Maintaining order among seniors

A Sherman Oaks senior center makes sure all its diners and visitors feel welcome with a list of alarming rules

The rules posted in the dining hall of the Sherman Oaks East Valley Adult Center's dining room are alarming.

  • Participants will maintain good hygiene and will be free of objectionable odors. Any wounds must be bandaged.
  • Participants will dress in reasonably clean, appropriate clothing and wear shoes.

Senior citizens also should leave their guns and knives at home. If they shout or fight, they'll be asked to leave.

So is there a major crime problem at the senior center? Not exactly.

Staff at the Van Nuys Sherman Oaks War Memorial Park facility say the rules are needed to keep a calm and welcoming environment for the hundreds of seniors who visit and eat meals there each week.

"We're here to serve all seniors, regardless of who they are, what their backgrounds are, what their economic status is," said Ileene Parker, the facility's director.

The rules, Parker said, were written by the city of Los Angeles Department of Aging and have been useful, especially for the center's daily lunches, which draw big, diverse crowds — and are sometimes the only hot meals visitors will have in a day.

If there is a problem at lunch that would cause a public health concern in a big crowd — such as an open wound — or that would disrupt other people — such as an intoxicated and yelling guest — Parker and her staff can easily cite the rules and solve the situation, she said.

"As seniors age, they sometimes begin to lose some of their filters for what is acceptable in a social situation," said Parker, who is a senior herself. "Sometimes we need tools to support us in keeping the atmosphere as happy and pleasant as we can for everyone."

hailey.branson@latimes.com

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