Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't Mind Me...It's Just My Existential Crisis

The Joy of Yogurt.

That's what I found myself having to promote the other day, on The Day Job, as a topic for discussion at one of our senior centers.

Here's the thing: There is no Joy of Yogurt for the targeted demographic of this informational chat. There never has been. There never will be.

The healthy, active older people coveted by public senior centers are all out playing golf or taking master gardening classes or working at a part-time job; they do not have the time or inclination to spend a large chunk of a perfectly good weekday enduring bureaucratically regulated cafeteria lunches, earnest self-improvement lectures and Happy Harry and His One-Man Band. That leaves the sort of senior that Bart Simpson's chainsmoking aunts grow into -- persons happy to spend the day in the La-Z-Boy watching game shows while alternating between bottled oxygen and Pall Malls; elders equally uninterested in hooking up with the senior network.

My task is to try and get both these groups, and everyone in between, excited by yogurt and Happy Harry and Salisbury steak.

I remember sitting, with a couple dozen other providers, at a heavily promoted senior health fair inside a local casino. The casino was filled with older adults who were...duh...all on the gaming floor gambling, instead of making their way through our pastel displays of hearing aids, assisted living facilities and prepaid funeral packages. How odd, that "You're old and sick and probably going to die really soon" isn't a message that inspires our older citizens.

I'm sitting at home today trying not terribly successfully to stave off a fever and sore throat...and trying to strategize my way out of this cluster-canoodle before I lose whatever portion of my sanity that's still intact.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Foiled by the success of our culture to keep people active and healthy......

Anonymous said...

Our senior center does not accept people in poor health and certainly not people on oxygen taks. On the good side-no smoking allowed.
Cheers, Naomi

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

When my mom retired, she went to the senior lunches in her town for awhile until she discovered "swim and gym" at the YMCA. And free movies at the Library. No more senior lunches; she was too busy. I think the activity kept her going. She is now 90.

LutheranChik said...

With the disclaimer that I'm speaking to my own redundancy here...I think that senior meal programs for active older adults are a huge waste of money and time; that that money should be re-channeled into "meals on wheels" programs for homebound older adults who are truly at nutritional risk. The active seniors want to be left alone to do their own thing. But maybe they could get some sort of financial incentive, like a substantial discount on drug co-pays and the like, if they have proof of membership at a gym/athletic club, a weight-management group like Weight Watchers or TOPS, etc. (My God -- I'm starting to sound like a Republican.) But it's older adults don't want to sit in a church basement at lunchtime and eat government-vetted casseroles. The Depression generation is passing. This particular senior-services sacred cow needs reincarnating into a program that people actually want.

There...I said it and I'm glad.

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Good points. Here's another theory: When the senior lunches, et al, started, they were a NEW means for seniors to gather; there hadn't been such organization before. But 20 or 30 years later, there are more choices. The newly senior-ed people don't want to think of themselves as OLD, "like those people."

Heck, I'm a bit older then mom was when my mom started going to senior groups with my dad, who was much older. I don't want to think of myself on the verge of senior-ness, although I got my first AARP letter about 8 years ago.