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Aging Gracefully in Pasadena

By Susan Kujawa
Posted: 10/23/2023
Tags: aging

The New York Times recently featured an article that asks “Can America Age Gracefully?” and states that “An aging America needs an honest conversation about growing old.” The article describes some of the challenges we will face as our society is transformed by demographic changes resulting from an aging America.

The Times article points out some interesting facts: For example, by 2034 (just 10 years from now) there will be more Americans past retirement age than there are children. This change will create challenges in everything from healthcare and housing to employment and transportation. The article also cites a particular challenge that is deeply personal for us older adults: “Among the most elemental questions are where and how will we spend the closing years of our lives?”

Often, people decide to move closer to their adult children as they age. While such a move makes sense for many reasons, it also results in a dramatic shift for all involved. Now that the pandemic has ended, Pasadena Village has seen a steady growth in membership over the past year, including people who have moved to the Pasadena area to be closer to their children.

Marv Dainoff is a widower who moved to Pasadena to be near his children and his young grandchildren. He knew about the Village Movement and had been a Villager in Wellesley, MA. So it was an easy decision for him to join Pasadena Village as soon as he got settled. Marv says, “I’m exploring all of the Village offerings.” Living in a busy household, away from his longtime friends and without the company of his wife (and colleague), Marv appreciates “the routines and companionship” that he finds at the Village.

Another Villager who joined recently, Jim Hendrick, moved across the country to live near his daughter. He is pleased that he lives in Pasadena, a “15-minute” city, where all of the crucial and basic connections are within a 15-minute drive. And yet Jim wondered what to do with his time. It was his daughter who found the answer when a Google search pointed to Pasadena Village. Now, Jim says that “the Village and my daughter are the anchors of my 15-minute radius.”

Pasadena Village endeavors to meet the basic need to belong, often disrupted by re-location and loss of loved ones. Older adults understand in a very personal way the research data that connects loneliness to aging. New member John Merriam describes his rationale for joining Pasadena Village as “I realize I have a shrinking social circle. I want to make more friendships, and I know I don’t have much time left.” John echoes the voice of many of us older adults, who feel a sense of urgency to make the most of our time.

The increase in the aging population is often called a “silver tsunami,” as if the needs of older people are overwhelming the needs of younger ones. But the Village Movement, including Pasadena Village, models a different view. When older adults remain an integral part of the larger community, they demonstrate resilience, compassion, creativity, and resourcefulness — attributes that contribute not only to their own health, but also to that of the community.

 

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