One of the problems with aging in America is that, for various reasons, your world can become easily constricted. Streets and sidewalks aren’t designed with the needs of older adults in mind. Friends move away or pass on. Driving becomes more difficult. And for some reason, as a society, we feel that increased isolation is a normal course of events, rather than a series of choices.
But it doesn’t have to be. It is absurd to say that older adults don’t need (or, worse, want) friendship and activities. It doesn’t make any sense to think that as we get older our needs for socialization stop. If anything, they increase. Isolation is cruel and dangerous, which is why senior centers for aging adults in San Francisco and the Bay Area are so important to the community.
Senior centers are places where aging adults can gather, socialize, meet new friends, and stay active. They serve as focal points of the community. They allow older adults to participate more in all the adventures life has to offer.
The benefits of attending a San Francisco senior center come from being able to explore more of the city, both physically and socially. You’ll meet people you wouldn’t otherwise and take part in activities you may never have thought of. The world shouldn’t be constricted for older adults. It should always be opening up.
What Is a Senior Center?
There are more than 11,000 senior centers across the United States, including dozens in San Francisco alone. Every day, they serve more than 1 million seniors.
According to the National Council on Aging, 70% of senior centers participants are women, and the average age of participants is 75. Very few people just pop by, either. The average length of visit is 3.3 hours, and 75% of people visit multiple times a week.
But why? What do they get out of it? There are a lot of very tangible benefits. Being a focal point of the community doesn’t just mean social awareness. Most senior centers run programs that help older adults navigate through the thickets of life and the thickness of bureaucracy that can dominate existence.
Some senior center services include:
- Transportation assistance
- Meal programs
- Nutrition programs
- Benefits counseling
- Information assistance
- Employment assistance
The last one is, I think, key. There are many older adults who need to work, and many older adults who just want to work so that they can talk to people and be a part of the day-to-day life. There may be people who are looking for a routine, or who just want to pick up some extra cash.
A senior center helps everyone find what they want and need. Along those lines, some other services provided by senior centers include:
- Civic engagement activities
- Multi-generational programs
- Adult education
- Recreational and social activities
Finding the Adventure in Living
At Institute on Aging, we view life as a long journey, one that doesn’t end until it actually ends. There’s no cut-off point for exploration and no stopping point to finding joy. That’s why we take our mission as a community-based senior center very seriously. It’s what drives us.
We have a wide variety of services, including community living resources, health and nutrition programs, and home care programs. We know that when you are having trouble meal-planning or getting benefits you have earned, your happiness is restricted. When life is a series of gray boxes to be checked, it is hard to have adventures.
Our Social Day Program allows aging adults to engage in the community by participating in activities that helps them explore new experiences. We make music. We dance. We spray paint. We help older adults continue their education, for the love of learning. We facilitate conversations, encourage exercise, and help create friendships.
If you want to know what a senior center is, and what its benefits are, there is one sentence that we think sums it up. A senior center is where a blind 93-year-old has the safe space to pick up painting for the first time and express visually what is in her soul.
That’s a senior center. It is a place where who you are on the inside is what matters. It’s a place where no one says, “You’re too old to do this!” It’s a place where people open doors to new experiences. It’s a place that knows memories can be created every day of this wild and precious life.
At Institute on Aging, our services and programs help older adults, their families, and caregivers explore new adventures. Contact us today to learn more.