In a world where things are feeling increasingly out of control in many parts of the globe we are offered an opportunity to sit back, take stock and consider our own personal options in 2017.
June is Senior’s Month in Ontario and while we may grumble at times we have a lot to be thankful for. Yes we had a damp and cool spring here but everything is looking exceptionally lush and green. There is a lot to celebrate in this Senior’s Month and of course June leads us right into Canada’s 150th birthday. There are events scheduled across our country that acknowledge the significant and continuing contributions made by older adults. We have so much to celebrate!
Yes we can focus on the could’ves, would’ves, and should’ves, or instead we can pause, recalibrate and re-position ourselves and our lives in order to maximize our current and potential opportunities for living, learning and sharing. And yes, many of these are available to us thanks to those myriad contributions being celebrated throughout 2017.
Of course we have heard that right now Canada’s seniors outnumber children for the first time in our history. Currently there are 5.9 million Canadians aged sixty-five and older versus 5.8 million Canadians aged fourteen and under.
What does that mean to us in 2017? One thing it signifies is that there are a whole host of products, emerging technologies and services that specifically cater to this demographic, my own downsizing and senior move management business among them.
And yes, size matters. As a baby boomer I have long been aware of the economic and political advantages that I have enjoyed through my life because I happened to be born between 1946 and 1964. As more boomers are entering senior territory we will see this advantage continue to blossom. We have more information at our fingertips than any generation before us. We enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of many across the globe and we are living longer and are in better health than we ever were before.
In a society that seems to prefer simple answers to complex questions though, negative stereotyping about seniors, competency, and dependency are still occurring. Older adults and the elderly that they are sometimes caring for are so uniquely varied that it is no wonder that a “one size fits all” solution often doesn’t fit well, if at all.
People age differently, they have different health and mobility needs and they have varied expectations about what indeed it means to age. Some older adults enjoy the benefits of family, friends and support networks that others frankly don’t. Some are educationally and/or economically advantaged while others are not. Some are curious, life-long learners, planning and exploring all available options while others simply wait and see how life unfolds. Some are increasingly burdened by anxiety. What will become of them? Will they need assistance? Can they afford what they will need to retain their independence? Are they comfortable enough to ask for and accept help or could that be a risk to their self- sufficiency?
Yes every older adult is different but under all the variations and personalities I have witnessed one common denominator. They want to feel that they are in control of their lives. Their desire to maintain their independence is what links all of these individuals together. Autonomy may well look different to someone who is 67 than it does to someone who may be celebrating their 90th birthday but no one, at any age wants to feel that they don’t or won’t have choices.
So how do we create options at each stage and age of our lives? Get involved, get engaged and seek current information. We don’t know what we don’t know and being aware of what is and what may be possible empowers us all. Given that life doesn’t always go the way we think it will, it is good to continually learn as much as we can about our choices. No one wants to have to make decisions during a time of crisis. Living, learning and sharing throughout our lives can create possibilities, choices and wonderful reasons to celebrate!
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