Aging well: Wellness Day helping to ease the aches of aging | SteamboatToday.com

Aging well: Wellness Day helping to ease the aches of aging

Tamera Manzanares

Renata Burgess, left, shares a laugh with Pat Crawford and other participants in the Arthritis Foundation exercise class held at the South Routt Community Center on Mondays.

A few years ago, a group of independent-minded older adults in South Routt County started their own little exercise class at the Community Center in Oak Creek.

Eventually, the Aging Well program of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association offered a trained instructor to guide the group through a regimen specifically targeting their aches and pains.

The gentle fitness class held on Mondays now has a steady following of residents who enjoy the workout before settling down for a hot lunch provided by the Routt County Council on Aging.

After lunch, they welcome a guest speaker, and on select Mondays, nurses also are on hand to provide wellness checks and foot care.

"It's absolutely wonderful," said Maxine Stefano, who has attended the lunch for about 15 years and was part of the original exercise group. Her husband Rocco joins her for most of the activities.

"The whole program has come together and really given us the boost we needed down here," she said.

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South Routt Wellness Day is patterned after similar Aging Well programs held in Hayden and Craig. The programs, which include lunches, exercise, social opportunities and education through speakers and/or classes, aim to help older adults maintain or improve their overall well being.

Partnerships with organizations such as the Routt County Council on Aging and Colorado Northwestern Community College have made Wellness Days (or Wellness Wednesday in Craig) fulfilling for many older adults.

Relatively common in urban areas, these types of programs are gaining a foothold in rural communities, where older adults can be more prone to isolation, depression and other related problems.

"I'd be old if it wasn't for this," joked Louise Iacovetto, who recently celebrated her 85th birthday with friends and family.

Iacovetto was among about nine participants who stretched their limbs, challenged their strength and got their heart rates going during the exercise class last week.

During the class, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, participants use bands, foam balls, small weights and other props to target stiff joints and weak muscles. Much of the class is done seated, so there is plenty of time to chat about the local high school's prom (of course it snowed) and anything else that sparks the group's interest and humor.

"It's invaluable to me," Iacovetto said about the social time.

The class is flexible – a person can drop in any time – and the group welcomes newcomers.

"It's good for them, and they know it," instructor Deanna Berry said of participants.

She started as a class participant a few years ago. At first she didn't know if it was right for her, but she quickly caught on to the benefits. Berry's enthusiasm about the class encouraged her to become an instructor.

"People don't know what they are missing," she said.

Although Wellness Day targets older adults, everyone is welcome to participate in activities. Guest speakers, for example, often talk about topics that are relevant to everyone.

Last week, Nancy Bretz of the Resource Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center spoke about the center's services, which include helping individuals research any medical-related topic. The center also includes a library of books and journals that can be checked out.

More than a few individuals in the South Routt group did not know the resource center existed.

Coordinators of South Routt Wellness Day hope more people in the community take the opportunity to learn from guest speakers scheduled every week. Upcoming speakers are noted in the Wellness Days schedules at the bottom of this page every Monday.

To suggest a guest speaker or class that might be offered during South Routt Wellness Days, Hayden Wellness Days or Wellness Wednesdays in Craig, or for information about the programs, call 871-7676.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and better. For more information, log onto http://www.agingwelltoday.com or call 871-7676.

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