Guest Author - Alice Andersen
If bland and boring is what you think of community senior centers, then it’s time to either change how you think or time to change the senior center. Let’s face it. We’re all growing old. More boomers are about to retire than ever. This is a generation of movers and shakers and it’s time to shake up some of our community centers.
Spending one’s twilight years playing solitaire in an environment that looks like something out of the Twilight Zone doesn’t seem right and many boomers will avoid it like the plaque. They often don’t appreciate the term “senior” and many center directors are looking to change the name because of its negative stereotype.
Senior community centers exist in almost every corner of America. They provide much needed services and activities for many of our aging adults. They offer classes and recreation; hot meals, exercise programs, and volunteer opportunities. Senior centers often do face the stereotype of serving the eldest members in the community leaving the more active adults with an unappealing, inactive environment. Sometimes this is still the case but more and more centers are taking steps to renovate and redesign with the more active senior in mind.
What these centers need most is our help. Active senior adults and younger volunteers can bring much needed energy and enthusiasm to established programs. The primary focus of a senior citizen center is to promote active and healthy living for area residents. Through socialization and activity, they often lead fuller, more enjoyable lives. Centers vary in their activities but the basics often include:
1. Serving a hot, nutritious meal at lunchtime or more often.
2. Sponsoring life enrichment classes in computers, dancing, genealogy or any number of educational programs of interest to the local citizens.
3. Holding exercise and wellness programs like health screenings and walking groups.
4. Planning recreational activities like trips, card games and dances.
5. Providing help with questions concerning finances and medical billing.
Spend a few minutes of your day to check out your senior center. Is it warm and inviting? Is there much activity or does it resemble an echo chamber? Is there something you can do to bring some life to the building and a smile to someone’s face? We’re all short on time but if you have a hobby or a passion maybe you’d be willing to share your fun. Volunteer work doesn’t have to be all work. The community center is just the place for volunteering to be fun and engaging.
If you walk in that door and feel right at home, stay for a while. Say hello to some of the locals. Another friendly face is always welcome in any of the community senior centers in our country. And if it isn’t, then that center is the one that needs your help the most.