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  • Jered Stewart

Time to Celebrate the Most Experienced Among Us

Goodbye April!  What a tough month…using heat in the morning and air conditioning by the afternoon.  We had 70-degree weather some days and snow on others.  April is not my favorite month, so I am glad that May is here!


The month of May brings many good things - warmer weather (we hope!), the Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and, of course, the unofficial start to summer with Memorial Day Weekend.  But May is also Older Americans Month!  It’s time to celebrate the most experienced among us!


It’s sad to me that our popular culture celebrates youth and often shames aging.  We all know the age-old joke about turning 39 (again)!  And if you go on social media or watch TV you know that being young and beautiful is the most important thing (it’s not). 


I wonder why our culture seems to have an aversion to aging?  After all, many cultures celebrate the value and wisdom of older adults. The aging process, and even death, in some Native American cultures is celebrated and viewed as a normal part of life.  In China and Korea elders are highly regarded and families often take care of and support their parents and grandparents when they age and become frail.  It’s very curious that some cultures celebrate their elders, while others ignore it.   


At Bethany, we have always valued and appreciated older adults, after all, that’s why we came into existence, to provide safe and affordable housing to older adults as well as services and opportunities to live healthy and enriched lives.


Several years ago we began an intergenerational program with the Haverhill public school system. This brought in middle school students to interact with our residents.  They played board games, shared desserts together, and students wrote stories about their new “senior friends”.  After pausing for Covid we have begun this again, and it is heart-warming to observe young and old engaging with one another, developing relationships, and building mutual respect.  This intergenerational programming has been proven to yield benefits and we hope that this will help to combat ageism, as our youthful participants gain a greater respect for their elders. 


I look forward to celebrating our older adults this month.  Many of our residents have lived full lives and experienced a great deal, and there is much value in that.  And if we are lucky enough, we will all get to be called “older adults” someday too. 


"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. " ~ Last speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

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