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July 07, 2015

Avoiding the Nursing Home: Taking Advantage of a Senior Center

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), senior centers are one of the most widely used services for older adults with 11,400 senior centers serving more than 1 million adults every day.

These centers connect older adults to community services that help them to stay healthy and independent.

NCOA lists the following programs and services as among those most often provided by senior centers:

  • Meal and nutrition programs
  • Information and assistance
  • Health, fitness, and wellness programs
  • Transportation services
  • Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Educational and arts programs
  • Intergenerational programs

And, here’s something to consider: Senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction and life satisfaction when compared to their non-participating peers. Not only that, senior centers can help maintain your health and independence, essential factors for avoiding a nursing home. 

Benefits of Senior Centers

In The Perks of Growing Older, EverydayHealth.com analyzes how some of the activities offered at senior centers can benefit participants. For example, when these centers offer fitness programs, they provide exercises specifically tailored for older adults. This allows you to stay functional and healthy through safe exercises you can perform at your own pace with accommodations that make sense for you. Here are current exercise guidelines for adults, ages 65 and up, who are generally fit and have no limiting conditions. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. 

Once someone retires, it isn’t unusual for that person to look for ways to become involved in new activities — and so it isn’t surprising approximately one third of volunteers in the United States are older adults. You can often find information about volunteering opportunities at senior centers. 

Or you can use one of these services that connect older adults with appropriate volunteer opportunities like AARP’s Experience Corps and the government-based Senior Corps. Locally, Experience Corps is run by the Greater Cleveland Volunteers. At their site, you can search for opportunities by city or by type of opportunity. As for Senior Corps, here are current volunteer opportunities in the state of Ohio. Consider inviting people you meet at your senior center to volunteer with you. 

Senior centers often provide educational programs, as well, which can keep your mind active and provide mental health benefits.

Not only that, senior centers provide a variety of activities that promote social interaction, which can be beneficial to mental and physical health. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, social interaction benefits older adults by: 

  • Potentially reducing the risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Potentially reducing the risk for Alzheimer's disease
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk for mental health issues such as depression

How to Find the Right Senior Center

One of the easiest ways to find a quality senior center is to ask your friends for recommendations. That way, not only will you find a senior center, but you will have found one where you already know people. But, that’s not the only way to find a center. The Ohio Association of Senior Centers has a locator feature on their website. You can also find location-specific information at Ohio Senior Citizens

A vital community resource, senior centers are often overlooked. Becoming involved with your local center can provide you with many benefits that can help you avoid the nursing home and maintain your independence. And you might even make a new friend or two. For more local activities, take a look at these spring activities for older adults.Avoiding a Nursing Home | Kendal at Home

Healthy aging is hard on your own. Kendal at Home can help you age well and enjoy your retirement.

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