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“A Senior Perspective”

“A Senior Perspective”

People ask me why I wanted to be a Senior Center Director. I had choices and thought about working with Kids; however, once I examined the issues Senior Centers within the United States were experiencing, I decided the role as the Blaine Senior Center Executive Director was right for me. I knew there would be a challenge, but I also knew there was a need within the Community. Simply put “the senior population was rapidly growing and had never been as diversified as it was evolving to be. Senior Centers were struggling, and change was needed. I wanted to help.

 I also, for some of my claims, want to share that most Senior Centers accept members at the age of 50 and this was taken into consideration and was used in my fact finding for the job.

Here is my Senior perspective on why active centers for aging are so important:

First, every study I read stated that Seniors were rapidly outpacing children within our population. I also saw that Seniors were soon to be outpacing children within Blaine at a rate of almost 2 to 1. Blaine has the highest per capita rate of seniors in Whatcom County.

Secondly, not only was the senior population growing (thank you Baby Boomers!), but people were living longer. Did you know that within the next decade or so…10% of our population will be 90 or older. Wow. This instantly accents the need for services for our Seniors.

Additionally, and this is one that everyone…including our local, state, and federal government need to understand, is when our population gets older it becomes imperative to keep our older generations physically and emotionally healthy. Why? There is a potential for our system to become overburdened like never before (financially and supportively). Studies show that by keeping seniors self-reliant and in their homes, it helps to keep them out of the system and helps them live longer. This puts focus on services, like senior centers, to keep our older generations active. It also puts focus on the funds necessary to do so.

My final learned perspective was this: We have the most diverse older generations ever. The Blaine Senior Center offers services to over 50 years of members (age 50 to 100+) and this population includes 4 different generations: the “Greatest Generation” (born before 1928), the Interwar/Silent Generation (1929-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation x (1965-1980) and within 7 years, Millennials (Generation Y). This means that we have to appeal to multiple generations with everything from classes, programs, events, resources, and even food. To put this into perspective, imagine a school system that had to focus on 50 years of generational differences. My youngest members at the center are closer in age to a “Senior in High School” than they are to my older members. Again, wow.

These perspectives were all reasons I decided to help Seniors. I also realize there is a need for advocacy for our aging population in Blaine, Washington State, and Federally. Our Blaine Center is growing and has made great strides in becoming a true “Center for Active Living”, but we have a long way to go. Ageism, the act of denying an older person human rights, solely based on their age, is a thing. And some of the ageism comes from our older population. Embracing our age and celebrating it is key. It is why we also implemented our number one rule at the Center: Kindness.  For me, understanding our older generations have a great number of wants and needs is imperative. For our older generations (age 50 and above) embracing emotional and physical health, education, community, and more… is conscious aging. The Blaine 50+ Center for Active Living is dedicated to growing and becoming the best center we can be. Your help and input is greatly appreciated as we embark on a new generation of aging and living as our best selves. Whether you are 50 or 100, this is how we embrace our aging population and show others and ourselves how much we can contribute to our community and today’s society.

Pete Nelson

Executive Director

Blaine Senior Center


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