MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023


Happy New Year! After two years of starts and stops, COVID restrictions and limited congregate meals, nearly 2/3 of the 1700+ Centers that use MySeniorCenter returned to normal operations by early March, 2022. Currently, curbside and expanded home-delivered meals still represent a large portion of the nutrition program, which will likely continue throughout 2023. In this issue of Fun Facts, we'll continue with our long-running theme of recapping the most popular programs over the past year, but with a twist. Because COVID forced Centers to make a lot of changes, we'll pay special attention to those activites that gained or lost the most participants. That will give us a chance to look at what's hot and what's not across the MySeniorCenter Network.

Once again, we were blown away by your innovative programming and compassion for your participants. You took advantage of all available spaces and tools to deliver socialization, nutrition, fitness and well-being. Congratulations on a trying, but successful year.

Let's have a look.

Welcome to...Fun Facts - the Big List, What's Hot and What's Not edition

Enjoy!

Gonna Fly Now

With Centers mostly reopened to indoor activities, fitness and exercise programs were back to being popular. As a result, seven of the ten programs with the most growth from 2021 to 2022 were all in the Fitness and Exercise category. Yoga, strength training, tai chi, line dancing, and pickleball were all very popular and had at least twice as many participants as in 2021 (again, many Centers were closed in 2021). Rock Steady Boxing, which we mentioned last year, was the tenth fastest growing program across the entire network. If you haven't seen it before, it's a non-contact, boxing-inspired fitness routine for people living with Parkinson's.

Indoor and group fitness classes are in. Virtual, outdoor and solo exercise (using the weight machines) are out.

Making Banana Pancakes

As we pointed out in the Eating Together issue of Fun Facts, congregate programs are still below pre-pandemic levels, but gaining fast. We've heard from many areas that grants for curbside dining and expanded home-delivered programs have been extended through 2023. We'll keep an eye on that and report on the trends again later this year. As a result of people returning to the Centers, in-person lunch was the overall program with the highest growth in 2022. What was most interesting, though, was the rise in Dinner and Breakfast options as well. In previous years, less than 1% of Centers offered congregate breakfast and/or lunch. In 2022, that jumped to 4%. It's still a small number, but a 4X increase is worth noting. Food insecurity and social isolation are real problems and Senior Centers are in a unique position to address both when given the right resources.

Although home-delivered meals are down compared to 2021 levels, they're still higher than pre-pandemic numbers. So, even though it's listed as a 'Cold', it's still pretty hot.

Dining together when able is hot. Eating alone by the TV is not.

I'll Be There for You

Conducting programs online in 2020 and 2021 was a lifesaver. For many participants, it was the only social connection they had. At this time last year, we wrote about online singing groups, virtual book clubs, cooking demonstrations and flower arranging classes. They were hugely popular while the Centers were operating in a remote or limited-capacity model. In 2022, it was all about being back together again. Sing-a-longs and chorus practice were the highest growth programs within the Art/Music/Dance/Craft category.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with friends while singing, weaving or working with tools is in. Virtual lectures and book clubs are out.

Preparacion de Impuestos

Seminars, lunch-and-learns, tax prep, computer and language classes returned in 2022 after a two-year break. These are great not only for your regular participants, but also as a way to bring new people into the fold. In particular, the seminars and special speakers get notable space in local papers and attract new eyeballs. The most popular language class by a wide margin in the Education/Learning category was Spanish.

Getting your taxes done on time and speaking Spanish is cool. Learning at all stages of life has always been cool.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

After taking a big attendance hit in 2020 and 2021, Bingo is back on top as the most popular activity in the Social/Recreation category. Centers in certain areas took advantage of looser guidelines in the warmer months to hold a number of social events, including quite a few singles mixers! Card games of all kinds were popular as well with pinochle having the most growth.

Daubers and tricks are hot. Take-home activity packets are not.

Summary

In 2022, people tried to get back to their pre-pandemic routines, whenever possible. We can see that in the increase in congregate meals, in-person exercise programs, card games and parties. But there were still plenty of people who stayed away and continued with their curbside or home-delivered food. Although virtual programs were less common in 2022, they didn't go away completely and probably never will. Virtual options will always present an opportunity to reach people who are unwilling or unable to attend in person.

Congratulations on leading your Center and participants out of the darkest part of the pandemic and giving them reasons for hope and healing. Thank you for everything that you do. Happy New Year!

It was great to be together again in 2022. Let's hope for an even better 2023!