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Ageless Elders Defy Stereotypes and Beat the Odds

Posted Jun 23 2009 6:55pm
After a friend recommended the film Young at Heart (2007), which documents the true story of a traveling rock band whose member's average age is 81, I got to thinking about common stereotypes on aging. In the movie, the singing chorus features rock, punk and disco numbers and they refuse to let age and ill health get them down.

It made me wonder if people were participating in similarly vivacious activities in senior living environments and so I took my new found curiosity to the proverbial street to meet some new faces and find some new places that are going against the norm.

At OnLok, which has eight facilities in San Francisco, I stopped in at the 1333 Bush and Polk street location to hear the thumping and melodic sound of violins, guitars and trumpets lilting in and livening the already bustling hallways. I looked to the left. I looked to the right. I smiled.

Mariachi music!

For the Cinco de Mayo holiday, the facility's active recreation staff arranged for the festive band to join residents in the common area for an afternoon of celebration, dancing and singing. Feet were stomping. Hips were swaying. Guitars were playing and some jumped from their seats as if unable to contain their merriment! It was almost impossible not to join the party.

A colleague reports that Mystic Oaks, in Scott's Valley organizes weekend outings. They go camping; have trips to nearby Monterey and go to lunch in nearby cities. They have a client that is going to be 109 this year!

High above city streets at San Francisco Towers on Pine Street in San Francisco, seniors epitomize class and sophistication. They enjoy afternoons playing intense card games in the penthouse billiard room that spills out onto a luxurious roof top, decorated by an immaculate garden maintained by the green-thumbed residents.

Scrabble is not just a game at AlmaVia on Thomas Moore Way, in San Francisco. At the senior center, it's a fiercely competitive sport with a dedicated club of players who participate for the championship titles which are posted in the shared common area.

What I found at these facilities was that they don't call them "the golden years" for nothing! From offering gut-busting fitness programs to ambitious group outings to sports, clubs and posh beauty parlors, many of the care facilities that I was lucky to have visited, I did not want to leave when it was time to go home! They made me feel excited about the years ahead, touched and motivated by the active individuals who I found living and working there.

E-mail us your stories about remarkable living and inspiring activities you've witnessed recently, at any age!
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