Many things shifted throughout and because of the pandemic. We've seen shifts in buying patterns, housing markets, and technology trends, but have you thought about the shift in programming for senior centers recently? With recreation centers specifically built and programmed for adults aged 50+, there is an important shift to recognize that isn't always seen as the population grows and ages. Let's take a deeper look at some of the current and upcoming generations that the Parks and Recreation Industry is planning for.
Generations senior centers currently serve:
Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) Current age of 2023 – Age 78- 93
Characteristics: Traditional, financially frugal, almost all retired, many widowed, and in need of social interaction. Many in this generation have moved in with adult children or closer to them. Enjoys passive activities like Bingo, card playing, and some physical fitness with little interest in technology.
Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946-1964) Current age of 2023 – Age 59-77
Characteristics: Competitive, resourceful, focused, and disciplined. This generation will be entirely retired by 2030 and tend to have more disposable income. Many have retired and gone back to work (some out of want, others out of need). This generation is taking care of their aging parents and their grandchildren, often at the same time. Enjoys physical fitness, lifelong learning, and giving back to the community through volunteerism and has good comfortability with technology.
Generation X (born 1965-1980) Current age of 2023 – Age 43-58
Characteristics: Independent, ethnically diverse, and known for the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle. This generation is mostly still working and will be for a while, however, their work-life balance is very important. Some have started watching grandchildren or are still raising children. Physical fitness, travel opportunities, and education are extremely valuable for this generation. This generation is the most tech-savvy of the aging population and has little struggle learning new tech.
Senior Centers were once used more for domino games, card games, bingo, and many other passive activities but we've seen a shift to more physical activities like group exercise, gardening, and dance lessons, just to name a few. This shift is a national trend, as seen by many senior centers changing their facility names to “Active Adult Center.” Another trend is the ratio of passive to active recreation programs. Where facilities were originally built with large dance halls and card rooms, many have added fitness equipment and a wide range of exercise classes for several mobility levels. Just five years ago, senior centers had a majority of passive activities but things have started shifting to majority active programs.
Thinking less than a decade in the future, the oldest Millennials (born 1981-1996) will be eligible for the senior center (better known as an active adult) programs and services. Many Millennials have aging parents and grandparents that take advantage of senior center programs and benefits since people are living longer healthier lives. Specifically in Denton, the 50+ population is anticipated to grow at least 2.3 percent in the next five years. It is also known that all Baby Boomers will have reached retirement age (65) by 2030. With these population trends, it will be difficult to stay up-to-date with Denton's current recreation facilities for the active adult.
As the needs and wants of the future active adult change and the Denton community grows, parks and rec will be challenged with continuing to find ways and means to serve that group. In fact, a future active adult center could possibly be on the next bond election. To learn more about the projects, subscribe to get project updates at https://www.discussdenton.com/quality-of-life.