Staying active is key to senior health, happiness

Staying active is key to senior health, happiness

Staying active is key to senior health, happiness

By Ginny McCabe

Contributing Writer – The Oxford Press

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Staying active and involved is vitally important for the health and wellness of today’s seniors.

“It’s really critical for seniors to stay active and healthy, especially if they want to remain in their homes as long as possible. That is our mission at Council on Aging, to help people remain in their homes and to help them to be independent,” said Laurie Petrie, Communications Director, Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio.

Health and wellness throughout a person’s life has a huge impact on the quality of life. “Many people lose their mobility through the lack of exercise, or poor diet and other health problems,” said Petrie. “When your mobility declines, you start to need help to do basic, every day tasks that we all do.”

Joanne Westwood, Director of Program Enhancement, Senior Citizen’s Inc. (who has centers in Hamilton, Fairfield and West Chester), agreed, “Keeping seniors active and healthy is important because it helps them to stay in their homes and be independent longer.”

One of the programs Council on Aging supports is a program called ‘Active for Lifeê_ÔÎ.’ This popular program is available through senior centers. What ‘Active for Lifeê_ÔÎ’ does is it changes the mindset of people who have been sedentary for a lot of their lives, or have approached their aging years and gotten more sedentary as they’ve gotten older. So, it is a behavior modification to change the way people think about the importance of physical activity.

Seniors are realizing that they not only need to exercise, but that they need to incorporate activity into their daily lives. Staying active and healthy can also help older adults, who might be dealing with depression or isolation. Being active is a way to alleviate that.

Exercise and interaction with others can boost your spirits, and senior adults today are being given more and more options. “One new game some of our seniors are playing is Bunco,” said Westwood. “We have also introduced a digital photography class.”

The Ralph J. Stolle Countryside YMCA in Lebanon, the country’s largest Y is another area facility that offers diverse programs for seniors.

Dorothy Duchamp, who oversees the activities at the Senior Center said there are a variety of different programs, activities and trips seniors can choose to be involved in. Favorites include the utilizing the in-door pool, individual exercise rooms for men and women, fellowship in the co-ed lounge area, pot-luck and birthday lunches, bridge, special music and entertainment along with planned senior trips, and many more.

“The more physically active they are, the stronger they will be,” said Deborah Phillip, Financial Development and Risk Management Executive, Countryside YMCA. “People have the opportunity to get to know other people and build relationships at the Y. Our programs allow seniors to spend time with other people who have common interests, and it also serves as a great support system,”

Participation continues to grow as local senior adults want to get more involved. Westwood said several hundred seniors a day can be spotted participating in the various programs at the Hamilton location. It was the first center to open in the state of Ohio 50 years ago. And, on average 40 to 80 seniors participate on a daily basis at the Fairfield and West Chester centers.