BayPath Elder Services’ Making Cultural Connections program provides healthy aging programs for Chinese Mandarin-speaking elders who reside in Framingham public housing.

“We found out a couple of years ago that there’s a cohort of Chinese Mandarin-speaking older adults in need of support,” said Monica Alley, BayPath’s director of community programs and healthy aging. “Since many of these seniors have only been in the country a few years, they didn’t think they were eligible for support. There were all these unmet needs we could fill.”


To get started, BayPath conducted presentations with a translator to explain to seniors that they are eligible for programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and home care, and offer assistance. BayPath then partnered with the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center to lead a series of healthy aging classes in Mandarin, including Matter of Balance and Chronic Disease Self-Management.

“There were people doing Tai Chi on the lawn. They were clearly interested in getting engaged in a program like Matter of Balance, but had no idea options existed,” said Alley. “Since they all live in this area, it was easy. We just needed to bring the right programs to them.”

“When we offered the program, they couldn’t sign up fast enough,” said Anne-Marie Gagnon, BayPath’s healthy aging program coordinator. “We had 22 older adults signed up in one day. I was expecting maybe 10 in total. The residents are so happy. They give us hugs and have such joy. It feels wonderful to be able to give them a sense of purpose with something meaningful to do.”

“The participants have also built up their confidence level regarding their health,” continued Gagnon. “They’ve learned from the class about the importance of checking their home environment and making safety improvements as needed to prevent falls. We’ve also seen increased motivation from participants to exercise daily in a safe environment.”

This story was published originally in the Tufts Health Plan Foundation’s June 25, 2013 newsletter.