July 21, 2021
I had a meeting with the mayor and the city offices are in the same building as the community center. The community center holds around 40 people with different groups using the building throughout the week. The Senior Center operates in the building during the mornings, Monday through Friday, and ends with lunch. There are usually anywhere from 15 to 30 people who eat at the senior center, and another 200 in the surrounding community who have lunch brought to them. Since I was seeing the mayor at 11:30, she invited me to join her for lunch. These centers are one of the many lifelines that have been created to make sure older adults receive the nutrition, activity, and interaction they need.
The impetus for the creation for both the National Retired Teachers Association in 1947 (NRTA) and the Association of American Retired Persons in 1958 (AARP) came from a meeting between a retired teacher and Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. The teacher had lost her dream during the depression and was living in a chicken coop on her $40 a month retirement. Andrus believed people deserved better. According to the website, the goal of AARP is to help older Americans lead lives of independence, dignity, and purpose. The organization has been active in elder rights and has achieved significant legislation supporting the rights of older Americans. The AARP expanded its reach in 1984 when it lowered the membership age from 55 to 50. You can join whether you are retired or not. If you are younger, the quarterly invitations to join is something you can look forward to receiving in the mail.
When I lived in Wichita I worked across the street from the Senior Center. This was outside of the central business district yet was still located near the center of town. The center offered lunch, drove meals-on-wheels, and provided a variety of interactive classes. The best attended event was the Thursday pickleball games. They also held occasional weekend pickleball tournaments. The center advertised they were there for adults 60+, but I noticed most of the clientele were 70+. I admit I am a boomer, and one thing boomers refuse to do is admit that we are all getting old. After I made friends with the director of the Senior Center, I suggested they might consider changing the name. Getting Boomers to admit they were “seniors” was going to be a hard sell.
Thoughts: Different generations have different attitudes toward what is right and comfortable. The Baby Boomers were born during the post-World War II baby boom (1946 to 1964). This is the generation that experienced the explosive growth as the economy shifted from war time to commercial production. The earlier generation is called the Silent Generation (1925 to 1945). This is the generation who experienced the devastation of both the Great Depression and World War II. The following is the Baby Busters, or Generation X (1965 to 1979). These have been followed by the Xennials, Millennials,
Gen Z, and finally Gen Alpha (2113 to 2125). These later generations have shifted from 20-year spans to 10-year spans and include overlaps. The inconsistencies seem to come from the rapidly changing dynamics of our increasingly globalized society. It appears it is becoming much harder to tell the US from the THEM, even as some work harder to create a difference. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.