This difficulty does not just stop at causing dietary deficiencies but may also lead to acute dental and non-dental diseases. With early detection and intervention such diseases can be prevented thus the health professionals in senior centers can take a step of screening the seniors for oral problems and take the necessary steps. They can also train the seniors on practicing preventive health and also refer them to appropriate nutritional and dental professionals.
It is common for seniors to rate their health, the good news is that most of them rate their health status as good, very good, or excellent. There is a relation between self-rated health and mortality and expectations for dying, it is therefore necessary to encourage those having positive self-rating so that they can maintain and improve their health. Those with negative self-ratings should also not be ignored but should be assisted to develop a positive attitude which may lead to an improvement in their health or at least slow the decline rate of their health. It is possible to slow the functional disability relative to the physical decline which aged people experience since this is mostly dependent on their lifestyles. One of the lifestyles that have been identified as positive to elderly people is exercise. Through exercise the aged get greater life satisfaction as well as enjoy more psychological and somatic comfort especially for those experiencing mild depression. Senior centers provide this vital health activity by monitoring those seniors who are already exercising and at the same time trying to recruit as many of them to the exercise as possible through fitness programs which are oriented for the elderly. Even though most older people exercise even when they live in their homes, with the most common of exercise being walking, they do not know what form of exercise is healthy for their body or simply some cannot afford to maintain the appropriate exercising programs that are available and readily accessible to them.
There are diseases that have been identified to commonly affect the elderly people globally such as Dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Such diseases are costly to treat and this cost keeps on increasing as the severity of the disease increases and institutionalization (Alvarado-Esquivel, et al., 2004). The prevalence and frequency of such diseases vary accordingly from one country to another, for example a study carried to find out the prevalence of Dementia and Alzheimer's disease indicated that about 10% of seniors (above 65 years of age) in America suffer from Dementia while only 3.49% of seniors from an urban community in China testes positive for the disease, similar variations have also been recorded for Alzheimer's disease prevalence in different countries (Alvarado-Esquivel, et al., 2004). Institutionalization also a great part to play in the prevalence of these diseases since elders in institutions such as senior centers have higher frequency of these diseases than those living with the general population. In fact the prevalence of Dementia as been noted to be high on admission to such institutions and has shown a further increase in the prevalence as the elders take more time within the institutions. This is a negative aspect of the senior centers that has not been clearly elaborated and may not be easily understood.
Psychological distress is very common among the elderly and this greatly affects their quality of life including the lives of the people living around them. Psychological distress can be defined as a condition that involves negative emotions having a connection with a loss that is incurred in trying to attain a significant goal; this is normally caused by the lack of resources to avert such a potential loss (Farone, et al., 2005). Psychological distress has a relation with somatic symptoms to suppress self-help behaviors of an individual. Additionally, this condition is also linked to stress according to a study that involved racial and ethnic groups. The stress could arise from financial issues, health related problems, and personal or family and social issues. From researches that have been carried out there are indications that psychological distress can be reduced through social support, such social support to the elderly can be offered perfectly well in senior centers (Farone, et al., 2005). The aim of social support is to reduce negative consequences of stress and acts as a preventive measure by 'shielding' an individual from stress. Social support has also been categorized as one of the coping resources that moderate the strength of psychological distress among elders. The coping resources moderate the effect by dissipating or reversing the response generated by stress after it is triggered or assists in coping with the stressor itself.
Much of the work of senior centers is to provide social support to the seniors; they also provide a number of services such as health and Medicare, diet and nutrition, training and educational services, and recreational services which are the avenues for interaction. Most of these features of senior centers could be linked to stress and distress among the elderly since they more preventive than curative in nature. For instance health related issues are addressed through health education, and also the assurance of service availability contributes towards reducing stress (Farone, et al., 2005).
It has been observed that the elderly experience what is referred to as social comparison which they most apply to reduce uncertainty about themselves and to cope with stressful situations. Social comparison is a situation where an individual compares him/herself with other people as a way of learning and assessing themselves, they evaluate their opinions and abilities (Michinov, 2007). This situation is encouraged by the feeling of ambiguity in terms of well-being and emotions and especially when such individuals lack nonsocial means to evaluate themselves. The need for social comparison normally increases when a senior is undergoing stress, transition, or novelty since this increases self-uncertainty (Michinov, 2007). Transition is almost a daily event in the lives of the elderly coupled with uncertainty about their future thus it can be assumed that they need social comparison everyday. At the senior centers the elderly have access to information about others who could be in a better position or worse compared to them. For instance, at the senior centers the elderly can compare health and physical conditions, or emotional issues, through such comparisons an impact is created on their well-being and affect. This leads to different feelings afterwards with such feelings varying from one individual to another depending on personal attributes in relation to self-uncertainty.
Summary and Conclusion
The linkage between successful aging and participation in senior centers has been reported and the significant objective for such centers has been the provision of a social environment which enhances the growth of a social support system, such as system helps in the reduction of loneliness and depression among the elderly thus improving life satisfaction. The consequences of center participation have been measured using such indicators as health and physical well-being, and psychological well-being. Almost all seniors who participate in senior center activities feel and improvement or at least no depreciation in their health compared to previous years with almost a similar number indicating that senior centers reduce their dependence. Senior centers have also provided an opportunity for the elderly to make friends and get better meals, in addition, the centers also provided a perfect social ground having a lot of fun and improving physical health due to the available physical activity programs (Miltiades & Grove, 2008).
The benefits that seniors get from these centers vary depending on the level of involvement of every individual in the implementation of the programs. For instance, an elderly who works as a volunteer in the resident center feel more empowered compared to others who don't and also become more independent of the center in terms of their needs. When elders are involved in activities that are geared towards assisting others they rate highly on life-satisfaction than when it is simply fun-filled activity, in fact, this encourages them to recruit more of this population into the centers. Such elderly individuals are even willing to take leadership positions and go to the extent of donating the little that they posses for the sake of helping others. There are also specific health programs within the senior centers meant for the seniors, such programs help improve the health behavior and knowledge of the participating individuals through consultations and regular health screenings. Apart from the health benefits, the participants have also indicated greater psychological and social comfort; they are also able to better maintain their healthy lifestyle (Miltiades & Grove, 2008).
As much as the objectives of senior centers may be more it should be known that every community has a unique need thus seniors in every community have unique needs that need to be addressed. It is thus essential that the senior centers are formulated in such a way that they will meet these specific and unique needs effectively.