The senior population in Southwest Florida has been on the rise for the past decade and it’s projected to remain on a steady upward trajectory for the next decade. If you are a caregiver of a senior relative, friend, or partner, or are planning ahead for your own future, here are resources you can turn to with questions or for support.
Center 4 Life
City Civic Center, 2401 Library Way, Sanibel
The Center 4 Life program is operated by the City of Sanibel Recreation Department for seniors, with activities that take place at the City Civic Center at the corner of Library Way and Palm Ridge Road. Programs include potlucks, exercise and recreational programs, special events, health seminars, social gatherings, daytrips, and arts and crafts. The nonprofit Island Seniors Inc. raises funds to defray programming costs and pay for staff. There is an annual membership fee of $20.
Friendship Centers of Lee County
5272 Summerlin Commons Way, Building Six, #603, Fort Myers
Senior Friendship Centers is a nonprofit organization serving older adults in five counties in Southwest Florida. The Friendship Center of Lee County hosts adult day service, a licensed day program featuring supervised, engaging activities for seniors with cognitive or medical issues. It also offers nutritious lunches at 10 dining sites in Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Lehigh Acres, and home-delivery can be scheduled. The health and wellness program’s services include monitoring chronic illnesses, preventative care, and breast and cervical cancer screening. It is the local sponsor for the national Retired and Senior Volunteer program, which works with volunteers 55 years or older who are interested in providing respite for caregivers and visiting seniors through Friendship at Home.
Lake Kennedy Center
400 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral
The Lake Kennedy Center is located on the grounds of Lake Kennedy Community Park. The center has an emphasis on facilitating activities for active adults age 50 and older, but also hosts year-round programs for families and children. The center is home to the office of the Cape Coral Mini-Bus Service, which provides transport services for disadvantaged Cape Coral residents, and the Friendship Center Dining Program. Social, recreational, and educational opportunities include ballroom events, day trips, health and fitness classes, dancing, music and theater programs, and educational and leisure activities. Membership is not required to utilize Lake Kennedy Center’s programs and facilities, however, members receive special benefits and discounts.
Lehigh Acres Senior Citizens Center
219 Plaza Drive, Lehigh Acres
This senior center is said to be one of the busiest spots in Lehigh Acres, offering at least 10 classes or activities each day, as well as special events, breakfast and lunch gatherings, and a robust calendar of overnight trips and cruises. From card games to craft classes to billiards to karaoke, there is a selection of 60 activities offered at the center, which is part of the Lee County Parks & Recreation Department. Membership is $30 annually for those 50 and older, and there are 1,500 members.
Tony Rotino Center
5817 Driftwood Pkwy., Cape Coral
The Tony Rotino Center is located within the Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park on the Caloosahatchee River. The center organizes day trips and special events, as well as a large variety of classes and programs, such as fitness classes, dancing, duplicate bridge, pinochle, movie matinees, and lunches. The city-operated center has been serving the senior community since 1977, and low-fee memberships are available, although not required. Members receive special benefits and discounts.
Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
9220 Bonita Beach Road, #223, Bonita Springs
The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the national nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association serves 16 counties with education and support, including those living with the disease, caregivers, health care professionals, and families.
Dr. Piper Center for Social Services
2607 Dr. Ella Piper Way, Fort Myers
This center supports at-risk and special needs children, as well as the frail elderly. Programs designed to support the social and economic well-being of those 55 and older include the Senior Companion program to provide assistance to frail elderly and developmentally disabled adults, as well as an employment program that trains low-income seniors on computer and technology skills. Participants in the Foster Grandparent Program of Southwest Florida mentor abused, special needs, and at-risk children. Its Faith in Action program matches volunteers with seniors in the community who need transportation to doctor’s appointments, shopping, and other errands.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office Senior Services Unit
14750 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy., Fort Myers
239-258-3286/239-477-1850 (main line)
The mission of this unit is to enhance law enforcement response to senior issues, particularly for those who live alone and/or are victims of self-neglect, abuse, or exploitation. The Senior Services Unit coordinators work closely with the aging, their families, and professionals within the community to improve the quality of life for vulnerable older adults. The sheriff’s office also enrolls residents in the national MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementias. Each registered participant receives a free medical identification bracelet and 24/7 emergency support services.
Regional and State Resources
Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida
15201 N. Cleveland Ave., #1100, North Fort Myers
This nonprofit organization serves older adults (age 60 and older) and adults with disabilities in Collier and Lee counties, as well as others in the region. It connects this population to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity such as elder care, adult day care, housing assistance, home care, meals, housekeeping, legal assistance, Medicare counseling, personal care, and volunteer opportunities.
Collier and Lee County: 239-652-6901
Florida Department of Elder Affairs
This website has information on health care, benefits, insurance, retiring to Florida, the Elder Helpline, and the Consumer Resource Guide.