Chapel Hill: Opinion

Seymour Center the best-kept secret in town

The first time I walked into the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, it was to vote.

What is this place, I asked? It was filled with light, people moving around with purpose, and sounds of everything … laughter, music, conversations in various languages. This can’t be a senior center! Where are the rocking chairs and bingo games?

If you’ve been lucky enough to discover the Seymour Center, you probably had a similar experience.

The Seymour Center IS a senior center, operated by the Orange County Department on Aging. It is named after Robert and Pearl Seymour, who worked closely with the Department on Aging to create a gathering place for older adults that captured their imagination, talents, and joy for life. The building itself embodies these traits, but so do the many activities and programs provided inside. There aren’t many places where you can take an exercise class, play mahjong, learn a new language, have lunch, paint a picture, listen to a lecture, and enjoy line dancing all in one day! It is a place to learn, share, relax, and have fun. And most all of it is provided at little or no cost to Orange County residents who are 60-plus years old.

Perhaps you have discovered some of the many activities at the Seymour Center. Perhaps you come for lunch regularly. But did you know that in addition to all of the fun and interesting classes and programs, there is a team of social workers waiting to help you deal with some of life’s more difficult twists and turns?

The Department on Aging’s Aging Transitions (AT) Unit is also housed at the Seymour Center. We call the Seymour Center a “one stop shop.” Aging Transitions staff located there can help you make long-term care decisions and choices, navigate the Medicare system, apply for low-income subsidies, and provide support to caregivers. AT staff answer a telephone helpline five days a week (919-968-2087), take walk-ins at the Seymour Center and Central Orange Senior Center, make appointments for consultations, and will visit your home for safety assessments. We have gently used walkers, wheelchairs, and tub/shower benches to loan out when needed. The goal of the Aging Transitions team is to help Orange County citizens live outside of nursing homes and assisted living facilities as long as they wish - and once this does not seem like a safe choice, to help them figure out what the next steps are.

If you have never stopped by the Seymour Center (2551 Homestead Road) or called our Aging Transitions Helpline (919-968-2087), give us a try! Some people think that we are “the best kept secret in town”!

Mary Fraser, DSW, is the aging transitions administrator for the Orange County Department on Aging.