Monday, December 07, 2009

Seniors in the Suburbs

I live in a suburb of New York, and I must say that when I think of getting old, I often think it would be easier to live in the city. Public transportation is great. There are lots of major teaching hospitals and great doctors. You can have your food delivered, and there are so many things to do. Just looking out the window can be interesting.

Life in the suburbs, while great when raising a family, can be really isolating when you suddenly can't drive or when your friends start moving away or dying. The New York Times ran a good article on Sunday, Dec. 6, on life for seniors in the suburbs of New York. It pointed out that senior centers are playing an increasingly important role, as are senior communities and assisted living facilities.

Senior Centers, unfortunately, can have a stigma of being a place for hot lunch for the hardly-ables. That's why this article was good. It showed how such centers can provide transportation, health-related services and the much-needed social hub that prevents isolation. As baby boomers age, senior centers are going to become even more important.

The town I live in (Darien, CT) has an old senior center in need of renovation. But town squabbling and the recession have put questions of renovation or the building of a new center on hold. If I were going to design a senior center for my town, I'd put in a pool. That way, the seniors could get great exercise in the daytime, and the high school swim team could use the pool in the afternoon, before school, evenings and on weekends. In fact, the whole community could have access to it. I'd put the pool in a bubble, so that it could be an outdoor pool in the summer and indoor in the winter.

I'd make the senior center attractive, too, with lots of light and plenty of computers, wii games and places to read, play cards, attend classes and hear lectures.

I'd make the center the home base for Aging in Place -- an organization dedicated to information and referral for all senior services in our area. (full disclosure - I'm on the advisory board)

Here's a link to the NY Times article & a synopsis.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/nyregion/06old.html
Suburbs See a Challenge as Residents Grow Older
Published: December 6, 2009
As many New York suburbs find themselves with an increasingly older population, communities must adapt to serve changing needs.

1 comment:

JHTFA said...

Darien needs to seriously think about all the issues that affect older persons. Every facet of life needs to be addressed thoughtfully and it all needs to be kept out of the political arena. Being old doesn't mean senile, frail or poor. There's a huge pool of valuable seniors who are living in the "cracks" because they just don't fit into the stereotype developed by the young who are really afraid of aging. It's time for a town-wide discourse on this subject.