Although helpful community resources exist, senior citizens often face barriers to reaching them, especially in low-income, non-English speaking communities. But at the Our Generation/Nuestra Generacion program, led by the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center and funded in part by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, the 65 and older population is treated with respect and geniune interest.
For nearly 40 years, the center has provided personal, comprehensive, and bilingual healthcare to a community of more than 10,000 patients, including more than 800 diverse seniors. And with the baby boomer generation aging, the older population continues to grow. In turn, their needs for healthcare services grow as well.
One of two such community health centers licensed and run by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center gives expert, efficient, and cost-effective care to members of the Jamaica Plain community, regardless of their insurance status. The center concentrates on the physical and emotional wellbeing of its senior patients by offering different health-focused activities that are fun, educational, and life-changing.
“Originally we started this group [for seniors] feeling that people needed exercise, people needed to take their medicine, and people needed to take care of their chronic health issues,” said Carolina Nuñez, senior case manager at the clinic. “But the participants had something else in mind, and they were very clear in what they wanted. They wanted a community. They wanted a place that belonged to them.”
And that is what the participants received. The center is now helping its members to improve their health and lifestyles. Some of its programming includes services to manage chronic illness and mental health, access to community resources such as food stamps, yoga classes, and the popular “Seniors in Action” exercise class (pictured above), where approximately 30 participants take part in a lively one-hour exercise routine. When the class is over, members and staff prepare a delicious and nutritious lunch to partake in together. Seniors gather to catch up, share stories, and learn healthful cooking and food choices. The social hour is the highlight of the program for both seniors and staff.
The results have been remarkable. One-hundred percent of the participants of the Our Generation program have lost or maintained their weight, have less pain, and feel more hopeful about life. “My life has been enriched tremendously. I feel younger, more at ease, and happy,” said participant Priscilla Fontaine. “If this place wasn’t here, you would have more people with depression and going more to the doctor, because this is a type of medicine.”