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Baby Boomers Help Redefine Indiana Senior Centers

September 10, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - Senior centers in Indiana are transforming to meet the needs of aging Hoosiers. Bob Pitman, director of the new Mill Race Center in Columbus, Indiana, says the word "senior" is not in his center's title.

"There's an awful lot of denial that's going on about aging, you know. So many people don't understand like we do how active and vital and contributing that older population can be."

Pitman says most people under 75 don't identify with the word "senior." He says Mill Race Center helps aging Hoosiers find jobs, take classes and stay healthy in a modern fitness facility.

Pitman says his center collaborates with others in the community to bring services to people who are 50 years and older.

"We have onsite partnerships with Columbus Regional Health - or the local hospital - that operates physical and occupational therapy at Mill Race Center. They also operate a state-of-the-art fitness center."

Pitman says leasing space in the center to partners helps bring in needed revenue.

Beverly Ferry, CEO of Living Well in Wabash County, says her center offers public transportation to all residents of the county. In addition, they operate a food pantry, something that gives many seniors a purpose.

"Stereotypically, you think of seniors linked to a senior center as playing bingo or to be entertained or something. Here, we live in a very philanthropic community. Our seniors run the pantry that serves, you know, we're talking thousands of people."

Ferry says Living Well has a computer lab, free WIFI, fitness classes and offers more traditional senior center activities.

September is National Senior Center Month.

To be sure, not all Indiana senior centers are thriving. One in Indianapolis recently closed because of a lack of funding.

To find a center near you call your Area Agency on Aging or 800-986-3505.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN