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Health, Fitness And Recreation Are Aims Of Senior Resource Center

A piece we posted to The Greater Wilmington Business Journal outlining the value-add of the Senior Resource Center. We don’t talk enough about the good work of this department.

By the way, did you know that 40 percent of our county’s population is 60 years of age or older?

Providing resources to help residents maintain healthy, active lifestyles and remain productive citizens has been a priority for New Hanover County for many years. Today, as average life spans continue to rise, our focus on the role of our Senior Resource Center is more important than ever.

We’re especially pleased to call attention to a few upcoming programs that address some of the most important needs of our seniors: health, fitness, and social and recreational opportunities. These programs are offered at the center, which is at 2222 S. College Road, at the intersection with Shipyard Boulevard. It is near Hoggard High School and Hugh MacRae Park.

The first of these programs is called Geri-Fit. Geri-Fit is a group exercise program designed for adults 60 and older that aims to enhance balance, flexibility and muscle strength, all of which minimize the chances of falling. Serious injuries such as hip fractures, which can have debilitating consequences for older people, are often the result of falls in the home.

The expert trainers who run Geri-Fit tell us the program is “evidence-based,” and it’s funded by federal Title IIID money. What that means is that Geri-Fit has been proven to work in promoting health and preventing illness in older Americans.

The class is 45 minutes long and is open to both men and women. Participants are encouraged to work out at their own pace. Geri-Fit is not a high-energy aerobic workout, and doesn’t require learning any dance moves or choreography. Those in the class don’t have to get down on the floor – or back up. In fact, some of the exercises can be done while seated.

The essential purpose of Geri-Fit is to rebuild strength that has been lost through the aging process. Classes are scheduled for early morning on Mondays, midday on Wednesdays, and late afternoon on Thursdays. Detailed schedules and enrollment information can be found on the Senior Resource Center’s website.

Another evidence-based health program offered at the Senior Resource Center is Tai Chi Arthritis. Recent studies have found that tai the slow, graceful movements of tai chi, which originated centuries ago as a martial art, can improve balance, reduce stress and offer arthritis pain relief. Classes are 45 minutes long and are held on Tuesdays at 1:45 p.m.

New students are welcome to join the classes at any time, on any of these days. No long-term commitment is required, and participants can attend one, two or all three sessions a week. The classes are free, but contributions from attendees are welcomed.

Also helpful for maintaining strength and balance, but mostly meant for fun and socializing, are the center’s monthly “Over 50” dances. These run from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Anyone who likes music will enjoy the dances

Besides these two programs, of course, the Senior Resource Center sponsors events all year and offers more than 40 ongoing services, including assistance with finding medical insurance, providing meals and preparing taxes. The Senior Resource Center has a dedicated corps of volunteers and is always looking for more people to help serve our senior population.

The state of North Carolina has recognized this New Hanover County department as a “Senior Center of Excellence.”

Most of the center’s activities are open to anyone age 55 or older. Certain programs that are funded by grants, such as Geri-Fit and some nutrition and transportation services, require participants to be 60 or older.

It’s always appropriate for anyone interested in learning more to stop by the center. You also can learn more about the center and meet some of its staff at the Health Fair on Feb. 18 at Independence Mall. The center will be promoting its services at this event, which is sponsored by WWAY-TV3 and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

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