By Yara Enamorado
Exercise, gardening, socializing, and community outreach—sounds tiring, right? Well for Sonia Ulloa, that’s just living your best life. At 92 years young, Sonia is the oldest member of Adventist Health White Memorial’s (AHWM) ¡Vive Bien! Senior Wellness Program.
Run by AHWM’s Community Information Center, the ¡Vive Bien! Senior Wellness Program is on a mission to save lives, rejuvenate the weary, and bring the community together.
According to several studies, such as one from Journal of Health and Social Behavior, depression reaches its highest level in adults 80 years and older. Eighty years—that’s our parents, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and our neighbors. The ¡Vive Bien! Program wants to ensure that our elders have something to live for, something that brings joy and wellness.
“It saved me from depression. I’ve made friends, and I’m living my best life at 92,” said Sonia. She isn’t the only one impacted by this program. Sonia is just one of the hundreds that the ¡Vive Bien! Senior Wellness Program continuously helps through enriching nutritional education and social clubs. By working closely with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, ¡Vive Bien! also offers seniors over the age of 60 on-site and over-the-phone assistance, resources, referrals to agencies, and programs based on individual needs.
More importantly, however, the ¡Vive Bien! Program gives its members the opportunity to give back to the community. The knitting club provides not only a social outlet but also helps create cozy beanies and booties for AHWM’s NICU children. Seniors serve homeless men and women at Dolores Mission, just blocks away from the hospital. Through the gardening club, they learn about nutrition and help maintain a special haven for the community to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Sonia loves the fact that the program is at a hospital. She feels safe knowing that if anything should happen, she’d be taken care of quickly. Additionally, she encourages everyone to stay active and find outlets like ¡Vive Bien! that foster socialization. “I can’t just stay home; I’ll find myself bored and sad. We can’t do that,” she said.
“As our (Adventist Health) mission is to live God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness, and hope, we want ¡Vive Bien! to do that specifically for our senior community. We bring people together, incubate friendships, fight the loneliness that often comes with seniority, provide spiritual guidance, and help them learn how to stay healthy,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, AH Community Information Center coordinator.
With gardening, book, knitting, Bible study, and many more clubs, ¡Vive Bien! is out to provide seniors in Boyle Heights a refuge that prioritizes human wholeness. Alan Sanchez, Community Information Center manager, said, “We have the commitment to provide our community members with resources and education services to help them live fulfilling lives—inspiring happiness, collaboration, and a sense of a greater community for the wellbeing of all.”
As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe in the gospel of Christ, His ministry here on earth, and that we are called to be His light in this world. We are to live as He lived. Christ healed the sick, He made the blind see and the deaf hear—but He didn’t stop there. Christ healed the soul!
If we are to be a hospital that claims the name of Jesus, then our mission of living God’s love must be fully realized in that we not only heal the body but we heal the soul and inspire hope. This program is just one way Adventist Health is fulling its mission and acting on our organizational values to own our mission and be a force for good.