Chandler is embarking on a study to look into the feasibility of a multigenerational center in the city as well as capitalizing on new programs at the city’s existing senior center.
“When you talk about seniors today, it’s really like two dynamic and different groups of seniors,” Bass said. “You have people who are between 50 and 75 who don’t necessarily fit with what we traditionally think of as a senior. Then you have a 75-plus population that may be more ‘traditional’ seniors.”
Bass said the population of seniors in Chandler has grown substantially over the years. The Chandler population over 55 grew from nearly 16% in 2010 to 21.6% in 2018, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Community Survey. That is an increase of 17,497 people over 55 in Chandler.
"That trend is only going to increase,” Bass said. “So we are trying to rewrite what it means to age and what we do in the city in terms of programming. We are trying to meet the needs of super active adults and trying to break down the barriers for 55-plus age groups.”
According to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Community Survey, Chandler’s population in 2018 between 55 and 74 years old was estimated at 44,462 with an additional 35,183 people between the ages of 45 and 54.
City officials project that by 2032, the active adult population over 55 will become the highest age segment in Chandler, making up nearly 27% of the city’s total population.
“Chandler takes pride in being an inclusive community,” said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke. “We have services and programs in place to serve Chandler residents of all ages including children, students, millennials, middle-aged adults and seniors. Our City staff and my colleagues on the Council work closely together to ensure that as our demographics shift, we are flexible and able to provide needed services.”
Meeting the needs of the future
At a Dec. 12 City Council meeting, council approved an agreement with GreenPlay LLC to conduct a multigenerational recreation center feasibility study. According to the supporting documents on the council agenda, city staff felt based on the results of the Senior Needs Assessment that the current senior center is “unlikely to sufficiently address the needs of Chandler’s population over 55 years of age in the future.”
“The feedback from the assessment was that we should look into doing a modern multigenerational-type center,” Bass said. He said the goal would be to create a space where residents from all generations participate in activities and programs together. Bass said he would like to see a little less separation in age divisions for programming.
“It’s not just the older generation interested in pickleball,” Bass said. “We are seeing those who are retiring are younger, and younger and that cross-generational interaction benefits all people. It passes down knowledge to the younger generation and keeps older generations young.”
In addition to the multigenerational recreation center feasibility study, Bass said the city is planning to continue to improve the existing senior center by adding more programs and services.
Barbara Mullins, a member of the mayor’s committee on the aging, said she has lived in Chandler for just under two years and is excited about the things the city is doing and plans to do for seniors.
Mullins said she was excited that city staff is looking to add more fitness equipment at the center, such as treadmills and free weights.
“It is a wonderful facility and really reflects how active the community is,” Mullins said.
Chandler’s existing active adult amenities
The city offers a variety of programs and services for seniors, Bass said.
The city offers arts and crafts, opportunities to serve on boards and commissions, billiards, cards and games, congregate meals, dances, educational classes, employment services, excursions and trips, exercise programs, financial services, groups and clubs, housing services, information resources, legal advice, medical services, public meeting spaces, quilting, special events and volunteer services.
Most services are run out of the senior center, which is located at 202 E. Boston St. in Chandler, but Bass said there is senior programming at libraries and at Tumbleweed Recreation Center in the city.
Bass said the city has also recently worked to improve the senior center.
“It’s been a lot of face-lifts,” Bass said. “New paint, new flooring; we have really been looking at how the facility looks and feels.”
The city announced in December that it was partnering with televeda, a Phoenix-based company that offers live online wellness, educational and recreational programs, to offer classes aimed at combating isolation in older adults.
“One of the fastest things that will kill you is isolation,” Bass said. “This program allows you to get on the web with a camera, you can join in on recreation programs and fitness. People doing this are trying to combat isolation and create stimulated minds and bodies.”
Mullins said she is grateful that the city prioritizes the well-being of its senior population.
“I go to the senior center pretty much every day, and I’m excited about the changes they’ve made there,” Mullins said. “When I lived in Oregon, I went to the senior center there a couple times, and it was very bleh. They didn’t seem to have a lot of things for people to do. It didn’t have as many activities as the center here. Our center is beautiful and so much fun. They try real hard to do special things for us on holidays and try and get people involved and active. They are very invested in us, and I appreciate that so much.”