EDMOND — Tap-dancing enthusiast Betty Windsor, 92, fits gracefully into the fabric of the Edmond Senior Center, where active senior adults gather each weekday for fun, friendship and activities.
“We count here,” Windsor said. “We aren't hiding at home by ourselves and staying away from society to rust away. That may be restful for a while, but we need to stay active with others for play, fun and social causes.”
The center, which offers a free hot lunch, has participants ranging in age from 55 to 99. It opened in its Mitch Park location in spring 2005, and enrollment has grown steadily by 15 percent annually. The center now serves at least 200 people each weekday.
One participant is retired minister Bob Schreiner, 63.
“The senior center gives one more place where we can go to get out of the house and see our friends. We also get the opportunity to learn something — which is always a good thing,” he said.
The Edmond Senior Center “basically has three demographic groups age 55 and over,” said Sue Perry, program coordinator. “We try to make sure our programs give a wide range of daily activities for our young baby boomers, our older-older adults and all those in between.”
The senior center offers tap dance, line dance, Jazzercise, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gog and an “Early-Risers'” chair-exercise class. It has Wii bowling, computer use, card games and great books.
“We would like to add more art classes for older adults and are looking at doing an art studio-type class … an operation complete with art instructor and supplies coming on site,” said center manager Gail Deaton.
“Of course, our preference is to find a local business to offset the fee for our seniors. We try to have these types of classes at no cost or reduced cost due to our seniors being on a fixed income,” Deaton said.
“Since we evaluate programs all year long and add programs as the opportunity and a teacher arises, and since we are at capacity in most of our programs with a waiting list, we have to be very selective as to the new programs we add with space limitations in mind,” Deaton said.
For 2013, the center plans to add Zumba Gold classes and possibly weight training for post-menopausal women. Such training three days a week for 30 minutes a day helps those women avoid osteoporosis, supporters said.
Quality of life, health
Deaton said staffers at the multipurpose activity center “firmly believe seniors can continue to live independently, within their own homes.” Yet, they also can have “the highest-quality leisure programs that include recreation, socialization, education and nutrition,” Deaton said.
The senior center is supported by the city of Edmond's Parks and Recreation Department.
A daily hot-meal program was started three years ago after funding cuts were made in the Oklahoma County Senior Nutrition program. The meal program serves 40 people a day.
“Seniors attending the meal program tend to be older and more vulnerable, making it doubly important that they receive a nutritious meal while at the center as well as participate in other programs,” Deaton said.”
“These individuals are most at risk for failing health and self-neglect at home; without the senior center and the meal program, their ability to live independently could easily be compromised,” Deaton added.
If those seniors are unable to continue at the senior center due to ill health or medical rehabilitation, the senior center staff tries to refer them to community resources such as Edmond Mobile Meals, which delivers hot meals to Edmond's homebound seniors and disabled adults, Deaton said.
Senior center staff and participants particularly look forward to the completion of the Edmond Recreational and Aquatic Center being built next door.
“Our participants are very excited about the new swimming pool and the walking track. The new recreation facility will complement the Edmond Senior Center's efforts to provide the very best in programming for senior adults who continue to move to the Edmond area after retirement,” Deaton said.