COAs conduct more than 100 programs from information and referral, outreach, transportation, meals (congregate and/or home delivered) to health screening, health insurance information benefits counseling (SHINE), fitness, recreation, computer access, education/life long learning, among others. In most communities, COAs serve as the only public social service agency and assist numerous non-elders in accessing public benefits. They may also serve as a link to and support for elders and others in case of local emergencies.
Each COA determines its own priorities based on unique local circumstances, resources and interests. Volunteers play an integral service role, with more than 31,000 persons recording almost 50,000 hours per week of volunteer support. Regardless of design, a local senior center is often a home away from home for socializing, learning, wellness, "giving back" or just a reason to get out of the house. For the rapidly growing elder population, now totaling nearly 1.3 million elders, COAs and senior centers provide a safe place for Massachusetts elders to remain independent, productive and in the community for as long as possible.