Senior Centers

By 2023, Arkansas was home to eight regional senior centers that provided educational, nutritional, and recreational services for people over age sixty. Senior centers are generally available at no cost to anyone older than sixty, although some may require a donation or have different age restrictions. Depending on the location of the center, seniors can socialize, participate in wellness activities, and receive a hot lunch. They may also take part in various programs including art courses, bingo, card games, computer instruction, dancing, exercise programs, pool, quilting, strength training, wellness classes, working on puzzles, and yoga. Centers may also provide home-delivered meals for housebound elderly clients, transportation for seniors who are unable to drive, and referrals to other senior-based services if needed. Approximately 800 senior centers operate throughout the country in the twenty-first century.

Nonprofit Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) were established by an amendment to the Older Americans Act in 1974 to coordinate public and private resources that provide services to seniors, who had begun to constitute an ever-growing segment of the American population. Under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, area agencies are overseen by the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL). However, each state determines how its agencies operate. In 1979, the Arkansas General Assembly passed legislation regarding area agencies that was signed by Governor Bill Clinton. Each of the eight AAAs in Arkansas was separately incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency.

Area agencies on aging can be public or private nonprofit entities that have been designated by the state to address the needs of older people on the regional and local levels. While names of local AAAs may vary, they are each responsible for a geographic area that may be either a city, county, or multi-county district.

One of the main priorities of many AAAs is to help older adults remain in their homes rather than going to nursing facilities by assisting with basic functions of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and food preparation. Along with home-delivered meals, the area agency can often provide links for homemaker assistance, in-home care, or other services that would make independent living possible for seniors.

The most visible mission of AAAs in Arkansas has been to establish local Senior Adult Centers. These centers meet the needs of older citizens in areas such as nutrition and socialization as well as serving as a focal point for the community. Each center keeps its own schedule of activities; seniors can contact their local center to find out what is available in their area.

Some senior centers also provide programs for all phases of aging, such as blood pressure and blood sugar screening, clothing exchanges, food pantries, thrift shops, and grief support groups. There are also opportunities for leadership or volunteer positions.

By region, Arkansas’s centers are as follows:

Some areas such as Washington County have several local venues; this area includes the Elkins Senior Activity and Wellness Center, Farmington Senior Activity and Wellness Center, Fayetteville Senior Activity and Wellness Center, Greenland Volunteer Senior Activity Center, Hillcrest Towers Volunteer Senior Activity Center, Lincoln Senior Activity Center, Prairie Grove Senior Activity and Wellness Center, and West Fork Volunteer Senior Activity Center’s Aging Services Program, which provides nutrition for the elderly.

For additional information:
“Area Agencies on Aging.” Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Arkansas. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging. (accessed May 11, 2023).

CareLink. (accessed May 11, 2023).

East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Our Health Communities. (accessed May 11, 2023).

White River Area Agency on Aging. (accessed May 11, 2023).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


No comments on this entry yet.