grieve when we lose a loved human, a pet, a place of residence, a job, a loved object, or a phase of our life.  For instance, a lot of people grieve the loss of youth or the loss of good health.

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