Senior Fitness on the Rise in Albany - Albany News Herald Story


23rd Annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show


3rd Annual "Serving Up Meals" Tennis Tournament a Success!


The 2016 Serving Up Meals tournament has over 80 players registered to play for the cause! Thank you to all who contributed to make this event a success.


Mayor honors SOWEGA Council on Aging, RSVP





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Date Posted: June 10, 2016
Senior Fitness on the Rise in Albany - Albany News Herald Story

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ALBANY — Chauntel Powell, Albany News Herald

December 20, 2015 is a day Frances Weintraub remembers quite vividly. The 88-year-old was walking through her home and suffered a nasty fall that broke her pelvis in two places and her tailbone in one.

For many her age, this could have resulted in a complete lack of mobility and dependency on others, but thanks to Weintraub’s active lifestyle, she was able to get back to her regular routine in almost no time.

“(My doctor) told me that it was amazing that I was in as good a health and shape as I was,” she said.

Just five months later, Weintraub was back in the front row of the SilverSneakers fitness class held at the Albany YMCA. SilverSneakers fitness has been a large part of Weintraub’s life since she started attending classes at what used to be Gold’s Gym over a decade ago and she said because of it, she was able to maintain her independent lifestyle.

“If it had not been for (instructor Sam McCormick), and I had not been exercising all this while, I fully believe that I would have been in the nursing home, laying on my back,” she said.

As the nation’s population grows ever grayer, a number of organizations are gearing fitness programs solely to seniors, offering classes that focus on health concerns that particularly impact that age group.

Weintraub had originally received a notice in the mail saying her insurance provider would pay the membership fee for classes if she signed up for the SilverSneakers program.

As of today, Weintraub is involved in Zumba Gold, line dancing, the annual Chile Run, several parades and more.

According to Bernie Scoggins, an internist and geriatrician at the South Albany Medical Center, incidents involving falls such as Weintraub’s are quite common among older adults.

“There’s a natural tendency as we get older to not pick our feet up as high and to take shorter steps,” Scoggins said. “And not picking your feet up as leads to tripping and falling, which is a real common thing.

“Part of it is loss of sensation in our nerve endings. And sometimes our feet cannot feel as well where we are in space. Sometimes our vision’s worse. Sometimes our balance mechanisms in our ears are not as good. It’s a combination of things all together.”

Scoggins added that falls by individuals of an advanced age are more dangerous. He said that as people get older, they’re much more prone to osteoporosis and have a tendency to fracture much more easily. The recovery time of falls is also elongated due to advanced age both physically and mentally.

“Once people fall, especially much older people, they fall one time and they get very scared,” he said. “Sometimes it affects their whole outlook, and they’re scared to do much of anything.”

Of the top health concerns for people over 65, including fractures and balance, Scoggins said exercise can help with many of them.

“Exercise helps get their muscles stronger, especially their legs, and if your leg muscles are stronger above and below the knee, then you’re less likely to fall down,” he said. “Also, exercise helps bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. Weight exercises help protect your bones. They also improve nutrition and helps people’s appetite.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, citizens 65 years-old and up made up 11.3 of Albany’s 77,434 population in 2010. As that number continues to grow, various organizations are expanding their programs to cater to this demographic and help keep them healthy and active.

McCormick has seen first-hand the growth of senior fitness. When she first started teaching at what used to be Gold’s Gym, there were only 12 participants in the senior program. Today, she may have 12 in the first row alone of her SilverSneakers fitness class. Having seen the effects exercise had on her own mother in terms of improving her health, McCormick has dedicated her time and services for the last 17 years to helping push mature adults in reaching their fitness goals.

The Albany Area YMCA has a slew of fitness programs for mature adults including aerobic tone, balanced body, chair yoga stretch, fun fit, water aerobics and several SilverSneakers classes.

Similarly, the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging has a handful of programs as well, including line dancing, chair fitness and tai chi for arthritis.

“In these programs, we have seen an extreme success rate,” McCormick said. “A lot of our mature adults that were on chronic medication, and when I say chronic I mean pain medicine, blood pressure medicine, things like that. I can say in 17 years, I’ve seen 50 percent being able to decrease their medication. And it’s because they’re in an avid fitness program.”

Shirley Brown, an instructor at the Council on Aging, said she has seen fitness among mature adults become a priority, too. She said she’s seen the number of those enrolled in her Tuesday/Thursday chair fitness class grow from 15 to 100 and average 45 participants a session.

At the council, she said they really embrace the four F’s — friends, fun, fellowship and fitness — to create an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Brown said she’s been able to see a significant shift in the attitude of people in her classes.

“It boosts your mood and your self-confidence,” she said. “A lot of people that actually started in this class, they’ll run to the back because they didn’t want to be up front. Now that they know what to do and they know how important it is, they come in and they work out like everybody else.”

The social aspect is one reason Weintraub continued to return. She admitted that she was shy at first, but after coming regularly, went from a quiet member to the unofficial greeter in charge of making others feel welcome and comfortable. McCormick said that the members of her class have created their own fitness family.

“There’s a lot of seniors who’ve lost their husbands and wives,” she said. “I’ve got one senior who lost not only her husband, but her son as well. This is her family. And anybody that reaches out, their hearts are so big that it encompasses them.”

While numbers have improved significantly, McCormick said they’re nowhere near where they could be. Though more than 400 seniors participate in programs at the Y, she said there are more than 2,500 mature adults in Albany alone who are eligible for free membership in the programs through insurance.

She noted that the programs are easily accessible, but not limited major insurance carriers. She encouraged interested members to contact their health insurance provider to see if they qualify. Individuals who don’t qualify can still sign up for classes at a discount rate.

“At the Y, we have a reduced rate to where even those that don’t have that program, they can pay a reduced fee and still participate in everything we have here,” McCormick said. “There are a lot people out there who have the SilverSneakers Fitness Program and are not even walking through the doors using it. They are throwing it away.”

Participation in SOWEGA Council on Aging programs are completely free for any senior who signs up. Music, necessary equipment and other materials are provided. Brown said everyone who is of age should take full advantage.

“There’s no cost, it’s free, everything’s provided. So we say come,” she said.

Those interested can register at the YMCA at 1701 Gillionville Rd or call (229) 436-0531. SOWEGA Council on aging classes are held at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The center can be reached at (229) 435-6789.


Date Posted: June 02, 2016
23rd Annual Shades of Gold - Senior Art Show


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In just her second year exhibiting in the event, Virgeline Duke’s acrylic painting “Birds of a Feather” was voted the Best of Show Thursday at the opening of the 23rd annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show at the Albany Museum of Art.

The show will continue at the museum, located at 311 Meadowlark Drive adjacent to Darton State College, through the end of the month. Sixteen artists, all age 60 or older, entered 44 paintings in this year’s exhibit.

Asked if she was surprised about being voted favorite in the show by the crowd in attendance, Duke said, “Yes, I was. I just joined it because my husband started in the art class.”

Her husband, Frank Duke, in fact, kept the top awards in the family, getting first place for his acrylic “Forgotten Country.”

The Shades of Gold is an art group for those 60 and older that meets at 1 p.m. Mondays at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The participants, who provide their own materials, work in oils or acrylics, culminating each June with the AMA show.

Also winning ribbons Thursday were Judy McCoy, 2nd place, “Daddy’s Favorite Pastime”; Nancy Wade, 3rd Place, “Foggy Morning Turkey Trail”; Merit Award, Janet Bowen, “The Woodshed Door”; Merit Award, Lorene Gaughf, “Red Hot Peppers,” and People’s Choice, Carolyn Ross, “True Love.”

“I’ve enjoyed art and crafts of all kinds,” Virgeline Duke said, adding her entry was a paint-by-number acrylic.

Frank Duke said his wife’s painting had a great deal of detail. “It takes so long,” he said. “It’d drive me nuts trying to paint by numbers.”

His winning painting, “Forgotten Country,” was exhibited next to his wife’s “Birds.” He said his work, also in acrylic, was a composite of things he had seen.

“I pick elements out of different scenes,” he said. “The old truck — I remember my uncle had an old Chevy, and I just put that in. He had an old barn, and I put the old plow in there.”

Duke said he thought he might lose points because of presentation.

“I didn’t think I was going to win because my frame was small, it’s not an impressive frame,” Duke said. “So that’s a shock.”

While he’s had a wrist injury that’s cut down on his artwork recently, Duke and his wife say they’ve been painting together both at class and at home.

Frank Duke said this was his fifth Shades of Gold show. Virgeline Duke is relatively new to painting, but her husband started in watercolors a decade or more ago.

“Back about 10 or 15 years ago, I started in art, then time constraints prevented me from doing it,” Frank Duke said. “I got out of it.

“Then we had some rainy weather and I said, ‘I’ll try some acrylics.’ I got back in it. I just love acrylics, and I found out about the class.”

Paula Williams, executive director of the Albany Museum of Art, said she was impressed by the talent.

“Pretty amazing,” she said. “I was just talking to one of the members, and she said she’s only been painting for two years and she’s done some fabulous work.

“I think, more than anything else, it brings them such happiness to produce these works of art, and I think they’re just really from the heart and full of love, and that certainly shows on the walls.”


Date Posted: April 16, 2016

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ALBANY — Brad McEwen

Scores of amateur and professional tennis players flocked to Albany over the weekend for the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s annual Serving Up Meals tennis event at Doublegate Country Club.

The event, which is now in its third year, is a way to raise awareness about the many programs and services provided throughout South Georgia by the Council on Aging, especially the organization’s Meals on Wheels program that helps feed thousands of homebound residents each year.

According to SOWEGA Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler, who spearheads the event, this year’s Serving Up Meals tennis tournament drew 80 participants from around Southwest Georgia and North Florida to compete in the club-level tournament.

Sadler said the event, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., also drew eight professionals who will showcase their talents while competing for a $1,000 purse.

“They are going to fight for the opportunity to play for $1,000,” said Sadler. “Having the pros play is a way for the club players to see some really good tennis, to be inspired by that. And it’s a way to get the pros involved in raising awareness for what we’re playing for. And that’s the main thing that we’re doing here, we’re Serving Up Meals.”

Indeed, Sadler said the tennis tournament is gaining popularity each year. And while it isn’t a huge fundraiser for the Council on Aging, it’s become an important way for the organization to gain exposure.

“It’s more of an awareness event,” said Sadler. “But we’ve increased (funds raised) each year. The first year we raised about $2,500, the second year we raised about $3,500 and this year we’re looking at getting about $7,000, so we’re starting to get up there.”

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind said the recognition the event gets is good because it draws participants from outside the Albany area, which increases awareness.

“It’s an important event because it makes people recognize us as an agency,” she said. “We’re always glad for good publicity, and this brings out a different group of people than we normally see. They come from more than just Albany. We’re really proud of this.”

While Serving Up Meals is good for the Council on Aging and the Meals on Wheels program, it also helps raise awareness for tennis in the Albany area.

The Albany Tennis Association helps put on the event, and on Friday night several members of the organization hosted tennis clinics for children. Yvette Armstong, the president of the Albany Tennis Association, said the clinics drew close to 50 kids of all ages.

“Our goal is to promote tennis in the Albany area,” Armstrong said Saturday. “Last night, the Albany Tennis Association came out and put on a clinic, and it was a lot of fun.”

The fun continued on Saturday when several participants battled it out for small prizes and bragging rights during the club-level competitions.

“Right now, I play in leagues in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and I do this kind of stuff for fun,” said Blue Whitaker, who travelled from Tallahassee to take part in the tourney. “It’s very tight, and they do a good job.”

David Buerkle, the director of tennis at Doublegate, agreed, saying that not only was the event a lot of fun, it helped local tennis gain exposure while allowing the club to help a worthy cause.

“It’s a great cause, so we want to do our part for the community and run a great event and welcome everybody so they can enjoy a great weekend of tennis,” said Buerkle.

Although Sadler and others from the organization and from the Albany Tennis Association gave a considerable amount of their time to the event, Sadler said the event’s many sponsors from the community were also very important.

Sponsors for this year’s Serving Up Meals include Longleaf Dental; U Save It; Stewbo’s Restaurant Group; ASP—America’s Swimming Pool Co.; Brooks Furniture; Dental Partners of Southwest Georgia; Flint Community Bank; FLINT Equipment; JLB Family Properties; Kelley, Lovett and Blakey; Merril Lynch/Michael Cohen; Porterfield United Methodist Church; Sadler Retirement; Albany Area Hand Therapy; Albany Landscape Co.; J.R. James Brokerage; Jon Moore; Margeson, Flynn & Associates; Dr. and Mrs. Frank Middleton; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Peeler; Pete Donaldson; Southwest Georgia Periodontics; Watson Spence; Wild Flour; Buffalo Rock, and Mars Chocolate North America.


Date Posted: April 15, 2016
Serving Up Meals Tournament 2016


Date Posted: April 05, 2016
Mayor honors SOWEGA Council on Aging, RSVP

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By:  Chauntel Powell

ALBANY — Volunteers serving with the Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) Council on Aging and members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) have been honored by Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard for their efforts in improving the quality of life for senior citizens in Southwest Georgia.

Hubbard said the efforts of the volunteers motivates her in her role as mayor of Albany and making an impact on Albany.

“I think they mean everything to the community,” Hubbard said. “The government can’t do everything so these are the people who give up their time, talent and resources to make our community better. Volunteers help to make our community better and stronger. They do the things that we as a government could not afford to do and they do it because they care, out of the goodness of their hearts. A lot of these people get personal satisfaction out of this.”

One such person is Don Gray, who started by helping with Meals on Wheels and various projects before joining the ramp building crew in 1999. He said being able to see first hand how his actions impact those that need has kept him going throughout the years.

“We do what we do for people who can’t help themselves, especially with the wheel chair ramps,” Gray said. “These people are very much in need,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to see them come out, with a smile on their face and say thank you to us for us doing the things we’re doing.”

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was organized in Albany in 1972 and is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), United Way of Southwest Georgia, and local contributions. the local RSVP unit was the first RSVP program in Georgia to be funded.





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