A poll question surfaced recently whether Norman, Oklahoma should choose to spend their precious tax dollars to fund road construction or should they build a senior center. As most would agree, this is a difficult decision to contemplate. As an organization fighting to keep hard earned dollars in the pockets of our senior citizens, this issue certainly caught our attention.
We believe it is our duty to advocate for safe streets for our elders. When our federal, state and local roads and bridges are maintained, our seniors are less likely to be involved in an accident. AAA reports, the aging baby boomer population is the fastest growing segment across the U.S. By 2030, there will be 70 million drivers 65 and older and 80-90 percent of those will be driving. The good news, senior drivers are among the safest drivers on the road and often reduce their risk of injury by wearing seat belts. Typically, they are law abiding citizens and diligently follow the rules of the road. However, as we age, our ability to drive safely is affected by our vision and the physical changes to our bodies. Due to these challenges that our older drivers encounter, it is vital to have safe roads and bridges that are well marked and well lit. Whatever our cities, states and federal governmental bodies have to do to keep our roads safe, we will support it.
In addition to advocating for safe streets, we believe it is equally important to promote healthy aging and wellness for our elders. Senior centers are wonderful places to help our older adults stay active and improve their quality of life. According to the National Council on Aging, senior centers serve as a gateway to the aging network connecting them to community services that help them stay healthy and independent. Many of our senior centers are overflowing with programs and activities, but these are a few that you can typically count on.
- Health and wellness programs
- Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
- Social and recreational activities
- Educational and arts programs
- Employment assistance
- Transportation services
- Meal and nutrition programs
Research shows older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage or delay the onset of chronic disease. By participating and staying active, seniors experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well being.
At last report, the Norman, Oklahoma community was split with their opinions on these issues. It appears, 45 percent of those who answered the poll question thought the senior center should be built before floating a bond issue for transportation. 28 percent of those thought the city should build the senior center and 27 percent believed the city should do both.
This issue is a difficult one for the city and a difficult choice for American Senior Alliance. We have often been on record advocating for sound fiscal management at the local, state and federal levels. We believe both of these projects have substantial merit and will go a long way helping save lives. With these projects being vital to the community and with strong support for both, we would encourage the Oklahoma officials to make both of these projects happen. We believe the community will be winners in the short and long term.