Monday, June 20, 2011

Daytime Programming

Note: I've been thinking about the present and upcoming "senior problem," and what follows are some practical suggestions that could be put into place now.

Back when my children were very little PTA functions for their schools were held during daytime hours. Most of the women back then were not working full time or had the types of schedules that made daytime programs acceptable. Today the reverse is true: school programs are held in the evenings or there would be almost noone in attendance.

However, the need for daytime programming is once again arising. Those who are in our older generations, who are no longer working, have those daylight hours available and yes, many need something to fill those hours with.

Not every community has a free-standing senior center, specifically set up to meet the needs of seniors. Nor is it necessary for every community to go to the added expense of building such a center. There are already buildings available that could house such senior programs. For one thing, shuls could do so. Most shuls not only have meeting space available but also kitchen facilities so that some kind of food offering during the day could be made. In larger communities with multiple shuls it would be possible to share such programming responsibilities, so that Shul A offers Monday's programs, Shul B offers Tuesday's programs, Shul C offers Wednesday's programs, Shul D offers Thursday's programs and Shul E offers Friday's programs. Or certain shuls could offer morning programs and other shuls could offer afternoon programs. Or certain shuls could offer programming appealing to men and other shuls could offer programming appealing to women. In short, the possibilities are really endless as to how shuls could be involved in providing activities for seniors.

Now let's look at schools--they, too, could be involved in programming for seniors, whether once a week or more often. And yes, I mean during the daytime hours. Most schools offer a lunch program to their students--and the amount of food that has been paid for that gets thrown out is horrible. Schools get government subsidies and supplies for their lunch programs. Why not invite seniors down to the school at a lunchtime hour, offering either a free or $2 lunch? The kitchen is open and working, the food is there and a few tables of seniors sitting in "their" section of the lunchroom isn't a space problem for most schools. Even if space might be an issue, hold the senior luncheons right after the last class has eaten. It would give seniors someplace to go for a meal and company to converse with.

What's more, with the variety of staff available in a school there would be any number of people available to perhaps give an interesting "shmooze" during lunch. For example, a school librarian could certainly run a book club meeting during or right after the lunch. Any number of people in a school who could give a series of small workshops or classes to seniors, such as on how to use X on their computers. And some of the specialized assemblies that schools hold for their students--such as speakers or programs for Yom Ha'Atzmaut--might also be enjoyed by seniors. School lunchrooms and auditoriums stay empty for most of the day, and these facilities could certainly be put to use for senior programming.

Oh yes, and there is this: just because you are older doesn't mean you suddenly stop being interested in learning about something. Surely in a school, of all places, there would be people available who could give interesting lectures on topics of interest to these seniors. Many schools have chesed programs that include visiting the elderly in their places of residence--reverse that and have the elders come visit the students in their "place of residence." [Note: and if anyone should be wondering why schools, of all places, should be offering these types of services, kindly remember that it is precisely these seniors who once provided the money and manpower to build the schools--what goes around comes around.]

Another thought on daytime programming: get the medical community involved. Seniors have questions and concerns about medical issues that they might experience in the years to come. The rules change about what constitutes proper nutrition when you get older. Drug interactions change as you age and/or start taking more types of medications. Safety issues may change. With the number of professionals involved in the health care field it is more than possible to schedule and provide a wide variety of programs and activities that would both appeal to seniors and be instructive for them. And again, shuls and schools could provide the space for such activities.

And then there are the seniors themselves: thousands of people with skills and interests and specialties that could provide an interesting daytime event or activity for others to join in with. One of the problems for seniors who don't have the same energy they once had and who don't run around as frenetically as they once may have done is that they can spend far too much time alone, not seeing other people for days on end. They miss face to face conversation. Provide them with a facility and some basic services and let them input what they want to do there. Some just want a chance to see others, eat a meal and have some conversation. Others would welcome hearing one of their own talk about topics that are of mutual interest. Others have interests they'd like to pursue but need some help with the practicalities of pursuing them. Talk to the seniors! Find out how together you can offer programs they'd like to participate in.


leahle said...

Could work but only for some schools and shuls. Our shul does not have a handicap access ramp to get in or out of the building. there is no elevator. Never seen that ramp in my kids schools either and ditto no elevator. Programs there could only be for seniors that are completely able to walk up and down stairs.

My mom is not an older senior but when she comes to us getting up the shul's steps and up to the ezras noshim are a real climb for her. Seniors with walking issues would have trouble in our shul.

tesyaa said...

For example, a school librarian could certainly run a book club meeting during or right after the lunch.

Great idea, except that with budget cuts, the local yeshivas AND the local public schools in my area have both cut out staff librarian positions. Ask around, and you will find that this is happening more and more (unfortunately).

Anonymous said...

Many seniors volunteer. I bet somebody out there would LOVE to be a volunteer librarian, provided that they had some assistance with heavy lifting, etc...Good for SRs good for schools.

tesyaa said...

Many seniors volunteer.

True... my parents have been hospital volunteers for many years; my father, who is 87, has been volunteering weekly for almost 20 years!

Anonymous said...

Posting made me wonder again why we jews have to have so many separate buildings. Agree that we have to have shuls and schools and other types of programs. Why do they all have to be located separately to begin with? Would make more sense to have built one very large jewish community building and put everything in there.

Abba's Rantings said...

senior day care is big business and there are local shuls that are already involved in it.

benefit in the schools is free volunteer labor for tutoring, teachers assistants, etc.


"Why do they all have to be located separately to begin with?"

there is no king without a castle


"Most schools offer a lunch program to their students"

the trend, at least in MO schools, is to do away with in-house kitchens and instead use outside food vendors. generally these are local eateries, which means that kids eat better (and more expensive) lunches than their parents.


"Never seen that ramp in my kids schools either and ditto no elevator"

really? don't schools, particularly new buildings, have to be handicapped compliant?

Rae said...

You got that right Abba about the kings and castles. For a lot of those with money that they could donate, they expect to get a big building with their name prominently on it so that everyone can see what they gave. Wonder sometimes if it's about giving tzedaka at all or is it about puffing your name up in public.