Aerobics Class at Marshall Community Library Helps Seniors Stay Connected… And Saves Lives

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bea and moeTen years ago when Diana Skalitzky, Director at the Marshall Community Library, began offering a Senior Aerobics group each week at the library, she thought it would be a nice way for people in the community to remain active and connected to others. But for participants Bea and Mo, the program may have saved their lives.

“Several years ago we partnered with the Marshall EMS to add blood pressure and heart rate screenings prior to each aerobics session,” recalls Diana. “Everyone gets their own book and the EMT records readings each week that the participants can share with their medical teams and families.”

Mo was a former staff member at the library. After she retired, she started coming to the Monday morning classes. One morning, the emergency medical technician (EMT) noticed that Mo’s heart rate was abnormal and her blood pressure was quite high, and suggested that she follow-up with her physician – which she did. Diana also notified her daughter to check in on her mom. Later that week, Mo had a stroke. “While we weren’t able to keep her from having a stroke, both her medical team and family were keeping an eye on her because of what we discovered during the aerobics class and were able to quickly get her the medical attention she needed. Today, she’s on her way to a full recovery.”

Two weeks later, senior aerobics class member Bea had a similar incident. The EMT noticed that her heart rate was abnormal and decided to get a better reading from more accurate equipment in the ambulance they parked outside. Based on the findings, they immediately took Bea to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. She was sent home with medications, but another episode occurred and resulted in her having triple bypass surgery.

“Both Bea and Mo are independent women who don’t like to bother anyone, but both women are alive today because they participated in this program and discovered a health issue that could have been devastating for them and their families. We are so blessed to have the ability to provide programs that can make such a difference in people’s lives,” says Diana.

While most participants don’t have such dramatic stories to share, they do enjoy the camaraderie of the Monday morning aerobics class. The Friends of the Library donated low-impact workout DVDs. Volunteer Wilma Kraak leads the participants through a variety of exercises, using chairs as support. Some stretch bands and light weights are also used during the sessions. And for people 55 and over, it’s free.

Diana says many participants stay after the session to play cards. The latest favorite: Quiddler (a combination of Scrabble and Gin Rummy). Look it up. I did. Who knew?

Always something new at Marshall Library’s Community Room

Diana and her team make sure there’s always something new to do at the library. Monday Mash-ups present programs on topics like trendy foods, introducing the latest trends in nutrition and tips to help people try new things. “It’s was so much fun introducing new foods to people,” says Diana. “Many tried dragon fruit and Greek yogurt for the first time.

Do you have joint pain from fibromyalgia or arthritis? Come to the library and try yoga for joint pain relief solutions. The first Tuesday of each month is Card Club.  Interested in crafts?  Friends of the Library members share their tools and provide guidance.  The 4th Tuesday is Tech Tuesday and you can bring in your gadget and get help figuring it out.  

There’s always something new to see or try. Be sure to check out the calendar for the latest activities. And the next time you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to pop in and see what’s happening. You never know – it could be life changing!