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Monday, October 22, 2007

Senior Centers Provide a Wealth of Resources

Senior Centers across the country provide a wealth of free practical resources that caregivers and seniors can use, as well as being a place for friends and fun. By working with Betty Milne, Manager of the Central Coast Seniors Center, I have had an opportunity to learn more about the resources and activities offered for active or frail seniors at senior centers. Caregivers and seniors who are looking for helpful free community resources can find activities such as the following.

(1) flu shots
(2) free legal assistance
(3) free tax assistance
(4) medicare and insurance consultations
(5) Alzheimer's caregiver consultations
(6) Health care classes presented by hospitals
(7) Commodities and Brown Bag to assist with groceries
(8) activities ranging from Bingo, to playing cards, to country line dancing
(9) opportunities to volunteer and enjoy making a difference for others
(10) consultations and information about Alzheimer's, Dementia, long term care, in home care
(11) special dinners, craft shows, bake sales and more
(12) Senior Nutrition programs that offer lunches

At a recent Friday Night Out for Seniors the Spaghetti Dinner began at 4:00 in the afternoon. Seniors who ranged from very active to frail began arriving to visit for several hours before Bingo and have a leisurely meal. I spoke to one lady, who was recovering from hip surgery and using a walker, and she said this is her night out for a treat. Another said she gets there as soon as the doors open each week, to catch up on news from her regular group of friends. Some of the more frail seniors were assisted by caregivers. There was talking, laughing, and having fun.

Bingo has changed a lot since decades ago when I last saw someone playing Bingo. These Bingo experts laid out several pages of Bingo squares, and it was a mental challenge to find the sometimes complicated patterns of numbers as rapidly as they were called out. Some of the games are slow and easy, but some such as "Speedball" mean a new number is called out every 3 seconds. With Bingo squares spread out for several feet in front of you that one really makes you work.

On another afternoon I took photos of the Country Music Line Dancers who were practicing their dance steps to some music with a great beat. There was also the Yoga group, providing some good stretching and gentle exercises suitable for seniors.

Another day I visited the Pinochle group, a game of dice and cards. The Bridge group and Bunco groups also provided fun for card players.

Free local legal services are donated and listed on the schedule, as are tax assistance. An Alzheimer's Caregiver Consultant has regularly scheduled times. There are Health care classes taught by the Arroyo Grande hospital, such as recent classes on Emphysema Information and Living with Diabetes.

For those who like movies there is a Cinema night with refreshments.

The Senior Nutrition Program is held every day starting at 11:30 am. Local seniors enjoy sharing a meal at the Central Coast Seniors Center that provides balanced nutrition and social interaction with friends. Many are regulars almost every day. There is a $2.75 donation, but it is not required.

A Country Crafts and Bake Sale is scheduled soon, and people are enjoying getting everything ready. Seniors sell their crafts by signing up for a table at the Center, and there are a lot of chances to visit and see friends.

The seniors centers across the country provide a place that a caregiver can find helpful. Caregivers and seniors can enjoy sharing activities or find free help from the community resources.

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