Exploring Options and Transitions
Methodist Encore! programs are informative, entertaining, enlightening, and designed particularly with active seniors in mind. In their winter/spring booklet, the cover article refers to some of the inevitable changes in mind and body as years go by. “Although some of these changes may be normal, we don’t have to become passive ‘victims’ of the aging process. Instead, we can take charge of how well we age through healthy habits and positive lifestyle changes.” Encore! offers a variety of classes and activities designed to motivate and inspire people to implement those changes.
“The programs are prevention based, education based, and outcome based,” explains Anna Saxon, Coordinator of Senior Services and Encore! With some 3,200 members in five counties, Encore! aims to empower seniors so that they can live healthier and better, and be fully informed. “We want to break down barriers and help people become aware of resources already here. Encore! is a free program designed to help adults 55 and older get more out of life by focusing on the body, mind, and spirit. Methodist made a wonderful and huge commitment to the community as this is all free.”
As a member, participants can discover, maybe for the second or third time, all those things they dreamed of doing once “things slowed down” or “life got less complicated.” One of the program’s goals is to help make life’s transitions smoother. “We want people to know their options,” emphasizes Anna.
Encore! was launched in October of 2010 and Anna has been in charge since March of 2011. She brings a wealth of experience to the position. She’s been involved in pastoral care at Peoria’s Westminster Presbyterian Church for 14 years and is a chaplain at Methodist Hospital. “That helps give me an ability to be an advocate for seniors in healthcare. Sometimes all of that is overwhelming for them. We need to empower and educate seniors so they can make better choices. It’s never too late. You can always do something to improve your quality of life,” she says.
There are myriad choices of classes at Encore! From learning about wills and trusts, or exercises for gardeners, or relief for arthritis and joint problems, or understanding Medicare, to computer classes, nutrition information, hiking through the Forest Park Nature Center, or learning what to keep, give away or donate when downsizing. The quarterly newsletter lists the various activities with dates, times, and information on the instructor. Encore! partners with SeniorNet for computer classes, Collette Vacations for fully escorted travel opportunities, and the Peoria Park District for exercise and fitness classes. There are introductory classes in a variety of hobbies such as photography, sketching, woodworking, and others. “We want to broaden people’s expectations of their retirement years. Retirement looks different today. It’s very possible that people could have 40 years of retirement,” says Anna.
She also encourages people to find a passion. “People are looking for passion in what they do. Some start over in a whole new career. Begin while there’s still time.” One class planned for June 12th is work in retirement. Anna shares “out of the box” thinking about work opportunities for today’s mature adults. Four-week computer sessions held twice a week can help enlighten the uninformed about the mystery and benefits of technology. Introductory classes in some of the arts give people an opportunity to see what interests them. Once that is determined, more detailed classes are available through Illinois Central College or Lakeview. Last December the first Encore!/OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) through Bradley University Continuing Education was a huge success as over 150 people attended the Brain Fitness Seminar at Bradley.
In the spring/summer Encore! booklet, Anna includes a quote from A New Purpose by Ken Dychtwald. “Your bonus years aren’t about being old for a longer time – they are about new achievement; second, third and fourth acts; and making a difference in ways that you might never have imagined.”
Encore! gives ideas and possibilities and knowledge for achieving and making such differences.
Registration is required for the various programs and activities. You may register for events at MyMethodist.net/encore or by calling Anna at 309-672-4926. Events are held at Methodist North at Allen Road unless otherwise noted.
Encore! began with a small core group of volunteers and now they are looking to expand that group. Encore! needs folks to answer the phone, take registrations for classes and events, help prepare mailings, provide input, and more. If you can commit to volunteering, please call Anna at 309-672-4926 or email her at email@example.com.