“They visit, talk about the day, and get used to who is here on what day for what class,” she said. “If you miss a class, we’re going to wonder where you are. It’s so much more than come in and do your class and leave.”
The SilverSneakers program is also offered at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreation Complex in Miami Gardens. The national program was designed exclusively for older adults who can benefit through Medicare health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.
At Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, about 10,000 seniors participate in the Senior Partners community programming. Classes, held both in Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, include stretching, ballroom dancing and tai chi. The hospital system developed the concept more than a decade ago as a low-cost preventative health option for those who are 50 and older.
“We do offer specialty geriatric programs, rehabilitation programs, an adult day care center at Memorial, but Senior Partners looks at what you can do to improve your health in the long run and enjoy yourself at the same time,” said Steve Sampere, director of community services for Memorial. “We have a science-based program on balance because slips and falls are an important issue as you grow older.”
Memorial also offers a mall walker program for groups of seniors who walk laps at area malls before they open.
Carol Mathews, 82, has been an active participant since the program arrived at Pembroke Lake Mall two decades ago. Twice a week, she arrives at the mall at 8:30 a.m. to walk a brisk mile before meeting her friends at the food court for coffee or tea.
“I like the idea of walking in a cool, comfortable and safe environment,” she said. “I used to walk outside, but sometimes it can get too hot or rainy.”
Mathews also takes a tai chi class at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center in Pembroke Pines to improve her balance and blood circulation. She said she wants to keep active for years to come.
“I have no heart problems, and no aches and pains like a lot of people my age complain about,” she said.