On a quiet weekday morning, 80-year-old Jewell Reed sat at a table in the lobby of Sacramento's Ethel Hart Senior Center, knitting and sipping her coffee.
Down a wide, curving hallway, members of the weekly hula class swayed gracefully to the music of the islands.
And in the life history writing group, Olga Blu Browne summed up why she's attended classes at the center for the past four years.
"It's fun for me," said Brown, 63, a retired state employee. "It's important to be active and feel like you're doing something. It's important to keep your brain cells active."
Part of the early wave of senior centers in the state, Hart Senior Center – located in a leafy midtown Sacramento park – celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Originally named the Sacramento Senior Center, it helped pioneer the senior center movement, which grew so briskly after 1965's federal Older Americans Act that the centers are now a familiar part of the recreational and social service landscape for older adults across the country.
But with the shift in budget resources, along with the change in culture as previous generations gradually give way to the baby boomers, are senior centers still relevant for tomorrow's older adults?
The answer, say experts on aging, isn't as simple as replacing bingo with Pilates.
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