With people over 65 making up only 14.6 per cent of the Canberra population, it is safe to say our senior demographic often gets sidelined when activities and community programs are planned in the nation’s capital.
This is concerning on a number of fronts, especially with regard to social isolation among Australia’s senior population. Studies show that the population of Australians over-65 is increasing rapidly, and without the right support and encouragement, our older Australians will become more susceptible to loneliness, severing vital connections with community.
This is why activities and programs for seniors are growing in importance. But what should you look for in a seniors program, and where can you find the best in Canberra?
Let’s take a closer look.
What makes a great seniors program?
We recommend keeping the following in mind when selecting a seniors activity or program for yourself or a loved one.
- Variety. Everyone likes to have a variety of activities to choose from, based on their interests. Some people consider social groups important, while others prefer skills development or physical activities – and these preferences may vary from week to week. A program that offers a variety of activities helps ensure you get to live your best life, on your terms.
- Flexibility and responsiveness. Check that the program designers actively seek feedback from participants, and are flexible enough to adapt the programs to ensure your interests are met.
- Facilities. Check to see that the facilities are well-maintained and suitable for older people. For example, some community organisations have their own gyms and exercise equipment, which some people may prefer travelling to a standard gym.
- Are the activities enjoyable? At the end of the day, if the programs you select help you to enjoy your day, meet new people, and keep mentally and physically active, you’ve got yourself a winner.
The best seniors programs and activities in Canberra
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Woden Community Service (WCS) has provided community services in the ACT for 50 years. Its vision is to build and nurture a vibrant and connected community, working together to provide quality services that meet individual needs and encourage positive ageing and wellbeing.
WCS offers a range of seniors activities including lunch groups, walking groups, men’s coffee mornings, ladies’ afternoon tea group, bus outings to local and interstate destinations, and shopping trips.
These activities are open to Woden residents aged over 65 (over 50 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) who require low level, basic service and are not receiving support through the NDIS or an aged care package.
Communities@Work offers a variety of services for seniors across Canberra, including seniors’ centres in Ngunnawal and Holder, in-home services for seniors and a community transport program. These services focus on capacity building, inclusion and social participation. They support wellness and continued independence to foster social connectedness and good health outcomes for you while you continue to live at home.
Social and recreational activities at Communities@Work’s seniors’ centres include gentle exercises, arts and craft, gardening, wood working workshops and high teas. It often invites guest speakers that cover a range of topics to inform and interact with the participants. It also operates social groups for seniors, such as the Men’s Group, Women’s Neighbourhood Group and Gungahlin Women’s Group, which promote enrichment, mutual support, and companionship.
As part of its in-home services, Communities@Work offers domestic assistance, personal care, and social support for individuals. Its ACT-wide community transport program enables people to remain connected with their community and health services.
In choosing Communities@Work programs for seniors, in-home services or community transport services, you will experience benefits such as access to community, health, choice for shopping, continued access of preferred lifestyle such as volunteering and group participation. At its seniors’ centres, you will develop friendships, enjoy fun and interesting activities, and maintain your health and wellness.
As the largest not-for-profit organisation in Canberra, Communities@Work programs and services for seniors enable it to reduce social isolation, dependency, and carer stress in the community.
If it’s choice and quality you’re looking for, Capital Region Community Services (formerly known as Belconnen Community Service) programs for seniors tick all the boxes. Its programs and services include social clubs, exercise programs and day-to-day living services. Every program is developed through community consultation – if there is a need, CRCS will deliver.
Having served the community for over 40 years, CRCS has its finger on the pulse of the Canberra community, and is always trying to find new ways to enrich Canberrans’ lives and foster integrated and inclusive communities.
If you like keeping fit and active, there are mature fitness and strength programs, made easier by CRCS’s very own gym facilities. Sessions range from light exercise to low-impact cardio, machine-based strength, choreographed weights classes and health promotion programs with a focus on falls prevention.
Prefer something social? Social clubs include Belconnen Energetic Seniors on Tuesday (BEST) club, to Connect 4, which was originally designed as a social support and wellness group for people over 65 years who are caring for someone.
Regular excursions and day trips are also take place, courtesy of CRCS’s community bus. From trips to national institutions or to the pub, tell them where you’d like to go and they will do everything they can to take you there.
CRCS’s Community Transport service also provides transport for seniors to make day-to-day travelling easier.
Canberra Seniors Centre in Turner is a meeting place for people aged 50 and over, with more than 370 members across Canberra. Classes range from light exercise and dance through to computer skills, craft, mahjong, painting and language lessons.
Members can also drop in at any time for a cup of coffee or tea, while lunches – including birthday lunches – are regularly served.
Member Royce shared their experience at Canberra Seniors Centre on Google Reviews: “A small seniors centre doing a great deal for seniors. Dropped in to see what it was about. Joined up straight away.”
Your experience with seniors programs and activities in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the seniors programs listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.