We should write a book!
“We should write a book,” they tell me, laughing and joking as they exit the van. They have stories to share, and as the senior population increases, more people can relate to their details.
As queen of part-time jobs, an honorary, self-bestowed title, I interact with many people in varied situations. Some favorite folks are the women and men I affectionately dub “my seniors.” I’ve worked with seniors before, most recently at Neighborhood House where I was blessed to form a friendly bond among those who spent considerable time socializing, quilting, and exploring senior activities. I still keep in touch with them although sadly, many have died. The membership lists from the five years I worked there provide many names and happy memories.
Neighborhood House and Southside Manor, a senior residence facility, have always enjoyed a working relationship. Currently I’m involved in an outreach program at the Manor, and interact with residents in various social settings. Research repeatedly shows the importance and benefits of social interaction. It improves both physical and mental health, and emotional well-being. We are social creatures and need conversation and involvement with others. Besides, life is full of both funny and sad times. The sadness dissipates some in the company of others, and the humor is enhanced when shared. (Humor is also good for the body and soul.)
Many seniors at the Manor do not have their own transportation so outings to shopping areas or restaurants are requested. “The more the merrier” is the sentiment although some residents are not so inclined to leave the familiarity of their apartment. The invitation is extended to all and sometimes we depart with seats available while other times, space is at a premium. Event organizers, regardless of the event or the one organizing, strive for high rates of participation. But numbers tell only part of the story. Expecting 100% is unrealistic. It’s much better to focus enthusiastically on those wanting to participate.
Our outings have taken us to shopping areas like Northwoods Mall, the Dollar Store, WalMart, and others. We’ve driven throughout downtown Peoria, checked out the progress of the vast changes at Sheridan Village, and visited East Peoria and Morton. Dinner out is a monthly event. Through popular vote, we choose a different restaurant each month to visit. We enjoy a good meal and have time to visit and learn more about each other.
We’re an eclectic group of varying ages and backgrounds. As with any senior facility, women outnumber men, and are more likely to socialize. So our outings include more women, but men are always invited to join us and sometimes they do.
I have learned much about aging gracefully from many interesting people with whom I’ve shared time, experiences, and dinner. Attitude, not numbers define age. Resilience is essential as well as a sense of humor and adventure. Neither the mind nor the body always cooperate with our preferences and learning to adapt is the best way to go.
My seniors reminisce with details of days gone by, followed by humorous discourses about current situations. It’s in the sharing of stories that we discover commonality. I enjoy their bantering back and forth. The details may never make it to book form, but they certainly make a difference to those who listen and respond.