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By Amy Sperling

Health Advocates for Older People, a non-profit organization based in New York City, has successfully taken the lead for over 30 years in promoting a healthy lifestyle for an aging NYC population in eight locations, six days a week. Its program activities include wellness classes, educational presentations, social activities, home safety visits, all benefiting the needs of thousands of New York City seniors at no cost to the membership.

The organization offers a wide and varied choice of wellness classes including arthritis exercise classes, Tai-chi, chair yoga, Alexander Technique and Reiki. Its downsizing initiative helps seniors think about how to manage an organized, clutter -free home. Health Advocates’ Equipment Program provides free walkers, wheelchairs and other needed equipment for program participants to maintain an independent lifestyle. Its nutrition seminars stress a simple, balanced, healthy diet. Legal presentations provide support and information on important documents that are essential for seniors to have in place. Through its educational presentations, members have learned important aspects of aging, including hearing, vision, dental health, housing, nutrition and those issues covering Medicare and “life choices.”

Health Advocates’ Home Safety Visit Program provides guidance and information on keeping elders secure and vital so that they can remain independent in their own homes. Through its wide range of programs, seniors are able to socialize with others at Health Advocates’ weekly bridge, poker, photography, movies, ballroom and flamenco dancing sessions and visits to New York City’s top cultural treasures.

In March, Health Advocates began a partnership with the famous and second oldest chess club in the United States, the Marshall Chess Club based in Greenwich Village. With the support of Bryan Quick, the Club’s Executive Director, and under the direction of a National Master, Eric Balck, Health Advocates’ seniors are learning the strategies and positions of the game. 

Unique to senior programs in New York City is Health Advocates’ Pet Club Program. Here members share their love and affection for dogs, cats and other household friends while socializing with other members. Guest speakers bring their expertise to monthly presentations where relevant information is learned and shared covering the responsibilities of pet ownership and valuable resources such as good veterinarians, groomers, dog walkers and pet insurance.

A successful program with health benefits seen by members and praised by health professionals is Health Advocates’ weekly harmonica class. Under the direction of  harmonica virtuoso Jiayi He, seniors who have never played the instrument before are now increasing their lung capacity and strengthening their diaphragms all while enjoying music-making.

Volunteers are a great asset to this non-profit organization with their continuous help in mailings, telephone coverage, escort program services and seasonal luncheons. All of these wonderful activities and events are offered FREE to New York City’s senior population helping to contribute to a healthier and more vital lifestyle.

HAFOP’s website address is www.hafop.org and telephone number is (212) 980-1700.

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