Healthy Programs offered for seniors at Abington Senior Center

June 19th, 2015 9:27 am

First Posted: 6/23/2014

Penn State Cooperative Extension offers two programs to promote a healthy lifestyle at the Abington Senior Center: “Dining with Diabetes” and “Growing Stronger.”

Dining with Diabetes is an approved research project conducted by Penn State University and is funded through a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It’s held in conjunction with the Joslin Diabetics Center.

The five-week class, which has a three-month follow-up, offers a lab test to test A1C. Diabetic numbers are also discussed. A registered dietitian will discuss healthy meals during an interactive food demonstration . Class members will participate in physical activities and there’s a group discussion on how to manage diabetes.

“Couples take this class and one can be the food preparer in the home. Both come to the class to learn how to eat healthier,” said Karen Thomas, Family and Consumer Services Educator Penn State Cooperative Extension. “People learn what their numbers should be and how to control their glucose levels along with their blood pressure.”

According to the Penn State Extension Diabetes Notes, 84 percent enter the program with A1C levels of 5.7 or higher indicating they are at a greater risk for developing diabetic associated complications. Family members that attend learn they also have elevated blood sugars levels. At the three-month follow up, 52 percent of participants with diabetes see a decline in their A1C test results.

Dr. Miriam Nelson of Tufts University founded the Growing Stronger Program. The program is for men and women who meet twice a week for 12 weeks. Participants have a five-minute warm-up, do eight exercises twice each and have a five-minute cool down. It’s suggested participants take part in a third day of exercise on their own. The exercises will increase muscle mass, strength and balance, bone density, arthritis symptoms, metabolic rate and glucose control and lipid profile.

“We have seen regulars to the program keep coming back,” Thomas said. “They have seen improvements in their health and want to continue.”

The University of Scranton partners with the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

“Exercise Science majors help class participants one on one with the exercises,” Thomas said. “They see what exercises they are able to do. The participants enjoy the students. It is an intergenerational activity.”

There is no cost for the diabetic program, but there is a fee for the Growing Stronger Program; financial scholarships are available. The Growing Stronger program will be offered at the Abington Senior Center on Sept. 11.

More information on either program call Thomas 570-963-6842 or visit the Penn State Cooperative Extension website at