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Do We Have To Call It A Senior Center?

bingo clockThey’re waiting for us down at the Senior Center. That’s right, I said Senior Center. An article in the Sacramento Bee helped me see the emerging trend.

Aging experts point out that not every boomer will be able to travel the globe or drive off into the sunset with a fancy RV. Thanks to the recession and mutilated savings/pensions, many boomers are going to be looking to the senior center (damn, I wish there was another name for it) to provide stimulating activities and networking opportunities.

But revising the senior center to fit the needs of the baby boomers in the pipeline is not going to be just a matter of replacing bingo with Pilates. They might also want to provide career counseling to boomers who find they still need a source of income from part-time employment.

There are about 11,000 senior centers around the country serving around a million people a day, and their average age is 75. Fast forward a few years to when the oldest boomers start hitting 70, and you can see where this is all going. Senior centers are going to get hit with this giant tsunami wave of boomers and they will need to adapt quickly, not only to the vast increase in clients, but also to a change in the type of services provided.

Boomers will most likely be looking for something more challenging than quilting.The trend is for clients to come to the centers for specific programs-- from classes in quantum physics to information on basic computing. quantum physicsBottom line, boomers are not likely to turn to the senior center as a social center as their parents did. Resource Center might be a better name for a place where you can go to take a yoga class, use the job placement service, or attend a lecture on 20th century American poets.

Not surprisingly, boomers will once again influence a sea change in the way that we view retirement and the support system that will needed to accommodate our needs. Senior -- make that Resource Centers should start to ramp up their programs now, because the boomers will soon be on their doorstep. And they won’t be signing up for square dancing.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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