Within twelve hours – yesterday morning to last night – I connected with two people with polar opposite expectations of growing OLD. Which will play out?
Last night, a friend – a few years my younger – shared on Facebook her sense of our life cycle. After basking in time with a toddler grandbaby, she dropped by a local retirement community where she was greeted by a line-up of walkers outside the social room; she shared a photo of them, wondering if, in 20 years, 30 years, she might be one of them. Later, “the halls were dimmed at 9:45 pm….everyone retired for the night.” Her take away? “Nothing like living in a retirement home to slap one in the face! Not much time left!”
Everyone back in their own apartments, lights out, by 9:45 p.m. Chills me to the bone.
Compare that to my surprise connection in the a.m. with David Cohen, co-founder of AHEAD ~ At Home Essential Assistance Delivery. What joy to find a kindred spirit, someone who turns my dream of more empowered olders elders ancients into reality!
Talking to David and reading AHEAD’s brochure & website left me stunned with wonder. They get it, and even more remarkably, they get the message across with simple, fresh (a rarity), engaging copy – – “You are not the only one who needs an assistant. Even young business owners need assistants. It’s just a matter of matching the service to the need.” Three short sentences take the sting out of needing support. Brilliant!
Ditto – “Hey, we only get old once, right? It’s not like you can practice for it. You probably have lots of questions about what life will be like in your elder years, and what your quality of life will be like. Well, rest assured, these really can be your ‘golden years’!”
Be still, my beating heart – what wonderful, empowering language!
Then there’s the most recent blog posting – Whatever Happened to Intergenerational Wisdom Sharing? – an outstanding outline of how we got messed up. AHEAD nails the answer:
“We recognize the national treasure that we have in our elder generation. We are determined to see a new picture develop in elder care. It is a picture of empowerment. It is a picture of good food and healthy diets and a better quality of life with healthy sleep and more happiness and fulfillment…
And we are highly motivated.. Because if we don’t change the paradigm, we’re all going to be headed down that same road to being sidelined and having the great national treasure of our own knowledge and wisdom be wasted and lost instead of making the world a better place…
Let’s start the movement to EMPOWERMENT for our elder citizens. Empowerment is not just for young people!”
Shout it from the rooftops – it’s time to return a no-lights-out life to elders of all ages, from barely retired to centenarian. To recognize the damage done by short-sighted theories that shut down elders, shut them away from the true purpose of all those years of living & learning. To reconnect the generations, especially the natural allies of the very old & very young. To restore to the elderly respect for their own wisdom & pry them away from despising their years. To discuss the challenges of modern life that separate generations, replacing regrets over what is no more with innovative ways to rediscover missing core dynamics that beggar us all.
Discovering AHEAD, knowing something this sensible & innovative is available in my neck of the woods, finding not only members of my choir but the choir master – things are HAPPENING! The shift has started. Down with “lights-out” elder support! Up with empowerment & connection!
Within twelve hours, two such different expectations of our 3rd Age – one where the curtain rises on the most interesting act yet, the other where it barely lifts at all, the stage lights dimmed. Which will it be? Curtain up! Light the lights!
1 thought on “Curtain up on what’s AHEAD”
You know, the concept of “wisdom as an elder resource” is not new. It’s something that our forebears had.. long before we left Western shores and became the “Nation of Greats”… typically meaning, get as much as you can, as fast as you can.” The obsession with immediate need gratification (classic sound byte), whether it be the Best Job, the Best Office, the Biggest Home, the Nicest Car, the Best College for our Kids, or the Best Investments… rather left the concept of Elders as a Treasured Resource in the dust…
It’s a sad commentary on where we’ve come. Europeans have yet to dispose of that theory… Though it’s changing subtly, for the most part, the elderly are still cared for AT HOME amongst family, and still take part in every day events… Speaking from the personal side, I have family in Europe, some in their 80s and 90s who are still working picking olives and tilling a garden… when they need help, they call a friend, neighbor – and always – family is there.
We lost many things when we decided we were the “Best Thing since Sliced Bread” on this side of the ocean. Sadly, we could use a “reverse lesson” in what we’ve lost. And this is one of them!
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