Golden Years

Services abound for Rim country retirees

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While the gain in U.S. life expectancy during the 20th century was a major victory for public health, the challenge of the 21st century will be to make those added years quality years.

Payson is noted for its large population of retirees, with 30 percent of the town's population over 65. With the number of adults over 65 expected to double to more than 70 million by 2030, increasing demands will be placed on the public health system and on medical and social services.

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Martha Reece has been volunteering at the Pine-Strawberry Senior Center Thrift Store for 13 years. "It gets me out of the house and I enjoy meeting people and being part of the community," she said.

Fortunately, Payson isn't the 10th fastest growing retirement community in the nation (according to Jacksonville State University) for nothing, and one reason is the wide array of services and programs available to Rim country retirees.

Payson Senior Center

For more than a quarter century, the Payson Senior Center, located at 514 W. Main St., has been serving the needs of Payson's elderly.

The center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center's thrift store, located next door, is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Payson center serves hot meals at noon on weekdays. About 80 meals are served weekdays to homebound seniors, with frozen meals provided for the weekend.

The suggested meal donation for people over 60 is $3, $4.50 for those under 60 -- a great deal, according to director Marsha Cauley, "when you consider there is no tax and no tipping and free refills on all drinks."

Transportation is available to and from the center each day by calling (928) 474-4876.

"Just call and we will arrange a pick-up for you," Cauley said.

For a low annual membership fee of $10, seniors can participate in any and all activities, which include playing cards (bridge, canasta and pinochle), woodcarving, computer classes, aerobics, choir, music makers, Bible study, dances, dinners, picnics and many special events.

The Payson Senior Center operates a wheelchair-equipped van to take seniors to doctor, dentist and hair appointments, grocery shopping, to movies, and "just about anywhere you can think of as long as it is within the town of Payson," she said.

Call at least a day in advance for home pick-up. Cost is $4 plus $1 for each additional stop, and the van runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

A benefits specialist from the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens is available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday to assist seniors with Medicare, Social Security and similar issues. Pinal and Gila County residents 60 and older are also eligible for free legal assistance.

Cauley attributes the success of the center to a dedicated cadre of volunteers.

For more information on Payson Senior Center, call (928) 474-4876.

Pine-Strawberry Senior Center

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Gary Taylor and Carl Porter enjoy a game of pool at the Pine-Strawberry Senior Center. With an annual membership fee of just $5, it might just be the cheapest game in town.

The Pine-Strawberry Senior Center (formally known as the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation) is located in the center of Pine.

The main objective of the organization is to provide hot, nutritious meals for seniors. Meals are served weekdays at noon and include the center's famous salad bar, sometimes dessert, but always good fellowship, according to Bruce Thompson, SCAF president. Cost is $3.50 for members and $5 for nonmembers.

The center also provides Meals on Wheels in Pine and Strawberry to those who can't get to the dining room.

Because an annual membership fee of $5 plus the nominal meal charge doesn't cover costs, the center also operates a thrift store, open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Activities offered at the center include canasta, poker, a computer class, and bridge in the summer. A pool table is always available and a monthly potluck also is held.

The dining room is available for members and community use at no charge. For more information, call the thrift store at (928) 476-4633.

Senior Circle

Whether you want to meet new people, hope to begin an exercise program, are interested in learning more about healthcare, or wish to experience new adventures while traveling, Senior Circle has a place for you, according to director Cory Houghton.

Senior Circle is a national, nonprofit organization committed to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and over.ts mission is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for seniors by providing programs that encourage continued learning, wellness, health and volunteering, coupled with a host of social activities.

With more than 48,000 members and 73 chapters nationwide, each affiliated with a local hospital and led by a dedicated adviser, Senior Circle provides an environment of learning, wellness and enjoyment for its members.

"Poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging," Houghton said. "Scientifically proven measures are available now that can improve health, reduce the impact of disease, and delay disability and the need for long-term care."

When you join Senior Circle for just $15, your annual membership provides a selection of valuable discounts, activities and events, exercise and wellness classes, a chapter newsletter and national magazine subscription, in-hospital privileges, reciprocal privileges, and much more.

Specific benefits include a pharmacy discount card, emergency response discount, vision care discount, national travel program, Choice Hotels discounts, and car rental discounts.

Senior Circle is at 215 N. Beeline Highway. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information, call (928) 472-9290 or (928) 468-1012, or go to www.seniorcircle.com.

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