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The Providence Center Launches Nation’s First InShape Seniors Program

Program improves physical and emotional health and reduces health care costs through exercise

March 7, 2011 (Providence, RI)—The Providence Center, announced the launch of the nation’s first InShape program designed specifically for seniors suffering from mental illness. Based on the nationally recognized InShape wellness program, the InShape Seniors program works to address senior’s more limited physical capabilities and senior specific physical health needs such as osteoporosis.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer our patients over 65 with the opportunity to benefit from the InShape curriculum,” said Dale K. Klatzker, President/CEO of The Providence Center. “This program has proven effective in helping our clients take control of their health, make healthy choices on a daily basis and become more engaged in their communities.”

The InShape Seniors program, builds on the wellness program, InShape, which helps adults who receive services through The Providence Center adopt and maintain a health lifestyle. Launched in September, forty-five people are active in the wellness program, seventeen of whom are seniors. All participants work with a personal trainer who helps participants set fitness and nutrition goals and accompanies them to community fitness classes and one-on-one work-out sessions at the YMCA. InShape Seniors also places an emphasis on decreasing isolation by providing group exercise classes, pairing senior participants to exercise together and spending more one-on-one time with the personal trainer.

Seniors are particularly susceptible to developing mental illness later in life. While many people experience mental illness throughout their lives, a large percentage of seniors first experience depression, anxiety and often severe mental health problems as they age and experience traumatic emotional events such as the death of a spouse or parent, poverty or reduced financial support, loss of social structure and isolation. In people over 65, changed daily experience, lack of social engagement and physical decline has a great impact on their quality of life and overall wellness. 

“We have seen tremendous gains from the InShape Seniors program. Participants are excited to take control of their health and learn how nutrition and exercise improves their physical and behavioral health symptoms,” says Dennis Gonsalves, InShape Manager. “For senior populations the most rewarding part of the program is seeing friendships develop and a desire to re-engage with the world as a result of the program.”

The InShape Seniors program is based on the InShape program created by Ken Jue in Keene, New Hampshire in 2007. Since its inception the InShape program has been expanded to 3 states. The Providence Center became a certified InShape provider in 2009. The InShape model has been funded by the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Mental Health Weekly in addition to research journals and certified as a promising practice. InShape has a 93% retention rate one year after completion. Participants increased the amount of exercise they did each week and improved exercise capacity. They decreased waist and hip circumference, their resting pulse rate and their blood pressure. Participants had a small to medium effect size in improved social self-efficacy, depressed mood, and negative symptoms, with a large effect size for personal satisfaction.

The Providence Center is at the forefront of innovative approaches to behavioral health care designed to meet the changing needs of the more than 10,000 people served each year. Since The Providence Center opened its doors in 1969, it has been a community fixture, providing people from all walks of life with mental health and substance abuse services in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. In addition to comprehensive high quality behavioral health services, The Providence Center gives people the tools they need to change their lives. Through 39 programs and wraparound services, including food and housing, job training, legal services, primary health care and wellness activities, The Providence Center helps the people it serves to succeed.