Two years ago, Elba Medina Torres81, found an antidote to his sadness over the loss of his son. Jose Hernandez Cruzwho will turn 80 at the end of October, found a refuge from the loneliness that accompanies countless people. older adults In Puerto Rico. And to Angel Alvarado Saez68, is “a therapy.”
“I feel renewed. Your mood changes, physically you feel better,” shares Medina Torres.
All three are part of Hot Pawsan initiative of HMM, established in 2002, which focuses on the physical and mental well-being of its participants. And last Wednesday, more than 400 members from different parts of the island arrived at the Pedrin Zorrilla Coliseum, in San Juanfor the first edition of the Patitas Calientes Olympics.
“We older people need to do exercises daily. Doctors tell us every time we go to visit them to be active, to do everything the body needs to continue in action. Just because we’re a little older doesn’t mean we’re going to sit in an armchair 24/7. No, you have to be active”highlights Hernandez Cruz, from Reeds and participant of the chapter of The stones.
At the busy event, all the “paticalientes” enjoyed multiple physical and mental agility games, such as “hula hoop” and traditional domino competitions.
But the benefits of participating in Patitas Calientes – open to MMM members and non-members – go beyond staying active, since one of the priorities of the initiative is the mental health of the members.
“The first thing they gain is a space to stay active and that is important, it takes them out of the environment they are in all the time. And that, in turn, has a mental impact, you put them in a position to socialize. “One of the worst enemies of older adults is loneliness,” mentions Ricardo Rivera Cardonapresident of MMM.
He adds that “connecting them with other people who are going through the same thing, and creating that social network that helps provide support to that older adult, is one of the main objectives of this.”
Alvarado Saez, who is captain of the Santa Juanita chapter, in Bayamon, has witnessed those benefits. The group he leads, about 20 participants between 60 and 80 years old, meets every week to walk in a park and exercise with a trainer paid for by MMM.
“It is interesting because the group is distracted, talks, shares with other groups and that is therapy. I am retired, physically, mentally and everything, it helps,” she highlights.
Noelia Vazquez64, leads the Patitas Calientes of Manati and, a year ago, formed another group in Barcelona. In addition to the weekly Zumba and exercise routines, the captain highlights that, in talks, they have learned to read food product labels, which also allows them to maintain a healthy diet.
While background music fills the place, Medina Torres, with a hat decorated with flowers and peace symbols, asks older adults not to limit themselves.
“Don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m too old now or I have this condition.’ No, no, no, age does not limit you from being able to do any type of exercise, you do it to the capacity you can. “Some have certain conditions and others have others, but as long as we are exercised, we will feel good physically and emotionally, with new energy for the last few years we have left.”, he says, with a smile on his face.
To join Patitas Calientes – a program aimed at people aged 65 and over or Medicare beneficiaries – those interested can visit one of the groups across the island or send an email to email@example.com.