September is National Senior Center Month, sponsored by the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC), part of the Washington-DC based National Council on Aging. It’s a great time to visit your local senior center. All over the Ocean State senior centers are hosting special events to showcase the 2018 theme: Senior Centers: Building Momentum! This year’s theme was chosen to highlight how senior centers build momentum for aging well in their communities. This year, senior centers celebrate their 75th anniversary. Just as older adults build on their past experiences and lessons learned to create a rich life, senior center professionals are building on lessons learned from 75 years of experience and wisdom.
The national celebration of senior centers began in 1979, with Senior Center Week celebrated in May. The concept gained support of other aging organizations, as well as the full Senate and the House Select Committee on Aging.
With the support of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Aging Task Force, numerous mayoral proclamations celebrated Senior Center Week. In 1985, NISC was instrumental in achieving the first Senior Center Week Presidential Proclamation signed by President Ronald Reagan. In 2007, NISC designated the entire month of September as Senior Center Month to give centers greater flexibility in scheduling celebratory events.
Age 50 Plus Boomers Flock to Senior Centers
Senior centers are recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a community focal point. Today, across the nation almost 11,000 senior centers serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Aging baby boomers now constitute more than two-thirds of the over age 50 population. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.
Sure, you may find card games and bingo when visiting your local senior center. Today, you will find a vibrant, action-packed combination of local fitness center, job and volunteering headquarters, transportation hub, and tasty dining locale. Senior centers even offer everything from trips and special events (book readings, concerts and lectures) to fine arts and crafts, music and dance, life-long learning classes and computer labs.
For many, senior centers are a great place to find work and volunteer activities. AARP research polls are telling us that older adults do not want to totally retire but are looking for a part-time job to supplement their retirement income. Many even offers job training and placement opportunities.
Get Fit and Healthy
Senior centers are offering health and fitness programs, like aerobics, Zumba, yoga, and Tai Chi. But, many are now offering evidence-based health programs that have been scientifically proven to make people healthier and even offer regularly scheduled blood pressure and glucose screenings that can replace tedious trips to a medical clinic for those simple procedures.
Besides the benefits gained from social interaction, research studies tell us that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being.
For a listing of Rhode Island Senior Centers, go www.seniorcenterdirectory.com/rhode-island.