Helping seniors stay active through meaningful connection

Helping seniors stay connected

After more than 30 years of working under her belt, Sherry Bruster was ready for the next stage of life – retirement. But amid her excitement, that major life change came with some uncertainty and worry.

“When I retired, I didn’t know what I was going to do to keep myself occupied,” Sherry said.

Luckily for Sherry, she was soon introduced to a place where activities for older adults are in abundance and meaningful connections are made.

“A friend of mine said ‘Go to LIFE Senior Services with me,’ and I took a trip down here,” Sherry said.

“I fell in love with the place immediately because there is so much to do. I come every day.”

Since 1973, LIFE Senior Services has made it a goal to promote and preserve independence for seniors in the Tulsa, Oklahoma community.

“We don’t want anybody to feel left out, because engagement is so incredibly important,” said Eileen Bradshaw, president and CEO of LIFE Senior Services. “We really hope that any senior that walks through the doors will find something here that will keep them staying around and enjoying it.”

LIFE has nearly 900 senior center members and more than 4,000 activities, including pickleball and line dancing — offered for all abilities.

“We don’t care whether you stay in step or not. It’s all about movement, movement, movement,” said Earl Goodman Jr., who leads line dancing classes three days a week. “It’s fitness. It is really good for our bodies.”

As the program expands, the need to increase the center’s capacity grew, too. A $200,000 UnitedHealthcare grant helps fund programming in the new 39,000-square-foot Roma Berry Center for Seniors facility, which should be completed later this year. This new facility will be home to LIFE’s Active Senior Center, Adult Day Health and the LIFE PACE Program.

“UnitedHealthcare came in as a partner on the Roma Berry Center early on,” Eileen said. “Their help has just been foundational.”

The programming includes both virtual and in-person fitness and nutrition classes, as well as a variety of social activities.

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain physical activity in order to help prevent health issues, yet physical inactivity continues to increase among the senior population.

LIFE provides a number of options to be active and, also crucial, an avenue for social activity as nearly 
one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.

“Isolation really is the main enemy of health in any age group, but particularly for those in their senior years,” Eileen said. “Isolation in seniors has the same effect of somebody that smokes the equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day.”

The effort hopes to increase the longevity of seniors’ overall health and wellness.

“I know very confidently that what UnitedHealthcare has gifted to LIFE Senior Services in the form of this sort of senior center overhaul is extending the health and happiness of hundreds of seniors,” Eileen said. “We’re seeing more people join and we’re seeing more people engaged in activities.”

LIFE Senior Services will be able to increase their hours of operation with the new facility and generate new opportunities for seniors.

“More the merrier,” Sherry said. “More people to interact with. More people to play games with. More people just to sit down and have a conversation with.”

Learn more about the programs LIFE Senior Services offers.

Sign up to get the latest news from the UnitedHealthcare Newsroom