Helping seniors stay happy, healthy and whole

Staying happy, healthy, and whole as you age isn’t just about covering up new wrinkles, adjusting to stiffer joints, or trying to prevent a little forgetfulness. Maintaining independence as the body and mind undergo changes – a natural result of aging – is just about all of that, and more.

By focusing on a holistic, evidence-based approach to ‘aging well’, we’ll stay healthy, independent, and feeling great longer so we can keep doing the things we love.

We live in an exceptional community here in Pittsburgh that includes many agencies with services dedicated to the aging continuum. AgeWell at JCC, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, has a dedicated team that is ready to help you find your unique path to wellness.

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AgeWell at JCC focuses on programs and services for seniors living independently who wish to continue this lifestyle for as long as possible.

On-site and virtually, AgeWell at JCC offers fitness, wellness, education and enrichment activities; these and many dedicated physical activities and spaces facilitate the piece of the puzzle that is so important to the well-being of many seniors: socialization and community. Simply put: At the JCC, seniors can work out, hang out, learn new things, and enjoy the community. For those living outside the region or unable to leave their homes, JCC’s Virtual Senior Academy is an online way for seniors to connect, learn and laugh together.

Developing and maintaining physical fitness is so important to all of us, especially the elderly. JCC offers comprehensive SilverSneakers and older adult fitness classes and programs at both Squirrel Hill and South Hills locations. These group fitness classes are designed for seniors and focus on strengthening muscles and increasing range of motion for activities of daily living. The bonus: Working with others can boost motivation and foster a sense of community.

While you’re working on strengthening your body, why not try a new sport? Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and it’s great exercise for your mind and body. Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton. Besides being a great workout, learning and playing pickleball is all about teamwork and socializing – and that’s great.

Not interested in hitting the treadmill and the squat rack? Swimming and aquatic fitness are excellent joint-gentle workouts. Both the JCC at Squirrel Hill and the South Hills are home to temperature-controlled pools where individuals can swim laps and join friends for Aqua Aerobics – another win-win.

Another key to aging well is to keep an active mind. In-person and virtual programs are offered weekdays by AgeWell at the JCC, including discussion groups, crafts, engaging speakers and special programming. Even if the weather is not good, you can still dive into a world of learning and explore new and interesting classes thanks to the Virtual Senior Academy. VSA participants broaden their horizons and make new friends through live virtual learning experiences on Zoom. So many topics are offered, including health and wellness, arts and music, book clubs, history, current affairs, and so much more. Class Leaders are members of the community who want to share their knowledge and passion.

Did you know that volunteering in your spare time has been shown to be good for your physical and mental health? Plenty of research has shown the proven health benefits of sharing your time with others. We have opportunities through our CheckMates program, where volunteers call isolated, homebound seniors weekly to reduce loneliness. Our volunteers report on the relationships they have made with their new friends over the phone, and it really benefits the mental health of both the senior and their caller.

We also have wonderful volunteer opportunities in our J Cafe lunch program at the Squirrel Hill JCC. We offer nutritious and tasty kosher lunches prepared on site on weekdays for registered participants, but the mainstay of the program is our volunteers who make this possible. These volunteers help serve, wipe the table, and assist seniors as needed. The J Cafe offers both our older adults and volunteers the chance to enjoy each other’s company and socialize over a meal.

In addition to the programming and services offered here at JCC, AgeWell at JCC is part of AgeWell Pittsburgh, an 18-year collaborative program of the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC) and Jewish Community Family and Community Services (JFCS), providing a one-stop resource that connects seniors, family members, friends and caregivers to solutions to aging-related issues to maximize health and wellness. independence. Together we can help you find the right resources you need when you need them.

Everyone has their “why” for wanting to stay healthy. AgeWell at JCC would like to help you find your “how” to achieve these goals. Stay happy, healthy and whole! PJC

Sharon Feinman is Division Director of AgeWell at JCC.

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