Seniors Face Fresh Challenges In Staying Healthy

Community groups offer a variety of vital free and low-cost services including meals, dance classes and health screenings



Andy Towle/Roundup -

Jan Milligan prepares french fries as part of the day’s menu for the Payson Senior Center’s in-house lunch and the Meals on Wheels program.

Today’s seniors have learned the value of a dollar the hard way. Many either were children during the Great Depression or heard the stories from their parents who lived through it.

More than a few can also recall the belt tightening required to cope with rationing in World War II.

Now, they face shrinking retirement savings and find themselves reluctantly revisiting the household economies of their youths.

But cutting back on health and wellness need not be part of the equation.

“A lot of seniors are putting things off (medical tests and treatments),” said Cory Houghton, director of marketing for Payson Regional Medical Center.

Unfortunately, putting off a visit to the doctor now, a test here or a treatment there, can set up seniors for catastrophic, life-threatening consequences.

Fortunately, the health and wellness services offered “outside the box” of a doctor’s office or the hospital in Payson can help fill the gap created by personal economies.

Good food produces good health

One of the keys to good health is good nutrition — which can make the meal programs provided by the senior centers of Payson and Pine invaluable.

The Payson Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels and in-house lunch programs cost less than a fancy cup of coffee.

The center charges just $3 for people 60 and older, $5 for those younger than 60. Similar programs out of the Pine Senior Center come with about the same price tag.

Each meal meets one-third of the daily requirement for nutrition, and always includes milk and fruit.

To participate in the programs, make a reservation 24 hours in advance. To contact the Payson Senior Center, call (928) 474-4876. To reach the Pine center, call (928) 476-2151.

Exercise saves lives

Exercise holds another the key to health and wellness. Both senior centers and the PRMC Senior Circle provide a variety of fitness programs, from basic exercise classes to dance, tai chi and arthritis water aerobics. Call the above numbers to see what is offered at the senior centers and call (928) 472-9290 for details about the programs at the Senior Circle.

The health and wellness offerings from the Senior Circle are not limited to its exercise programs, it is, after all, a community outreach service of PRMC.

The Senior Circle offers a wide variety of activities to enhance the lives of its members, and the cost of membership is perfect for the economy-minded, with dues of $15 a year for individuals or $27 per year for a couple.

Find problems early

Regular health fairs offer members a variety of health screenings free of charge or at minimal cost. February’s health fair featured screenings for cholesterol, blood sugar and more.

The Payson Senior Center also offers health screening opportunities at least once a year through a visit by Life Line Screening.

The Senior Circle also brings in medical professionals to speak to members on a regular basis. Dr. Terence Rousseau discussed lung health in January and Dr. Khalid Naqi talked about heart health in February.

The American Cancer Society uses the Senior Circle as its primary information provider for the Rim Country. Most presentations in Payson take place at the Circle building, 215 N. Beeline Highway. Much of ACS’s general information is available at the Senior Circle.

Other services for seniors

The Senior Circle also loans members medical equipment, usually at no charge.

Opportunities to socialize are another key element of health and wellness for seniors (and everyone else); both senior centers and the Senior Circle offer those opportunities in abundance through their many recreational programs.

If a service isn’t available, ask about getting it started.

The staffs of the Payson Senior Center, the Pine-Strawberry Senior Center and the PRMC Senior Circle are always interested in learning how they can be of better service to their members.

Other groups offer many free or low-cost medical services.

Miracle-Ear on the south end of Payson provides free hearing screenings. Once a year, the health care community presents a large-scale health fair which almost always provides numerous tests and screenings for a minimal amount of money. This health fair is usually in the fall.

Each year there is also a women’s wellness program in the spring, which has a variety of educational programs and some health screening opportunities. This year, the Women’s Wellness Forum was held on March 14.

The Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (the regional Area Agency on Aging) provides a great resource to seniors and those serving them with “Senior Connections,” a community resource guide.

You can download the guide onto your computer at For more information on obtaining the booklet, call 800-293-9393.


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