As people age, the importance of keeping the mind—as well as the body—active shouldn’t be overlooked. These area programs keep seniors both physically and socially engaged.

SENIOR GOLF LEAGUE, Brentmoor Retirement Community

There really are no rules in the Brentmoor’s senior golf league, says Brentmoor community spokesperson John Bell. “We just want people to go out there and have some fun. I tell people, Remember, if you have to kick the ball, don’t let anyone see you.”

The golf league began three years ago, with Brentmoor working in conjunction with Ruth Park Golf Course and University City to provide lower greens fees and free golf carts to anyone 65 years or older. More than 50 senior golfers participate in the league, which meets every Wednesday from the end of April to the beginning of October.

“The response has been greater than I thought,” Bell says. “Golf is a very popular game among retired folks who suddenly have time to play. They stay active with it and it’s just a logical form of exercise.”

The course fills up on a nice day and even with the heat and humidity of St. Louis summers, at least 15 golfers show up every week. Doug Castellari, PGA pro and general manager of Ruth Park Golf Course, also will work with the seniors who want to take lessons or maintain handicaps.

At the end of every season, Brentmoor hosts a “brown bag banquet and frolic,” where Bell hands out trophies to every golfer as they socialize and visit. “We poke a little fun at each other and talk a little bit about what we have planned for next year, which is precisely what we did the year before!”

WATER EXERCISE PROGRAM, Mari de Villa Retirement Community

Jolene Vogt has participated in water aerobics for 40 years, with 10 of those years as a resident of Mari de Villa. “I have knee replacements and it’s a lot easier to do exercises in the water than out. It keeps you toned and gives you more energy.”

The retirement community holds water exercise programs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in its glass-enclosed indoor pool with retractable roof. The class attracts between five and 12 seniors, and they use audio tapes and DVDs to jog, kick and conduct arm exercises to stay fit.

“I think our elderly society is more in tuned today with health and living longer and feeling better,” says Mari de Villa president Fred Wiesehan. “Any time our residents have an opportunity to stay physically healthy, they’re going to take advantage of it.”

With water providing gentle resistance that eases the stress on joints, the classes “keep me more mobile,” Vogt says. “It gets me going in the morning, and then I’m good to go all day.”

The chance to chat with her girlfriends isn’t a bad incentive either. “We have one gentleman who joins us,” Vogt says. “We ask him if he gets tired of our girly talk all the time and he said, Oh no, I understand. I had sisters.”

WATERCOLOR CLASS, Homewatch CareGivers

Homewatch CareGivers began its senior watercolor painting class last September. Since then, president Mike Gianinio has been amazed at the progress the students have made. “It’s incredible to see the quality of work they are turning out, and the improvements they make from class to class.”

Taught by local Webster Groves artist Mary Beth Flynn, the watercolor class is held two times a month for Homewatch’s existing clients, as well as other members of the community. The 10 to 12 students who show up every session are treated to one-on-one instruction by Flynn. It is an opportunity for seniors to be active while socializing amongst their classmates. “As their bodies deteriorate, you’re allowing them to focus and do something as finely tuned as watercolor painting, which really helps with their dexterity,” Gianino notes. “Any kind of stimulation at this age is good for the mind, as well as the body.”

The class is Homewatch’s most popular offering, and the company absorbs the cost so seniors can participate for free. “The students are actively engaged and can’t wait for the next class,” Gianino says. “They take pride in what they’re doing.”