By: Jeff Alevy
CEO, YMCA of the Twin Tiers
When I was between the ages of 6-9 years old, every so often I would ask my mother how old she was. EVERY year she responded with “Honey, I’m 29”. After four years of getting the same response, I finally called her on the matter. I was devastated to learn that she had aged…even though she was still the most beautiful lady I knew 🙂
When I was in 4th grade, I remember seeing the ‘big’ 6th graders walking around our elementary school and thinking what it must be like to hit that milestone:) When I went into high school, I wanted to appear older so the juniors and seniors would take me seriously. At the age of 15, living in San Francisco California, two of my friends and I rode our bicycles 100 miles north to the Russian River. My friend’s dad lived there; we were going to stay with him for a week and then hitch a ride back to the city in his truck. My friends’ father was not even 45 years old at the time and yet, back then I remember thinking how “old” he seemed! Shame on me…
When I turned 45 I got a stark wake-up call! One day I received (unsolicited) an AARP card in the mail! At the time, I thought AARP was only for “old” people. Well, guess what?! It’s not, and what I considered ‘old’ back then – is my generation today!
You should know that in 1988, under President Reagan, the Congress designated August 21st as National Senior Citizens’ Day. An excerpt of the proclamation by President Reagan reads:
“With improved health care and more years of productivity, older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders and as links with our patrimony and sense of purpose as individuals and as a Nation. Many older people are embarking on second careers, giving younger Americans a fine example of responsibility, resourcefulness, competence, and determination. And more than 4.5 million senior citizens are serving as volunteers in various programs and projects that benefit every sector of society. Wherever the need exists, older people are making their presence felt — for their own good and that of others.”
Now that I’ve hit (and passed) 50, I’m starting to take exception to the term “senior citizens”. At the Y we have a more appropriate term – Active Older Adults. I can live with that. In fact, more than 50% of our membership base today is 55 or older, in line with national aging trends.
No matter what your age, I encourage you to have fun, be adventurous and adopt healthy habits. Today, I am around people – that in my younger days I considered “old” – who stay very active; they even participate in mud runs and triathlons! They also have the emotional wisdom and experience that comes along with years of street smarts. In my opinion, that kind of strength in spirit, mind and body is a blessing.
I’ve thought about trying out that software that lets you get a look at yourself as you age. But I can’t bear to watch it. I guess I’m a lot like my mom!