Atlanta Club Offers Friendship, Activity For Latino Seniors

Audio version of this story here.

It’s common for senior citizens to feel lonely and isolated. That’s especially true for seniors who emigrated from other countries. Once they’ve retired and their kids are grown, it can be hard for them to find friends who share their language and culture.

But there’s a program in Atlanta that tries to solve that problem for Latino seniors.

This is an hour-long Zumba class. While it may not be moving at a rapid fire pace, it is moving.

Fitness classes are just part of what’s offered at the Club de la Tercera Edad, or Seniors Club. Atlanta’s Latin American Association organizes the group, which meets for a few hours on Fridays.

“They do exercise, they do yoga, they do aerobics,” says LAA president Jeffrey Tapia. “They celebrate their holidays and their birthdays. They bring in educational speakers.”

Tapia says as their children grow up and move away, the group becomes its own family.

“They’re the mothers and the fathers of the community really. And yet they’re lonely, they’re isolated, in many cases, forgotten.”

But these seniors are not forgotten here.

“I like the workouts. I like the music. I like when we go sometimes to the YMCA,” says group member Armando Monaco, who is from Argentina.

Carmen Cruz, of Puerto Rico,  says she likes it all.

93-year-old Gloria Patiño has been coming to the group for 10 years. She says she still looks forward to Fridays.

“There are people here who are quite talented,” she says. “And we have wonderful programs.”

Patiño’s daughter, Maria, is in charge of one of those programs. She teaches the Zumba classes. She has to figure out how to make the class enough of a workout without overdoing it.

“Es un balance. It’s a balance,” she says.

It also seems like it’s a lot of fun.