What’s Going on Down at the Senior Centers?
All across the country, there are senior centers. In big cities and small towns, there are a variety of services and programs available for seniors to meet, eat, socialize, learn and have fun. These programs take a variety of forms, use different facilities, and have different funding sources, but each has something to offer the senior citizens in their own communities. There is something out there for you and your loved one too. If you the caregiver would like for your loved one to have a nutritious meal with others, educational opportunities or exercise, or just find a friend, there’s a place out there with you in mind.
Here’s a look at just a few centers in my area and the great variety of services there.
In small towns, often at local church meeting halls or at a local fraternal club’s hall, seniors meet a few times a week to have lunch, socialize, play cards, or hear a speaker. This kind of small program is usually funded by a city with help from the local area agency on aging or a county health and human services department. The seniors there are able to drive themselves or get a ride with a friend. They are mobile, even if in a wheelchair, and they live on their own. They are able to take care of their personal care themselves. The seniors often volunteer to help in the community, such as manning a booth at a city event. There is no cost to attend the senior citizens’ center. The senior centers in Ferris, Texas is a small-town example of such a center with the cooking done by director Sammye Wickliffe for a group of about 20 local folks who visit over lunch three times a week downtown. If your loved one would like to make friends and enjoy a nutritious meal and social-time, this kind of senior citizens’ center would fit the bill perfectly.
Near downtown Dallas, the Brady Center is another type of senior citizen center. The Center serves a particular demographic population and language group and it provides a variety of health and social services to a low-income elderly. It is run by Catholic Charities and caters to the Hispanic population. The Brady Center offers daily programs and social services 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday. Breakfast and lunch are served daily. Seniors aged 60 and over are provided with resources, information and education, social support and access to medical care.
Bilingual presentations are given on nutrition, physical wellness, fraud awareness, personal safety, managing diabetes, financial education, adult literacy, citizenship, community resources and other various topics. Gerontology counselors, ophthalmologists, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, dentists and nutritionists provide free services on site. Transportation is provided within a radius of the center.
Perhaps there is a religious-based center which is dedicated to helping seniors who share a common language or faith in your area. Or, if you are also looking for a center where health screenings and social service referrals are available, then a full-service center which emphasizes health education might be a great help to your loved one.
Some colleges have opened their doors to seniors’ centers on campus. Mountain View College is one of the Dallas County Community College District colleges which hosts the Emeritus Center for adults 60 years and older on its campus. Operating in cooperation with the county Health and Human Services department, the Center offers seniors the opportunity to be active learners with other seniors on campus using college facilities. Educational opportunities, social service information and referral, and free transportation to and from the center within a certain distance are provided. The college students have opportunities to present plays, choir performances, and musical performances to the group. The college students and faculty members benefit by interacting with the seniors for projects such as an oral history project, opinion surveys, or other presentations. For the independent senior with a desire to be active and informed, a college campus is a great place to be on a daily basis.
Most senior centers are run by local or county government agencies such as the county health department and are free to those living in the area. Some senior centers may charge for a membership to attend the center, or they may charge to attend their classes or events. Others are especially for those who share a common culture or language, faith, or have a low income. There are charitable organizations, religious groups, and fraternal organizations which serve seniors in a group setting regularly and provide services. If you don’t know if there are senior centers in your area, you could ask at the local area agency on aging, the health department, or your Chamber of Commerce.
What’s going on at the senior centers? Lots of good things! Wherever it is, there’s bound to be friendly faces, good food and conversation, and lots opportunities for having a good day!
Caregivers, consider what services you could find at your local seniors’ center for your loved one.