What do Baby Boomers/Elders Expect of Seniors Centres?

What is a Senior Centre?

A senior centre, much like a school and a community, is a hub.  It’s a gathering place.  It’s where people go for services and information.

Paul Flowers, President of Circa 46, a Dallas advertising firm mentioned that late boomers and elders are generally not in an ‘acquisition’ stage of life.  They are more focused on self-actualization and are more interested in acquiring experiences rather than acquiring things.

To support this view of seniors, Age Lessons: Boomer Barometer outlines four different lifestyle trends for Boomers in North America.

* Anticipate a revival of non-contact, less demanding sports options like tether ball (hold off the pickle ball), flag tag, hopscotch, and games that minimize wear and tear on ageing knees.

* Baby Boomers will pursue long-dormant artistic interests in music, painting, or writing sidelined by the demands of work and child care.

* Folklore/story telling returns with a modern twist as a social outlet that allows Baby boomers to connect with children and grand children in response to ubiquitous, impersonal electronic media.

* Grey is the new power color in grassroots politics, as aging Baby Boomers rediscover their revolutionary roots and engage in the political fray to influence the electoral agenda and outcomes.

Regarding interests and hobbies the majority of Baby Boomers like listening to music, dining out, and reading books.  Also, about the Internet, Baby Boomers invented the internet, and are more comfortable with new technology than many people give them credit.

Just recently the Province of Alberta, Canada government is pushing ahead with a year-long study of Alberta’s more than 400 seniors centres which are set to play an increasingly important role as the province,s population ages, Health Minister Fred Horne said on Monday, January 21, 2013.

The study will asses the financial sustainability of the facilities, weigh various funding models, and explore what type of services and programs the centres should be offering at a time of growing demand.

“Even though we have had seniors centres in this province for more than 50 years, very little is known about them,” said Roger Laing, president of Alberta Association of Seniors Centres.

Lifelong Learning Opportunities

In my new book, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) as Entrepreneurs: Their Time Has Come under the heading of Lifelong Learning Opportunities, I ask the question- Should the traditional seniors centres or any future boomer centres need to change by updating the functions and activities offered?

A recent AP (Associated Press) story put it in black and white: “Susan Lather envisions a day when patinas and mocha cocktails will take their place next to fruit cups and club sandwiches on the lunch menu at the Enfield Senior Centre.  Changing food preferences are among many adjustments that senior centre directors USA nationwide, including Lather, expect to make in the next decade as they balance the wishes of their stalwarts with those of baby boomer newcomers.”

Personally, I believe that if Senior Life begins after retirement and with a longer lifespan for many seniors we will need to develop a new entity with or without the present senior center. eg. Seniors Education Center OR a Seniors Lifelong Learning Centre.

Some of these future boomer centres could provide more challenging programs and activities as compared to the traditional senior centre.  This would attract more seniors to these centres assuming the new activities are organized around the mission of Lifelong Learning and create more opportunities for achieving self-actualization.  Presently, specific courses taken such as the History of Ancient Rome or watercolor classes could be complemented with job search skills, Internet research skills, small business incubators and business and/or social entrepreneurial skills.

I understand that there will always be a practical use for traditional seniors centres because a lot of people including some Boomers enjoy the more passive and lower energy activities being offered now.  However; there will also be many Boomers/Elders (Including myself) that want to become more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their retirement life.  As a result, for those seniors that want more enhanced social engagement we will need new locations offering more creative and higher energy solutions.  And then as Boomers/Elders we will be able to say that my community provides relevant programs and activities that are necessary if seniors are going to achieve their highest potential or self-actualization.