For most of our lives, we think of senior centers as places where other people
go. Not us. We do not notice exactly when it happens, but there is a point at
which you become one of those people who could go to a senior center. It could
be that you are at that stage now and you have not even noticed.
For some, senior centers conjure up an image of a place where a people play
cards and shuffle board. That was more true years ago. Today, there is more
and more awareness that senior centers need to change with the times. The baby
boomers have turned 60, and senior centers are going to have to keep pace with
Keep in mind that many of the directors of senior centers are baby boomers
themselves. One survey showed that 15 percent of the directors at senior centers
were between 60 and 69. Others are on the way to becoming senior themselves
soon-73 percent are between ages 40 and 59.
This means that more and more senior centers will make it their goal to appeal
to people who want a place to go where they can learn something new, get a decent
workout, meet interesting people, take part in programming that is ethnically
diverse or even share meals featuring food that baby boomers enjoy.
In fact, professionals in the field are even considering using a term other
than "senior center" to reflect the more contemporary nature of so
many of the facilities.
Are their health benefits to going to a senior center?
Research has shown that people who regularly go to senior centers:
- Have healthier behaviors in terms of the foods they eat and the exercise
they take part in
- Have fewer mental health problems, such as depression
- Have a more positive outlook on life
People who attend senior centers say they believe that the attendance helps
them to maintain their independence and to keep them socially connected. Many
also say that they enjoy having somewhere to go every day. Senior centers also
provide opportunities for their members to take on volunteer work, which can
help to empower those who may feel that life after retirement has been lacking
Typical program offerings at senior centers
People who go to today's senior centers are likely to find the following types
- Education: This can range from discussing literature to understanding
complex Medicare programs to explanations of relevant consumer issues to health
- Exercise: Yoga, pilates, t'ai chi, dance
the opportunities for
exercise at senior centers are endless.
Let the center know your thoughts
If you visit a senior center and do not find the offerings interesting, be
sure to tell the staff there. They need the input of people like you to make
sure their facilities are relevant to the communities they serve.
The National Council on the Aging