I’m Greg McIntyre and this is the elder law report. I’m here with Hayden Solloway and our special guest Jessica Bridges. Jessica is a coordinator at the YMCA, what is your official title?
JB: I am the senior director of healthy living.
GM: So, today we are going to talk about healthy living. Why does it matter?
HS: Almost everything relates to your health. Health relates to your attitude, how you feel, whether you get out and about, how you function, how long you live.
GM: I have read that exercise can slow the aging process. I don’t feel right if I don’t get my workout in. A good workout is the best preventative medicine you will ever take and the cheapest insurance you will ever buy. Combine that with good nutrition and you have a good recipe for life. I like to say, so goes the body goes the mind. I told that to someone the other day and they said, no, so goes the mind goes the body, because it all happens up there. The point is to keep a healthy body and healthy mind.
We are going to talk about how you can do that economically in your community in just a minute but first, Hayden, what are you happy about today?
HS: I like to research things and I found much too much information but I did find an interesting event that is related to our topic. April 18th 1967 was the date a woman first entered the Boston Marathon. She was pushed and shoved by the male competitors in that race, and the caption in the newspaper was, You’ve come a long way baby, talking about her how far she had come by entering the race. Fifty years later on April 18th 2017 she finished the Boston Marathon again. That shows what good exercise and good nutrition can do for you.
JB: I think her commitment to life-long healthy habits is such a testimony to all ages. I believe she entered the marathon under her own initials so she definitely thought it through. She had friends there with her, her boyfriend helped protect her a bit. That’s an interesting story and very inspiring.
HS: Another story I came across was titled, How Robins prove loved ones are still with us after death. It sounds sad but the story was told about a woman called Marie Robinson from Waterlooville, Hampshire who lost her fourteen year old son Jack to cancer in 2014. She visited his grave just a few weeks ago and asked him, show mommy a sign. Moments later a Robin jumped down on her shoe and then flew over to her hand and sat on her index finger. She posted pictures of this. Following the article, stories came in from other people who had instances of Robin’s indicating that a loved one is communicating. There is a lot to think about and it made me so happy to think that this woman finally felt that her son was okay.
GM: Thank you for sharing that. You can check out the video and pictures of the Robin story on our Facebook page. I was thinking when you were talking about the first female runner of the Boston marathon fifty years ago, my grandmother Margie Horne who has been deceased a couple of years now, I never thought of her as this athlete because she was my grandmother, but I pulled out old pictures and there she was playing high school basketball. I never had that connection with her. Grandparents should share with their grandkids all those cool things they did when they were younger.
HS: My grandmother would play tennis with the guys and when I was a baby she would put me on a blanket at the tennis court while she played tennis. There are a lot of instances pre-women’s lib where women did favor with men athletically, it just wasn’t always acceptable.
GM: So, let’s talk about getting and staying fit and healthy. Jessica, what can you tell us about staying healthy as we age?
JB: Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I work for the Cleveland County family YMCA and the mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. That three letter word, all, is very important to us. We focus on helping all people reach their God given potential and seniors are a special part of the YMCA. At the Dover Foundation YMCA in Shelby North Carolina, we employ an active older adult coordinator, and other YMCA’s may have a similar position or volunteers who work specifically with the active older adult, the senior population. What we provide at a basic level is a safe place for social connection, especially for seniors who may live alone. The ‘Y’ is a wonderful place to come and meet with friends, drink coffee, read the paper, catch up on current events, we welcome that. Our lobby area is usually full of seniors sharing stories in life and getting together. That is heartwarming to see. We have potluck lunches and seminars, and group exercise classes are available specifically for active older adults. When I left our facility today there was a large group of seniors in the water. Water is a little easier on the joints for those who suffer from arthritis or disability or balance issues. They were having a fabulous time. Any group class can be modified so we really meet seniors where they are, so any exercise can be modified and the instructor would work with the senior to do that.
GM: What if you have never worked out in your life, you might be intimidated going to a gym or working out as a senior? If I was that person I might just want to show up and hang out, have some coffee and get to know some people first.
HS: One of the things I started but never completed was in the gym. They would take you through a series of machines and get you started and you could track your own progress. Suppose you wanted to partake in activities like that but didn’t know where to start. Do you have an indoctrination program?
JB: Come in to our facility, we have a welcome center where you can ask questions. What we like to do is connect a health seeker with a wellness coach, set up wellness appointments and a tour of the facility to make sure people are comfortable with the facility. There are so many questions at the beginning, so we have on-boarding procedures for new members where we will stay in close connection for ninety days and beyond. We offer a wellness orientation.
HS: What does it cost for someone to do this?
JB: All the orientation is included with the cost of membership and we do offer a senior membership or senior couple price point, but it’s best to check with your local YMCA. Those services would be included with the membership fee, and financial assistance is also available upon application process.
GM: In my experience, it is affordable. For those who are intimidated by the whole workout process, you can just show up and get to know people, they will hold your hand. The longer you can stay healthy and active, there is a direct connection between that and your longevity and having a better quality of life. You have to put time into relationships with friends to maintain those relationships, it’s the same with the body. You’ve done research on this, how does that affect your longevity and health?
HS: I remember they were comparing couples who moved to be nearer to their children and left their homes, their neighborhoods and friends but their children and grandchildren have their own lives. The study showed that those who stayed active with their friends rather than moved to where their children were had longer lives.
JB: We also have evidence based programs. The ‘Y’ has a vested interest in community health so we are reaching out to our community to provide some of the services that historically seniors may have received elsewhere. Enhanced Fitness is a program for those who suffer from arthritis. It is an arthritis management program but it can also help with other chronic disease and strength. Moving for Better Balance is a program that is coming here locally at the end of May. It is a falls prevention program. It’s a tai chi program so that is something we are really excited about.
GM: Tai chi in the movies is always in a park in San Francisco.
JB: It is always so peaceful. So, we have programs specifically designed towards senior adults that have been proven. Any of the evidence based programs just means there is a study behind the program to prove the efficacy. The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is something we have had locally since 2012. This is for those at risk of developing type two diabetes. So, those who have pre-diabetes or have risk factors. Actually, on our risk assessment anyone over the age of sixty five automatically qualifies. And finally, we have Live Strong for those who are going through cancer treatment or who are cancer survivors. Check with your local ‘Y’ to see if they have these programs. Also, we provide support to your caregivers and family members. The ‘Y’ is more than a gym and swim. The evidence programs meet our strategic plan to reach out to those in the community.
HS: One more thing about the affordability, I do know that my insurance was paying for all but fifty dollars of my membership at the YMCA. That’s fifty dollars a year which is affordable to everyone. And there may be scholarship programs that are available.
JB: Absolutely, for senior adults check your insurance provider and we can help you walk through that process as well. Some of the names you may recognize are Silver Sneakers, Silver and Fit, Blue 365, so, many insurance providers will cover membership to the YMCA.
GM: There is a case to be made that by pulling people inside a gym they think that is all they have to do, and it can hamper their growth because when you get outside you feel better, walks through the woods, walks through the park, running, outdoors Tai Chi. I’d like to start my morning with some Tai Chi.
JB: The mindset really should be, this is a lifestyle change. I’m not on a diet, it’s not about that, it’s not about quick fixes, it’s about integrating healthy living principles in to your life.
GM: Thank you for talking with us today.
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