by SJC Press Room
Standish, Maine -As Maine’s first college campus hosting the SilverSneakers fitness program for older adults, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine held a breakfast reception on May 10, 2019 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. SilverSneakers, by Tivity Health, is the nation’s leading community fitness program for older Americans. Founded in 1992, the program is available to over 14.5 million Medicare beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.
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.”
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."
Executive Director of Mission-Aligned Business Peter Nielsen said, “We are keenly aware of rural isolation and the first step is opening up our campus even further to older adults. The job of the Institute for Integrative Aging is designing and delivering the programming that people most need.” Nielsen introduced the new program director for the Institute for Integrative Aging, Heather DiYenno.
SilverSneakers participants 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.”
Al DiFiore of Windham said, “I joined SilverSneakers because I started noticing strength issues. I would go to pick up something heavy with someone else and I couldn’t hold up my end like I used to. I had also fallen twice and so I knew I had stability challenges. I notice the difference after just two weeks in the program. I feel stronger when picking things up. I also like how we get to know each other and laugh with the instructor.”
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.”
Marilyn Murch of Windham also participates and she said, “My goal is to be less dependent on my cane. I already notice the difference. I have fallen a few times over the past ten years. I have shattered my shoulder and broken my wrist in three places. I’m trying to regain my balance. And now I can walk the length of my hallway without the cane and I don’t even miss it. I didn’t realize how out of shape I had become. It snuck up on me. I have lost seven pounds already just by moving more. SilverSneakers gives me a good reason to get up off the couch. I’m going to make this work for me. I like that it’s such a friendly group. Everyone is ready with high fives and a huge. This is my first time being on the Saint Joseph’s campus.
Donato J. Tramuto, who is also the founder of the Tramuto Foundation in Ogunquit, Maine, will speak at the College’s Commencement on May 11th and receive an honorary doctorate. The Tramuto Foundation is a philanthropic supporter of the IIA.
About the Institute for Integrative Aging
The Institute for Integrative Aging at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a center for research, education and community-centered care for older adults. It recognizes the multi-dimensional aspects of aging (physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual), considers the societal factors that impact aging (socio-economic, urban vs. rural issues, cultural identity), and empowers people to choose an integrated approach to their longevity. The Institute seeks to advance the concepts of integrative medicine and healthcare to develop an understanding and approach to aging which recognizes its complexity. Ultimately, integrative aging seeks to empower each individual to select an integrated approach to one's own longevity.