Open Conversation at the Senior Center
This past week we had dinner and a presentation on the 10 early signs of dementia. We had a nice crowd but a small percentage of our membership. It was apparent that members present had questions and were curious, and maybe a little afraid, of the subject matter. The question-and-answer portion of the event, however, was honest and people were vulnerable in opening themselves up to the topic.
The Senior Center has a mission to be a safe place. A place where we can come and embrace each other and show a kindness that society doesn’t always afford us. A place to laugh, cry, learn, grow, and create amazing relationships. It is also a place to explore our lives as we get older, whether we are from the Silent Generation, A Baby Boomer, or Generation X. The goal is to live the best life we can. The reality is we are all getting older, and it is not always easy and yes…can be a little scary.
Open communication is the process of interactive communication where we can examine the attributes of getting older, to freely ask open-ended questions without fear, and to find solutions and resources inconjunction with inspiration and energization. Open communication at our center is where we can listen, be heard, and learn from each other. It is where we can take chances, be vulnerable, and flourish.
A key component to open conversation is understanding. We all have seen generations that have judged younger generations for their new and often forward thinking. Well, we now have a senior population that ranges 50 years. We have a need to listen and understand not only each other but the current world we live in. This doesn’t mean we have to agree. It means we must be open to different views and perspectives. To respect all members of our community and share empathy that makes humans so amazing.
How do we create a center culture that embraces open communication. First, we establish a mantra that the Senior Center is a place where “Kindness” takes precedence. No exception. Second, we address fear, embarrassment, and curiosity head on and face the hard questions…together. Finally, we embrace getting older as a member of a society that has more educational opportunities and learning channels than ever before and we take advantage of this. We have the resources to unite and explore this time in our lives.
Opening up dialogue is not easy. There is no doubt the center (and its Director) may be questioned by some of you for content promoted in the future. That is ok. The reality is growth often comes from being uncomfortable. The key is to face this and embrace that knowledge is power. The center is focused on giving you the resources needed to navigate this world, today, in the present, and for the future. It does not matter which stage of getting older you are in, the strength of being in a collective where you can be an individual is priceless.
Keep your eye out for programs and events that may intrigue you. Online dating 101. Yup. Cooking for Men. Absolutely. Scam Awareness. Definitely. Green Burials…Sounds interesting. Ecstatic Dance… Wow. Even Karaoke (to which can offer the utmost vulnerability for some). And there are so many more subjects that are important at this stage in life that we will tackle. Some are essential in our elder planning. Many are simply fun in nature; However, keep an eye out for programs that may make you a little uneasy and take a chance. These subjects can only open your perspective and put more tools in your life box.
With All My Heart,