Barnstable to Rebrand Senior Center to Attract More Members

BARNSTABLE – As people age they are maintaining more of an active lifestyle and are not self-identifying with the terms society generally use to describe them.

This is causing the town of Barnstable to reimage its Senior Center.

The facility will eventually by renamed the Barnstable Adult Community Center, pending further approval.

Barnstable Director of Senior Services Madeline Noonan said the changes are an effort to attract more members for the facility which is for individuals 50 and older.

“We did some focus groups and we did a community wide survey and they indicated that a lot of people were not using the Barnstable Senior Center because they didn’t identify with the term senior and that they didn’t feel old or that we had anything to offer them,” Noonan said.

Baby Boomers, which number around 76 million in the United State, are the country’s largest age group. The oldest of the generation began turning 60 back in 2006.

In the last year, statistics show that only 10 percent of the participation at the Senior Center is from individuals under 65.

“Even though we are a 50-plus facility, we are not really attracting a lot of that age group,” Noonan said.

Surveys also indicated that about 60 percent of people favored a name change for the facility.

Noonan said seniors are also interested in programs that are later in the day, after the facilities current closing time of 4:30 p.m.

“Over 70 percent of the respondents said that they would participate in evening programs,” Noonan said.

Over the last few weeks, the Senior Center held two community conversation sessions. The public forums allowed staff to share research and information learned that are guiding recommendations.

“It’s no surprise that people are living much longer and staying much more engaged as we age and the whole language around how we refer to older people is changing as a result of that,” Noonan said.

Words like senior, senior citizen or elder are viewed much less favorably today. Research is recommending that aging professionals start using terms like older person and older adult.

The changes come before the town celebrates the center’s 20th anniversary next June.

“We felt that was really an optimal time for us to explore a rebranding opportunity to really reimagine the impact we have on the community and how we connect with the community and we just want to capitalize on that opportunity,” Noonan said.

Noonan said it is critical to reach out to the Baby Boomers to find out what it is going to take to come through the doors.

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