This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign addressing all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. December has been designated by the CHIC as the month to bring awareness to the many wellness activities designed for the older adult population in San Juan County, NM.
Older adults throughout the world are living longer lives. The question that remains for this population group is are those extended years spent with chronic illness and other ailments that lead to poor quality of life or are they spent promoting wellness and better quality of life outcomes? Extended wellness campaigns for older adults have been studied in various ways and many theories have come to light about what causes our bodies to age. What we all do know for sure is that we will all continue to age. What actions we take in our lives to make those advanced years more enjoyable and free of serious illness can be proactive choices we make in earlier life or even in our older lives—it is never too late to exchange bad habits for good ones.
San Juan County older adults are fortunate to live in an area that provides not only beautiful surroundings, mild climate changes, and a relatively inexpensive cost of living, but also provides many outlets for wellness and promotion of better physical, mental, and emotional health into later years. Many of these outlets provide healthcare services such as San Juan Regional Medical Center and various home health agencies. The many quality doctors within the area provide care and referrals to the older adult population living in San Juan County. Did you know that if a doctor is affiliated with San Juan Regional Medical Center they are required to accept Medicare? This affiliation makes finding and choosing health care providers much easier for older adults in our area. The many home health agencies located here also provide various services for older adults who may have had knee or hip replacement to in-home hospice care. Referrals from primary care doctors are required for this care to be set up for a recovering or hospice requiring older adult, but the benefits of keeping older adults actively aging, recovering, or even saying goodbye in their homes is endless.
San Juan County also supports many other aspects of active aging in the various communities. Aztec, Blanco, Bloomfield, Farmington, and Kirtland/Fruitland all have very active senior citizens’ centers. There are also senior centers and chapter houses located on the Navajo reservation that provide services to older adults. The senior citizens’ centers provide tasty and healthy meals for both older adults eating at the centers as well as for those who may be medically homebound. Meals are not the only draw for these centers as most of the senior centers provide activities ranging from exercise to art to volunteer opportunities. Senior gardens, belly dancing, water aerobics, jewelry making, dances, games, and trips to Albuquerque, Durango, and other interesting and exciting places are just a few of the activities provided by the various senior citizens’ centers in the area. Volunteerism and community service are also a large part of aging well for older adults and all of the centers in the area provide various volunteer and community engagement opportunities. The centers also provide volunteer opportunities for the younger members of the public to participate in.
San Juan College does not take a backseat when it comes to older adult active aging and better quality of life outcomes. The San Juan College Encore Program was created in 2002 as a way to provided continued educational opportunities for older adults in San Juan County. The Bloomfield Senior Citizens’ Center was used as the pilot for this program in 2002 and has continued to be an active participant and partner with Encore. The Encore program provides low cost classes for the older adult population. Although you do not need to be elderly to participate in the classes (18 or over), the classes are geared toward the older adult. Classes are taught by well-educated instructors and provide subject matter that is educational, insightful, and discussion worthy. Physical fitness classes are also provided through the program as well as writing your own memoirs, computer basics I, II, and III, jewelry making, hand building and wheel throwing pottery, history , world religions, science, and more. Along with the educational opportunities, the Encore Program also provides re-careering classes for older adults. These classes focus on the retired or unemployed older adults who may want to change their career endeavors for their next stage of life or for those who may want to re-enter the workforce for some supplementary income or to remain active and purposeful in society. Resume building, interviewing, and career identification are all components of the class. The class costs for all Encore classes are low (just $19.75 for residents over 65) and the college as well as the Bloomfield Senior Citizens’ Center provide scholarships for those who may need assistance. Encore classes are offered on campus at the San Juan College and at various senior centers and community locations within San Juan County. Enrollment in Encore classes ranges from 700-800 people per semester which proves the continued success of the program as well as the number of older adults participating in active aging in our communities.
Housing for older adults in San Juan County continues to grow and become more abundant in all three of the major towns. Bloomfield supports four major apartment complexes that are subsidized as well as a skilled nursing facility. Aztec hosts senior apartments, assisted living and a skilled nursing facility all in one area for a more progressive type system for aging. Farmington also provides assisted living, senior apartments and skilled nursing facilities as well as a rehabilitation hospital as part of San Juan Regional Medical Center for persons needing temporary skilled nursing aid. The area of San Juan County is a very desirable place to live with many older adults relocating to the area to be closer to adult children and grandchildren, the mild climate, or for our outdoor activities that range from world class golfing and fishing waters, to cycling, hiking, Native American ruins, and various cultural events. Convenient shopping, wonderful parks and libraries, museums, art galleries, and restaurants are all part of the draw to San Juan County for older adults.
The older adult population of San Juan County, New Mexico benefits from various activities and locations throughout the area. The diversity and active lifestyles of the older adults living in the area account for many social and volunteer opportunities. Older adults today and the Baby Boomers who have begun to retire are looking for ways to stay active in their lives and in their communities. San Juan County offers many opportunities for both.
For more information about services for older adults in San Juan County we have included a list and some phone numbers below for you. Older adults may contact any of the 5 senior centers within the area for more information about activities, medical care, services, classes, or other interesting information about what San Juan County has for older adults.
Aztec Senior Citizens’ Center 505-334-2881
Blanco Senior Citizens’ Center 505-632-9146
Bloomfield Senior Citizens’ Center 505-632-8351
Farmington Bonnie Dallas Senior Citizens’ Center 505-599-1380
Lower Valley Senior Citizens’ Center 505-598-0054
Northwest New Mexico Seniors 505-326-7462
San Juan Regional Medical Center 505-609-2000
San Juan College Encore Program 505-566-3214
Shiprock Chapter House 505-368-1081
Written by Jessica Polatty
Director, Bloomfield Senior Citizens’ Center
2013 December 03
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