We’ve come too far to ‘think old’...Right?
The answer is a resounding YES. But we’re not all there yet.

In the prime of our lives we felt age-neutral. We didn’t feel too young and we didn’t feel too old. We were ‘just right’. At least by our own perceptions. We made plans and worked hard through middle age knowing there would come a day that our hard work would pay off and we could retire.

In our ‘50’S and 60’s, we cared for our parents even as we embarked on our own journeys through time. In our 70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s, we were expected to slow the pace, move aside....relax, get off the treadmill of our active, busy lives and ease into old age. We’ve earned it, right? We should be tired.

So we did. But then something happened. The rough and tumble journey past our prime and beyond, with the proverbial perception of getting old-- changed us.
Experts now agree that buying into the stereotypes put on aging people, dubbed age-isms, changes our bodies, the way we think, and our health. It changes our lives. We are barraged with negatives about aging that are literally bad for us, yet, some of us accept it. That’s the problem. Many of us begin to identify more with these stereotypes, or age-isms, than to defy them.

At Menorah Park, a five-star rated senior living campus in Beachwood, Ohio, Ivan Gelfand, Menorah Park’s Stone Gardens resident and Vice President of the Residents’ Council, and Alice Sayre, President of Residents’ council there, agree. Age-ism is a problem, but not for them.

Says Ivan, “I was always an overachiever; an optimist; an A-type personality” (A-type personalities have a tendency to be-- and remain more active). In his youth, Ivan graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He had his own radio show, Financial Week in Review, and was an expert for CNN’s national financial edition. He worked for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Germany, a division of the United States Army. He served on the board of directors and was treasurer for three years at Mount Sinai Hospital, and taught a business economics class.

“I had a lot to offer, and I had a lot of offers, and I met a lot of prominent people. I probably achieved a lot,” he laments. “I was a surrogate speaker for George Voinovich during his campaign for governor in Ohio. I had lunch at the White House. I met George Bush Senior and Junior; and I also met Ronald Reagan. I was a speaker and I traveled all over the U.S. I was a business man until I was 88. And I was very surprised when I got to be 90.” He sold his two start-up businesses before retirement, but remained active. “I wish I had 20 more years, because I have a lot of ideas and a lot more to do.” Ivan says that he still has many young friends that he mentors and keeps in touch with.

Alice said she understands the ins and outs of aging well. “We know it is going to happen. Aging...I never gave it thought, but look around, it’s inevitable. Personally, I am very fortunate to be here (Stone Gardens) and do what I do.” Alice said she was and still is constantly on the go. “Yes, I was busy all my married life.”
She raised two children, was very active at Fairmount temple, an officer of the sisterhood there, and, she worked in kitchen preparing luncheons. “Temple took a good part of my time,” she explained. But when her mother went to a nursing home she began to volunteer there, and became very active. She was an officer first, and then became president of the auxiliary for seven years. She also bowled in a league and played bridge regularly. “I would never enjoy just sitting back and relaxing, I have to keep going.”
Now, life at Stone Gardens continues to keep her active.
“I like bringing guests here. The meals here are very good, and they offer a nice variety. The staff is willing to go out of their way to do what residents like,” she says. When she suggested an Ohio State vs. Michigan party, they set it up. Alice graduated from Ohio State with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in business administration.
“Look at this schedule,” she exclaimed, “there’s always something going on!” Alice suggests people of all ages ‘make the most of what you are and what you are capable of’. “Think of this every day. Grow older busily. A friend once told me to ‘bloom where you are planted,’ and as a result I have tried to take advantage of opportunities that came my way and have always given my best efforts.” In addition to her volunteering, Alice likes to stay informed with the news and documentaries and relax to movies. Alice and Ivan both agreed that being active and sharing their energy with their friends and neighbors at Stone Gardens through their involvement on Residents’ Council is making a difference in their lives, and in the lives of residents. “Together, we have done a good job,” Alice says.
Linda Mintz has been an active volunteer since being a young mom. She was active in her children’s schools as the library chairman, a helper with student testing, and to her surprise, she was the first female commissioned to be a den leader for the Boy Scouts. Later, she worked in the film industry for Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Paramount, for a design company, and spent 13 years working at Park Synagogue. “I love staying busy,” she says. She also loves adventure! Linda found herself compelled to go zip-lining during a trip to Haiti when she was 75. She lit up recalling it, “I zip-lined down a 500 ft. mountain over the ocean, and I loved it! I wanted to do it over and over and over again.” Be sure to look for Linda in our Menorah Park Commercial holding a sign that says ‘I’m 75 and I go zip-lining.’ She is anxious for the warm weather so she can go again, perhaps closer to home. “My logic is that age is just a number. I don’t let it define me or tell me who I am, or how I am supposed to act. I’m adventurous, and that’s not going to change,” Linda says with a wink and a smile. You can meet Linda on campus two days a week in Pearl’s Place. Unless she’s out on one of her adventures!
As demonstrated here, one doesn’t have to accept the age-ism stereotypes. There are better roads to healthy aging, beginning by permanently changing how we personally approach—and participate-- in moving through our years.

Author's Bio: 

Sherry Gavanditti has more than 35 years in the advertising, marketing and journalism fields. She has spent the past 11 years working to help dispel the myths of aging and help adults age gracefully with the right attitude as a Public Relations Media Specialist at Menorah Park, a premier 5 star, 42-acre campus for aging adults.