ROTTERDAM As a larger percentage of the population advances toward the golden years, one senior center is stepping up its programming.
The Rotterdam Senior Center serves about 1,000 people per month, with a dip during prime vacation season during warm summer months. Once the cold air returns, it’s ready to offer a warm welcome to new, returning and regular visitors.
Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi said there are about 8,000 seniors in Rotterdam, and addressing the needs of an aging population is a major focus for the town.
“It is more than a senior center, it is a community resource,” Buffardi said. “It acts as a resource for the community, and it certainly helps keep our community members vibrant, active and in touch with each other. It helps us keep an eye on our aging population to make sure they are being properly serviced.”
The center focuses on individuals 55 and older, but Senior Center Project Coordinator Eileen Langer-Smith said a greater focus is being made on what she dubbed “the freestylers,” which consists of 55- to 65-year-olds.
“Many in that age group are still working or are caregivers for their family, whether it is with their parents or with their grandchildren,” Langer-Smith said. “We are looking to provide classes in the evening … and on the weekends.”
She said the center often hears, “I’d love to do it, but I work,” so expanding offerings outside of hours during the day is hoped to increase its reach.
“I was talking to one of my neighbors yesterday and she said, ‘I’d love to, but I am babysitting all the time for my grandkids,’ so it is hit or miss with them as far as the evenings,” Langer-Smith said.
Several activities have recently been added or enhanced at the center, and include classes on playing mahjong, increasing Italian classes to include basic and intermediate, and day and evening hours for line dancing classes and tai chi. The center also recently become a provider for the American Red Cross, so in the fall, courses will be offered that area geared toward seniors, such as CPR instruction and how to care for pets.