I was upset yesterday when I came home from my senior center yoga class. The class was wonderful, as usual, but the price had been raised (due to budget cuts) and only two regulars showed up. I understand the price increase and that didn’t bother me too much, but was dismayed to hear that some of the other exercise classes had been scraped from the program as well.
The reason was because of lack of interest and low enrollment, which means that the classes weren’t generating enough revenue to pay the instructors. I asked myself why?
Senior facilities service a vast number of older Americans. Seniors continue to show up for the meal service program, and they come in droves to bingo and card parties. They do not show up for exercise programs. Are they exercising elsewhere? Are they exercising at home? I don’t think so.
I blame the seniors. They talk a good game and they think that they want to be independent, but they don’t want to put in the time and energy to achieve these ends. I think the meal programs are great and I think socialization is important, but I think exercise is even more important. The nurses, the social services staff and the recreational department people responsible for running these programs should all be encouraging participation. Every senior who walks through the door should at least be given something to think about.
Exercise is the key to independence, it is the key to preventive medicine and it is the key to a healthy lifestyle. For some reason this message isn’t getting through. Every person over 55 (preferably before) should be participating in an exercise program. Senior Centers design exercise programs specifically for older people. You don’t have to be buff and you don’t have to be rich to participate. If you can make it over there for meals and for bingo, you can come an hour early and exercise. Staying active is good for you at any age.
Amy Winters, in article for Washington Jewish Week (December 4, 2008) writes that experts put seniors into one of five fitness categories. The elite athlete (marathon runners and body builders); generally fit individuals (exercise three-four times a week); independent living (tend to huff and puff going upstairs), frail (don’t exercise at all) and dependent living (long term care due to lack of leg strength). Where do you fit into this picture? Most seniors are in the independent living category (which isn’t as good as the term independent might imply) which means that they need more strength to preserve quality of life.
Shame on you if you aren’t taking care of yourself, and shame on you for not supporting your Senior Center.