EATON — Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) is celebrating National Senior Center Month this month. The theme, for all senior centers in the United States is: the “Key to Aging Well.”
PCCOA Executive Director Shelley Ratliff believes the key to aging well is different for all people. For some, it might be eating well or staying active. For others, it might be volunteering or socializing. Whatever their individual key, Preble County Council on Aging is dedicated to helping senior citizens find it and helping them navigate aging.
“Senior Center Month is a National Day [where] we celebrate the importance of Senior Centers as the gateway to services that people need as they are aging. We are celebrating in so many different ways. We try to do a lot of different activities and highlight throughout the month. Senior Centers are important all year long, but this happens to be the month where we can shine a little brighter,” Ratliff said.
“What to take away from [the key to aging well], the key for you might not be the same key for me. For me, the key might be to watch my weight, to exercise more, and to limit salt to my diet. For you, it might be that you want to participate in more activities in the community or you want to spend time alone and do some self care.
“At PCCOA we offer a lot of different activities and programs that people can participate in, but specifically, we have relationships with people as they come in and we can learn what they want to do and we can link and connect them to those activities. We try and find out what kind of purpose people have and try to match them up.
“Aging well doesn’t always look like [the commercials] on TV. It can look very different for each one of us.”
Ratliff added, the senior center itself is a “huge key to aging well.”
That seems to be true for those who frequent Preble County Council on Aging. Many senior citizens recently shared the ways the organization helps them find their own “key” and the ways PCCOA helps them age well.
Edith Goodpasture said, “Starting to come [to the Senior Center] has done me a world of good.”
The staff and fellow seniors have been nice and welcoming to her. She has also been able to connect with many services that help her feel better, including the Silver Sneakers exercise program.
“I walk, I read, I do lots of things,” she said. “I can’t clean the house, though, because it wears me out. They are in contact with an outfit, they send me a housekeeper who does a wonderful job. That helps me a lot.”
The PCCOA Pool Players also credit the Senior Center with helping them age well.
“We get a lot of exercise around the pool table. It is like exercise, but fun,” Del Thacker said.
Don Vaughn added, “[The Senior Center] is a good way to meet new friends. They do a lot of trips to different places, that are very interesting. It gives you something to do in life instead of sitting at home feeling bad. Get out and be active.”
“You have to stay positive, for the first thing. You have to keep moving. When you come to the Senior Center, you meet new people and you’re not sitting at home alone doing nothing,” Deb Quinn said.
Anna Carlson has been involved with PCCOA since her husband — who recently passed away — had a stroke in 2006. Through socializing at the Senior Center, he was able to feel better and find joy. Through visiting PCCOA with her husband, Carlson has found her key to aging well through volunteering and helping others.
“We started coming here when my husband had a stroke in 2006. He died last March, [but the Senior Center] was wonderful for him. He loved to come here to eat cherry cheesecake. The nice thing about this place is, people would come up and talk to him. He had a social time every day. That got me involved, I volunteered as a hostess in the diner, which I still do. I could bring him with me, he could sit here, as I did something myself,” she said.
“It is good for me, personally, because it keeps me busy and keeps me out. I volunteer because I like people. Particularly now that my husband has passed away, it keeps me busy and out with people that I know.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH