Pennsylvania Church Reaches Seniors Through Health Initiatives

“I’m here today to teach you how to take good care of your heart,” a cardiologist told the Senior Gems group at Grace United Methodist Church (UMC) in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

At a different monthly meeting, a pharmacist came in and answered questions about prescription drug safety. The speakers at other meetings have included a professional chef, a gastroenterologist and a physical therapist. They have also invited insurance agents who could answer questions about Medicare.

“We have speakers come in to offer information on health and legal issues that affect seniors,” said Elizabeth McCoy, who founded the Senior Gems ministry 15 years ago. “We want to keep people informed and offer them a fun event to attend. Many of our seniors are not able to drive anymore, so our meetings are a way for them to see their friends and get important health information at the same time.”

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Grace UMC, which has a congregation of 250 people, sponsors the Senior Gems ministry. The group’s monthly meetings are open to the public and usually have about 15 participants. Each meeting lasts for approximately three hours. The meetings usually include a guest speaker, some healthy food and time to fellowship.

“Some people don’t feel comfortable going to see a doctor in his office, but they will come to our church to hear a doctor speak,” Elizabeth said. “It’s all about keeping them informed.”

For their next meeting, the Senior Gems have invited someone who will teach them how to exercise safely. “We want to keep moving,” Elizabeth said.

The Senior Gems will also be sponsoring a five-week program to teach people how to cook healthier meals.

“Our seniors are always interested in learning new ways to improve their health, and what we eat is a big part of being healthy.”

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