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Fitness, Computer Access Tops Dedham Elderly Survey

The Dedham Council on Aging gauged what elderly residents are looking for in a senior center.

Believing that the current one-room space in won't fit its long-term need, the Council on Aging surveyed more than 5,000 elderly Dedham residents to find out what they want in a senior center.

More than 20 percent - about 1,200 surveys - were returned.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said they would participate in exercise classes - some of which the senior center currently offers. That figure included more than 600 who would sign up for classes at , according to the survey released last week.

"We are confident that results of the survey will be helpful in opening up ongoing dialogue and collaboration between elected, appointed officials and residents of the town," said Leanne Jasset, Council on Aging board member.

The survey concluded, "the large number of responses to the survey indicates that Dedham elders want a senior center. [...] The results of the survey clearly point to a different kind of space than what is currently occupied by the COA."

"If you hit the road with this, you will make [people] see beyond the numbers," selectman Carmen Dello Iacono said. "Don't let it become just a document. Actually make it work. Use it as a tool."

On the heels of a failed bid in 2008 to sell voters on a building a new senior center, advocates are focusing on what seniors want to happen within the walls of a building, rather than the building itself.

"When you talk about four walls and a roof, it is really about what goes on inside that building," Town Administrator William Keegan said. "We really didn't focus [in 2008] on the important piece of what that building would serve."

Many elderly see the senior center as a lifeline to a growing technological world as 84 percent of respondents said they wanted to have a computer class at the center, and more than 600 said they'd use the center for computer access.

As the Council on Aging works toward building a "state of the art senior center," board members said they will work to increase participation and use the study to evaluate current programming.

The survey concluded with a short essay question that asked why elders believed Dedham should have a senior center - instead of one room.

One answer stated, "All towns should have support and social netowrking for seniors - it's a cold world when you're alone."

Editor's note: The full report is attached to this article on the right.

Linda McGee October 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Would like to read more explanation of exercise classes and level of fitness required. Golden slippers....what is this?
Rachel Forsyth-Tuerck October 12, 2011 at 01:13 PM
The next generation of seniors coming up are the baby boomers & the folks who were at Woodstock (Don't trust anyone over 30!") Not surprisingly, a lot of marketing research suggests that this group absolutely does NOT want to be reminded that they are seniors, and probably won't be excited about going to a separate "senior center." How about focusing on a Community Center with a large focus on senior living & needs for that group? Possibly combine it with a new library? A building that meets multiple needs and serves many groups would probably garner more support than a single senior center.
Patricia Lambert October 17, 2011 at 11:46 AM
Great point - My dad (who brought me to Woodstock) absolutely refuses to have any interaction with a senior center He is 80 and considers the term "senior center" an insult and a label - neither which he tolerates. Kierkegaard stated - once you label me, you negate me
robert October 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM
The building of any facility in town would only be limited to the creativity of the residents and our community leaders. Our libraries have become commuinty centers of sorts in the absence of another place for people of all ages, not just our seniors. Check either of our libraries and you see that on a daily basis. Adding to the existing Branch library makes great sense. A positive push would would be better received than a negative puss....so call it what you want, but "build it and they will come."

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