What defines being a senior? Is it when we retire? A certain age? Is it when we start becoming less active? Or when we become a grandparent? Is it when we get approved to use Medicare or AARP or draw Social Security?

I don’t know the answer, nor do I think it matters…unless of course there is a “senior discount” involved, and then sign me up.

One thing I do know is that being a senior doesn’t mean that we sit in our rocking chair and watch the days go by. How do I know this? Because that isn’t what I see happening around Sheridan.

I see older adults being active in exercise classes, playing pickleball, mowing their lawn, shoveling their walks, raking their leaves, climbing ladders to clean their gutters or paint. They are going from one social gathering to the next, meeting friends for coffee or volunteering at various organizations.

I once visited with a lady who told me, “Never stop trying new things no matter how old you are.” I pondered on this for some time and when I saw her again I had to inquire about what things interest her to still learn at the age of 93. Her response was one I didn’t expect. She went 87 years without knowing how to swim, but she wasn’t going to end that way, so she decided to learn how and ended up going to the YMCA multiple times a week to swim before 8 a.m. It was her routine and one that made her feel better.

I will never forget this story or the many others I’ve heard as they are my inspiration to move, eat well and not let the number of years I’ve been alive dictate how I live my life. So back to my question of what defines a senior? To me it is experience and wisdom; it just so happens that those come with age.


Desiree Pearce is the health and well-being director at the Sheridan County YMCA.