Thursday, June 1, 2023

Optum Officially Opens Community Health Center


If you're 55 or over, there's a brand new resource in town. You might want to check out Optum New Mexico's new community center at 4010 Montgomery Blvd. NE (between Jefferson and Carlisle on the south side) if you're interested in yoga, Tai Chi, Latin dance, fitness classes, movies (free popcorn!) and any number of social groups devoted to your favorite hobby.

For free. And you don't have to belong to Optum New Mexico to join. The new community center is open to all seniors.

"A healthy community is a better community," said Optum's Community Outreach Coordinator Mykel Kirkpatrick. "If we can keep people out of the ER, out of the doctor's office, if we can be a gateway to health and a free resource, this is why we're here."

After a soft opening last month, Kirkpatrick said that there is a steady trickle of new members right now but she expects a flood after the grand opening on Nov. 29. From 9am-12pm on that day, there will be free food and drink, plus two sessions of mini-classes and health screenings for blood pressure, medications and A1C tests for diabetes. From 1pm-4pm, experts will teach mini-yoga sessions and will answer questions about general health and wellness.

Pneumatic machines are smoother to use. Photo by Stephanie Hainsfurther

Great care has been taken to choose weight machines that are made for seniors. Pneumatic resistance systems by Keiser make the movement of weight lifting much smoother and cause less wear-and-tear on older joints. Other machines are adapted for someone in a wheelchair to access easily, and seats swivel to allow easy entry. There is a large space for fitness classes and cozy spots to socialize.

Their regular program will include a book club, conversational Spanish, jewelry-making classes, an instructor from Painting with a Twist and an open needlework group for socializing while finishing a handcrafted project. There will also be a free movie afternoon with popcorn to munch. Many of Optum's efforts focus on preventing Alzheimer's and keeping the brain and social skills sharp.

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