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An Organization for the Elderly,

by the Elderly:

A Senior Center in the United States



Yohko Tsuji



    Like Great Britain, America since its inception has been known for the tendency of its citizens to join a wide variety of voluntary associations. In the United States, senior centers first developed in the 1940s, but were an outgrowth of senior clubs dating to the late nineteenth century. By 2006, an estimated 14,000–16,000 senior centers were in operation, providing a wide range of health, social, recreational and educational services for older citizens. The Older Americans Act of 1965 targeted senior centers to serve as community focal points for comprehensive service coordination and delivery at the local level. However, qualitative studies done in such environments find that it is the stimulation of informal, personal networks that is of special interest to the participants.


    Such is the case in this chapter on the Lake District Senior Center by Japanese anthropologist Yohko Tsuji. This work provides a nice contrast to the ethnic-based senior centers discussed in the chapters by Hegland and Martinez in Part IV.




Aday, R., G. Kehoe and L. Farney. 2006. “Impact of Senior Center Friendships on Aging Women Who Live Alone.” Journal of Women & Aging 18:157–73.


Beisgen, B. and M. Kraitchman. 2003. Senior Centers: Opportunities for Successful Aging. New York: Springer.


Tsuji, Y. 2005. “Time Is Not Up: Temporal Complexity of Older Americans’ Lives.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 20(1):3–26.





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