When it comes to the subject of health and wellness, there is never a time when you’re too young or too old to educate yourself, since these topics are always changing. Medications are created to help fight deadly diseases, and new illnesses are discovered. Although we may not have control over these aspects to health issues, we can have control over how we educate ourselves on them. Unfortunately, when people don’t have access to this information, it becomes a lot more difficult to keep these illnesses from spreading.

HIV/AIDS is a growing epidemic that has numerous stigmas attached to it. However, thinking of it as a disease that is growing quickly among the over 50 population, is not one of them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the frequency of AIDS has been growing twice as fast among people 50 and older as among those under 50. The lack of information and knowledge on this subject among older generations contributes to this growing issue.

The Women’s Wellness and Bingo Program was created to address these exact issues. Rosie Drumgoole, Chicago Cares Senior Program Coordinator, saw this lack in health education when talking with several of our community service partners. In order to address this increasing problem, the Women’s Wellness and Bingo Group was created at two Chicago Housing Authority buildings: Elizabeth Davis Apartments in Garfield Park and Mary Catherwood Hartwell Senior Apartments. Every month, Chicago Cares volunteers will meet with the residents and discuss a different health topic, followed by a rousing game of bingo. The topics can range from heart disease to breast cancer, and directly relate to health issues that the residents may experience.

Since this is a unique program model, the Women’s Wellness and Bingo Group is looking for committed volunteers to participate in this opportunity. To create meaningful discussions, it is important that the volunteers know the residents and are willing to talk about difficult topics. For a committed group, Chicago Cares is asking for 6-8 volunteers to commit to serving at one of the projects locations for six months; the volunteers will then commit to attending four of the six sessions. The goal of the committed group of volunteers is to create a closer group so that everyone feels comfortable when it is time to discuss these topics. The program will only be helpful if the volunteers and residents will discuss these important issues; the committed group will serve as the catalyst to accomplish this goal.

If you are interested in volunteering with a committed group, please check out upcoming opportunities where you can learn more about these programs and how you can get involved. There is a co-ed, Senior Wellness Group, along with a Women’s Wellness Group beginning in January; we hope to see you there!