Aging successfully/Learning as we go: Good riddance to old labels

  • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

According to the 2010 Census, on April 1, 2010, there were 40.3 million people age 65 and older living in the United States. This is an increase of 5.3 million from the 2000 census, making the country’s population age 65 and older the largest segment of our society.

The reality is most baby boomers hate the thought of growing older! As a baby boomer myself, I too hate the idea of getting old. If you are curious as to why we feel this way, the answer is simple. We are not ready! Life is too full and there is much we still wish to accomplish.

Seniors no longer want to be labeled as “senior citizens” or even “to be living in their golden years.” They want to be identified as the individuals they are. After all, our more mature citizens are still living productive lives and contributing to society.

Once, I met this positive, helpful employee at a store in Port Angeles, and could not believe he was 97 years old. He did not look or act like an “old man.” The concept of seniors sitting around playing Bingo or chess is gone forever, because the majority of us baby boomers continue to work and/or volunteer to help support good causes.

Many changes in our society reflect this shift in attitude regarding senior citizens. One difference is senior centers across the country are changing their names, removing the word senior from the new name. A perfect example of this is Shipley Center here in Sequim. Another example is the increase in the numbers of older citizens traveling for leisure.

The 2010 Census also revealed that only 3.1 percent of seniors live in facilities, and the average age of this minority is 84 years old. These statistics prove older citizens are healthier and more productive than seniors of past generations.

While I was thrilled to be asked to write this new column on the subject of senior living, my research confirmed my belief: our older population dislikes the generations-old label of senior citizen and all of the assumptions associated with that label.

After much pondering, and seeking wise counsel, my team and I decided it would be better to write about aging successfully.

Everyone grows older and aging is a part of the human existence, even if we do not like the idea. Fortunately, there is much for all of us to learn as we age.

In addition to writing about aging successfully in general, I want this column to focus on the North Olympic Peninsula and surrounding areas. At some point I will also include information on resources, opportunities and businesses.

A special thank you goes to Michael Smith of Shipley Center, and to Carolyn and Cindy of Sequim Dry Cleaning and Laundry for their assistance with my research for this first column.

I invite you to join us on our journey as we learn about ways of staying healthy and young at heart – and how to age successfully whether we are 16 or 65.

Reader input is always welcome. Contact me at information@crystallinn.com.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. Since moving to northeast Olympic Peninsula in 2015 she has been actively involved in creating new opportunities for local authors. She looks forward to connecting with even more writers, and readers living in this area. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family. Reach her at information@crystallinn.com.

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