SOWEGA Ups Wellness Activities

The SOWEGA Council on Aging, Inc. coordinates programs and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities; helping them live longer, live safely, and live well. Our service area includes 14 counties in Southwest Georgia: Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, Worth, Mitchell, Grady, Decatur, Thomas, Colquitt, Miller, Seminole, Calhoun, Early, and Baker.

Like many of our friends around the state, our Wellness Program has been booming with lots of new and exciting programming! We are all faced with the challenge of changing the stigma of senior centers from one of a “day care for seniors” to one where they can “actively age”.  Actively aging encompasses the mind, body and spirit. Through all of our various programs, I am confident we are moving the needle in this area. Here are just a few of our highlights from the past several months.

SOWEGA Council on Aging brings Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM to Southwest Georgia

 

Picture of people with Parkinson's riding a bike

Exercise Your Brain…Ride A Bike!

What if you were told that pedaling a bicycle could change the life of someone with Parkinson’s disease?

While there is no cure for the disease, which affects more than 1 million people in the United States, there is compelling evidence that Pedaling for Parkinson’s makes a real difference for many who try it. 

The program is supported by research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic which showed a 35% reduction in symptoms by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace – optimally, 80-90 revolutions per minute. Fast-paced cycling is changing the lives of increasing numbers of individuals who, before this, had no hope beyond medication and eventually surgery to slow the progression of their disease.

To better serve those in the Southwest Georgia area who are living with Parkinson’s disease, the SOWEGA Council on Aging is expanding wellness programs and has become a licensed partner of the Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM program.

We launched our very first Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM pilot group at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center in May 2018. It was a great success! We now offer this program year-round at no cost to the patient.

The mission of this program is:

·        To improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers;

·        To educate patients, caregivers, and the general public about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle after a Parkinson’s diagnosis;

·        To support research dedicated to prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Pedaling for Parkinson’sTM goes far beyond just meeting the physical needs of the participant. In addition, this program addresses the mental and emotional need of a “support group on wheels”. Past participants expressed an increased level of confidence and support when exercising with participants who were “like them”.

For more information on this program, contact Robin McCord, Wellness Coordinator, at (229) n435-6789.  

Group Exercise Classes help our Seniors Actively Age

Chair ExercisesAt our Senior Center in Albany, we are very fortunate to have a beautiful ballroom and wellness room where our seniors can safely exercise. All classes are led by qualified staff or volunteers who are here to serve! There is no charge to attend any of our group exercise classes, helping to remove this as a barrier to living a healthy lifestyle. Here is a list of our classes and when they are offered:

Chair Yoga: Monday’s at 3 pm & Friday’s at 9 am

Group ExercisesChair Fitness: Monday’ & Tuesday’s at 10 am / Tuesday’s & Thursday’s at 11 am

Line Dancing: Monday’s at 11 am & Wednesday’s at 3 pm

Indoor Cycling: Tuesday’s at 4 pm

Drumming: Friday’s at 10: 15 am

Community Gardening at Its Best

Like many community gardens, the idea of it is always exciting at first. Then….the real work of planting, maintaining, watering, and harvesting sets in. We are proud to say that the PAC committee at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Dougherty County has taken the community garden on as their wellness project for this year. Several members from this center are often seen arriving early to the center to beat the heat so they can volunteer their time to maintain the garden. This past spring/ summer, they grew okra, peppers, peas, zucchini and squash. Once harvested, the vegetables are used as BINGO prizes in our senior centers.

Senior Garden 1
Senior Garden 2

Tai Chi Instructors Getting Trained

In August 2018, we hosted a Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Instructor Workshop. We had 20 participants take this workshop. Of this 20, 7 of our own staff received this certification and will now be able to begin leading more Tai Chi workshops at our senior centers in our more rural areas.

Tai Chi 1
Tai Chi 2

New Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Lay Leaders

Thanks to Loreatha Jenkins and Nicole Gaither, CDSMP Master Trainers, we were able to send 3 volunteers and 1 staff person to the CDSMP Lay Leader workshop that was held September 2018. We are looking forward to being able to expand our offering of this evidence-based program in our service area in the near future.

CDSMP Lay Leader 1
CDSMP Lay Leader 2

Active Aging Week

Our senior centers in all 14 counties were challenged to create a host of active aging activities the last week in September. Many of them spotlighted their wellness classes, played games, and held community walks as part of this week-long celebration. Below are some pictures from the Riverwalk in Albany, GA. Our active seniors were encouraged to walk a half mile or a full mile. We also did a little Tai Chi in the park. All in all, it was a great day!  

Active Aging 1
Active Aging 3
Active Aging 2
Active Aging 4

For more information about SOWEGA Council on Aging, Inc., please go to www.sowegcoa.org .

Tai Chi Flows to Mainstream

About 10 years ago, a Wheeler County senior was asked if she had ever done Tai Chi or Yoga for exercise.  Her answer:  “I eats that sometimes.”  She was unfamiliar with Tai Chi and Yoga.  Fast forward time to the present where Tai Chi is taught weekly at various locations in the Heart of Georgia Altamaha area.  Today, if you asked the same senior, she would likely demonstrate some of the moves from her Tai Chi class.  The word is out about Tai Chi!

The Tai Chi program taught in our service area is Dr. Paul Lam’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention.” It is a Sun style form where the body is upright and the moves flow continually.  It is easy, enjoyable, and safe for people to learn.  Medical studies have shown the program to relieve pain for people with arthritis and improve their quality of lives, as well as, improving balance and preventing falls for older adults.  For this reason, the Arthritis Foundation, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in America, and the United States Administration on Aging are giving it their full support.

The HOGA Area Agency on Aging Wellness Program Coordinator, Jennifer Crosby has fostered new partnerships in the area by offering Tai Chi.   She instructs Tai Chi at a senior center to assist in their senior center redesign to attract new participants.  It is their goal to provide programs for people throughout the community while still serving their congregate meal clients.  Mrs. Crosby instructs Tai Chi at a hospital to help address one of their top reasons for admissions:  falls.  The hospital’s network of doctors encourage their patients to sign up for the 12 week class to achieve better balance.  A seated Tai Chi class is offered at a local nursing home.  This class focuses on breathing, instructing Tai Chi movements, and stimulating brain activity with music and verbal cues.  Another partnership is with a state park.  A Tai Chi class contributes to their objective of a healthier, more active community.  These partnerships would not be possible without Tai Chi being in the mainstream of the Western world.

The Chinese have understood the health benefits of Tai Chi since the 19th century.  Ever since, the popularity of this martial art has grown steadily.  Currently, Tai Chi is practiced all over the world with over 300 million participants.  Providing the opportunity to learn Tai Chi adds value to the community by offering a safe and effective exercise to a population that is living longer.