Senior Perspectives: Ten Years Done
by Charles Bush
The Senior Center will be hiring a new executive director, and I will be retiring after 10 years in that position. It has been a wonderful decade of service and learning. Never having worked with elders before the decade was full of learning, including how to be an older person myself. Here are some of my discoveries.
Redwood Coast Senior Center is definitely “owned” by our own local community. Financial contributions, goods and services, and volunteer staffing provides nearly half the cost of operating the Center. The Fort Bragg School District provides the building. The local business community is constantly generous. Various County agencies contract for specific programs. The staff and Board of Directors are all local folks.
The sheer volume of what the Senior Center delivers has been a surprise and a delight. 1,000 lunches served every week and 125 of those meals hand-delivered to the homes of shut-in seniors daily. 500 inquiries for information and assistance every month. 250 call-in “taxi/bus” rides provided every week. 600 people participating in programs and activities every month.
Loneliness and isolation are probably the most persistently negative qualities of getting old, even in our friendly coastal community. Contact with work, family and friends decrease for many elders as their circumstances change. It can be hard for seniors to initiate new social contacts when old relationships are lost due to retirement, death, and geographic changes. The Senior Center can serve as new social meeting place in the absence of former workmates, friends, family, and partners.
Overall, support programs for seniors are good. A combination of Social Security, Medicare, Subsidized Senior Housing, Food Assistance, and Senior Centers help handle the basics for many elders. Nevertheless, nearly a third of seniors survive on less than $1000 a month – to put it simply – they are poor, and will remain so for the rest of their lives. The combination of poverty and isolation reinforce each other, and create a lot of suffering for elders.
Maintaining personal health is a matter of increasing concern, time and money for most seniors. We talk about our health more than younger people, and suffer more chronic conditions. The older we get, the harder or more complicated the ordinary activities of life become. We understand and confront our mortality and “how to die” becomes a real question. As our “life clock” gradually runs down our personal sense of meaningfulness and purpose may become more open ended, and invite exploration.
For many of us, getting old is liberating. Our responsibilities, and the demands on our time and energy decline. Vanity recedes and we comfortably accept ourselves as we are. The “achievement phase” closes, and we are content with being helpful, rather than solving societies great problems. We can relax into a simpler and slower life pace.
I've learned that the Senior Center can play a crucial role in helping to sustain comfort and ease for all of us local elders. It has been a privilege and an honor to participate in that service. I look forward to watching a new Executive Director guide Redwood Coast Senior Center through the next decade of extraordinary change, knowing that when I need help, it will be there!
posted 6 July 2018
SENIOR PEER COUNSELOR
Get psychological training and supervision to provide counseling support for elder clients dealing with difficult personal life issues.
MEALS ON WHEELS DRIVERS
Meals on Wheels drivers needed for 2 to 3 hours shifts 1 to 4 days a week and on-call. Mileage reimbursed.
THRIFT STORE STAFF
Morning shifts 10 to 1
Redwood Coast Senior Center provides