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In Their Words: Testimonials from the Salud y Bienestar Lay Health Workers

In 2010, NHCOA conducted a series of open forums in the four regions the Salud y Bienestar program was implemented. Below are testimonials from the promotoras de salud (lay health workers) who participated in the program. For more information about Salud y Bienestar, visit http://elearning.nhcoa.org.

Promotes Healthy Lifestyle Changes Through Consistent Follow Up
“They [Hispanic seniors] had a health condition [related to diabetes], and it when we went for a second visit that we understood the impact [of Salud y Bienestar]. They would say things like, ‘Since the last time you came I stopped eating Mexican [sweet] bread,’ and that is when you realize that this program is working.” – Gloria (CA)
“Gathering with friends to form an exercise group to keep us healthy was very helpful.” – Salvador (TX)

“This program is about follow up. We go back and see them [seniors] after the initial contact to check up on their progress. And, after we provide them with the information, they have the liberty to ask questions, as opposed to having a limited amount of time in a doctor’s office.” – Teresa (CA)

“After I gave charlas, many participants changed their eating habits. They cut back on the amount and meat and carbs they ate. I also taught those who lived with their children different recipes, and it has worked very well.” – Promotora 2 (CA)

“I made a healthy dinner for my children so they would know how to cook in a delicious and healthy way.” – Gladys (DC)

Promotes Effective Communications Through a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate and Age Sensitive Approach
“I love the program’s materials. They are visually appealing and provide us [promotores de salud] a clear outline to reinforce the concepts through games, such as the bingo and the activity cards.” – Benita (TX)

“We don’t speak in medical jargon, we are using simple, correct language. [Health care providers] usually tell them what is wrong with them and that’s it. We give them the time a [health care provider] can’t, we have the time to listen to them… In short, I think our approach is simple to understand and targeted. Seniors completely understood everything they were told, and that is impact of the [Salud y Bienestar] program.” – Aida Susana (CA)

“[Hispanic older adults] said that their doctor didn’t give them enough time to discuss their health condition and listen to their concerns… Their main complaint was that they had the information their doctor gave them, but weren’t receiving it in the way we [promotoras de salud] provided it.” – Gloria (CA)

Much-Needed Support System for Older Adults
“It is very positive to feel supported and safe. I feel very lively seeing people of all ages walking and doing exercises. Best of all, I could be satisfied and I began to lose weight.” – Lupe (CA)

“One older woman touched me because she cried with me, saying that it had been such a long time since someone remembered her. And I told her not to worry, that I would be there for her. I gave her my number and said I would call her. And then I cried because she didn’t have any company.” – Promotora 2 (CA)

“As an older adult and promotora de salud I can say that the materials were well received. They helped me because I have diabetes and my friends at the senior center as well because we like the play the bingo.” – Esperanza (DC)

“Participants were very happy with the charlas and became very close to us.” – Rina (TX)

“Seniors were so grateful that someone would take the time to explain [diabetes], and they take a liking to you. I sometimes get recognized by older adults on the street.” – Aida Susana (CA)

“Aside from providing them [seniors] with important information, we were sharing quality time…which is good for their mental health.” – Promotora 3 (CA)

Fills a Void Within the Community
“[The Salud y Bienestar] program also helps us because [culturally and linguistically competent] services are scarce in this area…We hope [the Salud y Bienestar program] will continue to provide us with more opportunities for growth.” – Lupe (CA)

“For me, the impact is that [seniors] know they aren’t alone, and that being an older adult doesn’t signal the end, rather another stage of life in which they need to take care of themselves to live as fully and in the best health possible.” – Promotora 5 (CA)

“We had never worked with Hispanic older adults and now we are learning about their health needs and how much they need programs like [Salud y Bienestar].” – Magali (TX)

The Salud y Bienestar Program is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Walmart Foundation.