Wellness event planned for senior adults

Senior adults in Marion County can learn about ways to maintain or improve their health by participating in a morning ?Wellness for Life? seminar May 26 at Eastmoor United Methodist Church in Marion.

This free event, the first to be offered sponsored by the Marion County Department on Aging, will include breakout sessions and demonstrations about strategies for better health.

Gayla Ratzlaff, department coordinator, said the timing of the event is intentional.

?One of the reasons we?re offering it now is because May is Older Americans Month, and May 26 is actually Senior Fitness Day,? she said. ?The theme for Older Americans Month this year is ?Age Strong! Live Long!?

?Also, it?s that time of year when people start thinking about exercising, and this would be a good time to start.?

Ratzlaff said participants will not only hear about exercises and strategies, they can see them demonstrated and even try them themselves.

The morning opens with registration at 8:30. At 8:45, Becki Yoder, a fitness trainer at Memorial Home in Moundridge, will lead a 15-minute presentation about water exercises.

?We?re getting to the season when the swimming pool is open?and the aquatic center, where you can go year round,? Ratzlaff said.

At 9 a.m., Anna Woods, fitness trainer with Woods Wellness, will describe and demonstrate exercises that can be done with ordinary household items, such as cans of soup.

?One thing people think when it comes to exercising is, ?Oh, I have to get all this stuff,?? Ratzlaff said. ?That doesn?t have to be true. You can use things that are in your home already.?

From 9:30 to 10:30, participants can attend one of five breakout sessions:

? ?Fall and Balance Preven?tion,? led by Robin Hodges, a local physical therapist employed by Aegis Therapies.

?Falls are always a big concern for older people,? Ratzlaff said. ?Part of the reason people fall is that they begin to lose their balance and their strength in their core muscles.?

? ?Early Signs of Pre-Diabetes,? led by Jeannie Rziha, a registered nurse with Greenhaw Wellness of Hillsboro.

?That seems to be a growing disease here in the United States,? Ratzlaff said of diabetes. ?If people know the signs, maybe they can keep that from happening to them by starting an exercise program and eating better.?

? ?Eating Healthy,? led by Nancy Pihl, Kansas State Extension agent in Marion.

?It?s not one thing you do that makes you healthy, it?s a variety of things,? Ratzlaff said.

? ?Stress Relief,? led by Sam Seymore, a member of the Silver Haired Legislature from McPherson who is a story-teller, clown and magician.

?His thing is how to recognize stress, and how different things make different people stressful,? Ratzlaff said. ?It?ll be more of a lighter approach.?

? ?Pain and Medication? led by Sally Goodson, a pharmacist with Hospice Care of Kansas.

?Another reason people don?t consider exercising is that they?re dealing with pain issues,? Ratzlaff said. ?When people have pain, they need to be able to identify what kind of pain is it. Is it bone pain? Is it muscle pain??

From 10:30 to 11 a.m., Rich Hanley, of the Harvey County Department on Aging, will explain and demonstrate Tai Chi, and Ratzlaff will demonstrate exercising with a Wii entertainment system.

?Rich Hanley?s been doing Tai Chi in Newton with older adults for the past year,? Ratzlaff said. ?It?s just a great exercise for people who have arthritis. It has more to do with stretching and balance.?

From 11 a.m. to noon, the five breakout sessions will be repeated.

Ratzlaff said participants can come for the whole morning, or come and go according to the demonstrations and topics that interest them.

?I hope people can come and take at least one thing away from this day, and say, ?This is one thing I know I can do on a consistent basis. I?m going to do that and it will improve my health overall.?

?Studies have shown that even if people start to do one small thing?whether it?s eating more fruit or walking out to the mailbox each morning to get the mail?those small goals begin to improve your health.?

Exercise demonstrations are a key component of the event, she said.

?Part of the reason is that some people hear about a class, but they don?t know what it really entails,? she said. ?Or they wonder, ?If I go there, are there going to be people there who are not my age? How am I going to fit in? I don?t know what they?re doing or if I can do it.?

?So, if they see some demonstrations, they can say, ?Oh, yes I could do it, or no I can?t.?

Even though the event is free, Ratzlaff is asking participants to pre-register by calling the department at 620-382-3580 so sufficient materials and refreshments can be provided.

The first 50 people who register will receive a healthy goodie bag.

Participants are encouraged to dress casually.

Eastmoor United Methodist Church is located at 105 East?moor Drive, Marion.