Some thoughts

 

Yesterday, I was walking my dog and met a very pleasant 72 year old gentleman. In conversation while petting the dog, the proposed Intergenerational Care Center came up. He was surprised to hear about it, but shared his joy in spending time around children.

He seemed to have a bit of an aha moment and then commented that we are living so long now, way into our 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s. Where are we all going to go?

 

Senior Center director driven to continue intergenerational programming

 

“What will it mean for all of us to grow up, live and age in a society where half the citizens are over the age of 50? That reality is closer than most of us are willing to imagine. Never in human history have so many lived for so long — and not just in the U.S. It is a global phenomenon ushering in a social transformation.”

This was the introduction to a one-hour documentary, “Coming of Age in Aging America,” presented by American Public television and shown at the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference, which was held in Milwaukee in June.

I was inspired to rethink the third stage of my life after facilitating the Aging Mastery Program, where I learned about the gift of longevity and the opportunities that abound in our community for the over 50’s to share their time, talents and expertise. When asked to present the Intergenerational Connections component of the AMP class during a roundtable session at the Milwaukee conference, I was thrilled.

Attendees traveled from 11 different countries to hear from longtime experts in intergenerational programming, policy development and practices. It was an opportunity to meet others who are passionate about making the world a better place for ALL ages. A young woman from Australia told me that she is the only person in her community interested in programming across generations. She came to the conference to find encouragement to carry on her mission.

There was positive energy and enthusiasm at this conference, many inspiring stories and role models such as the story of Victoria Gray, a grandmother who raised seven grandchildren and went on to fight for Grandfamily rights at the federal level, influencing federal law. Sen. Tammy Baldwin told how she was raised by her grandparents, the struggles they had with the health system when she was gravely ill as a child and how that influenced her work in the Senate.

Workshops were so interesting it was hard to choose. I learned about Intergenerational Olympics from San Diego County and the compelling stories of relationship building amongst seniors and third-graders. I attended a three-in-one presentation to learn more about capturing personal histories and sharing meaningful stories across generations. I can put into practice what I learned when we resume our work with the IDEAS Academy this fall.

The most exciting information for me came when I attended a session on Intergenerational Living projects. There are innovative things happening in our country and around the world. Meeting a young graduate student in architecture from London gave me hope that the future is bright. We learned about a project in Washington, D.C., where seniors share an apartment building with young single mothers who have aged out of the foster care system and have developed a caring community. A community in New Orleans places wounded warrior families besides understanding seniors.

Tired but fired up, I returned to Sheboygan committed to the process of making Sheboygan an Age Friendly Community for all generations.

 

What a brilliant idea! Seniors and toddlers

What a great idea! Choice in Aging Adult Day Health Care services has opened the Choice in Learning Montessori Preschool and Child Care, creating an “intergenerational learning” campus, at 490 Golf Club Road, in Pleasant Hill.

Choice in Aging (formerly Rehabilitation Service of Northern California) offers programs that include adult day health care services for frail adults, elders, and people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Upon learning the neighborhood Fountainhead Montessori Preschool would be closing, Choice in Aging welcomed this golden opportunity.

“The Choice in Aging board of directors saw an opportunity to provide additional service to our community and took quick action to help these parents ensure their children have continuity of care and education,” said Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging. “In doing so, they also seized the chance to create intergenerational programming for seniors and children.”

The new preschool center opened July 3, and is currently enrolling children ages 2-5. Students will be cared for by the same professional staff that served Fountainhead families previously. Site director Gina Velez has overseen the preschool for 25 years and will continue to manage the new program.

“Intergenerational programs are beneficial to our entire community and I am excited for this opportunity in Contra Costa County. As we face regional challenges in the Bay Area with limited resources, it is vital to look towards innovative programs like this that positively impact many people,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Contra Costa County.

To make this intergenerational dream a reality, Choice in Learning is calling on volunteers to revamp the facility with new playground equipment, furniture and a fresh coat of paint. Angel donor Nancy Gibbons generously offered to provide up to $15,000 in matching seed money.

Visit www.choiceinaging.org, or call 925-682-6330 to learn how you and your organization or business can help.

Some more thoughts….

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.13.06 PM    I had not  heard much from my 90 year old friend for a while but I got a call from her daughter over the holidays saying she wasn’t doing too well.  So, today I brought my therapy dog Buddy, down to see her.

I knocked on her door, walked in and saw her feet hanging off the bed. She was laying there with a cast on her wrist from a recent break, one eye open and she looked like death warmed over.

Buddy hopped on her bed and made her laugh.  After a while, I helped her sit up and     30 minutes later, there was life in her again, as we planned our birthday lunch in August. It didn’t take much, just being with her, some compassionate touch and a few dog kisses.

I know there are thousands of elderly people needing help and stimulation and visits. An intergenerational center would work miracles.  As I talk about our project, the response is always, ‘we want one here’ that here being  Rhode Island, Oregon, Wyoming, California, New Jersey, England, Japan and the list goes on and  on.

Some thoughts on the subject

 

What will become of the aging boomers?

The President’s 71st birthday a few weeks ago made him one of the oldest surviving boomers, those of us born between 1946 and 1964 – a generation that is notoriously selfish and also physically fit (though the president’s recent photos on the golf course raise questions about the latter). In the president’s case, the typical baby boom self-centeredness has blossomed into a raging form of megalomania.

In 2020, the president may be running for re-election and I will be one of the many boomers who have officially become senior citizens. More importantly, it will also be the year that the number of those over 65 will be larger than those under 5. That’s unhealthy for many reasons, not least of which is the pressure it will put on Medicare and Social Security.

Jill Abramson, NYT 7.4.17

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