• November 27, 2014

Community Voices Senior center attendance changes with the seasons

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 4:30 am

It was in the high 90s when I realized Christmas was on the way. How did I know? Hobby Lobby was unpacking Christmas fabrics. Can’t get ’em out early enough for sewers and quilters. The ads began in September, warning everyone the holidays were on the way. And now ...

It is in the mid-80s as I write this column. According to the calendar, it is very obvious that Christmas is on the way even though we are having spring-like weather. Senior centers are planning special events, closings, considering lower participation numbers and just doing all the special things the centers do for a calendar holiday.

Let’s skip the current holiday for a bit and go to the first of the year. In the annual cycle of senior center participation, the “holidays” come all year long.

January’s “holiday” is recovery from the Thanksgiving/Christmas calendar. Early in the month, participation remains lower than normal as people catch their breath. Then they get back into the normal attendance at exercise classes, craft classes, events and trips. Attendance slowly goes back up to normal levels by mid-January.

Of course, in parts of the country, the inclement weather “holiday” will keep some seniors away for longer than the holiday recovery period. In February, depending on weather, attendance is usually pretty steady. Get in out of the cold and enjoy each other’s company.

Oops, here comes the “spring holiday.” It is time for house cleaning, garden preparation and planting, and getting the yard ready for the hot summer. Then, we slip into the “spring break holiday” when the grandchildren are out of school and babysitting is needed.

Then there is the true holiday, Easter, right on top of that. Attendance slides in April, but not like during November and December.

May is usually one of the best attendance months on the “holiday” calendar. Not only is the weather great, but it’s also time to celebrate Older Americans Month. Celebrations of seniors take place in centers all over the country.

It’s a great time to be an older adult, as much publicity is generally given to the activities at the centers and the vibrancy of older adults. Some younger people do not realize how active senior adults can be.

In the Harker Heights area, archery, bocce, pickle ball, line dancing, Latin beat exercise, Stretch and Go exercise, Texercise and tai chi are some of the more active events at the Senior Recreation Program at the Harker Heights Recreation Center. May is a “holiday” all month.

But then we have the summer “holiday” months where travel is normal, family visits or child care are part of the norm, and sometimes it is just too hot to get out and go to a senior center.

But “ahhhhhhhhh!” here comes fall “holiday.” Time to get out of the “summer holiday” rut and back to activities at the center. School is open. Visitors are gone. The garden has been picked, and the lawn growth has slowed down. Time to catch up with friends and center activities again.

But wait! “Winter holidays” are already in the works. And off we go again with the annual “holiday” attendance slipping away until the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.

This cycle is well known throughout the senior center world. If you are a center director, you plan activity calendars around it. It holds true in any part of the country, with some dependency on weather. The center doors are always open. The activities are always in place. But sometimes “holidays” are much more important than taking time to socialize and participate in the local senior center.

Seniors, now is the time to enjoy your senior center and do all the things that will get you ready to enjoy the rest of this winter “holiday” time.

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