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Senior Centers: Teaching, Learning, Good Times. Shelly Zylstra Northwest Regional Council Overview. What Happens Today at Senior Centers? Watch Out! Suggestions for Activities and Ideals Where to find funding?. What Is Going On Today?.

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Senior Centers: Teaching, Learning, Good Times

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senior centers teaching learning good times

Senior Centers:Teaching, Learning, Good Times

Shelly Zylstra

Northwest Regional Council

  • What Happens Today at Senior Centers?
  • Watch Out!
  • Suggestions for Activities and Ideals
  • Where to find funding?
what is going on today
What Is Going On Today?
  • There are many good ideas which exist in Senior Centers
  • Some Centers are very active
  • Other Centers do not have many activities planned
  • There are lots of ideas for activities which elders can love, which staff can manage, and which don’t have to cost lots of money
watch out
Watch Out!
  • Busy Elders are Happy Elders…
  • Happy Elders don’t complain nearly as much…
  • Elders that don’t complain help make staff happy…
  • Happy staff are better able to keep Elders busy…


successful activities
Successful Activities
  • In order for the activities to be well-received, it is important that the activities be diverse
    • Everyone needs to have a chance to be successful
    • Some activities may be too difficult for the most frail participants, so be sure not to leave them out
suggested activities
Suggested Activities
  • Educational Activities
  • Health
  • Fun and Games
  • Fundraising
  • Intergenerational
  • Travel
  • Special Dinners
  • Cultural Events
  • Employment Assistance
  • Everyone Grows through Education
  • Ask for input because any programs should meet the needs of Elders
  • Could be nearly anything
    • Healthy Eating with Traditional Foods
    • How to use the Internet
    • Diabetic Shoes
    • Services in Town
    • Learning to read
  • Have specialists come to talk about nearly any topic that people want to hear
    • Don’t forget that Elders today really need some new information just to understand what is going on with their children and grandchildren.
  • Keeping Elders healthy is essential to keeping the program vital
  • Get the clinic involved in your program and have a special health presentation or activity each month
  • Clinic will likely appreciate having a “group visit” for things like HgA1C, foot checks, blood pressure checks, and cancer screens
  • Foot Clinics monthly
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brown Bag luncheon for medications
  • Ask the NURSE!
  • Traditional Medicine
  • Heart Healthy Traditional Foods
  • Nutritional BINGO
  • Exercise Activities
fun and games
Fun and Games
  • Elders love to joke and tell stories and so the senior center can be a place where they can really cut loose
    • Not for the faint of heart!!
  • Planning a fun activity every week can be a great way to introduce them to one another
fun and games12
Card Games


Bean Bag Toss

Stick Game

Swap Tournament

Sharing Table

Talent Show



Ask the Elders and make certain that you are in contact with other programs

Get on a electronic newsletter for senior activities

Get a book for activities

Fun and Games
  • Programs are poorly funded as a rule
    • There is always a need for more money to do activities
  • In the Title III Programs, there are many programs that fundraise for meals
    • In our area, the three programs have to fundraise about half a million dollars just to keep the programs open
  • There are a variety of ways to support programs
    • Long Term Overall Fundraising
    • Short Term Specific Activity Fundraising
    • Fundraising that is “ongoing”
long term funding
Long Term Funding
  • Most effective is to go to the Council and ask for support money
  • In most tribes, the Elders can ask for resources and usually receive them.
    • Ask for ONGOING Support so you don’t have to keep going back and begging
    • Ask for money for the programs BEFORE you need it so you can count on having it and include it in your budget
    • If it is in the budget from the beginning it assists with planning and program development
short term funding
Short Term Funding
  • These can be fun activities with a special end in sight
    • Gas Money and Lodging for a visit
    • Assistance to put on a special dinner to honor elders, caregivers, grandparents, relative or kinship caregivers
    • A piece of equipment for the center
    • Activities funding for materials
ongoing fundraising
Some programs find that having an ongoing means of support is helpful for income

Long term fundraising is possible with a little out of the box thinking

Don’t only ask for money

Catering special dinners

Catering other tribal programs

Gift Shop

Adopt an Elder

Grocery Store swipe cards

Sales, Powwows, Stommish/ Canoe Journey

Ongoing Fundraising
  • Elders and children go together
  • Supporting the kids and having them work for the elders programs can help to bring them together the way that it used to be
  • Programs—songs, dances, visits, stories
  • Assistance with special dinners for the elders—youth
  • Place mats, table decorations, special gifts for the homebound elders
  • Elders are always on the GO!
  • Love to visit other areas and tribes
  • Would be gone all the time if they could!
  • Make sure that everyone has a chance to go
    • Oldest or frailest get a chance to go first
    • Take along caregivers if you need to do so
  • Don’t be afraid to take elders who are not able to participate in all of the activities.
special dinners
Special Dinners
  • Don’t think that these have to an extravaganza
    • Should have one thing per week
  • Theme dinners—Movie Day; Italiano; American Pie; Sons of Norway Day (!)
  • Special Foods—hot cobblers, make your own ice cream sundae; build your own soups, pasta, or potato
  • Recipe Contests
  • Tasting Tables
traditional activities
Traditional Activities
  • Vary Widely
  • Gathering Traditional Foods
  • Making Traditional Foods
  • Crafts
  • Language, stories
  • You CHOOSE—but make certain that the activities are appropriate for their needs
senior day centers
Senior Day Centers
  • Some programs provide care for frail or developmentally disabled adults at their senior center
  • Usually the “well” seniors know those who are frail and welcome them
  • Bring on extra staff and use the senior center as a great place for providing Respite care
caregiver support
Caregiver Support
  • Senior Centers can be great places for caregivers to get support
    • Library --Support Groups
    • Loan Closet
  • Keeping services for caregivers at the senior center may be one way to be a gatekeeper for caregivers as well as older adults