Aging in Upstate: The health role senior centers play – Spectrum News

Peggy Newman, 75, of West Seneca grows a lot of her own fruits and vegetables in her kitchen garden. She is now enjoying the fruits of her labor, including a bumper crop of strawberries.

“Tomatoes, peppers. And the herbs that I have here too I use for my cooking,” Newman said.

In addition to eating healthy, Newman likes staying active at home with Tai Chi exercises she printed out during COVID when she could not be with her friends.

“The days could be very long,” Newman said. “So to have something like this to look forward to be able to do at my own time, at my own pace it was really great. But I have to admit I did miss the

socialization.”

For years, Newman has found that socialization, through the doors of the West Seneca Senior Center.

After checking in, Newman and her friends put their best feet forward during a 45-minute exercise dance class, where they were “In The Mood” for a little Glenn Miller, The Twist and The Electric Slide.

“Oh this is amazing. These ladies are just wonderful, wonderful people,” Newman said.

From the dance floor to the fitness center, Newman caught up with the town’s senior services director Jen Stanek, proud to show off the center’s new fitness equipment thanks to recent grant money.

The center recently held a grand re-opening of the newly branded facility, Stanek says is open to Erie County residents 50 and up, as a place to meet new people and take part in a number of activities.

“To eliminate the stigma of aging,” Stanek said. “These seniors are extremely active. To me, this is a community center that brings people together with like-minded interests.

After the bike, it’s back upstairs to join a large group for Tai Chi, like Newman does at home.

She and her inner circle also caught up with Town Supervisor Gary Dickson, who says the new renovations and fitness programs give seniors something to do.

“Like many towns we have an aging population. They’re able to stay healthy, get outside or just move around,” Dickson said. “And they’ve worked so hard for us over the years, and it’s only appropriate that we devote something to them.”

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