The Alfond Center at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine expanded its adult fitness classes this year to include the nationally recognized SilverSneakers® program. SilverSneakers–the nation’s leading community fitness program designed exclusively for older adults– offers a way to motivate older adults to increase their levels of physical activity and remain socially active. As Maine’s first college campus hosting the SilverSneakers fitness program for older adults, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine held a breakfast reception in May that celebrated the successful launch of SilverSneakers as the first phase of the College’s Institute for Integrative Aging (IIA). The event welcomed award-winning global healthcare activist and Tivity Health CEO Donato J. Tramuto to campus.
Addressing the many SilverSneakers program participants gathered at the event, Tramuto said, “Loneliness is the new epidemic of the 21st century. I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and have met tens of thousands of SilverSneakers members. Fifteen million adults are eligible for this program. Sixteen thousands gyms participate. And it all started with the desire to train gyms on how to treat mature adults in exercise classes who may have chronic conditions. I applaud Saint Joseph’s College for establishing this program on campus. It takes leaders to move us forward so that we never forget the senior community. Thank you for making it easier for older adults in rural Maine to age with dignity.”
SilverSneakers participant Shirley Saunders of Windham said, “I’m ninety five years old and I barely got out of my home all winter, it was so icy. I went a long time without being around people. SilverSneakers is wonderful. I like being in a room full of people and even more so when they’re close to my age. Everyone is very friendly. This is just what I’ve been looking for. It’s very social.”
Ken Murch of Windham said, “I didn’t realize how bad my balance was until the instructor asked us to do a heel-to-toe walk. I couldn’t do it. If the police had asked me to do that sobriety test, I don’t think I would pass just because of my balance. I also joined to help my shoulder. A physical therapist told me he thinks my muscles aren’t equally strong on both sides. This should help. And they say activity should help fight my diabetes. I really like how this provides an opportunity to share life experiences and to have people really listen.”
President Jim Dlugos, who coined the term “integrative aging” said, “We want you to think of Saint Joseph’s as your college. Know that we are here for you and for everyone in the Lakes Region. Please come back often and take advantage of all we have to offer at this beautiful place on Sebago Lake.”
Associate Director of Health & Wellness Programming Jenna Chase said, “For over a decade, we have been welcoming older adults into aquatic classes in the SJC swimming pool. For the past few years, we have also been supporting the fitness of older adults in our dance studio. We are pleased to expand further and add SilverSneakers to our offerings.”
SilverSneakers, by Tivity Health, is the nation’s leading community fitness program for older Americans. The program was founded in 1992 and is available to more than 14.5 million Medicare beneficiaries through many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans. For those members, the benefit is offered at no additional cost. For more information, to check eligibility or enroll, go to silversneakers.com.