Thelma Booker, 77, and Fredda Nelson, 84, browsed through the maze of tables at Consol Energy Park, collecting pamphlets containing healthy-living tips and checking their blood pressure and bone density results. Booker and Nelson were among the first to venture into the Washington Wild Things ballpark Wednesday as UPMC for Life, a Medicare insurance program, hosted Senior Health & Fitness Day, one of more than 1,000 gatherings nationwide.
Shirley Fisher, UPMC community relations coordinator, said other Western Pennsylvania sites were in Tyrone, Erie and at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
This year marks the UPMC fitness day’s debut in Washington. The annual event previously was held at Center in the Woods in California, hosting about 80 guests. To accommodate a higher turnout, Fisher sought a larger destination.
“A large contingent of our population is down around this area,” Fisher said. “So we thought this might be a nice venue to have (the fitness day).”
UPMC collaborated with Southwest Pennsylvania Human Services Area Agency on Aging this year to establish a local partnership.
“We thought (the fitness day) would be able to help their service territory, as well as the folks,” Fisher said, gesturing to incoming participants.
The agency seeks to improve the lives of elderly citizens in Southwestern Pennsylvania by offering a variety of legal, health care and protective services.
Johnetta Dinio, operations supervisor at the Area Agency on Aging, said the partnership was proposed by UPMC in January. From there, activities were planned collaboratively.
“(UPMC) is going to do brain fitness,” Dinio said, referring to an activities session focusing on mental exercise. “Our prime-time health coordinators are going to provide education on fall prevention.”
The event also featured a Zumba session, luncheon and a parade around the ball field.
Maryanne Kolsen, owner of 30 & Out Fitness for Women in Washington, led about 10 attendees in a playlist of Zumba routines, while onlookers applauded.
Beyond organized activities, participants had the opportunity to access health testing and personalized insurance information.
Area Agency on Aging’s APPRISE, a Medicare insurance counseling program, had representatives in attendance.
Lois Thomas of APPRISE encouraged passersby to book an appointment and assess their Medicare expenses or stop for a quick consultative screening at the event.
“If they need help with their new plan for Medicare, they can call us up, schedule an appointment, come in,” Thomas said. “We let them know what (plans) are out there and what meets their pocket.”
An array of pamphlets from insurance or wellness programs lined tables manned by representatives of UPMC and Area Agency on Aging.
Fisher expected about 150 attendees by the event’s conclusion early Wednesday afternoon.
Booker and Nelson plan to return next May.
Nelson said her favorite part was “the free T-shirts.”
“And blood pressure tests,” Booker added with a chuckle.
“It’s always good to get seniors out and moving and physically active. We would rather them be preventing illness through activity,” Fisher said. “So, this is our way of promoting health.”