Senior centers have a rich history of providing low-cost meals, offering assistance accessing community resources, and providing activities like Bingo. The attendance at senior centers has dropped in many geographical areas as some of the older adults have passed away or moved into a more supportive environment.1 For the most part, the Baby Boomer population has not filled these spaces as their interests and needs appear to be different from the seniors who came before them.1 The senior centers are at a pivotal point right now as people begin going out again to attract the Baby Boomer population.
Who are the Baby Boomers? The “Boomers” are people born post World War II between 1946 and 1964, placing about 50 million people currently at retirement age.2 The median age by 2030 will be 50 years old, making older adults a significant sector of our overall population.2
Senior centers are changing in many ways, while also maintaining their core programs, which most notably includes nutrition. Thriving senior centers are adding more online resources, partnering with other organizations, providing monthly giveaways, providing more diverse activities, and hosting community events.3 Many older adults from the Baby Boomer generation do not perceive themselves as “seniors” and do not want to associate with a senior center that hosts traditional programs and reinforces the stereotypes of older adults. Rebranding of senior centers is needed to provide a fresh environment for older adults to attend to remain active and live their best lives.
Nationally, other senior centers are offering hiking, evening programming, fishing trips, and structured art and fitness classes.3 The goal is to accommodate the interests of community members. Many places have incorporated the senior centers into community centers, attracting people of all ages to make age less of a focus when participating in activities.
In our area, our senior centers are faced with the same issues and need to develop a new image and new activities to meet the needs of the older adults, especially Baby Boomers, in our communities. Egyptian Area Agency on Aging is putting together a committee, including Board members, Advisory Council members, and community members, to address the concern of “younger” older adults not attending senior centers. The hope is that the committee will be able to find out what changes need to be made in our region to ensure the needs of all older adults are met.
If you are interested in serving on the committee or in offering ideas and recommendations on programming for our current senior sites, please contact our office.
1 Weisman, Robert, “Senior groups struggle to attract ‘forever young’ baby boomers,” Globe Staff, Feb 19, 2019.
2 Angell Marketing, “How Can the Senior Living Industry Meet the Needs & Expectations of Baby Boomers?” Senior Living, Oct. 4, 2020.
3 www.televeda.com, “5 Ways Bring In More Seniors to Your Senior Community Organization,” September 8, 2021.