The Parker Senior Center in downtown Minot is full of life and activity on any given day and there is seemingly always something going on. Just walking in the front door, you can follow the buzz of voices and find friendly faces to visit with.
There is a wide variety of activities and services provided at the Parker Senior Center, said executive director Roger Reich. There are exercise classes to help maintain strength and mobility, educational seminars in conjunction with other organizations to help with legal issues (known as the lunch and learn), social events like bingo and cards and coffee groups, and they offer congregate as well as home-delivered meals to people age 60 and over. The meals give the people an opportunity to meet and greet other people, stimulate their brains and offer nutritious meals, Reich noted. Another service provided at the Parker Senior Center is helping people who are on Medicare Part D figure out policies that are best suited for them, he added.
"We're the one-stop shop for senior services available and if we don't know the answer, we call the person who will," said Reich.
A small group of men gather in the coffee shop at the Parker Senior Center Thursday morning. Seniors age 60 and over are welcome to come to the Parker Senior Center and participate in any of the activities and services provided.
The most popular activities at the Parker Senior Center, Reich noted, are the lunch and learn sessions and bingo. "The lunch and learn is productive and bingo is social."
Activities typically take place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and there is a monthly calendar of events, Reich said. Sometimes there will be events that go beyond 5 p.m. and they also rent out the facility at times, he added.
The attendance for activities at the Parker Senior Center can range anywhere from 10 to 15 people to 30 to 35 people, Reich said. The attendance depends on the time of year and event, but fall seems to be the busiest time, he added. The age range of participants is primarily 60 to 90 years old, Reich also said.
"As baby boomers have come up, things have changed," Reich noted, about activities or services that once were provided but no longer are. "They're more active. They like the lunch and learn sessions and are interested in eating healthy, not as interested sitting around and playing cards." However, he added, there are still people who like to visit and play cards, too.
The biggest thing Reich said he has noticed with services has to do with seniors who are eligible for home-delivered meals but aren't aware of it, along with new seniors who may have just moved here who don't know that services like that are available to them. "That's why we continue to educate the public about services that are provided," he noted.
With the other assisted living facilities in town, it would be a concern that there might be a decline in participation of the activities at the Parker Senior Center. A lot of the seniors who have moved to an assisted living facility will use the services available at that place, Reich remarked. "But we're still here and we still have seniors who like to come here."
"It's just educating the public to let them know we're here and available," Reich said. "We try to accommodate all types of people and activities for seniors."
There will be different activities offered to seniors in the near future, Reich remarked. As the babyboomers come of age, he added, their requirements will change and the activities will have to be adapted. "We still have seniors in the 75 to 80 range who like the activities we offer, but as babyboomers age we'll have to offer different things, maybe have different hours of operation or different meals."
Reich said he'd like for people to know that the activities and services at the Parker Senior Center are open to anyone age 60 and over. "We're here and we appreciate all comments, good or bad. We're open to new ideas and suggestions. If someone has a better idea, we're open to that."
The biggest program offered through the Parker Senior Center is the congregate and home-delivered meals, Reich noted. Last year 75,000 meals were provided to people in Minot and the surrounding area and they'll probably provide 77,000 meals in 2012, he explained. The need is still there and the population is growing, Reich added.
"Anything we can do to help seniors maintain their lifestyle, we're here to help them."