Senior Circle Offers Education, Fun, Fellowship

A recent Senior Circle member lunch featured Dutch Oven Cooking by John Swenson, who not only prepared the meal in Dutch Ovens out at Rumsey Park but gave a presentation on what and how to cook in the versatile cast iron utensil.

Photo by Andy Towle. |

A recent Senior Circle member lunch featured Dutch Oven Cooking by John Swenson, who not only prepared the meal in Dutch Ovens out at Rumsey Park but gave a presentation on what and how to cook in the versatile cast iron utensil.


Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle is one of the fastest growing groups in town. And it’s no wonder. Membership is only $15 a year and the benefits are enormous. With more than 2,000 members, Senior Circle offers programs and events that range from health education presentations by area doctors, luncheons at which to socialize, exercise classes and a wide variety of activities and games, along with access to discounted travel and purchases from area merchants.

Health education

Senior Circle’s main focus is health education and wellness for people in the Payson community who are 50 years of age or older.


Jan Parsons

Jan Parsons, Senior Circle advisor, explains that by far the most popular events at the Circle are the “Doc Talks” or, as they are commonly referred to, Lunch and Learn.

“A light lunch is offered free of charge and members have the opportunity to listen to our local physicians speak about common health issues. We try to keep the programs varied and offer topics that affect most people our age,” Parsons said.

The topics and presenters for July through September are: menopause and post-menopause with Dr. Ed Waechter, July 10; Medicare physicals with Dr. Jennifer Dumbolton, July 24; dentures and implants with Dr. Charles Beier, Aug. 7; hepatitis with Dr. Ihor Zakaluzny, Aug. 21; shingles and adult immunizations with Dr. Chris LeSueur, Sept. 11; and leg pain with Dr. Luis Coppelli, Sept. 25.


Sandwiched in-between the Lunch and Learns is a free member lunch. In addition to a healthy luncheon, members have an opportunity to visit and get to know one another, and enjoy a couple of games of bingo. Lunch and Learns and member lunches begin at 11:30 a.m. and last about an hour. On occasion there will be special programs at the member luncheons. The July 17 member lunch will feature a program with Payson Regional Medical Center’s Chris Wolf, chief executive officer; Peter Finelli, chief financial officer; and Shelly Thompson, business manager.

Reservations for both the Lunch and Learn programs and member lunches should be made at least 24 hours in advance by calling (928) 472-9290.

Members can also enjoy socializing while playing pinochle, Bunco, Mexican train dominos and the recently added, and currently most popular, mahjong — a game with tiles that originated in China and is commonly played by four players. It is similar to the card game rummy. Mahjong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance.

Additional social opportunities, and special health benefits are available to members through several exercise programs. The Senior Circle offers Qigong, Zumba Gold and Feeling Fit classes. The Feeling Fit exercise program can be done standing or sitting in a chair for those seniors who have arthritis or who have problems with their balance. Each program is offered twice a week.

The area Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) meets at the Senior Circle, though it is not part of the programming for members.

If you like to dance or would like to learn, a ballroom dancing class and a line dancing class are also offered. Line dancing builds cardiovascular and muscular strength as well as flexibility.

Through Senior Circle, members are offered substantial discounts to the Tonto Apache Gym, which provides weights equipment and a covered pool. Dues are $52 per quarter (3 months). Open enrollment through Senior Circle occurs in July and October.

Support groups

Other health-related programs also offered on a regular basis are Diabetes Support, facilitated by John Hancock, RN and diabetic educator; a spousal grief support group for adults who have lost a spouse and the Lost Loves group for adults who have lost a loved one through suicide; Jeanine Affelt, LSBW, MED, conducts both groups.

Additionally, the center is the site for dialysis outreach training.

Cancer Closet

Senior Circle operates the community’s cancer closet. Wigs, scarves and turbans along with cancer-related literature are available to women (and men) who are undergoing chemotherapy. The Look Good…Feel Better program, Reach to Recovery, Survivor College Scholarship program and the children’s summer camp program are among other programs that the Senior Circle coordinates in conjunction with the American Cancer Society.

It also operates the Road to Recovery program, which is modeled after the national Road to Recovery program, but is designed to provide transportation help in Rim Country for people who need a ride to their local cancer treatment in Payson.

Volunteer drivers are needed. Drivers must have a good driving record and a serviceable vehicle. They must be willing to transport people with cancer to and from scheduled treatment appointments only. The volunteer driver must submit to screening and training through the American Cancer Society as ACS maintains specific standards for the responsibilities of volunteer driver. In return, the Senior Circle will provide $10 gas cards for participating drivers. To learn more about the program, or to offer your services as a driver, please contact Jan Parsons, (928) 472-9290.

In fact, the Senior Circle is in need of a number of volunteers to help out at the front desk and in other capacities. Call Parsons to find out about the opportunities available.


A certain segment of the Senior Circle’s membership enjoys the travel opportunities offered, Parsons said.

A variety of trips are being planned for the next several months.

AZ Trails Travel of Fountain Hills handles most of the Senior Circle’s travel programs and, through it, members are connected to other providers for some trips.

The next trip is a 10-day tour of Ireland, which is through Collette Tours. That trip is Sept. 1-10 and there is still time to sign up. The cost, which does not include airfare, is $2,099 per person, double occupancy (the rate is more for a single and less for a triple).

A trip to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, through Free Spirit, is planned Oct. 8-11 and costs $775 per person, double occupancy, which includes ground transportation.

AZ Trails Travel is arranging a Presidential Libraries Tour to California Nov. 7-9 for $499 per person, double occupancy. This trip also includes travel by motor coach.

Two different trips are planned in December — a two-day tour of holiday events in Arizona is Dec. 5-7, it includes the light show in Sedona; and there is also a one-day trip to Barleens Arizona Opry on Dec. 7. The first trip is by Free Spirit and costs $375 per person, double occupancy. The one-day trip is $85 per person and is through AZ Trails Travel.

Trips planned for 2014 include a visit to Palm Springs, Feb. 26-28 for $495 per person, double occupancy through Free Spirit; a tour of Wilcox, Tombstone and Bisbee March 27-30 through AZ Trails Travel for $569 per person, double occupancy; an extended tour of Yellowstone and other National Parks in the Western U.S. through Cosmos Tours costing under $2,000 per person, double occupancy; and a trip to San Antonio, Texas for its Christmas celebration in November through Collette Tours and costing $1,199, double occupancy.

Additional day trips may be added later.

For information, call AZ Trails Travel at 1-888-799-4284 or e-mail Reservations should be made through the Senior Circle at (928) 472-9290.


The Senior Circle offers free hearing tests through Abbott Hearing, AARP driver safety training, a medical loan closet and a program in which many area businesses participate to provide members with discounts on goods and services.

The Senior Circle has something for everyone, so come on down and join the fun. The Senior Circle is located at 215 N. Beeline Highway, Payson. The phone number is (928) 472-9290.


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