Page 4 - Spring 2017
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What’s going on at your senior center?
If you haven’t visited your local senior center lately you may have a picture of it as it once was, instead of the way it really is.
The origins of senior centers reaches back to the 1940s when older citizens gathered at social clubs housed in church basements. This was commonplace until 1965 when the Older American’s Act passed. That’s when these centers began popping up all over the country. Back then, programs were a bit limited but addressed social, recreation, education and nutrition needs. Many centers were, and often still are, housed in a section of the city’s parks and recreation department in the community services building. One thing’s for sure, in the 50 years since inception, senior centers have grown in possibilities and programs. Today, these are vital areas for seniors (sometimes even from other communities) to get together for some of the old favorites and new
takes on scheduled offerings and events.
For example, did you know that as an older adult you can participate at any senior center or parks and recreation senior programming in Michigan or out of state? “We’d like people to come in and be active rather than sit at home,” said Linda Guyor, Accounting Clerk at the Monroe Center for Healthy Aging. “All are welcome at our senior center and that’s our motto.”
Who can join?
Most centers have a qualifying age of 50+, while others are 55+, and even fewer require someone be 60+. Some offer a lifetime membership for residents, and non-residents and then pay for classes at a reduced rate or for free. Other centers offer a free membership when you reach a certain age.
As a resident of the county your senior center serves, you may enjoy clubs and discounted programs, classes and events:
• at a reduced annual membership from what a non-county resident would pay, or
• with no annual membership and a get discounted rate on classes, or
• may not pay anything at all to participate Non-residents can still take advantage of senior
center offerings anywhere by either paying:
• a higher annual membership fee than residents, or • a minimal daily drop-in fee, or
• a few dollars more for classes and events, or
• may pay nothing extra
Senior center programs may be funded in part by a membership fee from you, but also federal, state and local governments, grants and special events.
In fact, most centers rely on multiple funding sources.
What painting classes are available at your senior center?
What can I do?
Research cited by the National Council on Aging (NOA), found that older adults who participate in senior center programs experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well-being. With that as a goal, center directors and program coordinators throughout Metro Detroit are pulling out all the stops with exciting offerings to attract and embrace this community. They are working hard to keep in step with the growing population of people 50+. Programs
like Walk MI Lighthouses, Murder Mystery Dinner, Bollyburning Dance Styles draw the curious through their doors. Whether they came to walk the steps it would take to get to the nearest lighthouse, or get
a little leaner with some Bollywood dance moves, everyone is having fun and staying physically and socially active.
Senior Centers have become a home away from home as center directors, program directors, and employees collaborate to create and maintain a warm, welcoming, safe and exciting place for older adults to, as they say in Milan, “get better with age.”
What’s in a name?
To better accommodate adults age 50+, some Michigan senior centers have undergone a name change that reflects the broad age range of the older adults they serve. The Birmingham Area Senior Center & Coordinating Council (BASSC) recently changed its name to Next, Your place to Stay Active & Connected in response to a wide-reaching survey conducted in their communities. The vast majority of respondents thought the former name was no longer reflective of the current demographic and wanted to see something that evoked vitality and a future filled with opportunity.
Executive Director Chris Braun said, “The name change to Next continues to be well received and has helped draw younger members. In fact, we don’t even use the phrase senior center. We are a 50+ community center.” She acknowledged, “By adding a much wider variety of programming that challenges and inspires, we have been able to grow.”
Marketing efforts at senior centers have also ramped up. Senior areas within parks and recreation departments or community centers generally share the government or education website to post their programming and this measure cuts down on expenses. On the other hand, senior centers like the Milan Senior Center for Healthy Living, OPC and Next have invested in websites to make this marketing tool easy to use and inviting. “Many boomers and
“All are welcome
at our senior
center and
that’s our motto.”
beyond are very comfortable with the internet and want the ease of perusing and registering for programs at their convenience. So the website was designed to be very user-friendly, eye-catching and continuously changing, with a calendar that is easy to navigate,” Braun said. “As a small non-profit, not taxpayer supported, we were grateful to receive a grant
to cover the cost of our new website.”
Program offerings have been given a new twist so classes like Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center’s shopping excursions became Retail Therapy and instead of a grief support group, there’s GriefShare. The Troy Senior Center offers Seasoned Readers instead of their former book club; Ypsilanti Township

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