We all know that America is aging. The news media drives this message home. Television commercials and magazine ads feature gray-haired persons. We hear more and more about Medicare Advantage Programs and reverse mortgages. Chico's and Coldwater Creek, with their flattering styles for maturing women, have booming sales.

In just four years, the first wave of baby boomers will reach 65 and this well-educated, professional, financially secure cohort is going to turn the meaning of retirement upside down. Healthy and spunky, the boomers will expect this chapter of their lives to be interesting, challenging, creative, and to have a sense of purpose.

The retiring baby boomers will have "time on their hands" and will not want to waste it. Many want to work part time, travel, take classes, spend time with family, volunteer and enjoy physical activities. Senior Centers around the country will need to keep up with this population of older adults who will want meaningful activities and involvement. That is why the Orange Senior Center is evolving into an active-adult center with classes in yoga, tai chi, a hiking group, fitness classes, painting classes, Nordic Pole Walking, a growing bridge group, and opera appreciation.

Many of today's seniors have not had the opportunities to learn as much as they would like about the use of computers. I always say I was born too soon, because all the younger people around me seem to have no trouble making tables, charts, graphics and spreadsheets on their computers. It is not too late to learn these things. Especially since the Orange Senior Center has a beautiful, state-of-the-art Computer Training Center that was the result of one of the team projects from the first Senior Leadership Class two years ago. Classes are held for those just beginning to use a computer all the way up to digital photograph, word processing, and introduction to the Internet. With families spread out in many states, seniors are beginning to find e-mail an easy way of communicating with their younger grandchildren and the Internet an easy way to make travel arrangements. If you don't feel completely computer savvy, new sessions of computer classes start in March. It is not too late to learn more about that computer you have sitting on your desk. A whole new world can be opened up when one knows how to use a computer. Call the center to register for a class or for more information.

The most important thing is to stay involved. Find meaningful ways to give back to the community. "Civic engagement" not only enhances one's health and well-being, but is also a great societal value.

Joanne Byrne is the Orange Senior Center coordinator