Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District: connecting people, parks and nature: District expands partnerships with ‘Silver’ programs

by Bill Evans, THPRD10 Silver pgms expanded - for Sept 2015 - 8-14-15

If you pay attention to American history, you know a post-World War II spike in birth rates from 1946-64 produced the nation’s baby boomers.

Well, the majority of those “babies” are now in their sixties, and health insurance providers are taking a proactive approach to keeping this fast-growing population healthy, active and out of hospital beds.

THPRD is making that task easier. The district has partnered with two preventive care programs – Silver&Fit and SilverSneakers –to provide their members with free access to gyms and pools. Membership in these programs is included with many Medicare health plans, which are typically available to those 65 and up.

“Our facilities are getting several hundred visits each month from older adults who participate in these programs,” said Eric Owens, THPRD’s superintendent of Recreation.

Both programs reimburse the district for each member visit, Owens said, and the relationships are also helping the district get new guests through the door for the first time.

“We’re getting people who are being exposed to our programs for the first time,” he said.

The Silver&Fit partnership has been in place for years, Owens said. Silver&Fit members may visit any THPRD facility to enjoy weight and cardio rooms, lap swim and other drop-in programs.

The alliance with SilverSneakers dates back only to last year, when it was put in place at Garden Home Recreation Center, Harman Swim Center and the Elsie Stuhr Center.

This year, it is being expanded to include all facilities, Owens said. “By fall term, we’ll be on board at all centers,” he said. “It’s a great system. Members swipe their cards, the information is sent to SilverSneakers, and they send a check to us.”

The availability of fitness classes geared specifically for SilverSneakers participants – including water exercise, yoga and an aerobic fitness class – will be expanded, he said.

Currently, such classes are only available at the Stuhr Center. Garden Home, with a growing senior population, is expected to introduce new classes in the fall. “I get calls and emails all the time asking if we have Silver&Fit or SilverSneakers,” Owens said. “These programs have provided a good incentive to get seniors exercising. Now we want more of them doing it at our facilities.”