Joining Payson Regional Senior Circle guarantees anyone age 50 and older access to an array of benefits, including exercise classes, support groups and seminars on health and wellness.
Senior Circle is a national program run by Community Health Systems, the organization that runs Payson Regional Medical Center.
Director of Marketing and Senior Programs for Payson Regional Medical Center Cory Houghton has not only expanded the program's membership, but the services and resources offered.
For $15 a year, membership in Senior Circle allows access to benefits provided by the national program.
"I call it the AARP component," Houghton said. "The benefits include access to an emergency response system, prescription discounts, travel discounts and VIP treatment at any of the 60 hospitals affiliated with the Senior Circle program."
Houghton said she is always looking for better benefits for seniors.
"The thing that we are always trying to do is get senior benefits that offer substantial discounts," Houghton said. "That's another piece of what we do, so each year we look for new benefits.
"New for this year, we have some additional benefits," she said. "Our newest is a vision benefit and we also have a long-term care insurance. We have a senior representative who can compare policies."
As encouraging health and wellness is the aim of Senior Circle, the program offers members and non-members educational seminars on health topics.
In June, Senior Circle had a men's health fair.
"There is so much stuff out there for women and not much for men," Houghton said.
Men who registered for the fair could have expensive blood tests done and learn about common health problems men face as they grow older.
The mission of Senior Circle is to encourage seniors to be pro-active in their health and wellness.
Another new addition Senior Circle offers, in conjunction with the hospital, is a weekly health and wellness class.
"We have started a wellness program that is for Senior Circle members and hospital employees," Houghton said. "Of the 215 hospital employees, 119 of them are Senior Circle-eligible.
"Every day, employees deal with illness, and who is taking care of that population?"
Encouraging seniors to exercise is a daily part of Houghton's work.
"One thing we know is that exercise is very important," Houghton said. "Senior Circle offers several exercise classes and we are always trying to get people into them."
She said broken hips are a common injury for seniors and can have a devastating impact.
"Falls are most often the cause," Houghton said. "Our exercise classes help improve balance, strength and flexibility."
Current classes include aquatics and aerobics targeted for people suffering from arthritis as well as line and belly dancing.
Senior Circle also offers cancer, diabetes and fibromyalgia support groups, which are open to anyone in the community, at no cost.
On occasion, a medical professional within the community will give a lecture. There is a nominal cost to members and non-members to cover the cost of the meal provided.
Houghton and the PRMC caseworker, have been working hard to get a cancer education group started at the hospital.
"We have a lot of people in this community who are dealing with cancer and we have developed a cancer education program using a cancer-care patient workbook," Houghton said. "This program is for anyone dealing with cancer or who has a loved-one with cancer.
The program, scheduled to begin at the end of March, is designed to give cancer patients maximum resources to deal with the disease.
"This workbook tells you things like where can you go to find information about your kind of cancer -- about the best kind of treatment and how to get access to clinical trials. We want to inspire people to face their cancer head on and be pro-active."
One of Senior Circle's most successful programs has been their Medical Loan Closet.
Thanks in part to the Rotary club, RTA Hospice and the Methodist Church, Senior Circle has a room full of medical equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs, that it loans to those in need.
"The idea is for the equipment to be kept for six months to a year and then returned when it is no longer needed," Houghton said.
"We need to advocate for our senior population," Houghton said. "If you get to live long enough, you will become a senior. Seniors are educated, smart and savvy individuals. I know I am going to be 50 one day and I ask myself what I would want if I were a senior. I am always looking for ways to help make their lives better and improve their outcomes."
For more information on Senior Circle or health and wellness programs the hospital has to offer, call Houghton at (928) 468-1012 or (928) 472-1275
Senior center takes care of community's elderly
After 25 years, Payson's Senior Center on Main Street continues to serve the basic needs of Payson's adult community.
"This is their center," Senior Center director Marsha Cauley said. "It belongs to the seniors. I am just here to make sure things run smoothly."
For a fee of $10 a year, seniors enjoy the benefits of membership in the center, such as low-cost meals and transportation, informational seminars and classes.
"We now have 225 members," Cauley said.
Every weekday, the center feeds an average of 80 seniors who might otherwise go hungry, and they also operate the Meals on Wheels program that feeds those who are homebound.
Cauley said a new cook and a convection oven, donated by the Rotary club, have made dining at the center a joy.
"We now have a new cook and a new menu," Cauley said. "The food is really nice and sometimes we get surprised with a really great dessert."
She said the center requests a donation of $3 for meals, but will never turn anyone away.
"For those who can afford it, we really need the $3," Cauley said. "But people who cannot afford to give that much will still get a meal."
The center handles the Meals on Wheels program that delivers meals to the local homebound. Cauley said demand for the program has increased.
"It's going out of sight," Cauley said. "We have now 73 people getting meals delivered and we not only serve them a lunch meal, we are taking out 178 supplements such as Ensure on top of their meal."
Cauley said the center also is delivering 400 weekend meals a month.
Senior Center staff works hard to meet the basic needs of Payson's elderly, including low-cost transportation.
The town has agreed to buy the center a new van so seniors have a way of getting to a medical appointment or to the grocery store.
"Transportation is $3 for a round-trip," Cauley said.
She said the center has undergone some restructuring, including several new board members.
Updating and remodeling the center is a work in progress, according to Cauley.
"We have new flooring in both the Senior Center and the Thrift Store," Cauley said. "We got a new sign for the Thrift Store and we are getting a new one for the Senior Center."
A new flagpole now graces the front of the center. "It's a commemorative gift from a friend of Bill Overton who was the board director for years. The flagpole is in memory of him," Cauley said.
"Staff from the parks and recreation department put in the flagpole for us, and we are so grateful to them."
Besides food, transportation, and services such as free legal aid, the center has a calender full of activities, classes and informational seminars.
"We are having movies twice a month on our new, big-screen TV," Cauley said.
"We have computer classes going on all the time and we may have more because we have so many seniors who want to learn computers. We have 10 computers right now and the school is going to bring us more."
Senior Center members will soon have a choice of aerobics classes to take.
"We are starting a walking aerobics class," Cauley said. "The walking aerobics is for people who can't do quite as much as the regular aerobics.
"Right now, we have a gymnastics aerobics which is more advanced and includes some line dancing."
Learning about health, nutrition and other topics is also part of center's calender.
"We have health and nutritional seminars here a couple times a month," Cauley said. "We've always got little informational seminars going on."
Cauley attributes the survival of the center to its dedicated volunteers. "The thrift store is run by volunteers, and that's what keeps us going," Cauley said. "We can always use more volunteers."
For more information on Payson's Senior Center, call (928) 474-4876.