Salt Lake County Senior Centers
By Ken Venables, Public Relations Coordinator, Salt Lake County Aging Services and Traci Lee, Active Aging Program Manager, Salt Lake County Aging Services
As older adults contemplate the world of retirement, many begin to fear a loss of belonging, sense of self and community connection. Many wonder, what’s next? How will I fill my days without a familiar routine? New retirees often speak about the quick onset of boredom. They’ve taken that once-in-a-lifetime vacation, spent ample time spoiling the grandkids, and improved their golf handicap. Now what?
Upon reaching their golden years many older adults find themselves on a brand new journey, one to find personal contentment and meaning apart from those benchmarks they’ve linked to happiness throughout their lives––family, career, routine, community, etc. This journey should be a time of unbelievable growth, continued happiness and joy.
A valuable tool for beginning this journey is your local senior center. Contrary to popular belief, senior centers are neither nursing homes nor assisted living facilities and offer so much more than bingo and bridge. With many baby boomers reaching the retirement age, diversification of activities at your local center has become paramount to meet the needs of the evolving senior population.
Salt Lake County Aging Services partners with multiple cities to provide a network of 19 senior centers throughout the valley where active adults, 60+, gather and enjoy a nutritious meal and socialize with friends, while participating in stimulating and energizing classes, workshops and clinics.
Salt Lake County senior centers focus on active aging and prevention. Senior centers are a great place to get healthy. In addition to traditional programs like aerobics, Zumba, yoga, and Tai Chi, many senior centers offer evidence-based health programs that have been scientifically proven to enhance quality of life.
In addition to healthy activities, each Salt Lake County senior center offers its patrons a nutritious noontime meal. In 2012, Salt Lake County senior centers served 181,334 meals. To accommodate the changing demographics in the senior population, Salt Lake County is providing new and innovative ways to deliver quality meals in its senior centers.
For example, in addition to the customary nutritious noontime meals being served, some centers, such as Millcreek’s Community Center, now offer cafés with full service menus and on-site chef prepared meals. The idea of offering a variety of meal choices is quickly catching on at other centers. In the spring of 2013, the Draper center will begin to offer items made to order and will serve breakfast as well.
Another step to ensure aging services’ senior centers are meeting the needs of an ever-changing senior population is through earning national accreditation from the National Council on Aging. Accreditation is a customer-focused model that adheres to an established standard of excellence.
As you explore all that the wonderful world of retirement has to offer, don’t forget to include your local senior center. Meeting new friends, discovering a new hobby or volunteer opportunity, enjoying a healthy meal and physical and mental stimulation are just a few of the things waiting for you at your neighborhood senior center––all of them guaranteed to add spice to your life!
Salt Lake County’s Aging Services mission is to promote the independence of aging generations through advocacy, engagement and access to resources. If you are interested in visiting or volunteering at one of the senior centers located throughout Salt Lake Valley, please visit us at aging.slco.org, or call 385-468-3200.