MetroWest CARES, the Committee Addressing Resources for Seniors, is coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, and brings together leaders from Greater MetroWest agencies to promote independence and support vitality among older adults. Each month, a MetroWest CARES agency has an opportunity to address a critical eldercare issue. This month’s column on senior social clubs is presented by JCC of Central New Jersey, which offers hundreds of classes, events, cultural activities and programs for every age.
Summer is the time when we look ahead to plans for the fall and the High Holy Days. It’s also a wonderful time to look into senior social programs in your area. Not sure what a senior social program is and what it can offer? Here are some frequently asked questions to give you the basics.
What is a senior social program? These are programs that typically meet three to five days a week and provide socialization, senior exercise, stimulating programs, entertainment, and often include a nutritious lunch. They are geared for seniors who are mentally capable.
Why join a senior social program? Research has shown that people who stay connected and active are more likely to be able to age in place. Senior programs provide a community of friends and staff who will be concerned about your wellbeing. Often as we age, many of our friends have moved away or died; this is an opportunity to meet new friends.
What is the senior exercise? Senior exercise is an important part of the program. Exercise is led by teachers specifically trained in leading this age group. The focus is on strength training, flexibility, balance, and some cardiovascular exercise. Many of the exercises can be done either in a chair or standing. The teachers encourage each person to do only as much as they are able.
What about other activities? Typically the day begins with coffee, a snack, and time to socialize. In addition to exercise, there are intellectually stimulating programs such as discussions about current events, short stories, music appreciation, book discussions, etc.
What is the lunch program like? The Jewish centers provide varied tasty kosher meals that meet the nutrition needs of seniors. These are subsidized and therefore offered at a very reasonable price.
Are there trips and special programs? Yes. All of the centers offer various opportunities to take day trips. Outside entertainers are frequently brought in for holidays and other special times and add a fun time to the group.
How do I find a senior social program to join? There are three recreational programs in the Greater MetroWest area housed in JCC’s and Y: JCC MetroWest, West Orange (973-530-3400); JCC of Central New Jersey, Scotch Plains (908-889-8800); and the YM-YWHA of Union County, Union (908-289-8112). When calling, ask for the senior adult department. You can also call your synagogue or township to see if they offer additional senior recreational programs.
It’s never too late to make new friends and explore new interests. Social senior programs provide a one-stop shop for fun, fulfillment, and friends.