SHILOH – Aging Mastery, an Oasis St. Louis program that leads to improved health, stronger financial security and overall wellbeing for older adults, is coming to the Village of Shiloh in the spring of 2019.
Oasis, a national nonprofit that was founded in St. Louis, promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. Oasis’ vision is to see that adults over age 50 and older across the country have opportunities to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives.
Paul Weiss, President of Oasis, said that Oasis operates in 40 cities across the country and that the nonprofit has over 700 partners.
Weiss said that there are three separate columns of ways Oasis serves older adults. The first column being “life long learning.”
“Out our (St. Louis) center we do education with a broad range of topics,” he said. “It can be art, history, foreign language, music, dance, technology literacy, current events and politics.”
Weiss compared the programs to a university for older adults.
“The content is pretty consistent across the whole country. The pricing structure varies a lot based on who we are serving.”
The second column of programs is health and wellness related. These programs include topics like disease prevention or management, fall prevention, health education, behavior change and exercise.
The third column is “purposeful volunteering” for older adults.
Weiss said that the biggest volunteer effort Oasis organizes is the intergenerational literacy tutoring program.
“We train older adults – the average age of our tutors is 67 or 68 – to do literacy and mentorship during the school day in kindergarten through fourth grade,” he said. “We are looking to expand this to the Metro East.”
Weiss said that Oasis is looking for a federal funding grant to bring the tutoring program to East St. Louis schools along with other possible districts in the Metro East.
“Our focus is really on under served schools where a lot of kids have a literacy challenge,” he said.
Weiss said that Oasis has an “incredibly diverse” funding structure.
“We have family and private foundation support. BJC Healthcare in St. Louis is a very significant partner and supporter. Around the country, we have health care partners. Some evidence based programs are federally funded.”
Partnerships are a lot of time municipal partners, such as the Village of Shiloh, according to Weiss.
The Aging Mastery program is an educational behavioral change program with 10 sessions over 10 weeks, with each session being two hours.
“The focus is good health, longevity, developing sustainable behaviors, stronger financial security and wellbeing focused. Topics include exercise for older adults, nutrition and eating/ food choices and cooking and how to deal with sleeplessness,” Weiss said.
Weiss said that a program he teaches is advanced planning, which includes topics like healthcare proxies, living wills and DNR’s.
“It’s usually not the cheeriest topic,” he said. “The truth is the ambiguity people have around those end of life decisions are incredibly stressful. We take them through all of the choice and give them a guide and materials.”
“By end of class you have really excited people that feel like they are starting to solve some of the things they stress about and have ambiguity about,” he said. “That’s what the Aging Mastery program is about – demystifying all of these elements on how to age better and healthier.”
The Aging Mastery program is free and will take place at the Shiloh Senior Center from Tuesday, March 6 to May 7, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Weiss said that Oasis will also start offering a technology program called “Managing Your Digital Footprint.”
“A big portion of our work is technology literacy for older adults,” he said. “We want people to get to use the internet as a way to avoid social isolation.”
The technology program will also take place at the Shiloh Senior Center and will begin Monday, April 8 – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and there is a fee of $15.
To register, call (314)862-4859, ext. 24. You can also go to STLoasis.org for more information.
“The folks at the Village of Shiloh are really great to work with, Weiss said. “They are interested in their community. Not all municipal partners are so fun and immediately welcoming.”