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Old 07-30-2011, 05:45 AM
Status: "Amityville Summer" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: in my living room
1,137 posts, read 1,875,995 times
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ahhh, growing old(er). Better than the alternative. I'll take my wrinkles and sagging body parts any day.
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Old 07-30-2011, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 19,004,474 times
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After moving to my new town I decided to check out the in-town senior center for kicks. After all, if there are any advantages/perks (other than a senior movie discount) to being a senior I wanted to know about them.

The center is in an old brick former school and when I entered I immediately felt trapped, like in a breath-less environment. I guess, as an artist/writer steeped in "hip" forms of theater and art, I was somehow hoping that a Boomer aging center would reflect some of this. It was soon apparent to me that this is a senior center of our parents' generation. On the wall, behind a glass case, was the lunch menu--macaroni and cheese and canned veg's and pineapple cake with milk, that sort of thing. OK, stay positive, move on down the dark quiet hallway to see what's posted for activities. Something's gotta be interesting. Arghh. Bingo, shuffleboard (yes, shuffleboard), knitting (nothing wrong with that but I'm not a knitter), toe clinic, BP clinic, and a day trip to a casino. I was ready to bolt and run when I came upon a door with a glass window and through it could see a bunch of out of shape old people sitting around at card tables. Now I'm not judging them personally, but what I saw was what seemed like the writing on the wall for me personally--is this what I'm headed for after an active lifetime of raising kids, being involved in the arts, teaching the arts, being an artist....will I be doing paint by numbers in a senior center, eating white bread sandwiches for lunch in the community room?

I felt a sudden feeling of depression wash over me and had to leave, just as an elderly woman saw me and was coming to greet me. I have elders in my class that I teach so my natural friendly instinct was to stay and chat which I did, but when I left I felt the outside air relieving me of something, I don't know...

A few weeks later I was driving through an adjacent town and noticed a huge new building, nice architecture, and the sign said Senior Center. Always one to be curious I stopped and went in and was greeted by two very pleasant older women (maybe a bit younger than me!). The inside architecture and layout was really great, what a contrast to the sr. ctr. in my town. I looked around. The place was covered with senior info tables, senior artwork, all kinds of stuff senior, plus teddy bears on display and a senior gift shop, etc. Although I was marveling at how nice everything looked I have to admit here, in this forum, a feeling of being dragged down somehow, of being boxed in or trapped, with little fresh air...it seemed like being in a pre-quel to a nursing home. I took some lit and left, feeling like I cannot identify with this--I have to find some way to be in an interactive community with people my age--but not this!

What do I want in a senior center? Maybe I don;t want a senior center! I don't want to be a senior the way seniors used to be seniors, the way society looks at seniors! I would like to walk into a big open airy space, even if it's an old factory building, with the windows OPEN instead of sealed tight, with light and air and exciting stuff going on, with seniors with gray hair, yes, but a visage of vitality. I know I'm getting in hot water by saying this, because it implies judgment of others, and I don't want to be guilty of that!

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't mind getting old, honestly--I just don't want to be anywhere near what our society defines as "old." Boomers are movers and shakers (we were always trying to change the world for the better) and swingers at heart. Even if some of us can barely move at times, I want to be part of a vibrant group of people who continually have new ideas and visions. I'd like to see someone in a wheelchair throwing paint over a huge wall canvas, or a lively debate about philosophy, or an activist group at work, or a bunch of seniors screaming their guts out rehearsing for a rock concert. I know that individual seniors are involved in "mixed" groups doing these kinds of things, but as a whole, senior centers are status quo and bor-ing!!

I think the reason why so many of us want to associate with younger people (and dress "too young", have facelifts etc) is because we can't stand the version of "old" that mainstream society continues to ram down our throats.

I know this is kind of a rant, but it's been heavily on my mind, this thing of identity as we age. I have to keep seeking out new connections.

Last edited by RiverBird; 07-30-2011 at 06:13 AM..
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:11 AM
 
Location: delaware
688 posts, read 865,937 times
Reputation: 2367
Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
After moving to my new town I decided to check out the in-town senior center for kicks. After all, if there are any advantages/perks (other than a senior movie discount) to being a senior I wanted to know about them.

The center is in an old brick former school and when I entered I immediately felt trapped, like in a breath-less environment. I guess, as an artist/writer steeped in "hip" forms of theater and art, I was somehow hoping that a Boomer aging center would reflect some of this. It was soon apparent to me that this is a senior center of our parents' generation. On the wall, behind a glass case, was the lunch menu--macaroni and cheese and canned veg's and pineapple cake with milk, that sort of thing. OK, stay positive, move on down the dark quiet hallway to see what's posted for activities. Something's gotta be interesting. Arghh. Bingo, shuffleboard (yes, shuffleboard), knitting (nothing wrong with that but I'm not a knitter), toe clinic, BP clinic, and a day trip to a casino. I was ready to bolt and run when I came upon a door with a glass window and through it could see a bunch of out of shape old people sitting around at card tables. Now I'm not judging them personally, but what I saw was what seemed like the writing on the wall for me personally--is this what I'm headed for after an active lifetime of raising kids, being involved in the arts, teaching the arts, being an artist....will I be doing paint by numbers in a senior center, eating white bread sandwiches for lunch in the community room?

I felt a sudden feeling of depression wash over me and had to leave, just as an elderly woman saw me and was coming to greet me. I have elders in my class that I teach so my natural friendly instinct was to stay and chat which I did, but when I left I felt the outside air relieving me of something, I don't know...

A few weeks later I was driving through an adjacent town and noticed a huge new building, nice architecture, and the sign said Senior Center. Always one to be curious I stopped and went in and was greeted by two very pleasant older women (maybe a bit younger than me!). The inside architecture and layout was really great, what a contrast to the sr. ctr. in my town. I looked around. The place was covered with senior info tables, senior artwork, all kinds of stuff senior, plus teddy bears on display and a senior gift shop, etc. Although I was marveling at how nice everything looked I have to admit here, in this forum, a feeling of being dragged down somehow, of being boxed in or trapped, with little fresh air...it seemed like being in a pre-quel to a nursing home. I took some lit and left, feeling like I cannot identify with this--I have to find some way to be in an interactive community with people my age--but not this!

What do I want in a senior center? Maybe I don;t want a senior center! I don't want to be a senior the way seniors used to be seniors, the way society looks at seniors! I would like to walk into a big open airy space, even if it's an old factory building, with the windows OPEN instead of sealed tight, with light and air and exciting stuff going on, with seniors with gray hair, yes, but a visage of vitality. I know I'm getting in hot water by saying this, because it implies judgment of others, and I don't want to be guilty of that!

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't mind getting old, honestly--I just don't want to be anywhere near what our society defines as "old." Boomers are movers and shakers (we were always trying to change the world for the better) and swingers at heart. Even if some of us can barely move at times, I want to be part of a vibrant group of people who continually have new ideas and visions. I'd like to see someone in a wheelchair throwing paint over a huge wall canvas, or a lively debate about philosophy, or an activist group at work, or a bunch of seniors screaming their guts out rehearsing for a rock concert. I know that individual seniors are involved in "mixed" groups doing these kinds of things, but as a whole, senior centers are status quo and bor-ing!!

I think the reason why so many of us want to associate with younger people (and dress "too young", have facelifts etc) is because we can't stand the version of "old" that mainstream society continues to ram down our throats.

I know this is kind of a rant, but it's been heavily on my mind, this thing of identity as we age. I have to keep seeking out new connections.



i understand what you're saying and the kind of facility you're describing. the senior center in my town is large, bright, lots of windows, with a recently added large screened porch off the back overlooking a pond. all very lovely, but the activities are the same old thing- ceramics, knitting, quilting,bingo( a must have ), and exercise. there are no book groups much less discussion groups, and any speakers talk about medicare- not unimportant- maintaining good health- also important-, but there is nothing stimulating, thought provoking or anything outside the realm of typical "senior topics". for that kind of group, i have found you have to go to the life long learning classes usually associated with a local college. i have taken classes at these- writing, history, literature- and i am beginning my second year of teaching two writing courses for this organization. my experiences as a student and as a teacher have been wonderful and stimulating.
i have thought about the reason so many senior centers seem to stick to the old safe offerings instead of broadening their roster of topics. most of the people whom i see attending the local senior center and other centers i have visited seem to be in their seventies, and i really do think that this is what this age group wants. i worked as a geriatric social worker for many years and my observation is there is a real divide between those seniors born in the thirties during the depression , before ww2 and those war baby( i'm one ) and early boomer seniors who grew up in the fifties during a time of plenty. the socialization experiences of both groups were completely different, with the pre-war group having a childhood, for many,shadowed by the depression and war, and the post war group growing up in boom times ( at least for many) and during what i call the period of the golden childhood, the fifties in america. i'm generalizing of course, but i think the boomer group has higher expectations, perhaps in many cases some more education, than the pre-war group, and, in some cases perhaps a more carefree childhood which allowed for development of interests and imagination. obviously i'm generalizing and there are many exceptions but i feel the age divide between these groups is wider than years and it is, at least for now, primarily the seventies age group that seems to dominate the senior centers.
just my observations...
catsy girl
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:40 AM
 
434 posts, read 993,011 times
Reputation: 389
Excellent posts, NEGirl and catsygirl! Just because I'm retired doesn't mean I'm ready for senior centers such as you mention. I plan to stay active in the larger community and live by myself (assuming continued good health) until I'm in my early- or mid-eighties, when I'll move into some type of senior community. There's no need to rush into old age. It'll come soon enough.

As boomers age and our parents' generation fades away, I think senior centers will change to meet our needs.

An aside: catsy girl, although I grew up in more prosperous times than my older sister did, I was never without the fear of the cold war. I grew up on the northern plains and remember worrying that Soviet bombers would come down over the Canadian border. In fact, for a time in the fifties, my mother was part of a federal government volunteer civil defense team called Operation Skywatch in which she and our neighbors would scan the skies at night for Soviet planes. So the fifties were a golden time, yet there was this deep fear of nuclear war.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:37 AM
 
Location: delaware
688 posts, read 865,937 times
Reputation: 2367
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcaciaRose View Post
Excellent posts, NEGirl and catsygirl! Just because I'm retired doesn't mean I'm ready for senior centers such as you mention. I plan to stay active in the larger community and live by myself (assuming continued good health) until I'm in my early- or mid-eighties, when I'll move into some type of senior community. There's no need to rush into old age. It'll come soon enough.

As boomers age and our parents' generation fades away, I think senior centers will change to meet our needs.

An aside: catsy girl, although I grew up in more prosperous times than my older sister did, I was never without the fear of the cold war. I grew up on the northern plains and remember worrying that Soviet bombers would come down over the Canadian border. In fact, for a time in the fifties, my mother was part of a federal government volunteer civil defense team called Operation Skywatch in which she and our neighbors would scan the skies at night for Soviet planes. So the fifties were a golden time, yet there was this deep fear of nuclear war.


i agree with your comments about the cold war. i remember very well the air raid drills in school and ,during high school, a fellow student's family who built a bomb shelter. i also remember when i would hear on the radio that president eisenhower was going to yet another geneva summit with the russians, and this news was somehow always very reassuring. although this constant threat was definitely part of my childhood , at least in memory, perhaps in reality, it did not significantly detract from the sense of abundance, of continuity that growing up in that era provided.
catsy
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:44 AM
 
338 posts, read 626,056 times
Reputation: 568
Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
After moving to my new town I decided to check out the in-town senior center for kicks. After all, if there are any advantages/perks (other than a senior movie discount) to being a senior I wanted to know about them.

The center is in an old brick former school and when I entered I immediately felt trapped, like in a breath-less environment. I guess, as an artist/writer steeped in "hip" forms of theater and art, I was somehow hoping that a Boomer aging center would reflect some of this. It was soon apparent to me that this is a senior center of our parents' generation. On the wall, behind a glass case, was the lunch menu--macaroni and cheese and canned veg's and pineapple cake with milk, that sort of thing. OK, stay positive, move on down the dark quiet hallway to see what's posted for activities. Something's gotta be interesting. Arghh. Bingo, shuffleboard (yes, shuffleboard), knitting (nothing wrong with that but I'm not a knitter), toe clinic, BP clinic, and a day trip to a casino. I was ready to bolt and run when I came upon a door with a glass window and through it could see a bunch of out of shape old people sitting around at card tables. Now I'm not judging them personally, but what I saw was what seemed like the writing on the wall for me personally--is this what I'm headed for after an active lifetime of raising kids, being involved in the arts, teaching the arts, being an artist....will I be doing paint by numbers in a senior center, eating white bread sandwiches for lunch in the community room?

I felt a sudden feeling of depression wash over me and had to leave, just as an elderly woman saw me and was coming to greet me. I have elders in my class that I teach so my natural friendly instinct was to stay and chat which I did, but when I left I felt the outside air relieving me of something, I don't know...

A few weeks later I was driving through an adjacent town and noticed a huge new building, nice architecture, and the sign said Senior Center. Always one to be curious I stopped and went in and was greeted by two very pleasant older women (maybe a bit younger than me!). The inside architecture and layout was really great, what a contrast to the sr. ctr. in my town. I looked around. The place was covered with senior info tables, senior artwork, all kinds of stuff senior, plus teddy bears on display and a senior gift shop, etc. Although I was marveling at how nice everything looked I have to admit here, in this forum, a feeling of being dragged down somehow, of being boxed in or trapped, with little fresh air...it seemed like being in a pre-quel to a nursing home. I took some lit and left, feeling like I cannot identify with this--I have to find some way to be in an interactive community with people my age--but not this!

What do I want in a senior center? Maybe I don;t want a senior center! I don't want to be a senior the way seniors used to be seniors, the way society looks at seniors! I would like to walk into a big open airy space, even if it's an old factory building, with the windows OPEN instead of sealed tight, with light and air and exciting stuff going on, with seniors with gray hair, yes, but a visage of vitality. I know I'm getting in hot water by saying this, because it implies judgment of others, and I don't want to be guilty of that!

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't mind getting old, honestly--I just don't want to be anywhere near what our society defines as "old." Boomers are movers and shakers (we were always trying to change the world for the better) and swingers at heart. Even if some of us can barely move at times, I want to be part of a vibrant group of people who continually have new ideas and visions. I'd like to see someone in a wheelchair throwing paint over a huge wall canvas, or a lively debate about philosophy, or an activist group at work, or a bunch of seniors screaming their guts out rehearsing for a rock concert. I know that individual seniors are involved in "mixed" groups doing these kinds of things, but as a whole, senior centers are status quo and bor-ing!!

I think the reason why so many of us want to associate with younger people (and dress "too young", have facelifts etc) is because we can't stand the version of "old" that mainstream society continues to ram down our throats.

I know this is kind of a rant, but it's been heavily on my mind, this thing of identity as we age. I have to keep seeking out new connections.
Boy, did I identify with this. When we moved we didn't try out a senior center, but a senior group that met in our town. I had the same feelings you did - what they discussed and did was from another era. We went to a luncheon at a newly opened elementary school, mostly because we wanted to see an historic mansion attached to the school that had just been renovated and was not yet open to the public. When the accordian playing started, we knew we were in the wrong group.

What we did find was a college with courses for older adults. I'm a "news junkie", so my favorite course was a seminar on current topics. Unlike Catsy Girl, I've found the group to contain people from their late 50's to probably close to 90. But what a great group of people. It seems no matter the topic, there are always people with so much knowledge to impart. A retired doctor had wonderful insight re: our discussion on health care reform. Another woman involved with voter registration was so knowledgeable on that topic. I'm very interested in charter schools, so I had a lot to say on that. What's great about the group is that while there are differing opinions, everyone is respectful of other views and we all learn a lot. Right now we're discussing putting together some kind of program to provide a platform for voter education.

I'm also very involved with our local library. I'm the president of our "friends" group, and find there are mostly older women involved with that. And library supporters tend to be interesting people (okay I admit I'm prejudiced on this!). Our library just recently moved to larger quarters, and they are becoming a cultural center for the community - expanding programs for all age groups, including seniors, so that's a good way to meet like minded people as well.

It does take some time and trial and error to find interesting activities and people, but they are out there.
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:46 AM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,873,672 times
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It is so refreshing to hear people talk about frustration with status quo ideas about something (in this case, senior centers) and to actually do some visioning of different scenarios. I love the idea of a big industrial building with the windows open (if you are one of those "cold" seniors, wear a sweater!) and people throwing paint over their shoulders . . . I would add the following:

- Raised flower beds outside where seniors grow flowers, and veggies
- Fruit trees
- A big, open kitchen (in the huge industrial building) where seniors are cooking up a storm . . . all kinds of gourmet treats
- A dance area where you can plug in your Itunes and have at it
- A lecture area where speakers come to educate, inspire, and inform . . . questions and interactions are encouraged after the talks
- A community group room where the community meets to hash out ideas and solve problems . . .the method used is a consensus method, which means that ideas are presented and voted on and those that cannot agree, speak up and then the plans are modified until the dissenters can "agree to disagree" for the higher good of the group - it's all about compromise . . . to do this, people have to buy into the model.
- An art center where there are people doing all kinds of things
- A pet center where the pets are located and you can care for them.
- A cafe, with great coffees and desserts and sandwiches . . . where people sit around in round tables, socializing.
- A health center with books about ailments and natural remedies available.
- A massage center, where you can book a massage any time.
- A mani/pedi center, where you can get your grooming needs met
- A swimming pool, hot tub, steam room for your pleasure.
- A book where people can write in requests which would then go to the community to discuss . . .

I visualize it sort of set up like a Montessori school (with the specialty areas).

I have often seen people in the store who look old to me and I wonder if they are actually around my age . . . I think a lot of the aging process in terms of what you look like and want to do has to do with cultural dictates and how free or restricted a thinker you are . . . if you think old people live in stuffy places and eat bland foods and look and feel like crap, well, that is a reality for a lot of people . . .if you refuse that model (and are healthy enough to do that and healthy enough to bring a new model into being, then that becomes the new "reality"). I think it is all about what the society wants and dictates as desirable . . . and what you are physically capable of creating. Someone has to create these new models . . . who is going to do it?

If we wait until we are infirm, it will never happen!

I think most babyboomers will reject the nursing home thing, if they are able to . . .most will want to "age in place." But there is one thing to consider: Even though our generation (the 60's) was the most awesome ever in terms of cultural revolution . . . don't forget what happened next . . .the entire thing collapsed as babyboomers went to work for corporate America, en masse, and left all of the dreams behind and actually adopted the status quo of their parents . . . so there needs to be another cultural revolution or some breakthrough in consciousness before the old models will disappear to make way for something exciting.

In the case of the current senior centers . . . someone or a lot of someones is going to have to stand up and make waves - otherwise, why would they change? So people are going to be insulted, have hurt feelings . . . it is going to be a struggle . . .or else if we don't attend the senior centers, we will be in danger of isolating . . . but if we want things to change, as Ghandi said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."



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Old 07-30-2011, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,409 posts, read 2,358,064 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne22 View Post
One thing I am reminded of, however, is a comment my now deceased aunt made about 16 years ago. She was in her mid-80s then. We went to dinner one night and I clearly, to this day, can see her standing in the vestibule of the restaurant, when she said to me in all seriousness "I feel like I'm getting old." As though this was a revelation to her. So, it may be a while before any of us in our 60s or 70s feel 'old.'

My aunt died at the age of 91.
Funny, that reminds me of a comment my grandmother made back in the 1960's on returning from St. Pete's for a holiday (she was in her mid 80's.) She said it was a nice enough place, but that it was full of old people! She also died at 91
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:21 AM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
9,596 posts, read 10,952,678 times
Reputation: 19258
No matter how good or how bad your life is, getting old stinks.
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:21 AM
 
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OP, your profile says your divorced. Only curious, do you have a boyfriend and how does he feel about what you are asking us about? Any family members and what do they think, tell you? What do your friends say/think?
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