Let's experience our community senior centers

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Close your eyes and recall your fondest memories of holiday mealtime. Smell the freshly baked biscuits, view the colorful variety of foods, hear the telling of jokes and stories, join in the laughter of friends and family. What if you could enjoy a similar experience one, two or even five days a week? Well, you can ... almost.

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If you are 60 or over you are invited to lunch at noon each weekday at the Juneau Senior Center. The Center is located on the corner of 12th and Egan, in the same building as the Mountain View Apartments and the Senior and Caregiver Resource Center. The same hot, delicious meals are served at the Douglas Senior Center (at the Douglas Methodist Church) on Tuesday and Thursday and the Valley Senior Center (next to St. Paul's Catholic Church) on Wednesday and Friday. People can choose any of the three meal locations. All three meal sites are conveniently located along the bus routes and Care-A-Van can provide rides to and from the centers.

Meals are prepared with care, to be tasty and visually appealing as well as nutritionally sound. A wide range of main courses are served, including roast beef, baked salmon, chicken cacciatore, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, cinnamon chicken with green peppers, pork chops baked with apples, and spaghetti with meal sauce. Each meal consists of the protein entrée, a fruit or vegetable salad, a bread source, a hot vegetable and a dessert. Meals are made fresh daily by Chef Heather Sincic, who frequently bakes homemade biscuits. Milk, water, tea and coffee are also offered at each meal. Feel free to bring a friend, your spouse, a group of friends, or come by yourself - friendships are made and kindled at the senior center. Getting out of the house and socializing with others is so important for both physical and mental health. A recent study shows a strong link between loneliness and Alzheimer's in old age, so enjoying mealtimes and other activities with others is key to staying mentally alert.

The senior center is a community meeting place where people age 60 and older come together for activities which support their independence and encourage their involvement in the community. In addition to the pleasures of mealtime, the Valley and downtown centers have a wide range of activities scheduled around the lunch hour that contribute even more to physical and emotional health (and enjoyment)-exercise classes, yoga, ceramics, sewing, knitting, bridge and pinochle and various support/discussion groups. The downtown center features a resource office for information on aging and support for family caregivers and the entire community.

To reserve a space for lunch, call 463-6196 and leave your name, phone number, how many people will be attending and at which center. A table can be reserved for your party. If you are alone and would like the site manager to welcome you personally, please let us know. The suggested donation for lunch is $4.00, but people pay more or less. In any case, these hot, nutritious and delicious meals are the best deal in town.

People interested in receiving the monthly newsletter which includes the menu and calendar of activities, should contact Larry Bussone at 463-6153. The free monthly newsletter is filled with information about the three senior centers in Juneau, Douglas and the Mendenhall Valley, as well as useful, interesting and sometimes humorous articles focusing on senior issues. Stop by the senior center soon, by yourself or with friends, and make it your own.

• Marianne Mills is the program director of Southeast Senior Services, which offers home and community based services for older Alaskans throughout the region. SESS is a part of Catholic Community Service and assists all persons regardless of their faith.

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