, Salem, MA

July 23, 2013

Letter: The times, they are a changin'

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

The Beverly Council on Aging and Senior Community Center recently announced a change in their hours of operation. Beginning Thursday, Aug. 1, the Center at 90 Colon St. will be open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and will close at 1 p.m. on Fridays. The Council on Aging made the decision to change the operating hours of the Senior Center due to the steady growth in Beverly’s age 60 and over population.

Why the growth? The baby boomer generation has begun to retire, thus generating an influx into the eligible pool for senior-related services. The ideals of this famously named generation call for new ideas and adaptations to the way things have always been done. Theirs is a generation that is continuing to work into the previous “retirement years,” one that is in touch with social media, has TV and Internet at home, and whose interests contradict those of the older generations already established within the Senior Centers’ programs and services. The Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging acknowledge: “Persons over 65 represent the fastest-growing age group in the state.” Therefore, in order to stay afloat, it has become extremely important for senior centers to attract these newly christened seniors with activities appealing to their generation.

By changing its hours, the Senior Center will become more accessible to the new-age seniors who may still be spending their days in the work force or even caring for children or an elderly parent at home. According to MaryAnn Holak, director of the Senior Center, “by extending hours until 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings, the BCOA opens itself up to younger seniors between 60 and 70 years old, a group that makes up half of Beverly’s seniors.” In order to do this in Beverly, Activities Coordinator Annie Wright has developed new evening programming in hopes to stay loyal to older seniors but draw in the interests of young seniors.

New activities for Thursday evenings include a new strength training exercise class with popular instructor Dr. Michael Sheehan from Bay State Physical Therapy, lawn games on our back patio, a trip to the Salem Farmers’ Market, and a continuation of the already-popular pizza and movie night series sponsored by Landmark at Oceanview. The transportation office is offering a new Thursday evening schedule as well, with rides departing from the Senior Center at 2:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. Drivers will also be available for transportation around town to accommodate afternoon and evening appointments. With all this new availability, the staff hopes to keep seniors of all generations flocking to the BCOA for years to come.

Hayley Lewis

Assistant Activities Coordinator

Beverly Council on Aging