Growing older is not what it used to be, and the UCHealth Aspen Club is determined to ensure that.
Just ask Marlys McGrath.
“I had no idea of all the things we’ve done (with the Aspen Club) until I made a list, and I was blown away by how many we’d taken advantage of,” said Marlys, a Fort Collins resident and proud Aspen Club member.
The energetic Marlys and her husband, John, have been attending Aspen Club classes and seminars since they moved to northern Colorado from the Washington, D.C., area about a decade ago. In fact, Marlys said they’ve attended such a wide array of offerings they lost count long ago. And with the issues that seem to pop up daily in the so-called Golden Years, they’ve valued each one.
A period of vitality
The Aspen Club originated more than 30 years ago in Fort Collins as part of an effort by leaders at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital to support healthy aging for those 50 and older. It later expanded to Loveland, Greeley, Windsor and Longmont, and now is starting up in the Colorado Springs area. The club is free to join, as are most of its programs and events.
From self-care and nutrition to fall prevention and chronic disease management, the Aspen Club tackles any and all health-related issues that matter to older adults, regardless of background.
One of the Aspen Club’s most popular services remains helping older adults set up their advanced directives — wills and medical and financial powers of attorney — and file them at medical facilities in the region. Having these documents on file can be vital during sudden and serious medical issues.
Help with the ‘now’
Another service the club provides is regular prescription drug plan updates, which can be confounding in today’s ever-shifting health care landscape. The McGraths, for example, had experts review their medication lists and advise them on the options that best fit them. Aspen Club leaders estimate that an average of 2,000 people saved money on their plans each year with help from the club’s counseling service.
The Aspen Club provides both in-person and virtual classes, as well as an array of health screenings. Attend Virtual Medicare 101 virtually from the comfort of your home or meet with a board-certified orthopedic sports and shoulder surgeon to learn about the rotator cuff, why it fails and treatment options. Or attend a monthly feature that could include hearing screenings, blood pressure checks, or medication and supplement reviews.
Aspen Club also offers caregiving resources, including the six-week Powerful Tools for Caregiver and nine-week Stressbusters for Family Caregivers classes. Here, caregivers get the tools necessary to manage themselves and deal with the inevitable stress of caring for others over the long term.
When asked to recount her favorite, Marlys had to review the extensive list she had compiled in a notebook. For her and John, the blend of serious education with fun and empowerment was vital.
“The programs are upbeat and fun, and they let you know that you can do more than you think,” Marlys said. “It’s a wonderful balance of medical information, things you want to know, and maybe things you didn’t know you wanted to know.”
John added, “If it were all about neuropathy or heart disease or foot problems, I’d be depressed after a while. The balance is the magic.”
How to Choose?
The best way to get informed is to sign up for the free newsletter, delivered either electronically or through USPS. Along with its list of classes, it contains helpful tips, encouraging stories, and even opportunities to join relevant research studies. Additionally, new member orientation takes place in multiple locations on a regular basis. Click here for info on how to become a member.
John McGrath said he’s grateful to have the Aspen club in his life as he ages. “The Aspen Club has my back. I can depend on its programs to keep me up to date.”