Health Promotion Newsletter Issue No. 37

20 Mar

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Dear Clients,

Spring is just around the corner even though we are still having some wintery-like weather hanging on! I hope that everyone is doing their best to get themselves physically active and finding happiness in the soon to be changing season.

This year is the Lunar Year of the Dog. The dog’s characteristics are loyalty and honesty — they are truly the most reliable partner you’ll ever need. Since ACAS always believes that our clients are part of one big family, we continuously count on your support, loyalty, and partnership in order to make this relationship thrive. Recently our funding from the government has been decreased in some of our programs, and in light of this, we are asking our family members for their thoughts, feedback, and ideas on how we, as a unit, can move forward. If you have any input whatsoever, please contact your support staff and we will evaluate all input as a whole. Please feel secure in bringing your voice forward in this family as speaking up will not affect you negatively in any of our services.

This year we have lined up an exciting program for the Health Promotion Workshops. ACAS also is building allies with other agencies to broaden the scope of the workshops offered.

  • We continue to have our weekly meditation class on Wednesday evening (until mid-April); 6-7 pm at Casey House (119 Isabella Street). Please register with your support staff.
  • In April, we will have a workshop facilitated by Constantine Carbarios on the topic of Understanding Guilt and Shame.
  • In May, we will have a series of workshops on Holistic Nutrition and Cooking in partnership with ASAAP and OPA+.
  • Pre Pride Pink Party in June will take place.
  • In August, we will have our educational 3-day retreat facilitated by various presenters and practitioners.
  • In September, HPV and ANAL cancer will be the topic of the workshop. It will be facilitated by Dr. Irving Salit.
  • For the month of October, per client request, we will have a workshop on Aging and Sexual Health with REALIZE.
  • In November, the workshop will focus on the most up-to-date HIV Antiretroviral Treatment and Medication.

Our intern nursing student Mr. Andy Zhang will be sadly leaving us in April, but he will occasionally continue to help and provide services in our support program. During his time at ACAS, he provided invaluable efforts and energies into our support programs such as organizing appointments, developing online surveys, providing a presentation to one of our workshops, and funding sourcing. Andy, we wish you well – you will be missed and please find the farewell article provided by him below. We thank you for all your efforts!

Best Regards,

Kenneth Poon
Health Promotion Worker
Healthpromoacas@gmail.com

 

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Emotional Health and Neurocognitive Decline in Aging

By: Andy Zhang, Nursing Student at ACAS
March 20, 2018

What is Emotional Health?

In my opinion, there is no concrete definition for emotional health that applies to all individuals because emotional health may mean different things to different people. For example, emotional health may mean staying in control of one’s life or maintaining a feeling of happiness and fulfillment in life or as simple as having a positive outlook on life in general. In a sense, emotional health is unique and different to everyone.

However, the perspectives on maintaining healthy emotional well-being may differ across cultures. Some cultures may view the expression of feelings as a sign of weakness, while others may fully respect a person’s journey towards achieving a healthy emotional outlook. So, it is important to assess your own beliefs and assumptions about emotional health and how this may impact your ability to effectively manage your emotional health.

Why is Emotional Health Important for Us?

As Taylor (2013) suggests, “living with HIV can be emotionally challenging” (p. 9). We often forget or neglect to take care of our emotional and mental well-being, which often leads to negative coping, emotional instability, distress, and/or burnout. Emotional health constitutes a balance between multiple areas of one’s life, including your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual health (Taylor, 2013). So, it is important to think about emotional health as it can potentially influence other aspects of your thinking, behaviours, or overall well-being.

Moreover, our minds and our bodies are intimately connected. The mind and body interact in harmony to make sure we are healthy. However, if this “mind-body connection” (Taylor, 2013, p. 4) is somehow disrupted, it may lead to negative outcomes in our lives. For example, consistent feelings of anxiety may negatively affect our performance on daily tasks and may also contribute to heart disease. As such, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between the two.

How can Emotional Health Impact Neurocognitive Decline?

It is important to sustain emotional health throughout the process of aging. In a study on successful cognitive aging in individuals living with HIV, researchers suggest that “acute affective distress is negatively associated with successful cognitive aging” (Malaspina et al., 2011). In other words, emotional distress may inhibit successful cognitive aging. This finding further suggests that emotional health is an integral aspect of maintaining cognitive health in aging.

Poor emotional health may become a barrier to doing all the things that are suggested to prevent or mitigate neurocognitive decline. In a study on adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in persons living with HIV, researchers found an indirect relationship between emotional avoidance and treatment adherence (Berghoff et al., 2018). Specifically, those who tended to avoid their emotions were more likely to have poorer relationships with their healthcare providers, which had a negative impact on ART adherence. Consequently, these individuals demonstrated poorer ART adherence (Berghoff et al., 2018). Although this study is unrelated to cognitive decline, it still gives valuable insight into the potential consequences of poor emotional management on an individual’s health behaviours. As demonstrated, individuals who cannot effectively manage their emotional health may have trouble with adhering to certain treatments. So, it would be useful to consider how emotional health may have an impact on an individual’s ability to practice the many strategies that are suggested to lessen neurocognitive decline.

Maintaining healthy emotional-wellbeing may not have a distinct, obvious, or direct role in preventing cognitive decline. However, it is still crucial to consider the impacts of emotions on all levels of our being as well as our behaviours and treatment adherence.

Strategies to Enhance Emotional Health

The following strategies to enhance emotional health is from the resource “HIV and Emotional Wellness” by Taylor (2013) from CATIE:

  • Recall and collect positive moments
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Self-expression (i.e. conversations, art activities, journal writing, etc.)
  • Learn how to cope with negative thoughts
  • Treat yourself!

Additional Resources for Emotional Health

HIV and Emotional Wellness: http://www.catie.ca/sites/default/files/emobro-en-2013.pdf

7 ways to practice emotional first aid: https://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-practice-emotional-first-aid/

Aging and Emotional Wellness: https://www.mentalhealthkc.org/sites/default/files/resource_files/mentalhealthkc-aging-and-emotional-wellness.pdf

Behaviour and Emotions of Aging: http://www.familycaregiversonline.net/online-education/behavior-and-emotions-of-aging/

Emotional Health: http://www.apa.org/topics/emotion/index.aspx

References

Berghoff, C. R., Gratz, K. L., Portz, K. J., Pinkston, M., Naifeh, J. A., Evans, S. D., . . . Tull, M. T. (2018). The role of emotional avoidance, the Patient–Provider relationship, and other social support in ART adherence for HIV+ individuals. AIDS and Behavior, 22(3), 929-938. 10.1007/s10461-017-1745-2

Malaspina, L., Woods, S. P., Moore, D. J., Depp, C., Letendre, S. L., Jeste, D., . . . The HIV Neurobehavioral Research Programs (HNRP) Group. (2011). Successful cognitive aging in persons living with HIV infection. Journal of NeuroVirology, 17(1), 110-119. doi:10.1007/s13365-010-0008-z

Taylor, D. (2013). HIV and emotional wellness. Toronto: CATIE


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