If you were born in 1968 or earlier, you’re in luck. Your age qualifies you for free membership in the Santa Clara Senior Center, 1303 Fremont St. The 45,000-square-foot facility is a hub of activities where those 50 and over can have fun, socialize and stay fit. And the price is right. The activities range in cost from free to minimal.
The Senior Center recently was awarded a $2,000 grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association to pilot a new class—“Active Living Every Day,” which targets sedentary seniors.
The class uses an evidence-based program developed by the Cooper Institute (www.cooperinstitute.org), a non-profit research and education center that studies the relationship between living habits and health. The program educates people about the importance of being active, helps them identify the roadblocks to an active lifestyle, and helps them figure out how to get moving more.
Senior Center Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Herb points out that “people with different physical abilities can still be active—even sitting in a chair. The class helps people set realistic personal goals.”
Active Living Every Day is team taught by Wendy Talbert, RN, and Joli Erpe, a physical therapist and recreational specialist. They received training and certification from the Cooper Institute.
“The class is about how we think about physical activity and how to incorporate more into our day. Participants encourage each other and learn different strategies from each other,” said Talbert.
“It’s educational and informative for all the participants that are at different levels of physical activity,” said Erpe.
Santa Claran Celeste Romkee enrolled in the first session, which began March 1.
“It helps me overcome barriers to physical activity. It’s helped me to set realistic goals for myself and built confidence that, as a senior citizen, you still have opportunities to improve your total well-being,” said Romkee.
One tip that has helped Romkee is to break her exercise routine up into shorter intervals.
“If you don’t have 50 minutes to exercise, break it down to 10- or 20-minute intervals,” she said.
Because it was funded by a grant, the Active Living Every Day class is free. Although the current class is full, two additional 12-week sessions are scheduled: May 31 – Aug. 16 and Aug. 30 – Nov. 15. Sign up now at the front desk or online at www.santaclaraca.gov/residents/senior-center or call (408) 615-3170.
Those interested in water exercise can also sign up for classes, including therapeutic recreation classes for those with disabilities four and older. The natatorium has a lap pool, warm water pool and spa. At the end of December, it received thorough maintenance and repair, including upgrading 50 light fixtures to LEDs.
Health & Wellness Services & Fair
As well as offering activities and classes, the Senior Center is a hub for health services that promote independent living.
“For 40 years, the Health & Wellness Program RNs, Social Worker, and Volunteer Resource Specialist have partnered with Santa Clara’s older adults and their families for free public health nursing and social service support,” said Health & Wellness Coordinator Mallory von Kugelgen, RN, PHN.
“We provide health education and coaching, screenings and events, care management, caregiver support, connection to resources, and much more. Our staff partners with people to help determine goals, navigate community resources and problem-solve solutions,” said von Kugelgen.
Building on last year’s success, a second Senior Health and Wellness Fair is scheduled on Friday, May 18, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., outdoors at Fremont Park, next to the Senior Center. The free fair offers health screening opportunities, fitness class demonstrations, information for caregivers and seniors from more than two dozen exhibitors, and more. A Kaiser Permanente donation reduces the cost of the lunch available for purchase.
“At the Senior Center, we have an opportunity to interact with the adult population in Santa Clara and, by using the tools and resources we have, we’re able to meet the changing needs of the community,” said Herb.
“Meeting the needs of the senior community affects the community as a whole. What we find here is that you have a lot of the sandwich generation [those in the middle helping both their kids and their aging parents],” she continued. “We’re also helping the kids of seniors. It takes the burden off their kids if seniors are healthy and well.”