Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Chief Advocacy Officer • Age Safe America
The opening keynote speech by Ashton Applewhite confronted the participants on the issue of ageism and how, even as professionals working with seniors, we unconsciously perpetuate the concept. Her best-selling book, This Chair Rocks, challenges us to see ourselves and our clients differently. The vast majority of people over 65 are living independently but ageism that emphasizes the negative aspects of aging increases fear and promotes withdrawal from the social contexts of our lives. As Age Safe Advisors, our role is to ensure that the home environment is safe and provides the independence and dignity that is cherished by people of all ages.
Our second morning keynote speaker, Jack Firman, CEO of National Council On Aging, offered the 7 keys to transformation as his topic. He opened with an exercise, asking the participants to review the 10 year plan for a millennial that included sleeping, working only if necessary, volunteering two hours a month, watching TV, playing video games and socializing with friends whenever…He asked the audience what guidance they would give to a millennial with that plan and most everyone insisted that work was important, planning more seriously and participating in the “real world”. Then he flipped the exercise to demonstrate that many 65 year olds heading into the retirement have the same plan and we wish them well. So his points were these:
- We need to change our expectations of ourselves.
- We need to discuss and define responsibilities that we have for how we live our lives.
- We need to create new norms for the Third Age.
- We need to innovate to motivate boomers to actively engage.
- We need to create new pathways for the transition to retirement.
- We need to innovate to optimize our key assets-time, knowledge, relationships, housing and health.
- We need to collaborate to co-create the new phase of life….
This information is inspirational for professionals across the spectrum in the senior services space and for boomers themselves, working or retiring. It was a clarion call from the Hopi tradition for becoming the ones for whom we have been waiting.