Soledad lives in a community home, where you and I may think our seniors are enjoying their retirement. That they may not worry too much about their life other than making sure they can watch soccer or wonder who will host the next Loteria game, a game similar to Bingo.
But this is not the case for Soledad. She lives off a very limited income – around $300-$400 a month. With this income, it is difficult for our seniors in HUD housing to meet their basic needs. Imagine if your parents, grandparents, or even yourself having to live on such a limited income.
As a child, Soledad experienced the struggles of poverty and hunger. Her father left her mother and their ten children to fend for themselves. It was a never a worry about what they would eat, but the question was, would there be enough to eat. To escape from the arduous life of farm-work, she married at the young age of 15. The merest hope for a better life was quickly shattered when she was forced to continue the farm work she tried running away from… in addition to being a mother.
When we met her, Soledad was 70 years old. Her health was poor and she had serious medical conditions. She had been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. She was feeling hopeless. Soledad was eager and excited to have Esperança there because we understood her needs and were able to provide her information in her primary language. When our health educator Diana worked with her, we reassured that we would provide her with the tools to make necessary changes in her life. The first thing we did was teach her portion control and how to read and understand food labels with foods she enjoyed. After altering her diet, we taught her the importance of simple exercises, such as getting off the sofa during commercials from her favorite novela. Together, we tack her list of needs, set up her doctor appointments, and sought out food boxes.
Because of Esperança, she has lost weight and her AIC has decreased from a 9 to a 6. Both Soledad and her doctor were excited to see these achievements with her health. With her newfound knowledge, she was eager to teach her 95-year old mother some simple lifestyle changes, which have made a difference in her life.
Soledad is just one of the examples of how Esperança can improve the health of Phoenix residents. In her own words, she said “I can’t believe that at my age, my story matters and I can still help someone else”.
Find out where Esperança works in Phoenix by checking out our map