November 2015 (1) 219

Reaching rural communities a prime goal of PrimeTime Health

For older adults who live in rural areas—such as Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and who prefer not to venture far from home, PrimeTime Health offers classes in a number of community settings, reaching people where they live.

For example, our “Healthy Steps” classes take place in a variety of community settings, including senior community centers and even department stores. As a result, I have seen so many people benefit from this program designed to reduce people’s chances of falling. Developed by the state Department of Aging and the University of California at Berkley, the program is a proven way to reduce this risk, with the two-session series including a personal risk assessment, a balance evaluation, exercise and a home safety checklist. Think of the significant impact a serious fall can have on a frail older adult—and you can easily visualize how important such a program can be!

In our area, we also offer a “Healthier Living with Diabetes” class that runs for six weeks. Brand-new to Schuylkill County in 2016, the program, which was developed by Stanford University, covers topics such as managing symptoms, exercise, medication and working with health-care providers.

In addition, we frequently schedule a class called “A Matter of Balance,” which is designed not only to reduce the fear of falling but also increase activity levels among older adults. The eight-week program includes a variety of strengthening exercises. Further, our “Walk with Ease” class, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, meets three days a week, offering exercise, stretching, education and, most important, fun for a large segment of the regional population.

Overall, PrimeTime Health continues to meet the needs of older adults through exercise classes, educational programs, and regularly scheduled wellness checks at local sites; in our region, these sites include the Diakon-sponsored senior community centers in Tremont, Pottsville, Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, and Schuylkill Haven.

PrimeTime Health is based on the idea that knowledge is power! And even in rural counties with dispersed populations, that focus on spreading knowledge can make a huge difference in the lives of older adults.

—Kathy Leahy
Community Wellness Coordinator
Diakon Community Services, (570) 624-3017

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