To The Editor:
Re: “Senior center backoff,” 12-12-08 issue.
At a time when New York City is drowning financially, and affordable senior housing is practically non-existent, the Department For The Aging (DFTA) and local legislators want to enhance and modernize senior centers.
By choice, a segment of a generation of self-respecting, hardworking, productive and community-oriented senior citizens have shed their once-valuable independence for a six-day-week socially-structured routine.
Exercising, dancing, Bingo, crocheting lessons and other mindless time-killers are offered, along with bus trips to shopping malls and gambling casinos, which are chosen by the staff. Holiday parties, monthly group birthday celebrations and various special events are a given. In-house basic computer lessons are also available, even though most seniors don’t own, or want, a home computer, and are taken about that any mouse would need its own pad. Lunch is at twelve o’clock.
Noticeably lacking, are the crucially-important stuff of intellectual stimulation, sincere camaraderie and the opportunities to forge new and worthwhile relationships. In the absence of the real stuff, the games and dancing, or just observing the whirling merriment, helps to keep the status quo in check. Much of what the seniors receive at the centers is at very low cost, or free.
Conversely, there are many other seniors who choose to live their golden years, socializing at home, taking bus trips and going to theatres of their choice, not ones that have been pre-planned by others.
Before the DFTA staff and local legislators go ahead with the modernization plans they might want to consider spending quality time over several weeks visiting the centers to meet with the attendees, playing a game or two of bingo and then having lunch with the group. They could also ask themselves if they intend to devote a chunk of their own golden years to this type of setting.
If the answer is “yes,” then Councilman Vincent Gentile’s remark, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” regarding the “high-user satisfaction” is spot on. If the answer is “no,” then why offer modernization of the nanny state as though it actually does take a village to keep a senior happily occupied.
Being personally responsible for one’s own fulfillment in life is a far better game. ‘Group-think’ is an anathema to the golden years.