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Center gives seniors a place to meet medical, social needs

The Southwest Medical Associates chain added a few new links for seniors at its newly completed Lifestyle Center, 4475 S. Eastern Ave .

Members of the medical group can utilize the adjoining specialty clinic for extended medical care and referrals within the system.

They and nonmembers also are welcome to the Lifestyle Center, a space reserved for seniors to socialize and stay active.

The center is the first of two that are planned to serve the valley.

A second site, the Southwest Medical Associates Lifestyle Center — West, opened April 20 at 8680 W. Cheyenne Ave. with four exam rooms, one procedure room and a large education room. Classes and social events are due to be scheduled at the new center soon.

Activities at the Eastern Avenue center include Wii games, card groups, bingo, line dancing, poetry readings and movies, and living room-like seating areas are offered to meet and mingle. There is a lending library and computer bays, where classes on navigating the Internet and the Southwest Medical Associates electronic system are held.

But it’s the “huddle rooms” and classroom where medical meets social for seniors.

Lectures by Southwest Medical Associates officials cover topics ranging from falling and exercise to emotional health focusing on grief and isolation and individual ailments facing seniors.

All events are free and open to all seniors.

The events are tiny swings at a greater problem many seniors deal with, said Toni Corbin, Southwest Medical Associates executive director.

“Depression can be prevalent for seniors,” she said. “What’s really important is these people feel really connected.”

Aside from much-needed medical care, the new facilities are a safe haven for seniors who may be isolated, depressed, grief-stricken or dealing with other stressors.

Many support groups are available, too.

Doors to the 15,000-square-foot center opened in January. But before the first hammer was raised, focus groups of seniors weighed in on what the center should look and feel like. Input dealing with carpeting, floor plans, programming and even what color scheme were taken into account, Corbin said.

“They were very open and opinionated,” she said. “It’s amazing what they’ve taught us. And we thought we were the experts.”

The location was determined from a study and ZIP code analysis of where senior members lived in the valley, Corbin said.

Barbara Teel, program and events coordinator for the Lifestyle Center, said suggestions for lecture topics and social events are welcome.

Other regular programs include the free Equipment Tune Up for walkers, scooters and wheelchairs and the weekly Ask the Pharmacist sessions.

Participants can bring current or expired medications in and a pharmacist will help weed through confusion by appointment from 9 a.m. to noon every Thursday.

Patient Shirley Bellaflores, 75, attended a recent session and came equipped with a list of the 16 pills she takes daily for various conditions.

“I’ve been through quite a bit,” she said. “I try to help myself. When I’m prescribed something, I learn about it. I feel it’s my body, I (have) got to do it.”

Bellaflores sat in a private office with pharmacist Maged Makar and discussed the interactions of the pills she takes.

Makar is able to pull up a patient’s medical history on the electronic records and assess the situation. He said some patients come in with grocery bags of bottles, and others admit to taking expired pills or those of other people.

“I connect all this and explain it,” he said.

Bellaflores has been in the Southwest Medical Associates Senior Dimensions program for 10 years. She said the Southwest Medical Associates system makes her feel like “more a person, not a number.”

Her Ask the Pharmacist session was her first visit to the new facilities, which are closer to her home.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

Corbin welcomes seniors to the center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. No appointments are necessary for the social events.

New members can feel comfortable in the space their peers made, she said.

“I am proud to say they built this center,” she said.

For more information, visit smalv.com or call 866-249-7674 for the East center or 800-638-4113 for the West center.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

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