Tag Archives: David Meth

Seniors, Y Tussle Over Silver Sneakers

Silver Sneakers is an insurance benefit included in more than 65 Medicare health plans. For a fee to a for-profit company called Healthways, seniors can visit fitness and wellness centers. Medicare and private insurers call it “preventive medicine.”

Silver Sneakers logoOver 13,000 participating locations nationwide offer all basic amenities, plus group exercise classes geared specifically toward “active older adults.”

The Westport Weston Family Y is not one of those locations. According to alert — and angry — “06880” reader David Meth, every other Y in Fairfield County is.

Meth provided the names of over a dozen seniors who would like our Y to include Silver Sneakers as part of its membership program, and introduce more  programs specifically for seniors.

Meth believes the Westport Y views older members as not a good business model.

He says that CEO Pat Riemersma told him a program like Silver Sneakers would bring in too many seniors. Part of the reason, he says, is that Riemersma told him of an agreement with the Planning and Zoning Commission that limits the total number of members. Meth says that Riemersma said the Y “needs to understand the trend before signing this type of agreement” (like Silver Sneakers).

A "First Friday" koffee klatch, organized by the Y's Aqua Fitness group.

A “First Friday” koffee klatch, organized by the Y’s Aqua Fitness group.

Feeling that seniors are less valued than younger families, Meth combed the Y’s website looking for senior programs. He found a “gratuitous” photo on the mission statement page, of seniors having lunch. There also is a senior aquatics program.

Of course, Riemersma told him, seniors are invited to participate in classes and programs open to all Y members.

“Yes, get on the same floor with 20-30-year-olds and try to keep up,” Meth replies.

“That’s it. Not another program dedicated to seniors: no fitness programs, no yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, walks in the beautiful woods, etc., just to name a few that are absent. Not even a link or page for seniors to direct them to the one program available.”

Meth is upset too about the special monthly fee of $57 for seniors. He says that is “double the price of any other local fitness center.”

YMCA logoRiemersma replies: “Silver Sneakers is not a business model recognized by the national YMCA. It’s run by a for-profit entity. Seniors pay a fee to Healthways, and Ys get reimbursed based on the number of visits by an individual. We are a cost-driven organization.”

Regarding Meth’s assertion about the P&Z stipulation, Riemersma says, “We are limited to the number of members, but it has nothing to do with seniors. We want to stay within the agreement.”

She says that financial assistance is available to everyone — including seniors who cannot afford the reduced rate.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Riemersma vigorously denies Meth’s assertion that the Y does not value seniors.

“We serve all members, regardless of age,” she says. She cites programs like Senior Fridays, pickleball and chair aerobics, while pledging to do a better job of publicizing senior offerings on the website.

And, she says, “many members are actually offended by the phrase ‘active older seniors.'”

She says she would love to have a face-to-face or phone conversation about this with Meth.

He counters that he will communicate only by email.

David Meth On Downtown Holiday Decorations: “Bah, Humbug!”

Longtime and very alert “06880” reader David Meth is feeling a bit Grinchy this holiday season. He writes:

Westport of the past had Christmas Spirit. Main Street was lit in colorful lights.

Now what remains are cold, impersonal tiny white beads strung across the street from the rooftops of the stores. They slice the street off from the spirit of Christmas, and greet the New Year with darkness and shadow.

This lifeless garrote that threatens to surgically eviscerate Main Street from heaven above is not even turned on to illuminate the plastic banner wishing whoever dares to look up a Happy Holiday.

The "Happy Holidays" banner, and barely visible zigzagging white lights are the only decorations on Main Street. (Photo/David Meth)

The “Happy Holiday Season” banner, and almost invisible zigzagging white lights are the only decorations on Main Street. (Photo/David Meth)

The town’s attitude is whispered in bold letters: We Don’t Care! Just Come Spend!

The horrible, isolating white thread of lights decorating the (impossible-to-call “Christmas”) tree in front of Town Hall is not only an embarrassment. It is an offense.

The tree in front of Town Hall. (Photo/David Meth)

The tree in front of Town Hall. (Photo/David Meth)

If it were not for the small, colorfully lit tree in front of the offices of  Millman and Aarons, there would be no color at all.

So who cares least: Town Hall or the Downtown Merchants Association? How much more do red, green and blue lights cost in electricity to add life to the graveyard called Main Street?

 

White Lights, Blue Christmas

Not to get all Grinchy here — especially after Jose Feliciano’s beautiful guitar playing post this morning — but alert “06880” reader David Meth is not exactly in the holiday spirit.

He writes:

What has happened to Westport? A cold, colorless Main Street, and the chill of a blue tree in front of Town Hall that is uninviting in the yellow shadow of a street light.

At least Millman and Aarons added colorful flickering lights to their tree, diverting attention from the awful skeletons of white lighting on the little green across from Town Hall.

But Main Street did have white lightning bolts zigzagging from the tops of poles. Is it any wonder why Main Street has been dying a slow death and the town is like a graveyard at night?

No imagination. No color. No spirit.

No trees, but zigzagging lights.

No trees, but zigzagging lights.