weekly blog--one for the ages
Admittedly, I was a bit squeamish walking into the Newton Senior Community Center for the first time last Friday. To think that I was now age-appropriate to participate in one of the Center’s many activities. But in truth, the current center-goers I saw in this antiquated red-brick building that once served as the Newtonville library, were mostly in their early-to-mid-70's, and seemingly worlds apart in terms of interests, needs and probably expectations. I asked the Center’s director what it would take to get Baby Boomers like myself to go. She said that the activities themselves would eventually draw us in. I wasn’t so sure; even the word “Senior” in the name was a turnoff.
When I got home, I headed straight to the computer to do more research. I wasn’t alone in thinking that the word “Senior” was a generational turnoff. So what might work? I found a study that presented 5 models that focused on wellness, lifelong learning, entrepreneur and volunteerism, and even a restaurant that could be open to people of all ages, but hosted activities and programs to enhance the well being of older adults.
The bottom line on all of this was a community’s need to create an age-friendly environment to meet the growing demands of an aging population, which led me to the World Health Organization (WHO) and AARP, which recently established a worldwide network for communities to share their ideas. The group has also created a checklist of community characteristics geared toward the needs of elders who prefer to age in place. Boston, Brookline and Newton are among a number of communities in Massachusetts that have joined. The checklist covers outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community and health services.
Fortunately, 60 is the new 40, or so they say, leaving me with plenty of time to ponder my future before crossing the Senior Community Center threshold again.