BY TRACI JERSEN
According to the National Institute of
Health, regular, moderate physical activity
can help manage stress, improve mood,
reduce feelings of depression and help older
adults maintain some aspects of cognitive
And it isn’t only the body that needs to
move, the brain does too.
National Council on Aging research shows
that older adults who participate in social
programs can learn to manage and delay
the onset of chronic disease and experience
measurable improvements in their physical,
social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and
economic well being.
As the Boomer generation ages, there
has been a large increase in the number
of adults who are living longer, fuller lives.
From independent housing to full service
long term care, the options for senior living
are increasing every day. For those who are
choosing to stay home or “age in place”, community
senior centers can be an important
part of the healthy aging process.
Offering everything from trips and yoga
classes to ceramics and painting, today’s
senior centers are undergoing a positive
The Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga,
for example, serves a large community of seniors
in who are looking not only for health,
wellness and fitness classes, but also for the
arts, cooking, music and travel. Lois Celeste,
executive director, feels the 50-plus generation
is more aware than ever of how keeping
socially and physically active can help them
live longer, healthier lives.
When staying active is difficult – either
financially or physically – it is still important
for seniors to remain connected to others.
In programs like Community Connections,
volunteers are trained to help seniors with
everything from shopping and errands to
transportation for doctor’s appointments,
yard care, daily check-ins and respite assistance.
There is an urgent need to help seniors
who have lost a spouse, don’t have family
nearby, have had health issues and just
need a helping hand. Community programs
answer that need, but there is still more
work to be done. Ensuring our seniors are
cared for – from the healthiest to the most
vulnerable, is important.
Too often, seniors are left alone which
can be detrimental to health. A study by
the National Academy of Sciences indicates
that both social isolation and loneliness are
associated with a higher risk of mortality in
adults aged 52 and older. For those seniors
who have lost a spouse, are living alone or
don’t have family nearby, connecting with
programs like senior centers can reduce
isolation and offer wide range of services
and activities for every age and ability.
Aging doesn’t have to be a time for slowing
down, but can be a time for learning a new skill, taking a new class, traveling and enjoying
friendships both old and new. Learning
about the programs and services offered by
local senior centers is a good first step.
Often, senior centers need senior volunteers
as well as members and can be a
terrific place to offer your life skills like
technology, gardening, arts, music, theater,
business, finance and more. Finding fulfillment
can be the key to living a longer,
Jersen is marketing consultant with the Adult
and Senior Center of Saratoga.