Guest column: Online classes help seniors stay active during isolation

June 1, 2020

Fortunately, Medicare Advantage is adapting to address these challenges, focusing on providing seniors with access to quality health care and the tools to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

The coronavirus has taken a toll on many of us here in Minnesota. As quarantine remains a part of our daily lives, we are all trying to cope with the new feelings of being stuck at home and missing our friends and family. Measures of social isolation and quarantine, meant to protect us from the spread of coronavirus, are certainly proving effective. However, they are coming at a cost for some vulnerable populations, including seniors. With the coronavirus being more dangerous for populations over the age of 65 and those with preexisting conditions, seniors are unable to leave their houses and human interactions are extremely limited or completely nonexistent.

Fortunately, Medicare Advantage is adapting to address these challenges, focusing on providing seniors with access to quality health care and the tools to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. Through programs like SilverSneakers, seniors are able to stay physically active and maintain their sense of community – all from the comfort of their own home.

An active lifestyle for older adults is incredibly important for both physical and mental health. Exercise is good for the body, mood, and memory, proven to help seniors remain independent and prevent many of the health issues that come with age. And with fitness centers and other non-essential business closed across Minnesota and the country, SilverSneakers and Medicare Advantage are committed to keeping seniors moving and active throughout this pandemic.

The SilverSneakers On-Demand workout videos are making it easy for seniors to access fitness classes right at home, whenever is convenient. With more than 200 videos, SilverSneakers members can choose between a variety of workouts and wellness and nutrition programs to stay in good physical and mental health.

And for the 668,000 SilverSneakers members living in Minnesota missing their group classes, we are now offering free Facebook Live classes every Monday and Wednesday. These livestream events are not only meant to encourage exercise, but they’re providing participants with needed human interaction and a sense of community. Notably, our live programing seems to be working. We saw a 900% growth in users for March and April 2020 versus March and April 2019. Members report that they feel they are getting social interaction and fitness through this adjusted benefit.

SilverSneakers will continue working alongside Minnesota’s Medicare Advantage to adapt and provide seniors with the resources they need to stay active and healthy during the coronavirus.

By supporting Medicare Advantage in Minnesota, Representatives Dean Phillips and Angie Craig continue to bolster important resources that support our aging population, especially during the coronavirus outbreak. I hope all of our lawmakers will follow their lead and protect aging Minnesotans by ensuring this program is secure as we navigate these troubling times, together.

–Jeff Prendergast is a Minnesota territory manager for Tivity Health, a company offering programs for healthy living.

 

Originally published in the Sun Current

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