DCSL: keeping the older adults healthy and active


Durham Center for Senior Life, founded in 1949, is a happy, safe place for community senior citizens. DCSL has four different centers, one being in the heart of downtown Durham.

Each facility offers a wide selection of programs and services for older adults.

Members keep themselves busy and socially active with games. (Staff photo by Diamond Gwynn)

Their motto is “enhancing the lives of older adults through education, recreation, nutrition, and social services in welcoming community settings,” never failing to do just that.

The programs include social and senior center services, congregate nutrition, and adult day health services.

The program started out in two church basements, and 10 years ago they moved to their current building in downtown Durham at 406 Rigsbee Ave.

According to Liz Lahti, the program director, they offer exercise classes, educational programs, social programs, and arts and crafts.

Some of the educational activities include Spanish class, computer one-on-one assistance, intro to iPads and E-readers, and a creative word processing workshop.

The program is for ages 55 and up and the members are able to come and leave as they please.

The Adult Day Health Center is a program located in the same building, just right downstairs that requires more security.

It’s available to senior citizens who may require special attention and more care throughout the day.

Many of the members may suffer from dementia and/or have other cognitive impairments.

Although it’s a place for them to have fun and enjoy themselves, safety comes first. There are alarms on all the doors and the patient to staff ratio is 6:1.

The center holds 60 people. The ages differ from 28 to 99 years.

Shirley King, assistant director, takes on multiple roles at the center. She’s a CNA, medical assistant, and the program assistant supervisor.

“It’s a place for them to be social,” said King.

The center provides daily activities, including Zumba, Yoga, and Bingo.

One of the more popular events provided is a gospel singer, Alexandria, who has been volunteering for the past three years.

King said the members look forward to seeing her perform for them.

Along with entertainment, each day breakfast and lunch is provided.

Available from Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., this program does offer transportation.

“My hugs might be the only one they get that day. They love attention, and I love them. They’re our family until they go home,” said King.

DCSL is always accepting volunteers. If interested all you have to do is come in, apply and pass the background check.

The volunteer opportunities include class instructor, lunch and learn instructor, office assistant, adult day health, and more.

More information about volunteering can be found online at Dcslnc.org.

“It’s not about the money here, it’s about your heart,” said King.

“It’s not hard to get attached to them,” said staff assistant Patricia Keith.

There is no wait-list or charge for the membership, just registration.