September 6, 2017

What Exactly Is A Senior Center and Why Do I Need It?

By Laura Kopp
CASI President and CEO
Center for Active Seniors, Inc. (CASI)

As President and CEO of CASI, I am out and about in the community on a consistent basis. From fundraising to friend-raising, my job allows me the benefit of meeting new and interesting people all the time.

Of course, as the agency’s face and biggest fan, I am always cheerleading and promoting CASI and the thousands of activities we offer each year. Yet, at least once a day, when I ask my new acquaintances why I never see them at CASI, the most common response I receive is, “I’m not old enough” or “I don’t need CASI.” The first response is an easy one to address. CASI is open to anyone of any age. There are no age restrictions. We at CASI believe an individual should decide for themselves when coming to CASI feels right, not just when they achieve a certain age-related milestone.

For most, the term Senior Center brings with it certain connotations. Not all of which are necessarily positive. Some of the misconceptions I have heard over the years are:

  • It’s for old people and I’m not old
  • People live there
  • Everyone there is in a wheelchair or a walker
  • There is nothing there that would interest me

For anyone who has visited the center, I am sure you would join me in a silent chuckle at these misconceptions. CASI is not a residential facility, and while the average age of our membership is 71 years young, the members at CASI are actively redefining what it means to be a “senior.”

For those who say “I don’t need CASI.” I respectfully disagree. I think we all could use a little more of what CASI has to offer:

Who doesn’t need a new friend or two? At CASI we have hundreds of opportunities to meet new people and build long-lasting relationships. Eleanor’s Café, named after Eleanor Duffy founder of Per Mar Security, is just one of our many programs geared towards socialization. Stop by for a cup of coffee!

Who doesn’t need a new place to grab breakfast or lunch? In addition to Eleanor’s Café, which offers delicious meals at an affordable price, CASI also hosts the Quad Cities largest congregate meal site. These meal sites are federally funded through the Older Americans Act and are provided in partnership with Milestones Area Agency on Aging. They provide a nutritious meal for our older adults at the price of a small donation.

Who couldn’t use a new stylist? The Courtside Hair Salon is conveniently co-located within CASI.

Who doesn‘t need to shed a few pounds or focus more on living a healthier lifestyle? CASI offers over 7,000 activities every year focused on health/wellness, socialization and education. We also have a Fitness Center!

Who doesn’t need support every once in a while? At CASI, we have multiple support groups to help navigate the challenging waters of losing a loved one, being a caregiver, and other life events.

CASI also offers a robust Senior Advocacy program. This program links Master’s level social workers with older adults in their home to connect them with the resources and services they need to remain independent in their home for as long as is safe and healthy.

CASI is also home to Jane’s Place, Eastern Iowa’s only Adult Day Services program with a focus on caring for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

CASI has a little bit of something for everyone regardless of age.  Come join us as we celebrate Senior Center month in September. Maybe we will change your mind about what it means to need a senior center.