Each year, we devote a month to celebrate and recognize the work that senior centers throughout the country do to help seniors enjoy their golden years. Every day, senior centers give aging Americans a place they can gather, find events, and even improve their fitness and health. Many are supported through a mix of federal and state funding, generous donations from fellow members of the community, and the aid of volunteers.
This September, take some time to celebrate National Senior Center Month with us as we look at its history and how you can take part this year.
The origin of National Senior Center Month can be found in National Senior Center Week, which was first celebrated annually in May 1979. The concept of celebrating senior centers nationally gained wide support through organizations like the National Council on Aging, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Aging Task Force, and the full Senate and House Select Committee on Aging. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed the first Senior Center Week Presidential Proclamation with the support of the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC).
NISC designated each September to be the month of celebration for all that senior centers do for senior citizens in the U.S.
By 2007, the idea behind National Senior Center Week became so popular that NISC expanded the celebration of senior centers to an entire month. The NISC designated each September to be the month of celebration, allowing for more time for events.
Each year, the NISC picks a specific theme for National Senior Center Month that puts into focus a way that senior centers help improve the lives and well-being of older Americans. They announce the annual theme on the their website. Organizations use this theme to guide many of the activities that year. Each theme shows how senior centers can be a powerful support system, for seniors around the United States, through innovative programs to assist with aging and community resources.
Each theme shows how senior centers can be a powerful support system, for seniors around the United States, through innovative programs to assist with aging and community resources.
For example, the theme for 2020 is Delivering Vital Connections. We’ve previously written how dangerous social isolation can be for seniors. In 2020, the NISC is promoting how senior centers build connections to the mind, body, spirit, and communities of seniors around the country. Check back in 2021 for next year’s theme!
With an entire month designated to celebrating senior centers, you’ll have many opportunities to join in the fun. The easiest way to get involved is by attending an event at a senior center near you. Simply find a senior center near you and see what they’ll be up to this month. You can take it a step further by volunteering to help with events they’ll be throwing this month and beyond.
The easiest way to get involved is by attending an event at a senior center near you.
As you’re celebrating, there are a few special days in September to watch out for. September 13, 2020, is Grandparents Day, when we honor the ways grandparents enrich our lives. On September 22, the National Council on Aging is hosting Falls Prevention Awareness Day events to help seniors live more safely in their homes. Finally, National Employ Older Workers Week runs the last full week of September, from September 20 to 26 in 2020.
September is also Hunger Action Month. With millions of seniors affected by hunger, expect to see some crossover between that and National Senior Center Month.
● ● ●
Senior centers do a lot of good for seniors in their areas, so taking one month out of the year to appreciate them makes sense. You can learn more about ways to get involved with National Senior Center Month this year by reading the National Council on Aging’s Program Guide.
In it, you’ll find resources for advocacy, awareness, and events, to name only a few. With so many great ways to get involved, you can probably find one that works for you!