Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Find friends, fitness and fun at a neighborhood senior center

If you are retired and haven't visited a neighborhood senior center, it's time you did. Senior centers are not a place where people sit around in rocking chairs. They are lively, fun-filled, and educational.

Neighborhood senior centers provide the services older adults need to be healthy, happy and as independent as they can be. More than 10 million Americans take part in activities through the 15,000 senior centers around the country.

What does a senior center have to offer you?

Senior centers offer a wide range of services and activities for older adults. At most senior centers, you can:

• Have a meal. No one likes to eat alone. The senior centers serve a low-cost or free noon meal where you can enjoy the company of others.
• Make friends. One of the main benefits of senior centers is the chance to connect with other people. Nine out of 10 seniors report that they've made close friendships at their senior center and that these friends are an important source of support and encouragement.
• Get fit. Fitness programs are a mainstay of senior centers. Staying strong and limber is important as you age. Many centers have a variety of fitness offerings, such as yoga, tai-chi and low-impact aerobics. Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level or start a new exercise program.
• Take a class. Give yourself a new challenge or brush up old skills. You might learn how to use a computer, take a driver refresher course, learn folk dancing or take an arts and crafts class.
• Get a ride. Senior centers may offer a van service that can take you to the center, shopping or on field trips.
• Have fun. Many centers have recreation areas where you can play pool, have a bridge game or exercise. Senior centers host events such as holiday parties, casino nights and dances.
• Help out. You're never too old to be a volunteer. Volunteering is a way to share your experience and give back to your community. You might become a foster grandparent, knit hats for cancer patients or help others with the tax forms.
With all these opportunities waiting for you, why stay home alone?

How can I find my local senior center?

Check the Senior Citizen Services website at or phone 404-351-3889.

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