Albuquerque Seniors Beef Up

April 6, 2006

Contact: Jenny Savage (505) 272-3651


Thanks to the effort of UNM nursing students Julie Baca, Bobbi Hall, and Lisa Normand, seniors living at the Shalom House understand that working their triceps is just as important as showing pictures of the grandkids.

Inspired by Healthy Moves for Aging Well, a national program funded by the National Council on the Aging, Baca, Hall, and Normand identified isolated elders in Albuquerque and worked to make physical activity more accessible to their lifestyle.

Targeting the Shalom House, a 48-unit independent living complex for the low-income-elderly and/or disabled community, the trio collaborated over the course of seven weeks to identify the needs of seniors living in the complex and helped them to identify and utilize healthy, age-appropriate physical activities.

After careful assessment of each volunteer participant, Baca, Hall, and Normand were able to develop personal fitness programs that catered to seniors in wheelchairs, as well as those who were still running marathons. A key component of the program was incorporation of a chair exercise class and utilization of Therabands, exercise bands of various resistance.

While the initial aim of the program was intended to promote the benefits of physical activity, the social benefits of a safe, controlled environment for seniors became one of the program's most lasting impressions. Baca, Hall, and Normand observed an increased awareness and concern among the seniors for each other. In addition, relationships between the students and seniors became the cornerstone for consistent participation.

The Healthy Moves program will continue through Jewish Family Service of Albuquerque. For more information, contact the UNM College of Nursing at 272-5924.

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