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Senior Centers Help Older Adults Stay Active, Healthy and Connected

November 15, 2017

Senior centers aren’t just for playing cards and bingo anymore. Today’s senior centers are hubs of activity offering fitness classes, tasty meals, fun trips, health information and more. Studies have shown that senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction compared with their peers.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), nearly 11,000 senior centers across the country serve 1 million adults aged 50 and over every day.

Photo credit: Kristo-Gothard Hunor/123RF.com

The NCOA states, “Not only do senior centers offer helpful resources to older adults, they serve the entire community with information on aging, support for family caregivers, training professional and lay leaders and students, and developments of innovative approaches to addressing aging issues.”

Research has proven that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, and lung disease. And they measurably improve their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being as well. Socializing with others at senior centers – whether it is through sharing a meal, taking a class or going on a trip – can help seniors with depression, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.

Since the beginning of modern-day senior centers in the 1940’s, senior centers have always been important resources for older adults and their families within the local community. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, senior centers have become increasingly important assets for maintaining health and vitality in the older population. Baby Boomers now create more than two-thirds of the over 50 population, and senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this vibrant generation.

What Senior Centers Offer

The following list of activities and services from The Senior Citizen’s Guide are typical of programs offered by many senior centers:

  • Nutrition Programs: including daily meals served at the centers and Meals On Wheels which delivers to housebound seniors.
  • Exercise classes: including Aerobics, Tai Chi, Yoga, and more
  • Health Services: such as blood pressure checks, flu shots, hearing assessments and diabetes management.
  • Support groups: for issues such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Information and Assistance: education and guidance in understanding Medicare and insurance, as well as referrals and connection to appropriate community support services
  • Education Classes: such as computer classes, foreign language classes, wellness classes and discussion groups.
  • Financial Literacy: including AARP tax preparation, avoiding identity theft, and basic financial planning.
  • Social Events and Programs: such as knitting groups, chess club, senior trips, birthday parties and much, much more.

To learn more about your local senior center, contact your local Council on Aging or visit the Massachusetts Councils on Aging website.

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