As many communities across Texas begin to take a long hard look at what they want in terms of care for their older residents, more are looking at various types of retirement communities in Texas to give them inspiration. One important factor has emerged from this research. For a community to not only exist but thrive, more citizen groups are beginning to realize that there needs to be facilities of all types for every age in their community.
This can be mean everything from well run daycare centers for preschool aged children to fully equipped community center gyms for the teens and senior centers that offer more. In fact, as the population not only ages but also proves to contain an active thriving senior sector, many communities have begun to rethink what they need for this part of their community. What types of investments should our Texan communities be making to serve their populations?
Integrated Senior and Preschool Centers
One of the findings that have been surprising in recent studies of communities is that when a center includes both senior activities and preschool activities in the same building, both parts of the community are better served. Many seniors who initially come to the centers for the activities find themselves volunteering at local non-profit preschool centers.
This synergistic use of both ages benefits everyone as seniors can find working with youngsters energizing and healing, while the kid’s caretakers benefit from the experience of the seniors. Many communities that have embraced this model say that the payback for investing in the centers is huge and everyone in the community sees a benefit, including the parents of the children and the children of the seniors.
Heading Back to School
Another avenue that many communities have seen grow with today’s seniors is the interest in returning to school after retirement. As more active seniors enroll in local community colleges, many communities see a need to reinvest in the smaller local colleges. Classes that are of interest to non-degree seeking seniors but more complex then the simple workshops in many community centers are finding a home at community colleges with larger senior attendees.
In addition to attending colleges, many seniors who have retired are now offering to teach or guest lecture at colleges in their community. Business leaders who have retired from the competitive corporate world are now lecturing at local colleges or mentoring students interested in business. Local senior artists who have perhaps slowed their work load are now teaching as well at local colleges. But investing in these often private institutions, local businesses can see the benefits in a new crop of students who have been given a rare insight into the world they want to grow and change.
Seniors Contribute to Communities
As you can see from just these two examples, there is a new thinking in many communities about the role of the senior citizens that live there. Far from the old model of senior centers to eat cheap and play cards all day, many seniors want to continue to be an active part of their communities well into their 80s. As we rethink how the various groups in our communities interact and support each other, seniors are proving to be a vital link in that process.