Senior Centers: A Primer

Senior CenterDo you’re think you’re too young or active to attend a senior center? There’s no such thing as being too old! The senior center of today is a lively, social, vibrant community hub. You will likely be amazed by the participants and pursuits you find at your local Senior Center. A wide range of ages, interests, services, hobbies, and new life experiences await you.

A study by the National Institute on Aging found that seniors who maintain an active lifestyle-physically, mentally and socially-remain independent longer, feel more contented and fulfilled, and experience an improved quality of life. Isn’t that the direction we’d all like to take? Checking out your neighborhood senior center is a great way to take the first step on your journey to health and happiness.

What can you expect to find at a senior center? Each senior center will offer a different selection of classes and activities, so be sure to call locally for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

  • Wellness Who wants to go to the local gym with people who are barely dressed? Join an exercise class in a more comfortable setting. Many will be appropriate for those of all ability and mobility levels. Condition and tone your muscles and improve strength and balance with therapeutic yoga, low-impact aerobics, line dancing, ZUMBA, tai chi and much more.
  • Arts and Education Revive your creative passions and learn new skills. Take watercolor painting, jewelry-making, Spanish or other languages, safe driving, creative or personal history writing, join a book club, listen in on an informational workshop.
  • Necessary Services You may find some free or low-cost assistance at your Senior Center. See a nurse for foot care for far less than a trip to the podiatrist. Participate in diabetes screenings, hearing and hearing aid clinics, income tax assistance, flu and pneumonia shots, blood pressure checks, haircuts, support groups. Discover a fantastic deal on clothing, books or other goodies.
  • Meals Many Senior Centers serve lunch daily or at least once a week. It is a gathering time to meet new people, see old friends, get a great lunch bargain, and avoid cooking for the afternoon.
  • Pure Entertainment The options are truly limitless. Enjoy talented local musicians, celebrate the holidays and birthdays, play bridge or bingo or Texas Hold ‘Em, watch a movie, join a chorus, or participate in a Wii bowling league or pool tournament.
  • Trips and Tours You’ll find some incredibly creative trip planners in your local Senior Center. Join a fun bus to a wide variety of local attractions, restaurants, wineries, casinos, sports games, botanical gardens, music festivals, or the theater. Don’t worry about parking, traffic, or getting directions. Just go along for the ride!
  • Volunteer Opportunities Do you find retirement challenging? Feel like you need a new purpose, to contribute, to belong? You’re not alone. Volunteers are the backbone of Senior Centers and make day-to-day operations possible. Most duties are flexible and can be done as your schedule permits. Options generally include the reception desk, food preparation, class instruction, event coordination and organizational tasks. If you have an interest and a little time to spare, there is an opportunity for you.

During tough economic times, community senior centers become even more essential to help fill the gaps and provide programs to prevent isolation, depression and malnourishment. And there’s so much fun to boot! Call or stop by your local Senior Center soon on your journey to a happy and healthy retirement. The welcome mat is always out.

Written by senior expert Emily Happy.