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Senior Center and programs for elder citizens

 
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Ellen
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Joined: 15 May 2004
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Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:15 am    Post subject: Senior Center and programs for elder citizens Reply with quote

Background

A couple of years back, the City closed the old Senior Center (in the former Wildcat Den, now the Midtown Community Center owned by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association) and made plans to build a new one. The Senior Center was relocated to the Emory Valley Center as a temporary interim measure.

Each year, plans for the new senior center get delayed until farther in the future. Cost is the main issue, but it seems like every year some other capital project shows up with higher priority. Seniors who used the old facility are understandably frustrated. The Emory Valley Center is an inferior facility (it has not been well-maintained) and lacks the central location of the old center.

With the proposed rebuild of Oak Ridge High School emerging as the City’s number one capital priority, the new senior center is even less likely to become a reality. Sad

Where do we go from here?

Rather than griping about the situation with the senior center, I think it’s time for Oak Ridge’s seniors and the City’s leadership to do some new creative thinking about how to best serve our large senior population – with or without a new senior center building.

The senior center conducts and hosts a wide range of great activities and services (check out their web page to see what goes on there Smile ), but relatively few people use the facility regularly. However, local seniors also receive services from other sources and enjoy a number of organized activities that are separate from the senior center, and I know that seniors have other unmet needs, many of which could not be met by a physical building called a "senior center."

Instead of waiting for a new senior center building to house senior programs and services, I think the City should emphasize the coordination and facilitation functions with respect to this population. The City can and should be connecting seniors with services and programs that meet their needs, regardless of who operates those programs, and it should promote the development of new programs to address needs that are not being met currently.

Some very effective programs for local seniors are outside the purview of the city Senior Center. Two non-city programs that effectively serve two different subparts of the senior population are the Keystone Elder Day Center at First United Methodist Church and the Oak Ridge Institute of Continued Learning.

Also, some of the recreational needs and interests of our older citizens are met by facilities or programs that are not for “seniors only.” The public library and the various recreational activity rooms in the Civic Center are examples of public facilities that are popular with seniors, but are used by all age groups. Many seniors find personal satisfaction from church activities, the same clubs they have belonged to for many years, golf or tennis, or volunteer activity at local institutions such as the American Museum of Science and Energy, the Children’s Museum, the hospital, and schools. The City public transit system is available to everyone, but many of its customers are senior citizens.

The City Senior Program is serving many of its clients very well when it simply makes them aware of all the opportunities and services available to them. Oak Ridge has an unusually diverse array of opportunities for our senior population, and we should be promoting them. Very Happy


Last edited by Ellen on Wed Jul 07, 2004 1:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ellen
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Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 209
Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are, however, some unmet needs.

Transportation is a big one. As we age, many of us lose some of the faculties necessary to drive a car. Neutral Unfortunately, it's difficult to live in Oak Ridge without being able to drive. The taxi coupon program and the public transit program help a lot, but they are limited (for example, neither is normally available in the evening).

The City can and should provide leadership to facilitate improved transportation for elderly residents.
    City Council should use its regulatory authority to ensure that the local taxi company has safe and well-maintained vehicles.

    City leadership should explore options for expanding transportation services to the evening hours.

    The City should work with private business to develop a system of occasional group transportation (for example, by van) to out-of-town destinations of interest to many seniors, such as Knoxville arts events, Knox County shopping centers, and the Smokies.
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Ellen
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Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I stopped by the Senior Center the other day, I was favorably impressed with the appearance of the place.

City staff are doing a good job making the place inviting and pleasant, as well as providing signs to help people find their way around. Smile
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