Book of Dreams

Book of Dreams: Healthy Aging Association keeps folks young at heart

Book of Dreams Video: Healthy Aging Association

Here is a look at the agency Healthy Aging Association, which is part of The Bee's 2015 Book of Dreams project. (Linda Zhang/
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Here is a look at the agency Healthy Aging Association, which is part of The Bee's 2015 Book of Dreams project. (Linda Zhang/

Cancer claimed one of Delbert Williams’ kidneys three years ago. He took pain medication three times a day for chronic back pain and more for diabetes.

“I could walk to the stop sign on the corner and back, but that was it,” he said.

His wife, Judy, persuaded him to try a diet, then coaxed him into attending Young at Heart senior exercise classes offered for free at their church through the Healthy Aging Association. Soon he had lost 60 pounds, he got off all medication and, at age 75, he recently installed 400 square feet of floor tile in their Modesto home.

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“My health has had a complete turnaround,” Delbert Williams said, “and the exercise class is an important part.”

I now can walk anywhere I want. I can work in my garden as much as I want. Life is good again.

Delbert Williams, 75, Modesto

Healthy Aging’s volunteer instructors host 81 Young at Heart classes each week in Modesto, Ceres, Grayson, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Turlock, Waterford and Ripon. They’re attended by 1,477 people, 60 or older, seeking more vitality; most are fitness classes, but 116 hardy seniors tackle aerobics in three classes, and 42 more seek serenity in a tai chi class.

About two-thirds said in a survey that they feel stronger and have more flexibility thanks to exercise, and others reported having more energy and better balance and fewer symptoms of arthritis and other pain. Fully 87 percent of participants said their mental health has improved, with reductions in stress and depression and improved memory. That’s because it’s fun, in addition to being good for you, Williams said.

“Some of the exercises are so simple, but they’re things you wouldn’t do on your own at home,” he said. “I’m pretty faithful about going.”

22,200 Pounds of fruit and vegetables provided each year to Green Bag recipients

Healthy Aging, established in 2000, also sponsors with Second Harvest Food Bank a Green Bag program providing 10 pounds of fruit and veggies each month to 185 low-income seniors, who get healthy eating tips.

About the agency

Address: 121 Downey Ave., Suite 102, Modesto, 95354

Field of interest: Health and human services

Mission: To help older Americans live longer, healthier, more independent lives by promoting increased physical activity and sound health and nutrition.

Program list

  • Young at Heart group fitness classes
  • Green Bag health and nutrition education
  • A Matter of Balance fall-prevention education

Funding needs

  • Maintain and expand Young at Heart group exercise classes, and reach out to low-income and home-bound seniors and people with disabilities with one-on-one training
  • A Matter of Balance fear of falling program
  • Green Bag fresh fruit and vegetables and nutrition education for low-income seniors