Although the Mountaintop Active Adult Center is considered one of Luzerne County’s smaller senior centers, it sees as much daily activity as some of the bigger centers like Hazleton and Pittston, according to Director Joan Luksa, who has served there for one year.
Daily attendance averages 30 to 40 seniors, she said.
“If it’s a good lunch, it’s closer to 50,” she said, noting attendees love stuffed cabbage, fried chicken, meatloaf and some of the other entrees prepared by Metz Culinary Management, the same agency that prepares Crestwood School District meals. The company also provides a daily choice of lighter fare like salads and wraps.
The center is open from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. on weekdays. Lunch is $2 “or what you can afford” for members, Luksa said. Membership is open to anyone age 60 or older and costs only $4 per year. Membership is free for anyone over age 90. If younger folks want to join a senior for lunch, the meal costs $5. Lunch reservations must be made at least a day ahead.
But the center is not only about the food. Luksa, a Dallas resident, said she arranges a variety of activities, including bingo at 11 a. m. every Wednesday and Friday and a monthly senior exercise class led by a Lehigh Valley Health Network physical therapist. The center will hold its annual Christmas party tomorrow with special food, karaoke, Santa and a holiday gift exchange.
“They’re a party group,” Luksa said, noting she has had polka bands and other styles of musical groups come to the center for special events.
A registered nurse, Luksa takes special interest in providing health programs and speakers. Health professionals come to administer vaccines, take blood pressures and do screenings for glaucoma, macular degeneration and other disorders. Luksa herself does a weekly talk on nutrition and demonstrates how to prepare simple, healthy snacks like smoothies, hummus and dark-chocolate-dipped strawberries. Speakers have also talked about diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, safety issues and fraud prevention. Wilkes University pharmacy students have visited to review seniors’ medications with them, and nursing students sometimes come to speak or do screenings.
“It’s nice to see the mingling of the younger with the older,” Luksa said of the college students’ visits.
Luksa also connects seniors with services like free and reduced dental care programs, supplemental food, farmers market vouchers, assistance with heat bills, Medicare and veterans’ benefit information and reduced car registration fees. Lawyers sometimes visit to help with simple wills, powers of attorney or taxes.
On the lighter side, Luksa enters attendees into a drawing for lottery tickets when they complete word search puzzles. The center also has a Nintendo Wii, a television, a computer, books and puzzles for attendees to enjoy. Coffee and refreshments are available every day in addition to lunch. The center also provides transportation to events like the county’s annual Active Aging Day and the Wyoming County Fair.
Some seniors volunteer for the center in addition to attending activities. One woman maintains daily sign-ins, while another crochets holiday decorations. Some help to sell 50/50 raffle tickets to cover expenses like the holiday party band. Volunteers get free lunches.
Active membership currently stands at about 100.
One reason the center is so busy, Luksa said, is because of its location. It’s housed in the community room of Wright Manor, a senior living community, so about half of the members live on site. The other members have apartments or homes in the community, and many get transportation to the center from their children or other relatives or friends.
People can sometimes be nervous about attending because they don’t know anyone else who goes there, but Luksa encourages anyone to give it a try.
“They all assimilate well,” she said. “This center is known even among the other active adult centers for being a good group.”