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Photo caption: Penn State Scranton Professor Dr. Janet Melnick (left) and Keystone Professor Dr. Heather Shanks-McElroy are studying conditions at senior community centers in Pennsylvania to determine how they meet the needs of older citizens.

Two local professors will study conditions at senior community centers throughout Pennsylvania to determine how they are meeting the needs of older Pennsylvanians.

Keystone Professor Heather Shanks-McElroy, Ph.D. and Penn State Scranton Professor Janet Melnick, Ph.D., have been awarded a $42,500 grant from the Center for Rural PA to study the services being offered at more than 500 rural and urban senior community centers in Pennsylvania. The professors will analyze issues such as attendance, participation, nutrition, programs, accessibility, and transportation and make recommendations based on their study.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

“Our goal is to examine senior centers throughout the state and determine how they are serving the people who use them.” ~  Dr. Shanks-McElroy

“Our goal is to examine senior centers throughout the state and determine how they are serving the people who use them,” said Dr. Shanks-McElroy, who is an education professor at Keystone. “By identifying their strengths and discovering areas that need improvement, we can suggest changes that will benefit our senior citizens.”

“Senior centers provide a vital role in the continuum of aging services,” said Dr. Melnick. “Far beyond the recreational services they provide, senior centers help seniors to stay healthy and connected to their communities. Identifying best practices throughout the state will allow senior centers to adapt as they serve a new generation of seniors: the baby boomers.”

Dr. Shanks-McElroy and Dr. Melnick have worked together before in researching issues that impact senior citizens. In 2015, they presented research on alternatives to nursing home care at national conferences in Washington, D.C. and Phoenix, Ariz.

Enrolling about 1,400 students, Keystone offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degree options in liberal arts and science-based programs in business, communications, education, fine arts, natural science, environmental resource management, geology, and social sciences. Located 15 minutes from Scranton, Pa. and two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, Keystone is known for small class sizes and individual attention focused on student success through internships, research, and community involvement.

Penn State Scranton is one of 24 campuses of Penn State University, located just off Exit 188 of Interstate 81 in Dunmore. It offers 13 bachelor degrees, four associate degrees, and the first two years of over 160 Penn State degrees, as well as 11 minors and a variety of professional development and certification programs. Penn State Scranton prides itself on offering all of the resources of a Big Ten research university in a smaller, close-knit setting where students benefit from more personal interaction with faculty and staff, opportunities to participate in faculty-staff research opportunities, and a vibrant student life.