Senior status arrives in the mail, in the form of an AARP card, shortly before that “50-but-still-acting-30” birthday. But whether you call yourself a “young senior,” “old senior” or “not-really-a-senior-at-all,” there does seem to be a lot of clarifying and wiggling around the “S” word.
For example, if aging baby boomers can adopt “50 is the new 30” as their mantra, mathematical logic demonstrates that 75 should, therefore, now be considered the new 45—because 25 normal years now equals 15 “boomer years.” So it follows that a person in his or her 70s wouldn’t even be considered a senior, which means boomers won’t really become seniors (in boomer years) until they turn 80.
Or at least that’s what we, the aging ones, like to tell ourselves.
Is it senior-onset avoidance? Does it relate to our American adoration of youth? Or is it the natural result of our substantially improved health care and longevity?
We here at Make It Better would like to propose an alternative. Let’s be like the Japanese and celebrate our seniors instead. Embrace their wisdom, experience and patience. Celebrate their abundance of time and ability to make it better for others. Appreciate the perspective they bring about what is really most important in life, which is not likely to be anything found in our celebrity-driven, Paris Hilton- and Shiloh-obsessed press.
We want to make seniorhood “cool”—something to which we all aspire. Given the consumer power of boomers, we predict that Madison Avenue, Hollywood and the press will soon follow suit.
An example of one our favorite North Shore seniors follows. We hope it might inspire you to send your suggestions for “Seniors To Celebrate.”
Take a look at Barbara Plochman. In her pre-senior life, she raised four children while serving on the Winnetka’s District 36 Board of Education. And, even though she had a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, she returned to Columbia College for a degree in graphic design, founded a graphic-design firm and donated design work to not-for-profits. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the boards she served on.
But senior status and retirement doesn’t mean she’s slowing down. Instead, channels her creative energy into her beloved Fortnightly writing group, her Town & Country Arts Club (which stretches from Chicago to Lake Forest), her figurative and landscape painting (accomplished enough to warrant two shows), and singing in the Winnetka Presbyterian Church Choir.
Plus, she is regularly seen walking several miles in Wilmette with her “Exerstriders,” which resemble extra-long cross-country ski poles.
Braking her wrist and kneecap didn’t even slow her down. Long. During her brief hospital stay, she simply said: “I’m not staying long.”
She had other plans. Like returning home and then heading up north to the lake.
How “cool” is that?
We’d love to hear about the seniors who inspire you. So, now it’s your turn. Make It Better hopes that you will join our quest to change our youth-obsessed culture, one person at a time, and do more appreciating and celebrating of our seniors. Send us your super seniors!