Photo: Monthly meetings covering ageing related topics

Venice Regional Program Helps Older Adults Stay Active, Healthy, and Educated

Posted on July 16, 2019 by Timothy Fanning, Herald-Tribune Media Group

The popular monthly event pairs older people with physicians to help them stay active and involved. Oh, and there’s free lunch!

When you have food, and it’s free, you never know who will show up.

In the case of Venice Regional Bayfront Hospital, that’s a good thing, because Senior Circle is about much more than a good place to get pot roast, mashed potatoes, and carrot cake every month or so.

Senior Circle, funded by Venice Regional Bayfront, is a program for hospital volunteers, former patients, doctors or any Venetian 50 years or older who wants to stay active and invested in the community.

The free program, on the second Wednesday of every month, also offers myriad educational seminars geared toward aging and health-related topics from the hospital’s own cardiologists, surgeons, and other specialists.

The three-year-old program is so popular year-round that it’s RSVP only, said Benny Weaver, the hospital’s community outreach liaison and Senior Circle adviser.

“I’m up to 570 of 600 slots,” Weaver said. “They keep coming back. We must be doing something right.”

Senior Circle’s events and activities are designed to help its members stay healthy, vibrant, and active by offering occasional events and day trips around the Tampa Bay area.

On a recent Wednesday in July, nearly 130 seniors packed into the hospital’s auditorium to hear Dr. Edmund Bermudez, a cardiologist, give a presentation on aortic stenosis — one of the most common and most serious valve disease problems.

“I get the nuts and bolts and little tips on how to make my life and others better,” said Marlene Moss, who often uses the information she learns at the seminars to help her respond to her husband’s heart condition.

In Venice, where the median age is over 68, Senior Circles is one of only a handful of similar activities and health-related learning opportunities for seniors on the island, Weaver said.

For longtime Venice residents like Marvin Lurie, Senior Circle not only provides a valuable educational resource, but it’s an opportunity to hang out with like-minded people and show support for the local medical community.

“Look around you,” said Lurie. “Everyone here has lived in Venice for years and lives within a few miles of the hospital. This hospital is old. It has a history and heritage in the community. It’s our hospital.”

Although there are only a few dozen slots still open, residents can apply for Senior Circle on the hospital’s website. Membership is free and also includes social outings, an education program, and volunteer opportunities.

“A hospital isn’t just about serving people while they’re sick,” said Karen Fordham, the chief executive officer of Venice Regional Hospital. “These people aren’t sick. They came to learn, network, and share that information with their family and their neighbors.”

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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