About Senior Centers

The first Senior Center in the country opened in 1943 in the Bronx, New York and was called the William Hodson Community Center . By 1961 about 218 senior centers had opened all across the country. The first Senior centers were operated by cities or nonprofit or religious organizations. Funding came from government, community donations and fees from people using the facilities. In the early days some federal funding came from Title XX of the Social Security act but funding for Title XX has been decreasing and much of that money today is being used for other programs.

In 1972, the Older Americans Act was amended to provide funding for senior centers as this was considered to be an important piece of the aging network. Today, there are estimated to be about 15,000 senior centers across the country serving about 10 million older Americans annually. About 6,000 of these centers receive part or all of their funding through the Older Americans Act.

Senior centers act as a focal point for older Americans to receive many aging services. They are a vital part of the aging network. For Area Agencies on Aging, the senior center has become a place where many AAA services can be provided, where outreach and targeting can occur and where feedback can be received from the elderly. The most common services offered at a senior center are:

  • Health and wellness programs
  • Arts and humanities activities
  • Intergenerational programs
  • Employment assistance
  • Community action opportunities and social networking opportunities
  • Transportation services
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Educational opportunities Information and referral
  • Financial assistance
  • Senior rights counseling and legal services
  • Meal and nutrition programs
  • Leisure travel programs

Larger senior centers in major cities may offer additional specific services because they serve a large and diverse group of patrons. Here are some examples:

  • Education classes, perhaps through a local college
  • Foot care
  • Health clinics
  • Haircuts
  • Daily exercise
  • Telephone friends
  • Support groups for Alzheimer's caregivers
  • Support for Parkinson's disease
  • Low vision and diabetes services
  • Weekly health speakers
  • Grocery shopping
  • Many and varied classes for personal growth and learning
  • Special events and fundraisers such as auctions, raffles, sales, bazaars, rummage sales, bingo, special meals and parties, fashion shows and facility rentals

Most elderly people are aware of senior centers in their neighborhoods but for those who are not familiar with the program, senior centers are listed under that title in the Yellow Pages.

 






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