The senior nutrition center : a study of the reasons that motivate senior adults to attend

The Nutrition Program, funded under the Older American Act of 1965, is designed to meet the nutritional and social needs of persons aged sixty or older. In addition to the one hot meal per day other services are to be provided, one being recreational activities. This study focused on the relative importance twenty senior adults gave to three components of the Nutrition Program sponsored by the Recreation and Parks District in Bakersfield, California. The study participants responded to a questionnaire that 1) identified their participation in the program; 2) the importance they gave to socializing, having a hot meal and participation in recreation activities while at the Center, and 3) type and frequency of leisure activities they pursued away from the Senior Nutrition Center. The data indicated participants had been attending the program regularly for almost two years staying an average of two hours each day. When asked to rate the importance they gave to three components of the program, the opportunity to socialize was identified as the most important reason for coming to the Center each day. The hot meal was considered almost as important, although male respondents did not rate this component as important as the female respondents. Structured recreational activities were not perceived as being very important for the program participants. All respondents favor activities in or around the home as the most frequent leisure pursuits. However, anecdotal data suggests this finding may be due more to physical (i.e. poor eyesight) and environmental (i.e. fear of going out at night) constraints than as personal preferences. The main recommendation of this exploratory investigation directs recreation personnel responsible for nutrition programs to recognize and plan for the important function of socializing while enjoying a nutritious meal.