SARATOGA SPRINGS — More than three million residents aged 65 and older currently live in New York, reflecting a boom of older adults during the past decade in nearly every corner of the state.
Saratoga County – which has experienced a 55 percent spike over the past decade - depicts the largest county growth in the elder population statewide, dwarfing neighboring communities in Albany County (a 23 percent increase), Rensselaer County (a 32 percent increase), and Schenectady County, which experienced a 13 percent increase in its older adult population over the past decade, according to the Center for an Urban Future analysis of the U.S. Census from 2007-2017.
In specific numbers, the 65-plus age group in Saratoga County has increased by 14,300 from 2007 to 2017, from just over 26,000 to more than 40,000. The county’s under-65 population meanwhile has remained relatively flat during that same period.
To meet current trends, the Saratoga Senior Center, located in Saratoga Springs, is making plans to build a new senior center to accommodate the explosive growth in senior population.
“When I took over in 2010, we served 300 seniors a year, now we have more than 2,000 a year, and every day we have 125-150 seniors walk through our doors,” says Lois Celeste, the agency’s executive director.
Founded as the Golden Age Club in 1955, the Center started with just 35 members. The group purchased their own building at 162 Circular St. in 1960. A larger and more modern facility named The Robert Gass Senior Center was erected in May 1979 at 5 Williams St.
“We’re out of space and we need to build a larger facility to serve our existing population and for the influx of ‘boomers’ to come in the very near future,” Celeste says. “We looked at the current building to see if we could expand, but we can’t really go out, or up,” she says of the agency’s Williams Street location, which stands in a city-owned building.
The agency is currently involved in siting a new venue in Saratoga Springs. Celeste isn’t prepared to specifically identify the site at this point as project details have yet to be finalized, but explains that the agency has plans for a new, larger building that could be announced “in the next couple of months,” with a targeted completion of the new center expected in 2021.
The announcement of a new building comes as the non-profit, non-residential community center celebrates its 65th anniversary.
At the Center, adults age 50-and-over can join for $25 per year and participate in programs, trips and social activities tailored to adults and seniors.
Earlier this month, the Center started opening its doors on Saturdays to accommodate the growing demand and changing needs of its seniors. The expanded activities – grant funding was provided by the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust – feature varied activities such as yoga, dance, billiards, computer skills training and arts workshops, and take place 9 a.m. – noon on Saturdays.
The Saratoga Senior Center will also host a “Leap Of Kindness Day” from 10 a.m. – Noon on Saturday, Feb. 29. The event is free and open to the public.
The Saratoga Senior Center is located at 5 Williams St., Saratoga Springs. For more information, call 518-584-1621, or go to: saratogaseniorcenter.org.