Interested in learning the ukulele, brushing up on pickleball or taking a cruise through the Florida keys? Few would guess that there’s a one-stop shop for all of that, and it’s a Loudoun County government-run program.
The county’s three full-service senior centers and one senior activity center put on low-cost programs for Loudoun residents 55 and older (yes, 55!), and their offerings go far beyond bingo. They provide a slew of classes, offering instruction on everything from fitness to art to language, and it’s all meant to boost seniors’ mental and physical well-being.
Deborah Williams, the county’s senior services manager, said some of the more popular programs are aerobics, “easy yoga,” Zumba, line dancing and other courses designed to get seniors moving.
“Working on balance and muscle tone is very important as a person ages,” Williams said, encouraging seniors to stay active. “It doesn’t matter that they can’t run a mile, but get your body moving and make those muscles work.”
She said even the low-impact exercises like tai-chi and yoga can go a long way to improve or maintain a person’s balance and strength, which can prevent injuries.
The centers also offer support groups, daily hot lunches, monthly visits and free check-ups by the Inova health van, and teen tech Tuesdays, where seniors can tap into teens’ expertise on all-things digital.
Their programs also take seniors out of the county on occasion. The centers organize day trips to places like the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC, or Wolf Trap in Vienna, as well as multi-day trips, that have included trips to Ireland and Florida.
“Those are very, very popular,” Williams said. “We offer a lot more than people might think.”
Williams described the senior centers as one of the county’s best kept secrets. Many have a misconception that the centers are for elderly folks who are heavily dependent on the help of others.
“That’s not the case,” she said. “It is for active adults who are looking to get out and socialize.”
Socializing, and just having a sense of community, is important for every human being, she added. Many seniors can become isolated, especially after retirement and as their children or other family grow up and move on. “The senior centers are there so they can just get out of the house,” Williams said. “They really are rec centers for old people. We want people to come take part in a program, or just come and read the newspaper and drink a cup of coffee.”
Donna Hoyt, 79, stops by the Senior Center of Leesburg at least four times a week. “This is our recreation—our socialization,” she said, and she credits the men and women who run the county’s senior centers for making them a place where Loudoun’s oldest residents want to be. “You can have new and flashy, but it really comes down to the staff. We have outstanding senior centers because of the staff.”
The county’s full-service senior centers are in Purcellville, Leesburg and Sterling. The senior activity center is in South Riding. Two more full-service senior centers are planned; one is scheduled to open in Dulles South later this year and a second is slated to open in 2020 in Ashburn.
Loudoun’s Senior Centers
Carver Center, 200 Willie Palmer Way, Purcellville
Cascades, 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling
Dulles South, 24950 Riding Center Dr., South Riding
Senior Center of Leesburg, 102 North Street NW
Annual memberships are $26 for Loudoun residents, $39 for non-county residents. Daily drop-in fees are $2 for Loudoun residents, $3 for non-county. Find details at Loudoun.gov (search for senior centers) or by calling 703-777-0209.