The image of an older adult sitting on the porch in a rocking chair is long gone. Today’s older adults are more active, engaged and in control of their health. Throughout the Sheridan County community, the “active older adult” population is supported through programs that give an extra edge to good health and to meet life’s changing challenges. We are a community that can be depended on to provide a place where their lives can be enriched, they can develop new skills and interests and make friends.
Community can be defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” Recently, the Sheridan County YMCA identified four individuals that belong to a special community within our organization and established a Heritage Membership category. The community these individuals belong to is one where all members have celebrated reaching at least the age of 90. The four members are respectfully 90, 92, 92 and 99 years young with a combined 80 years of being active Y members.
I recently had an opportunity to visit with these Heritage Members and get some insight on how they continue to embrace strong values, a sense of direction and purpose, and a constant commitment to their own health and well-being.
When asked what their prescription for living such a fulfilling life is, a common reply was how active they not only were in their lives leading up to their 90s, but more importantly remaining active now. Hard work was part of their upbringing and in a sense all felt that hard work led them to the choice of remaining active through exercise. Their motivation to continue to exercise is simply the enjoyment and ability to feel good during and after their workout. Another important aspect is the opportunity to have regular social interaction with a variety of people. They all expressed concerns about the sedentary life the younger generations are leading and wondered what their motivation will be to remain healthy and active. Leading a sedentary life is not an option to these individuals. Several continue to enjoy traveling — both stateside and internationally. They strongly felt their ability to have the strength and endurance to enjoy their chosen activities comes from regular exercise, activity and social interaction.
All shared their daily motto with me:
• “Nothing in excess but primarily don’t smoke and moderate use of alcohol.”
• “Keep moving — even with the aches and pains.”
• “Value having different interests and continue to want to try new things.”
• “Always be active and enjoy being friendly.”
I’m sure you’d agree all great words to live by.
Individuals such as these four are often the driving force behind Sheridan’s organizations, working toward continuing to strengthen the community. It is enlightening and a privilege to share in their busy lives — if they slow down long enough for you to catch them.
Sandy Sare is the Sheridan County YMCA membership director.