Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley has stepped up its "Finding Wellness" presentations during the last year, adapting everything for the internet while catering to a population not always able to go online.
"We had zero online offerings before," administrative director Mercel Amin said. "During COVID, all of our programs have transitioned into an online platform. We are streaming our classes and even have a coordinator who teaches classes in Mandarin."
Also, the program has increased its use of a newsletter, for clients who are more comfortable with low-tech information.
"We used to go out into the community, which made it so much easier because this program travels Alameda County-wide," Amin said. "Now we have the 'digital divide.'"
The staff works hard to reach seniors who are not on the internet.
"We've sent hard copies of classes to people, and broadcast our series in living facilities," Amin said. "And we have done newsletters and sent them out with Meals on Wheels."
Senior Support, which is in its 40th year of providing programs, offers Finding Wellness classes, plus holds Wellness Wednesdays, a 15-minute chat, every other week. Amin also started a seated exercise class each Tuesday and Thursday morning.
"We have 12 people who regularly join us," she said.
The Finding Wellness classes were planned in three series. The first one is six weeks, focusing on topics from fall prevention to nutrition labeling to healthy hydrating to emotional wellness. Series 2 is a five-week program of exploring the health of the brain, heart, gut, liver and skin. Series 3 is four weeks, focusing on lowering the risk profile for diabetes, stroke, cancer and inflammatory disease.
"This year we added what to do when sheltering in place specifically, and the seven dimensions of wellness," Amin said. "And we are working on a fourth series."
"So many people have chronic conditions they are trying to manage," Amin explained. "All of the individuals on our team have backgrounds on wellness and health, and they are someone to filter information and keep current."
"We like to start conversations and bring the most scientific-based information to our seniors that we can," she added.
Amin recalled improving the eating habits of her own grandfather when she lived with him from when he was 90 to 96.
"He didn't know the benefits of wheat bread from white bread," she recalled. "Another big one is sodium, that we want to keep it down, and additive sugars and the different names they come under."
Clients range from age 60 and up, with a large group in their 80s and 90s, but Amin said at this point they are beginning to get Zoom fatigue.
"Seniors right now have so many challenges, not just visiting us on Zoom but seeing their doctors, family and caregivers," she pointed out.
"This time has been up and down. Someone in one class right now has a sister who lives in L.A., and we were able to connect the two to meet in a class. So it does have its pros," she said.
Amin is planning a two-hour webinar in May for older adults to address mental health, present tai chi for arthritis, and launch art therapy sessions. To learn about this and other classes, check out the calendar at www.ssptv.org or telephone the health education department at 931-5393.
The main line for Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley is 931-5379, including to reach the Friendly Visiting Program, which is in need of volunteers.