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Aging program puts focus on purpose

MANKATO — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many programs operate. With social distancing measures in place, many are being conducted virtually.

The Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging is among those launching virtual programs. Kelly McDonough, program coordinator for the agency, noted the group will offer an aging mastery program.

McDonough explained it is a 10-week health and wellness program for those 55 and older. Its goal is to empower older adults to make and maintain small but impactful changes.

“Life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past 50 years and yet societal expectations for older adults hasn’t changed very much,” McDonough said.

She said that with increased longevity, it is important for older adults to have the skills and knowledge to take charge and enjoy the benefits of a longer life.

“We’re in the process of doing our first virtual aging mastery program,” McDonough said.

“The reason for offering it virtually was COVID. Otherwise we would have been offering the classes in a face-to-face manner,” she said.

The program begins Aug. 12, and participants will meet virtually over Zoom each Wednesday from 2:30-4 p.m. for 10 weeks. There is also a session prior to the start to help people learn how to use the technology.

“Because it’s virtual, it’s really open to whoever throughout the state wants to attend,” McDonough noted.

There will be a new topic each week, with a guest speaker who is an expert in the field. Topics include advanced planning, navigating a longer life, community engagement, sleep, health and hydration, exercise and financial fitness.

McDonough stressed that the goal of the program is to give people the tools to live a purposeful life.

The classes are grant-funded and do not cost anything. Classes will be capped at 15 participants.

Registration can be completed through the Juniper website at yourjuniper.org

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