Recreation centers are a hub for people of all ages to participate in community activities. Offering everything from youth basketball leagues to adult exercise classes, there should always be something for everyone at the community recreation center. Unfortunately, senior citizens are often unintentionally excluded from the programs offered at recreation centers.
According to the US Census Bureau, senior citizens (people over the age of 65) account for 14.9% of the US population. By catering activities solely to younger crowds, recreation centers miss out on a good percentage of the population and a huge opportunity for further community engagement. Sports Facilities Management offers some tips for attracting seniors to your recreation center.
Offer Senior Social Activities at Your Recreation Center
To attract senior citizens to your recreation center, plan weekly social events that cater to an aging crowd. Here are some events that are popular with senior citizens:
- Bingo Nights
- Bridge Tournaments
- Poker Tournaments
- Adult Educations Classes, such as pottery and computer classes
Having senior social activities on a regular basis can eventually lead to program growth and popularity as word spreads. Make sure to plan social activities that attract large crowds of senior-citizens, such as monthly dances.
Dancing remains a popular activity with people over the age of 65, and hosting dances is a great way to introduce them to your recreation center and the other activities you offer. Since some seniors have mobility problems, consider offering monthly movie nights that show classic Hollywood films. Offering these kinds of activities will attract seniors to your recreation center and boost your reputation with seniors in the community.
You can also plan events that get seniors involved with the rest of the community. When you host your next 5k and 10k race, include a 1k walk/run race as well. This way seniors can choose to walk in the 1k race and join in on the fun. You can even make the race charitable by working with a local nonprofit, which is a great way to bring the community together and benefit a good cause at the same time.
You can also host senior-led community clubs, such as:
- Quilting Club
- Book Club
- Knitting Club
- Fitness Club
Although senior citizens could, in theory, organize these clubs anywhere, providing a community space gives them somewhere to consistently hold their club meetings. You also give seniors who don’t have enough people to form their own club somewhere they can go and meet new people. These are all great ways to strengthen your community and include senior citizens in fun activities.
Offer Senior Fitness Activities at Your Recreation Center
Exercise classes are one of the main components of recreation centers, but exercise classes are often too strenuous for senior citizens to participate. Seniors need low-impact, low-resistance options when pursuing their fitness goals. When you’re planning senior fitness classes, focus on exercise activities that improve strength, mobility, and flexibility, while accounting for typical senior health-problems such as arthritis.
There are plenty of options out there for low-impact, low-resistance exercises. Here are some examples:
- Aquatic Aerobics – Great for mobility and flexibility without straining joints
- Tai Chi – Improves mobility, balance, and flexibility through slow, flowing movements
- Yoga – Improves strength, balance, and flexibility
- Cycling – Spin classes and stationary bikes are easy on joints while improving cardiovascular health
- Swimming – More cardiovascular-oriented than aquatic aerobics, great resistance training for seniors with arthritis
Fitness activities can even be as simple as table-tennis tournaments or group walks and bike rides. Exercise activities for seniors do not need to be complicated, simply create a welcoming, positive atmosphere where people feel comfortable working out.
Planning social events and fitness activities for the seniors in your community is important, but don’t forget that you may need to make some changes at your recreation center to make it more accommodating for them. Many seniors deal with decreased vision, hearing, and mobility. By taking steps to make things easier for them, it shows that you care about the senior demographic in your community.
Here are some things you can do to accommodate senior citizens:
- Access – Make sure everything is easily accessible. This means ramps as an alternative to stairs, elevators if you have multiple floors, and automatic doors. If you have showers, make sure to put safety handles in them. Also, make sure to have safety handles in the bathrooms and handicap stalls. The easier it is for seniors to get around in your recreation center, the more likely they’ll be to continue coming back.
- Signage and Pamphlets – Design your signage, programs, and pamphlets with clear, large lettering to make it’s easier for seniors to read.
- Senior Discounts – One surefire way to get more seniors interested in your recreation center is by offering a senior discount. By offering discounted membership rates, you show them that you care about their patronage and that you have something worthwhile to offer them.
The more you do to accommodate senior citizens, the more likely they are to regularly use your recreation center. Most of these accommodations are a minor cost to your but a major benefit for your senior guests.
You should also make sure to always be open to suggestions from your senior demographic. Ask senior members what accommodations would make their visits easier and what kind of fitness and social activities would interest them. This is a good way to expand your program offerings and tailor them to the specific needs of your senior community.
Whether you simply place a suggestion box in the lobby or personally reach out to each senior member, the feedback you receive from seniors at your recreation center will help you create a great experience for them.
Contact Sports Facilities Management
Sports Facilities Management specializes in managing, operating, and optimizing sports facilities and recreation centers. If you are considering opening a recreation center, Sports Facilities Management will assist you in staff recruitment, facility planning, monthly budget development, and more. If you are interested in developing recreation center programs that engage your community, contact Sports Facilities management today.
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