HACKENSACK, N.J. — They don’t want to listen to Sinatra; they want to learn how to play the guitar. They don’t want baked chicken and mashed potatoes; they want baked brie and cabernet.
And they don’t want to go where the day’s biggest excitement is the visiting nurse checking their blood pressure.
Senior centers are being reinvented to cater to a baby-boom generation looking for something different in a golden-years hangout. Many of these over-65ers are in good health, working full time or taking care of grandchildren. They don’t want to be treated like they’re old. In fact, many won’t even go to a place with “senior” over the door.
“I think the name, ultimately, is going to have to change at some point,” said Bonnie Leibowitz of the N.J. Association of Senior Center Directors. “I have 90-year-olds who tell me they don’t want to be around older people all the time.”
“Senior center” conjures an image of a room with folding chairs and wheelchairs at rectangular tables, a bland lunch at every setting. In the corner, a bingo cage.
But more and more, seniors are looking for places to meet where they won’t just pass the time but get some advice on how to better manage it. Places where they can discuss art, books and movies and get tips on how to de-stress, fix their homes, get jobs, stay healthy, stay fit, stay out of the nursing home.