25 Feb 2020 Keep Reaching Out
Recently I attended a round table formed to discuss and explore aging in place in Southwest Florida. As our nation and community approach what has been coined the Silver Tsunami, a reference to millions of baby boomers reaching their golden years, more focus is being directed toward the best way to support a vibrant aging population.
We are all aging, so this is something to pay attention to no matter where we find ourselves on our life journeys.
I was encouraged to see people from most all generations around the table, but one demographic was missing and it may have been the most important in this conversation. Without checking IDs I was fairly certain that no one over the age of 75 had joined us. We hadn’t invited them.
We had focused on people from healthcare, social services, housing and aging advocacy but overlooked those in their eighth and ninth decade. Most have exited the traditional workforce and could have provided some compelling and relevant information.
I remember when I was in my twenties, I thought everyone over the age of 60 was a sweet grandmother or grandfather and did not fully appreciate the concepts of wisdom, insight and vitality. But when I reached my forties, my perspective changed, and I began seeking out and encountering people a bit further along in the game of life and have gained so much from those experiences. I also began researching people in their later years who invented or created something new at that season of life to remind myself that its never too late to imagine a new possibility.
I think we see our future selves in those older than us, look for role models and rebel against our youth-oriented culture that can send a message that discourages and defeats the capacity of aging boomers to stay part of important conversations.
You can see a big difference between the elders whose world has shrunk and feel relegated to staying home passing the time and those who have a heart and mind connection to the world beyond their walls even if they are home bound.
In my work in community change-making at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I meet members of the Silver Tsunami on a daily basis- and they truly are a force of nature. Those who are able are marching with Greta Thunberg, getting arrested in DC, volunteering more hours than they worked in corporate America, setting Guinness World records, serving on boards, and leading movements. Others who are facing challenges that keep them at home are writing letters to the editor, engaging family and friends on issues and participating in neighborhood or senior center conversations. They just keep reaching out and stay engaged with the world.
Those of us who have not reached this level of elder enlightenment need to remember to reach out to them as well. We have a lot to learn from each other- no matter our age.
If you are looking for a place to connect and get engaged reach out to me at [email protected].
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $7.7 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $134.9 million, it has provided $85 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com