We live in an era where feeling and looking younger is pushed upon us – so much that there is a prejudice regarding getting older.
Getting older is sometimes degraded and attitudes toward our older generations have brought upon neglect, resentment and even hate in the U.S. However, we are in a world where people are living longer, we have three generations of seniors, and within 10 years, seniors will outnumber children. By 2050, projections put 10 percent of the U.S. population at 90 years of age. The issue of today’s perceptions on aging is confusing because isn’t the goal to live a long and fruitful life?
There was a moment in U.S. history, first promoted in 1959, where there was focus on the Golden Years, a period between retirement and living to 80 that was deemed to be a special time of life. This notation has diminished as seniors are living longer. We now have the Silent Generation, baby boomers and Generation X all within the senior population. Interestingly, even the first millennials will be eligible to become members of the Blaine Senior Center within seven years (50-plus).
As an aging society, we need to embrace that this is a good thing. Many seniors would rather ignore the fact they are aging until … well, they are old. Gearing up as a senior means knowing this could be a long process and figuring out how to thrive and enjoy our years ahead. This is called conscious aging. Embracing the natural and healthy aging process with celebration.
There are many stages of getting older. Ask a 90-year-old about being 65 and they will chuckle, “I can’t remember that long ago” or better yet, they might call you a spring chicken. This, however, establishes a foundation for launching a true plan for “the last half of your life”. We need to adapt as we get older because we can’t do some things the same. But there is so much we can do, and it is critical for society, and our well-being, that we are proactive in doing it. Shouldn’t we be treating others, especially older seniors, how we would want to be treated as we get older and offer resources so every second of life has its golden moments?
The Blaine Senior Center has 50 years of seniors under one roof. As a senior center director, I am aware of the different generations of seniors. However, I see a commonality that is unavoidable: We are the older generations, whether you are 50, 60, 70 or older. The opportunities for you at our center may be as a leader, teacher or volunteer. It may be to nurture yourself and enjoy community. The idea is a plan for success within a community that supports it.
Please reconsider if you are a 50-plus-year-old in our community and don’t think you are old enough to join the senior center. As our senior population has changed, so have we. The goal is diversity with a wide range of exercise, technology, writing, art, special programs, community events and so much more, to meet every senior generation. And our mantra is “we are a place of kindness and safety.”
We are a center that is working to create a community and intergenerational support systems that are adaptable to the growing wants and needs of all in the Blaine community. The Blaine Senior Center is a place where respect and kindness can be shared throughout every age.
Pete Nelson is the executive director of Blaine Senior Center.