Senior centers are one of the most widely utilized services developed by the Older Americans Act of 1965, designed to be community focal points—defined in part as facilities established to encourage maximum co-location and coordination of services for older persons. Recent US Administration on Aging estimates put the number of senior centers in the US somewhere between 11,000 and 15,000, serving some 10 million older adults each year. A study of 734 senior center participants in California, Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas and Tennessee showed that participants range in age from 55 to 93 and report coming to their respective centers for an average of 8.3 years. Approximately one-third were over the age of 80; three-quarters go to their center 1 to 3 times a week and usually spend an average of 3.3 hours per day there. To both recognize the role of the senior center and encourage seniors to participate in the offerings of their local facilities, the National Council on Aging and the National Institute of Senior Centers have declared September National Senior Center Month, encouraging centers across the country to add special activities and programs. One center that thinks “special” all year round and deserves its own recognition is CASI, or the Center for Active Seniors Inc. in Davenport, Iowa under the direction of president and chief executive Tom Bahls. Recently profiled in the Quad City Times, CASI’s programs are available to all seniors in the four-city area. In addition to popular staples like line dancing and fitness classes, CASI’s assortment is expanding for this month’s celebration beyond even tai chi and meditation to include a session presented by Tibetan monks on the ancient art of healing.
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