Senior citizen centers are a place where older adults gather to have lunch, play cards, socialize, and become connected with services.
I had many opportunities to visit senior centers during my time working as a social services manager for an Area Agency on Aging. I helped serve meals at some, talked with elders and caregivers, and saw the benefits that come from these centers.
Who Funds Senior Centers?
Seniors don’t need to worry about biased, corporate interest when becoming engaged with a senior center. There is no agenda that gets pushed, nothing being sold, etc. Why?
Senior centers getting their funding from federal and state monies, local governments, and donations.
Part of my work at the area agency on aging was helping to find and maintain funding. Not only did we do outreach work at senior centers, but our agency also maintained a few. Funding was always a challenge.
The federal Older Americans Act involves funding for the “acquisition, alteration, or renovation of existing facilities” for purposes of establishing multipurpose senior centers. That’s one source of funds. State dollars also get earmarked as matching funds to further fund the centers. Municipal dollars are also (often) a source, and part of our annual fundraising drive involved attending town meetings in order to ask for support.
Lastly, donation monies were also a key source. This came in the form of donations for the meals served (our centers were located where the Meals on Wheels kitchen was) or donations in wills from older adults who passed on and had a connection to the center.
6 Great Things at Senor Citizen Centers
- Senior citizen centers are a great place for seniors to congregate within their age group. And when people get together that have shared similar political and social events, there’s a lot to talk about! The average age of seniors visiting the centers is 75 (source).
- The centers tend to attract seniors with better health, better ability to communicate, and life satisfaction than those that don’t visit them.
- The centers are places where the seniors can share a meal and sometimes even exercise. The dual purposes makes them handier. And some centers even have resource centers connected with them, offering wellness programs, transportation services, nutrition programs and other assistance for situations that seniors face.
- Senior citizen centers are widely accessible. They are open during the workday and there is no limit as to how many times an individual can frequent them. Most seniors visit the center in their community up to three times a week, and each time they are there, they stay for over 3 hours! That’s a lot of time to socialize and connecting with others is especially important for the soul and spirit!
- Many staff at the centers give advice on public benefits and benefit programs that may be available to the senior, and even employment assistance. Yes, it’s possible that seniors above the age of 60 can still function well enough to work at a job, and if anyone has the job listings, it’s the senior citizen centers!
- The centers offer opportunities for the seniors to help out in their community. They will list events that need volunteers or have additional listings of places that need the wisdom of seniors to advise businesses.
All the wisdom that seniors have from years of experience doesn’t have to go to waste! It can be reactivated by getting out into the business world, even though they are retired. And this alone expands the world of a senior, bringing new friendships that could become lasting ones, and ones that make a person feel like he is contributing and making a difference.
3 Ways to Find a Center Near You
The National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) is one place where you can visit online to find out more about the national network of over 3,000 senior centers. Their goal is to help senior citizens have a high quality of life into their older years. They want to see seniors happy, active in their communities, and socially connected.
Their site also contains information on the following:
- Falls prevention
- Planning for the older years
On their site, you can go to this page: https://www.ncoa.org/ncoa-map and find a center near you. Although all states do not have senior citizen centers that are affiliated with the National Institute of Senior Centers, many do.
For example, all of northern California has no sites but there are several located between Los Angeles and San Diego. Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada and South Dakota don’t have any yet, but there are many centers in the Great Lakes area and in the Eastern United States.
You can also find out a lot more on the topic at the website for the National Care Planning Council. On this site you will discover that a federal initiative program established aging and disability resource centers throughout the U.S. which include these states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Their goal for these senior citizen centers is to provide services, information, counseling and qualification information for seniors. The types of services may include:
- public housing and private housing services
- hospice services
- state and private mental health organizations
- state assistive technology organizations
- public and private transportation services
- legal services
- Medicaid uptake, qualification, and services agencies
- aging and disability associations and nonprofit associations
- public and private providers of nursing homes, assisted living, independent living housing
- medical equipment suppliers
- and more
To find additional senior citizen centers, google the name of your city and the words “senior citizen centers”. A google listing will follow your request.
Utilizing all the services that are available at senior citizen centers can seriously upgrade the quality of life you have now. Whatever your needs are, there are answers. Many of those answers are right there in your backyard. All you have to do is look for them – by going to the experts at these senior citizen centers and then having discussions with them until the situations you face have been solved.
The government has already provided the means for the baby boomer generation to have a better life. Answers are available that have never been provided in decades past – and they may be down the street from you at your senior citizens center!