Several months have passed since the onset of the statewide safer-at-home orders, which have kept residents indoors and away from those outside of one’s family unit or from their favorite outdoor activities. The pandemic has challenged older adults far more than others, however, as they are among the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19.
Health orders continue to recommend that individuals 65 and older, especially those with underlying health conditions, remain indoors as much as possible and limit interactions with people outside of their households. But this can bring about issues with isolation, depression and anxiety if older adults do not stay active and engaged.
“Movement is important. Just staying moving and keeping your mental motivation up, getting outside or in your yard and getting that fresh air on your face helps to keep the morale up, especially when everyone is inside and missing their loved ones,” said Rosemary Competelli, an exercise teacher with Fit For Life, a fitness program designed to help seniors improve their overall health.
These are some ways older adults can safely stay active in and around the Santa Clarita Valley:
Fitness and wellness
A monthslong lockdown can affect both one’s mental and physical health.
A good stretch or aerobics session can be the perfect remedy and can be done in your living room or backyard.
Competelli’s senior aerobics classes, for example, went digital on Youtube due to the pandemic, so that her students are able to continue to exercise.
Students have access to new, weekly videos that include standing cardio senior aerobics and seated classes for individuals who may have a harder time standing. And they’re easily accessible via a link she sends to their emails.
“It’s just a way for the older community to stay moving and really, they’ve become a family,” she said of the participating group. “We sometimes tell stories about things that happened during that week, sometimes about the grandkids or accomplishments like, ‘Hey, I’ve gotten to walk farther than I have in a long time. These (classes) can help with arthritis and back pain.”
For class updates and additional information, visit Fit for Life Senior Fitness Program Facebook page.
The Senior Center at Bella Vida has long provided exercise sessions for its visitors and amid the pandemic, offering these courses are perhaps far more important than ever.
But they have moved virtually to help keep older adults safe, according to Executive Director Kevin MacDonald. Through Zoom video chats, instructors offer Zumba, chair pilates and Tai Chi classes.
“Classes can be seen through an iPad, computer or cellphone as they’re all offered in a Zoom format,” he said, adding that if one is not familiar with how to operate the application, “we also have a class that teaches them how to use it and we help them get situated because some people might be intimidated by (the applications).”
Every Wednesday at 1 p.m., the senior center also offers health and wellness webinars, he added.
For the complete schedule of classes and activities at the senior center, visit myscvcoa.org.
Try a new sport
Group exercise classes are fun but for those looking to add a little more competition while practicing physical distancing, pickleball can be a great addition. The sport is known for being social and is particularly popular among older adults as it is often played as doubles and does not necessarily require players to dive and flail around a racket as one may do so in tennis.
Grab a paddle, plastic ball and head out to a nearby park, such as Bouquet Canyon Park, to access a net and court. Residents can also access courts at the Paseo Club, which has recently hosted a tournament and is expected to host its next one outdoors on Sept. 12.
“(Pickleball is) a great way to be active but not it’s not high impact It builds a sense of community and a sense of camaraderie for seniors,” Lance O’Keefe, recreation and community services manager with the city of Santa Clarita, said in a previous interview.
Bouquet Canyon Park is located at 28127 Wellston Drive, Santa Clarita.
Besides staying physically active and partaking in a variety of activities, staying in communication with others is among the most important things older adults can do amid the pandemic, according to MacDonald.
If the pandemic has separated you and your friends from lunchtime at the center, Bella Vida is offering “Table Talk,” which allows residents to dine virtually with others for lunch.
“Before the pandemic, people would come to Bella Vida’s grand ballroom for lunch where the tables would all be setup and they’d sit together. There’s no indoor dining now with the pandemic so this is a chance to have lunch online and chat with people about what they’re going through — kind of like a mini support group for themselves. We can hook you up with a table to have lunch with several seniors,” he said.
To participate in Table Talk, call the senior center at (661) 259-9444 and provide staff with a friend’s name and email to arrange a Zoom lunch with them.
Other popular activities to keep in mind include indoor gardening, learning a new skill or language, taking virtual field trips, walking and dancing and arts and crafts, such as painting or knitting.