Visitors to the Spencer Family YMCA Thursday received greetings from two friendly women working magic with needles and yarn.

“It’s something I like do with my mother,” Luise Caster said, as Ina Marie Brenner knitted alongside of her. “This is our gift of time together.”

Russ Brown and Pat Hibler

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Russ Brown answers Pat Hibler’s questions about the YMCA during Healthy Seniors Day.

Caster, a Bethel Park resident who serves on the Spencer advisory board, shared a gift with guests during the Y’s Healthy Seniors Day: a paper listing the “unexpected benefits of knitting,” including the all-important considerations of helping to relieve stress and slowing cognitive decline.

“Knitting stimulates the brain to keep it healthy and can improve one’s mood,” guests learned. “According to the Mayo Clinic, those who knit have a 30 to 50% less likelihood of having mid-cognitive impairments.”

Along with the knitting demonstration, Healthy Seniors Day featured plenty of opportunities for visitors to learn more about how to integrate a fitness component into their lives.

Lynn Bottoms

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Lynn Bottoms, family engagement specialist for Allegheny County Human servcies, greets Healthy Seniors Day guests.

“This is the first time that the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh has offered a day to promote healthy living for seniors,” said Jim Lybarger, the organization’s operations director. “The goal of today is to make our senior population aware of what all we offer.”

The Spencer Family Y, located next to Bethel Park High School, has activities for members that include water aerobics and the multifaceted Active@AnyAge programming, introduced this year. Another offering addresses diabetes prevention, as instructed by Vince Ranalli, the Y’s director of chronic disease prevention.

Prospective members can receive day passes “to give a test drive to the program, to see if it’s a good fit,” Lybarger said.

Participants at Healthy Seniors Day, held at all eight branches of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, included representatives from numerous organizations providing information about relevant products, services and places to live.

According to the YMCA, 31 million adults over the age of 50 do not engage in physical activity outside of necessary daily activities like walking around the house, putting them at a raised risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

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Meghan Milstead

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Meghan Milstead offers treats baked in the kitchen of the Grand Residence at Upper St. Clair on McMurray Road.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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