Beating Senior Loneliness & Isolation – and Having Fun – at a Senior Center

Isolation and loneliness are two of the many fears family caregivers often have for senior loved ones living on their own.

We worry something will happen when nobody is there to help them.

Depression, which can have serious health consequences, can also result from seniors who are living alone and become isolated from others.

Many seniors would enjoy spending time with their peers. They can share their life experiences, stories about their grandkids and discuss activities they all enjoy.

Seniors centers are a great place for older adults to be with others and enjoy activities. It may be a great option for your senior who is living independently.

Senior Center Facts

First a little background on senior centers.

  • Senior Centers are the most well used service among senior adults
  • Approximately 11,000 centers provide service for about 1 million seniors each day
  • 70% of those attending are women
  • The average age of senior center participants is 75
  • Most seniors attend one to three times a week
  • Seniors spend about 3.3 hours each visit at the center
  • According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), seniors who attend senior centers have “higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction”

What Happens at the Senior Center?

Senior centers and the services and activities they offer vary so it’s important to check with the centers near your senior loved one. These are some of the program offerings.

  • Nutrition programs and meal services – many centers prepare meals for outreach programs transporting meals to homebound seniors as well as the congregate meals eaten in the center
  • Health and fitness programs – activities such as tai chi, yoga, Zumba gold and other exercise programs; dancing; health fairs; exercise equipment and even trainers
  • Games like cards, bingo, bocce ball, board games, checkers, Wii and other video games, mah jongg, scrabble
  • Transportation – many centers will pick up and drop off your senior so they can participate
  • Arts – crafts and activities that stimulate creativity and self-expression; music and singing programs; sewing and quilting; knitting; woodworking; painting
  • Educational programs – speakers on various topics of interest; computer training
  • Benefits and information assistance – center staff can help your senior access benefits they are missing now
  • Volunteer coordination for community service
  • Multi-generational activities
  • Special events and holiday celebrations
  • Field trips to local fun spots

Senior centers have evolved over the years in order to meet aging baby boomers’ needs and desires. Most senior centers accept participants who are over 50. Many allow family members to participate in the activities offered including exercise classes and special events.

There may be an annual membership fee which is minimal depending on the center near you and the programs offered.

Senior Center Benefits

A senior center is a place where your senior will make new friends and enjoy the many chances to learn something new. They may have opportunities to try things they never did before or play games they loved playing in their younger years. They might go to museums and eateries that they would not have dared go to alone. They will make friends with whom they can reminisce and people to share life experiences each time they visit. Participating in the fitness and health activities will help them stay well and manage any chronic diseases they might have.

Just being part of something and having a reason to face each new day will give them purpose in their life hopefully preventing loneliness and depression.

Many seniors wish they had started attending years before once they find out how enjoyable the senior center really can be. You will also have peace of mind that they are staying mentally and socially stimulated and are not alone all day long. It sounds like a real win-win!

2 thoughts on “Beating Senior Loneliness & Isolation – and Having Fun – at a Senior Center”

  1. Very interesting data on loneliness in the elderly population and the use of senior centres: From the Age UK statistics the 3.8 million elderly that live alone in the UK 2.6 million of these are women. Therefore we need to encourage more women to engage in the senior centre services so we can all benefit from their knowledge and experience. In exchange they can show the rest of us how we can have a great attitude to aging and join the Baroness Trumpington and Daphne Selfe’s of this world.

    • Thank you for your comments Camille!
      Senior Centers are such an underused service. Perhaps the more awareness we can bring to everyone that they are enriching places for those who attend and those who benefit from their attendance, more will want to come!

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