Centers helping seniors stay active

Centers helping seniors stay active

With many group classes and communal programs seniors were accustomed to now canceled, including yoga or sports leagues, it’s become more important for them to get creative on staying active, say advocates.

“Movement is the key to staying healthy,” said Linda Giorgio, director of the North Providence Mancini Center. “We encourage all our members to take a walk, get some fresh air, sit outside to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, wear a mask, keep a social distance of 6 feet and continue to wash hands frequently.”

The Mancini Center, the Leon Mathieu Senior Center in Pawtucket, and the Smithfield Senior Center have all made it a point to reach out to their members by phone or by drive-by to check in.

“Right now, we are closed so we are offering different virtual programs on our Facebook page,” Melissa Cabral, program coordinator at the Leon Mathieu Center, said. “We post different exercise videos from AARP and have weekly live chair yoga classes.”

The LMCS has tracked the internet traffic to see which programs are being used.

Before the pandemic, the LMCS had partnered with URI for a buddy program pairing students with seniors. They can still contact their buddies if they need help accessing the web.

Kate McAdam-Prickett, program and activities coordinator at the Smithfield Senior Center, said staff can’t track online usage but have reached out to members for feedback.

“At this time right now we are sharing most of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield virtual fitness classes that they are offering for free on their Facebook page,” she said. “It’s basically Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. Every day is a different activity with yoga, Pilates, strength training.”

McAdam-Prickett said that they are still working on getting through to the masses since some members don’t have the internet while others just don’t own a computer.

“It’s something we would like to work with the state with kind of how they did rolling out the cheaper internet for students, something they could do for seniors as well," she said.

The Smithfield Senior Center will be doing virtual exercise classes through the center, she added.

“It’s just a matter of finagling our instructors and how it is going to work. It’s tough getting the licensing for the music online and that kind of thing,” she said.

Giorgio said that when the Mancini Center was open, it averaged 60 to 70 participants in fitness classes, but many members do not have computers or need help with Zoom classes. Along with Smithfield, the Mancini Center has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI and their virtual classes Monday through Friday.