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Senior Centers - Conclusions

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It is clear that senior enters have grown and diversified over the years. Shifts in federal and state spending and priorities in health and social services for older adults to a great focus on cost containment and targeting the at-risk, and changing demographics and retirement patterns have had considerable impacts on senior center programming. Senior center professionals in the 1980s worked to identify and refine the roles of centers in relation to focal point functions and the (not always compatible) needs and interests of the newly retired, long-time center users, and frail, at risk older persons. They expanded center linkages with other agencies.

One of the biggest strengths of senior centers is their diversity and their ability to serve different segments of the older population in many different ways. Senior centers do many things well with relatively few resources and certainly are capable of improving and expanding existing functions given the appropriate resources and mission. They have been challenged by the growth of a larger and more diverse older population during times of fiscal constraints; challenges that will increase many fold with the aging of the baby boom. Although clearly a part of the community-based services system, they still carry an image for some (older persons, policymakers, and academics) of places largely for recreation and socialization. Much of the future success of senior centers will depend on the ability of center professionals to articulate and realize new visions of center roles and programming that respond to the interests and capabilities of both current and coming generations of older adults.

JOHN A. KROUT

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BERMAN, J. Senior Center Utilization Study. Report prepared for The New York City. New York: New York City Department for the Aging, 1999.

CALSYN, R., and WINTER, J. ‘‘Who Attends Senior Centers?’’ Journal of Social Service Research 26 (1999): 53–69.

CONRAD, K. J.; HUGHES, S. L.; COMPIONE, P. F.; and GOLDBERG, R. S. ‘‘Shedding New Light on Adult Day Care.’’ Perspective on Aging (November/December 1987): 18–21.

COX, C., and MONK, A. ‘‘Measuring the Effectiveness of a Health Education Program for Older Adults.’’ Educational Gerontology 15 (1989): 9–23.

COX, C., and MONK, A. ‘‘Integrating the Frail and Well Elderly: The Experience of Senior Centers.’’ Journal of Gerontological Social Work 15 (1990): 131–147.

GELFAND, D. The Aging Network: Programs and Services, 2d ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1990.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Correlate of Service Utilization Among the Rural Elderly.’’ The Gerontologist 23 (1983): 500–504.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Senior Center Linkages and the Provision of Services to the Elderly.’’ Final Report To the AARP Andrus Foundation, Fredonia, NY, 1989a.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Community Size Differences in Senior Center Programs and Participation: A Longitudinal Analysis.’’ Research on Aging 16 (1994a): 440–462.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Changes in Senior Center Participant Characteristics During the 1980s.’’ Journal of Gerontological Social Work 22 (1994b): 41–60.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Senior Centers and Services for the Frail Elderly.’’ Journal of Aging and Social Policy 7 (1995): 59–76.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Senior Center Programming and Frailty Among Older Persons.’’ Journal of Gerontological Social Work 26 (1996a): 19–34.

KROUT, J. ‘‘Congregate Programs and Participants in New York State.’’ Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the State Society on Aging of New York, Albany, NY, 1996b.

KROUT, J.; CUTLER, S.; and COWARD, R. ‘‘Correlates of Senior Center Participation: A National Analysis.’’ The Gerontologist 30 (1990): 72–79.

MONK, A. ‘‘The Integration of Frail Elderly into Senior Centers.’’ Final Report to the AARP Andrus Foundation, New York: Columbia University, 1988.

National Council on the Aging. Senior Center Standards: Guidelines for Practice. Washington D.C.: The National Council on the Aging, Inc., 1991.

WAGNER, D. ‘‘Senior Center Research in America: An Overview of What We Know.’’ In Senior Centers in America; A Blueprint for the Future. Edited by Debra Shollenberger. Washington, D.C.: The National Council of the Aging, 1995. Pages 3–10.

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