Term Paper: Impact of Senior Centers in the Elderly

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¶ … Senior Centers in the Elderly

The baby boomer generation has just about a year to reach the retirement age prompting the urgent need of successful aging. The current life expectancy is higher than the previous ones with the 15% of the American population composed of individuals above the age of 65 years (Skarupski & Pelkowski, 2003, Walker, et al. 2004). This is brought about by the good life that people live into the second 50 years and the increase in the number that enter their third 50 years. To ensure that old people, commonly referred to as seniors, get the opportunity to take part in meaningful activities through contribution many Acts have been formed in different countries such as the Older Americans Act. This participation includes all fields such as recreation activities, education and training, and cultural activities since most of them have more often been left out of such activities due to varied reasoning.

In order to meet these goals various senior centers have been established, these act as community facility that serves older people. These senior centers have grown in numbers in the recent years with some newly constructed for that particular purpose while others are formed through conversion of existing homes into senior centers. A number of services are offered at these senior centers and may include health or social services, and recreational events; in fact, these centers have been identified as good points for providing necessary services to the old people mostly those above 60 years of age. The involvement of these senior centers cover a narrow population since those who take part are mainly individuals under the age of 85 who are healthy and having low to middle incomes, however, participation has been observed from individuals above 100 years of age (Skarupski & Pelkowski, 2003).

It is a common phenomena to find the economically less (not least) advantaged participating in senior center activities and in most cases they do it out of desire for social interaction and are mostly introduced into such centers through friends (Walker, et al. 2004). A number of benefits come with participating in senior centers the most obvious but useful one being socializing which has been mentioned as a good supporter of successful aging. Such centers are normally graded according to age thus people of a similar age and interest interact resulting into formation of friendships. Being together as friends creates a sense of belonging since they support each other both mutually and through collective activity. However, it is still surprising that with al these benefits to enjoy, there has been a decline in enrollment at the senior centers indicating that lesser people take part in such activities. This decline in participation has been attributed to many factors some of which are personal, such as lack of interest and poor health, to more general ones like lack of transportation and the unequal proportion of men and women in such centers. The senior centers have also been blamed for this decline with indications that they do very little to reach older and weak people who also earn very little or are living with a disability.

Impacts of Senior Centers

There is definite impact that is created by senior centers on older people most of which are beneficial to them. When older people are put in senior centers it creates a very good opportunity for professionals such as community health nurses to monitor them regularly to ascertain their general health and well being, this is done considering the health related issues that the older people face and other factors that may have an indirect impact on them. It becomes easy to do this since there is regular contact to provide preventive care and education thereby exploiting the strengths of this population.

Social impact

Most older people live alone and have always confessed feeling lonely most of the time but it should be remembered that they are still very social which is displayed by the fact that they visit friends and relatives more often, they confide in people, and they also communicate to other regularly on phone or through other available means. This means that they need good social relationships which they can get while in senior centers, this socializing leads to better physical and mental health which lowers the risk of death. The senior centers encourage them to widen their social connections while at the same time the professionals get a chance of monitoring their sociability. Studies have indicated that loneliness increases the chances of an individual facing particular form of mortality and morbidity, for instance a lonely senior may not be able to health related decisions that are beneficial to their lifestyle since they don't have adequate support. It is possible for professionals within the senior centers to detect loneliness and take a step of advising the senior person on the positive steps that he or she can take. Furthermore, the involved professionals can help in preventing harmful conditions that arise from loneliness.

As the number of seniors increase in the society the increased use and reliance on computers is also experienced which raises the question of whether the elderly should be left behind in such advancement or be pulled together with others? In order to improve and maintain the social connectedness of this population it is necessary that they are introduced and trained for such programs. Most of the older persons may not know the value of computer usage through their own means but studies have indicated that most family members who own computer tend to enlighten the old on the value of using computers (Saunders, 2004). Much of the information needs that the seniors have can be met using an online search which is one of the applications of computer usage; such information may be for medical purposes, sports, news updates, weather, and genealogy. The seniors face numerous challenges with regard to computer usage most of which are personal in nature, for instance many of them have a 'fear factor' when they think about learning computer use. Such fears as of breaking computers, erasing programs, and feelings of being mentally incapable are common among this population. This is usually created by negative impressions created by other individuals about learning computers; therefore, there is a need for individual support through trainees. Individualized training is essential because most seniors believe they can derive more benefits from personal instructors than from computer manuals. It is therefore necessary to find tutors for this population and the best place to find them is at the senior centers where they can find such assistance free of charge.

Some of the seniors are already willing to use computers since they understand the value but are faced with the challenge of accessing computers, senior centers can give them this access. In senior centers computers can be obtained through recycling programs that utilize computers that are to be discarded and also may buy new ones when funds are available. The other reason given by seniors for not using computers is that of being too busy with other obligations thus learning use of computers is least of their priority (Saunders, 2004). Interestingly enough even such individuals appreciate the usefulness of e-mail as a means of communicating with their family members far away, it is therefore necessary that this population is sensitized on the value of computer usage. It is also common for the seniors to have physical challenges which may bar them from using computers and the senior centers can be used to help avoid such challenges or provide the necessary assistance for individuals who have already been affected. Generally senior centers can be used to make the seniors understand the value of computers and make them utilize computers to meet their information needs, entertainment, and improve their communication which collectively contributes to their social connectedness. This social connectedness will make the seniors enjoy psychosocially, access the large information available online, and also help them connect with the community at large thus improving their attitude towards life.

Health impact

Even though the main aim of senior centers is for social support the impact of social support has been felt far beyond general health into diet and nutrition which is a major challenge among the elderly. Good health can only come through better dietary and better dietary comes through social support, most lonely individuals have dietary inadequacies which can possible lead to problems related to nutrition. Studies indicate that most seniors who are lonely are at a higher risk of suffering from such problems as compared to those who are never lonely. This has led to the recommendation that professionals take a keen interest of social support on appetite and take the relevant steps when assessing nutrition in this population. When in senior centers, seniors can be educated on healthy eating habits and the relation that exists between nutrition and overall health.

The other common problem faced by the elderly that can be addressed in senior centers is oral… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Impact of Senior Centers in the Elderly.  (2010, May 6).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/impact-senior-centers-elderly/8327

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