SilverSneakers. It sounds like something out of a superhero lineup. That association might ring true for those who experience its benefits.
Every day it’s our pleasure to work with seniors and their families. The work we do with them is often at the point where their legal, financial and health needs intersect. It’s not hard to see how all the dots connect between a senior’s physical well-being and their quality of life. That’s where the superpower of SilverSneakers comes into play.
To learn more about SilverSneakers and its benefits, we reached out to Allison Verde-Haum a certified instructor at our nearby Wildwood YMCA. In talking with her, the real beauty of SilverSneakers comes to life.
What is SilverSneakers All About?
The short answer is easy. The SilverSneakers website describes it as, “…a fitness program for seniors that’s included with many Medicare Advantage plans.” Membership includes access to every participating gym and fitness center in a network of more than 16,000 locations including the YMCA.
The program is designed to work within Medicare Advantage plans, but it’s also available through other organizations and premium insurance products. Allison tells us another part of the story. “Some of our participants don’t have insurance that covers SilverSneakers. But they get so much from the classes and the group experience, they buy annual memberships on their own.”
How Does SilverSneakers Make Life Better?
Allison well describes the situation of so many of us, even people not yet eligible for Medicare. “As we age, we start to notice the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Or maybe it’s just that our bodies start to fight us. At some point it becomes harder to reach for the cereal or open the pickle jar.”
SilverSneakers helps seniors improve their quality of life in the physical, mental and social dimensions. Strength and range of motion are improved through the exercises. Strength leads to greater ease in daily activities and the confidence to try new things. Renewed confidence leads to new challenges and more social interaction.
Families of participants become great fans of the program. Sometimes the impact is dramatic. Allison fondly related one particular case.
“I like to tell the story of… I’ll call her Joan. Life lost its luster when she lost her husband. Her kids bought her a three month pass to SilverSneakers. Joan put it off, but finally went. She enjoyed it so much, her kids bought annual memberships for her four years in a row. At 65 Joan then got the program as an insurance benefit. Through the program she made new friends and now often goes to lunch with them. With a big smile, Joan will happily tell you that the program saved her life.”
What’s Great About SilverSneakers at the YMCA?
Two things stand out about the SilverSneakers program at the YMCA; the quality of the classes and the quality of the community.
YMCA standards make it appealing. Because of its scale, the YMCA has devoted the resources to see to it that the instructors are SilverSneakers certified, and the classes are tested, properly vetted, and highly effective.
The community experience makes a difference. At the Y it’s not just about the classes. It’s about people getting to know each other and offering support through life’s ups and downs. Allison relates the remarkable social side of the program. “The exercises are certainly fun and engaging, offering great benefits. But it doesn’t stop there.”
With great enthusiasm she talks about celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other events. Sometimes the friendships go deeper. “It’s not uncommon for our participants to go to lunch with each other, form deeper relationships, and pray with those who are grieving the loss of a spouse.”
Who Joins the SilverSneakers Program?
It’s not just seniors. Seniors are the most common participants. But others are certainly welcome. If you’re not yet retired but want to increase your fitness or range of motion, SilverSneakers classes might be just the thing for you. Others enjoy the program as a follow-up to physical therapy.
What Kind of Classes are Available?
The YMCA offers a variety of SilverSneakers classes, all led by certified instructors. Classes and exercises are designed around different needs and objectives. Here are four examples:
SilverSneakers Classic is a low impact training program designed to accommodate all levels of fitness. Some exercises are done in chairs. The objective is to increase range of movement and improve activities for daily living.
SilverSneakers Cardiofit is a higher intensity class that also uses low impact movements, but with a focus on upper-body and core strength.
SilverSneakers Yoga relieves stress using both seated and standing poses to improve balance and flexibility.
SilverSneakers Splash uses a splashboard to vary intensity and range of movement in a swimming pool. These shallow water exercises can easily be done by non-swimmers.
Silver Sneakers, Travel, and The Y
Choose your location wherever you go. Did you know that the YMCA is a worldwide organization? It might surprise you to know that The Y has locations in over one hundred countries around the globe and 2,700 throughout the US, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Your SilverSneakers membership applies throughout the entire YMCA organization, whether across town or on the other side of the planet.
Can’t find a Y where you’re going? If you can’t find a YMCA convenient to your travel plans you still have options. As long as you have the SilverSneakers benefit you can go to any club or fitness center that offers the program. On the SilverSneakers website enter a zip code to find a suitable location.
What if I’m Reluctant to Join?
You are not alone. It’s not uncommon for seniors (and of most of us in general) to be hesitant to venture out and try new things. But imagine what life would be like if you had more strength, greater range of motion, renewed confidence, and new friends you looked forward to seeing. Chances are, they’re in the same boat as you.
How do I Get Started?
Whether you have insurance or not it’s easy to get the ball rolling. It simply starts with the decision to do it.
If you have insurance that covers SilverSneakers: Just come into any YMCA or fitness facility and a membership representative will help you join. Be sure to bring your insurance card with you.
If you DON’T have insurance that covers SilverSneakers: We are still close at hand and happy to assist. Your local YMCA membership representative will help you join.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: When you have SilverSneakers as an insurance benefit, can it be applied anywhere that accepts it?
A: Yes. You can use your benefit at any health and fitness center that offers SilverSneakers.
Q: Does membership at the Y give you automatic access to the SilverSneakers classes?
A: Yes. And by the way, you do not have to be a senior to join any of the classes.
Q: Is there a limit to the number of classes you can take?
A: No. You can take as many classes as you want. It’s not just limited to SilverSneakers group exercise classes. Members can access all that the club has to offer.
Q: If I want to know more about the Wildwood YMCA, how do I contact Allison?
A: Call her at 636-236-5857. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
How Does Quinn Estate & Elder Law Help Seniors?
In short, we help seniors and their families protect their legal and financial interests. The core of our work relates to estate planning, elder law, long term care planning, special needs, and VA benefits for seniors.
Want to know more about how our solutions can help you and your family? Call us at 636-428-3344.