I Can’t Wait To Be Older!
When my son Mason was 4 years old, he couldn’t wait to grow up. Every day he would bring forth a new question about age, which he asked with the sort of enthusiasm only a little boy could muster. “Dad, can I ride my bike around the neighborhood by myself when I’m 10?” “Next year I’ll be 5 years old and after that I’ll be 6. Dad, will I be an older kid then?” “How old do you have to be to get married?”
Mason’s eagerness to skip ahead in years often reminded me of a question that Nader Shabahangi posed in his book Faces of Aging: “What if we couldn’t wait to be old, just like a child can’t wait to be an adult?” The stereotype of old age being spent on the porch in a rocking chair would be forgotten. Under this scenario, Shabahangi sees a time when “rather than being just old, we can learn to become elders who offer maturity and depth.” In fact, in my opinion, this trend is already underway. More and more, we are witnessing “older adults” experiencing a rebirth. In adult day services we often bear witness to the renewed spirit, wisdom and opportunity that can arise from growing older even in the midst of chronic disease. In fact, an 89-year-old friend of mine lives life with a voraciousness that is unlike any other. I must admit that I’ve been jealous a time or two when I’ve seen retired adults unleashed on the world to experience new adventures.
James Wood said that “we forfeit three-fourths of ourselves to be like other people.” I predict that as the baby boomers come of age, we’ll see a new era of creativity and self-discovery. There will be an awaking of the human spirit as the tsunami of older adults realizes that life is too short to forfeit any of it to be like someone else.
What does this new era of baby boomers growing older mean for adult day services? Are we prepared to offer services in a way that will attract this generation? We must as a service sector answer these questions and many more that are related to regulation, funding, and an ever-changing world. This is why the National Adult Day Services Association is planning to refresh our strategic plan in late January 2014. We are living in a time of change and we must adapt. Soon, you as a member of our Association will receive a survey. I encourage you to respond and let us know where our Association needs to focus resources to ensure that we are prepared for the future. This is your chance to have a VOICE and help to shape adult day services for the older adults of today and tomorrow.