Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has stressed the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, in enhancing the quality of life of the country’s older citizens.
“Exercise in senior citizens can benefit tremendously both body and mind. In other words, muscle mass and strength does not have to decline rapidly as we age, as, if we maintain our muscle mass when we get older by strength exercise, we can decrease or even eliminate the possibility of falls, functional decline, and loss of independence that are so commonly seen in aging adults,” he stated.
The Minister was speaking yesterday (April 11) at the opening of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew’s Senior Citizens Fitness Centre, on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The facility will serve seniors in communities surrounding the university.
In welcoming the centre, Mr. Kellier said that many more are needed in Jamaica to serve the country’s growing elderly population. Citing data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), he said that there are 305,163 persons, 60 to 90 years old, living in Jamaica.
“More Jamaicans are living longer than before and … it means that there is a corresponding improvement in their quality of life. But there is evidence that the quality of life in one’s senior years can be compromised if sufficient effort is not invested in a healthy lifestyle,” he noted.
President-elect of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew, Marie Powell, encouraged the seniors to make use of the centre.
“We hope you really enjoy this facility and we hope you have a lot of fun using it. We are going to be tracking your progress and so, we will be using it too for real professional growth and development in the area of aging,” Mrs. Powell said.
The 600-square foot centre, located at the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, will provide exercise tailored to the capabilities and needs of the senior citizens with the supervision of a physiotherapist. Diagnostic health monitoring will also be provided such as testing for hypertension, blood sugar level, and cholesterol.
Beneficiaries of the project will include the elderly living in Papine, August Town, Mona and Elletson Flats, who are patients at the UWI Community Health Centre.
The project was undertaken at a cost of $5 million and was made possible through donations from the British and Canadian High Commissions, corporate Jamaica, several Rotarians and through fundraising events. It was executed in collaboration with the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter