ARIZONA NEWS

Sun City senior center to host prom to fight loneliness, keep older locals healthy

Jun 18, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: Jun 19, 2024, 9:39 am

PHOENIX — Seniors in Sun City are invited to relive their high school memories by taking part in a retro-themed prom on Tuesday night.

The free night of dancing, food and photo opportunities will take place at the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center near 103rd Avenue and Thunderbird Road.

It will be Banner Health’s first senior prom, according to Banner Olive Branch Senior Director Jennifer Lawless.

“We’ve got balloon art shows, themed table displays and we have a DJ coming to play music,” Lawless told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday morning. “It will be a really fun time. We’ve got a red carpet. We’re going to be selecting a prom king and queen.”

Ten students from nearby Cactus High School in Glendale are also coming to the prom to take photos of attendees with Polaroid cameras for an extra dash of nostalgic flair, Lawless said.

“They’re in the ROTC program, but they’re coming in their prom outfits — not their uniforms,” she added.

Lawless said she hopes the event will encourage seniors to socialize and dance their loneliness away.

After all, feelings of isolation can lead to an increased risk of dementia, heart problems and even premature death, she said.

“The more that we can connect with other people … the healthier we are physically,” Lawless said.

How did Banner health leaders come up with the senior prom idea?

The senior center’s leadership team came up with the idea for a senior prom when thinking up new ways to help seniors in the West Valley.

“We had a great response to our online dating class and we thought, ‘What else might be fun for getting people connected?'” Lawless said.

They teamed up with Oak Street Health, a vendor and medical care organization, to arrange the event, which they hope will help seniors fight loneliness.

“It’s a mental health thing,” Lawless said. “Having something to look forward to, knowing that you’re going to be socializing … dancing … getting some exercise and movement.”

After they announced the plan, many of the seniors who visit the center lit up in excitement, she added.

“We have people coming in that are talking about the dress that they bought and the outfits they’re going to wear,” Lawless said. “Having something to look forward to is so important for our mental health.”

Health care providers hope seniors in Sun City join retro prom

Lawless and other event planners hope to take their guests right back to music and fashion of their youths.

The night’s theme is “The Fabulous 1950s.” Partygoers can expect to groove to popular music from the ’50s and ’60s. There will also be hors d’oeuvres and dessert provided.

There’s enough space for 150 attendees.

“So we have 75 reservations so far,” Lawless said. “We think that we are going to have people that show show up — and that’s okay.”

The event for seniors aged 60 and older will last from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“There’s definitely room for more to come if they’d like to,” Lawless said.  “It’s only a two-hour event, but we plan to have it be really hopping the whole time.”

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Sun City senior center to host prom to fight loneliness, keep older locals healthy