Physical and mental health improvements for seniors in Holt

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Seniors doing their ankle exercises during the cool down session.

At the Sam Corey Senior Center in Holt, seniors come to exercise, stretch and have a good time.

“I believe that government assistance is a great thing, it supports a lot of seniors, like me, in many ways,” Mary Atkinson, Sam Corey senior visitor said. “I am retired now and can’t afford all of the things that are needed for my health. I am on Medicare and it is very helpful knowing that the government is helping me in any way possible. I appreciate the things that are being done for me like covering my hospitals visit and medication for my blood pressure.”

Senior health has been a major concern in the United States, with inventions like Life Alert, advantages like American Association of Retired Persons or assistance with Medicare. At the Sam Corey Senior Center, exercise instructor Paula Harney works out with the seniors in the community every week.

Improving Physical Health as a Senior

Harney explained that her one-hour session includes a warm up, heart and lung exercises, a cool down, balance activities, weights for strengthening and then flexibility training.

“It’s a great all around program where people go up for safety, they go at their own pace,” Harney said. “It’s designed for people of all levels of fitness.”

Moving the body daily is crucially important so that the muscles and bones won’t tighten up. Because seniors are known to have falls, especially in the winter time, systems like American District Telegraph Medical and Life Alert were created to send help right away.  To help prevent falls, Harney’s exercise class works on ankle strengthening and balance activities.

“They say the biggest predictor of a fall is the fear of falling,” Harney said. “Then they start not moving so much, which leads to tightening all their cartilage, tendons and ligaments.”

Eliminating fear falling is just the start to preventing a fall, but seniors cannot forget to get up and move.

“She (Harney) says the mains things is to drink water, walk, and move every muscle you can for as long as you can,” said Dianne Kruk, exercise participant.

Moving the muscles and staying active will not only make it easier to get around, but it will improve the health as well.

“When I started here 18 months ago, the woman who was behind me had to wheel in a little oxygen tank with her,” Mary Brown, exercise participant said. “You notice now she is completely free of that oxygen tank.”

The woman who Brown spoke about had a knee replacement, but can now walk backwards around the chair in class, which according to Brown she couldn’t do before.
“It is an absolute delight to see these seniors improve their health over the guidance with Paula,” Brown said.



Getting physical can help the mental

Improving physical health as a senior is just as important as improving their mental health.

“The social part of just laughing and having fun; it improves mental health because they have more positive things in their life keeping their mental health going,” Harney said.
Keeping the mental health going can be done many ways.

“Walking at the mall and just getting out the house helps a lot because it keeps you agile, and keeps you going,” Atkinson said.  “It also keeps your mind open because you get to see new things; not all are good, but your mind still gets open to the good things.”

Atkinson walks every morning at a park near her house. She prays a lot and says it’s better to know the kind of things you want in your mind rather than crowding it with negative thoughts.

“It’s important to watch what you say, what you’re doing and who you hang with,” Atkinson said.

Hanging around the right kind of people can also help improve mental health. Home care assistant SaNiesha King watched her seniors’ mental health grow over the course of months.

“When I first started my job at Grand Haven, I noticed how my patient would outburst and say rude remarks sometimes,” King said. “She was always home alone and didn’t go outside much until I started.”

King started taking her patient on walks during the summer where they went to the park, the mall and did various activities.

“She started saying ‘good morning’ more and it became easier to approach her,” King said. “I think she started enjoying getting out of the house because of the attention I showed her; it made her remember someone cared.”

The Sam Corey Center welcomes all seniors every Thursday from 10-11 a.m. at 2108 Cedar St, Holt, MI 48842. You can learn more about their programs at or (517) 268-0096.



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