Senior Circle — A Place For Fun And Good Health


A member of the Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle could fill Monday through Friday with its activities. But the Senior Circle is more than a center for fun, it is also a place to learn about getting and staying healthy and the health care resources that the community’s older residents have available.

The Senior Circle is a national, nonprofit organization committed to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and over. The $15 annual membership offers a generous selection of valuable discounts, activities and events, exercise and wellness classes, a chapter newsletter and national publication subscription, in-hospital privileges, reciprocal privileges and much more.


The Senior Circle’s mission is to encourage the healthiest, most active lifestyle possible through meaningful education, wellness, health, volunteer opportunities and social activities at our hospital and throughout the community, while providing a forum for fellowship, valuable members-only discounts and privileges.

The Senior Circle program represents PRMC’s commitment to meet the needs of seniors by providing them with opportunities to continue to live the healthiest, most fulfilling lives possible. It is the program’s goal to offer seniors in the community an outlet where they can participate in activities and share common interests with other seniors, while at the same time promoting health and wellness.


Educational opportunities are provided through the Circle’s Lunch and Learn program, which most often features the community’s health care providers as guest speakers and also provides a forum through which new doctors recruited by PRMC can meet the public.


Dominoes, like Mexican Train, is just one of the games members of the Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle enjoy. Members get together for Bunco, Scrabble, Yahtzee and more. Plus there are fitness classes, computer and photography classes, programs featuring area health care professionals and other topics of interests, luncheons and great travel opportunities.

The winter edition of the Circle’s newsletter, “Circle News” outlined who would be speaking at upcoming Lunch and Learn programs, which are presented from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Earlier this month, Kim Sleeper talked to members about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and on Jan. 25, a Healthy Woman program was presented. February’s speakers will discuss gastro esophageal reflux disease (G.E.R.D.) on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and cardiac arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

A non-medical topic will be presented Wednesday, March 14 when Payson Mayor Kenny Evans presents an update on the efforts to bring a satellite campus of Arizona State University to Payson. The topic of Alzheimer’s disease will be discussed Wednesday, March 28.

Other health programs offered by the Senior Circle are a diabetes support group, which meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the last Monday of each month, led by John Hancock, RN; free hearing tests by Abbot Hearing Centers, which are planned from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 and Wednesday, March 14. The tests, while free, require appointments and take about 45 minutes. To learn more and make an appointment, call the Circle at (928) 472-9290.

Also on the “medical” front at the Senior Circle, it provides all Rim Country residents with free equipment such as walkers, crutches, bedside commodes and other items needed for home health care from its medical loan closet.

For women in cancer treatment it also has a cancer closet with wigs and scarves, plus it has started a Look Good Feel Better program in conjunction with the American Cancer Society. This program provides women undergoing chemotherapy some special pampering by area aestheticians. The most recent session was held in December and featured the time and talent of Terry Brydon of Backstreet Salon, Jennifer Hagen of Jennifer’s Skin Care, Wendy Shill of Kutting Edge and was coordinated by Shirley Grady.

Members of the Senior Circle also enjoy benefits at PRMC. They may have a free upgrade to a private room if available and their spouse may have one free meal a day from the cafeteria while the member is in the hospital There are also national benefits related to health from Beltone Hearing Care, the EyeMed Vision Care Plan and ScriptSave Prescription Discounts.

A number of area merchants also provide discounts to Senior Circle members.


Remember we mentioned a member could stay busy all day, Monday through Friday, with all the activities offered at the Senior Circle.

There are dance and fitness classes, games, crafts and programs where members can learn about computers and digital photography.


Dee Force, at far right with Rich Henry, has taught a ballroom dance class for the Payson Senior Circle since 2007. The class is free to Circle members, who can join at any time. Among the participants are Peggy Malecha, Ron Lewis, Ruth Hill, Pete and Chris Rothenbach, Ed and Joan Weichel and Wayne Walter. Force said participants don’t need a partner to be in the class, which meets Thursday afternoons.

Dee Force has offered the ballroom dance class at the Circle since 2007. It is currently offered from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and members can start at any time, though classes resumed after the holidays on Jan. 19. Not only can Senior Circle members take the class for free, so can those enrolled in the PRMC Well Woman program.

“And you don’t have to have a partner to participate,” Force said.

Force is a former competitive ballroom dancer — she participated in Pro-Am contests with her instructor.

In addition to offering ballroom dance, she includes Latin and Country Western dance lessons if students are interested.

She said she has probably had 50 students in the Senior Circle class over the years and now has around 17 enrolled, with 10 of those showing up pretty consistently.

A class devoted to line dancing will start at the Circle in March. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Friday.

The Circle’s fitness classes include Qigong and Tai Chi, Zumba Basic and Zumba Gold, Feeling Fit and Wii Bowling. The programs are presented via video recordings and shown on a big screen television. Qigong and Tai Chi are from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday and Thursday; Zumba Gold, a slower version of the Latin dance fitness program, is from 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday and Thursday; and Zumba Basic is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday. The Feeling Fit program is offered from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Friday. Wii Bowling is from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Rena Hudson is in the Qigong and Tai Chi program and said the classes are small, with only six to eight people participating, so there is plenty of room to work through the moves.

Paulette Barger is in a Zumba class. “It makes me feel like a teenager and we do it at our own pace,” she said.

The Feeling Fit program has about 20 participants and focuses on stretching, chair exercises and working with resistance bands and light weights. Through the Senior Circle, members also may have a discounted membership at the Tonto Apache Recreation Center, where they can use the pool and weight equipment.

There are all kinds of game groups at the Circle: Bunco; Scrabble; Yahtzee; dominos, including Mexican Train; and Mahjong and more are added as members request.

The games, fitness programs and the member luncheons and special events — like a barbecue, an ice cream social, picnics in the park — are all part of the Circle’s efforts to keep its members socially involved, something experts say is vital to the health and well being of older adults.

It also has a movie matinee from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month.

There are special grief support groups: New Hope, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday for those who have lost their spouse; and Lost Loves, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. the first and third Thursday of the month for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.


Probably one of the most fun aspects of the Senior Circle’s programming is the discounted travel opportunities for members. They can go on group day trips or longer excursions of several days, and on occasion extended vacations.

Volunteer Renee Wakem, who works with the Circle’s partner AZ Trails Travel, which works with the national Senior Circle travel associate Collette Vacations, coordinates the Payson Senior Circle’s travel program.

She has been lending her skills to the Senior Circle for about 18 months and said she volunteers because, “I love to travel and make people happy.”

“And she’s great at it,” said Senior Circle Advisor Jan Parsons. “She gets up at the front of that bus and she’s ‘on’ and keeps track of all the participants.”

AZ Trails Travel generally suggests the Senior Circle trips and she asks Wakem if any of the ventures would be of interest to the members. Wakem then polls members and goes back to the travel agency with the level of interest.

One of the most popular trips planned for 2012 is a few days up at Monument Valley in the fall with a Jeep tour. A day trip to Barleens Arizona Opry is planned for March 13, with reservations and payment of $85 per person to be made by Feb. 10. Another three-day (or so) trip to Tombstone and Bisbee is also being discussed. All the Circle’s bus trips are handicap accessible, Wakem said.

Through Collette Vacations and AZ Trails Travel, members also have the opportunity to go The Netherlands, Belgium and Paris for a world-famous horticultural event held only once every 10 years. Those wanting to take part in the 11-day April excursion need to make a $500 deposit by Feb. 10. The full cost, excluding air, starts at $2,399. A September trip to Washington, D.C., starting at $1,649, plus air, is also being planned.

The most popular recent trips offered through the Circle have been to San Diego, Calif. and Silverton-Durango, Colo., Wakem said.

Two members from the Payson Senior Circle participated in last fall’s Collette Vacation to Tuscany, Wakem said.

According to the national Senior Circle publication, Inside Circle, another Tuscany trip is planned in early November; it is 10 days and the cost starts at $1,799. A 10-day tour of Canada’s Atlantic Coast is planned for late August, starting a $2,299; and 14 days exploring Greece and its islands is slated for late September, starting a $2,499.

Collette Vacations is also making the following U.S. adventures available to Senior Circle members in the coming months: five days in New York City in mid-April, starting at $1,549; nine days on the trains of Colorado in early June, starting at $1,999; and a 13-day Alaska land tour and cruise in mid-July, starting at $3,956.

“Discount travel is one of the greatest benefits of membership,” Wakem said.


To learn more about the PRMC Senior Circle, stop by the facility at 215 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday or between 9 a.m. and noon, Friday.

Membership is open to anyone 50 and older and is only $15 per person per year; $27 per person for two years; $27 for two people for a year; or $51 for two people for two years. New members who are not satisfied with what the Circle offers are given a 45-day money back guarantee. For more information, call (928) 472-9290.


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