Today’s news:

Tietz gives Flushing seniors health tips

Beth Abraham of Family Health Services kicked off its 2009 Healthfest at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s Flushing site last week in an effort to inform community members about the services the nonprofit provides, such as the adult day health care program on 72nd Avenue.

“We’re one of the area’s best−kept secrets,” said Michelle Oxley, director of the Tietz Center’s adult day health care program in Flushing. “We’re the bridge between a senior center and a nursing home, but adult day care programs do not get the recognition they deserve.”

Beth Abraham, a nonprofit that provides long−term residential and community−based health care with which the Tietz Center became affiliated two years ago, is hosting a series of free health events during which blood pressure screenings and information about nutrition, stress relief and diabetes management will be made available.

For the first two events, held March 18−19 at Tietz’s Flushing location, officials specifically targeted Queens’ Chinese, Indian and Russian populations to attend the sessions. These three populations are heavily represented at the center’s adult day health care program on 72nd Avenue in Flushing.

Many Chinese, Indian and Russian individuals from throughout the borough attended the event, and Oxley said she hopes the attendees not only learned a thing or two about staying healthy, but about the options available to them if they are ailing seniors.

“The people here get transportation to and from the center, they get a hot meal, they participate in cognitive activities and they get to spend time with their peers,” Oxley said of the program, which is open seven days a week and provides seniors medical, nutritional and social services that enable seniors to live at home instead of a nursing home.

As individuals perused the health information last Thursday, seniors throughout the Flushing site were busy dancing, practicing calligraphy and learning how to use the computer for the first time.

Raisa Portnova, 73, of Flushing, spent much of that afternoon dancing with dozens of friends to Eastern European music.

“I love the music, the dancing, the fun stories here,” Portnova said through a Russian translator, Mila Aksakalova, who works as a recreation assistant at the day care program.

Like many of those who come to the day care program, Portnova had sunk into a deep depression before she attended Tietz. Portnova, who taught elementary school for 36 years in Kazakhstan, said the center staff helped her cope with her depression.

“When I first came here, I was always going to the park by myself,” Chiu Yueh Yehwang, 73, of Flushing, said through Wennie Chen, a public affairs official at Tietz. “I felt lonely and didn’t know what to do. When I came here six years ago, I made a lot of friends.”

Usha Masiha, an Elmhurst resident originally from New Delhi, India, said she especially appreciates the center’s focus on recreational activities.

“I like the music and the games here,” Masiha said through a translator, Vidya Viswanathan. “I like playing bingo and going to the bowling alley.”

Beth Abraham will hold free health sessions at the CNR Adult Day Health Care Program at 97−35 Allendale St. in Jamaica on March 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 164−11 Chapin Pkwy. in Jamaica March 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at the Beth Abraham Adult Day Health Care Program March 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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