There is power in aging

Opinion: Columns

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Jim Flanagan

Even if most don't consider old people to be cool or even worthy of celebration, without a question there is power in aging.

Any business owner would be wise to hitch their wagon to this star. Consider the fact that those who are blessed with good enough health and fortune will one day all be seniors.

How then can we make this journey more pleasurable? How can we make something special out of lives well lived?

We celebrate seniors — that's how.

The theme for Older Americans Month this year was Unleash the Power of Age, and I believe Celebrating Seniors Week this year accomplished just that.

The 3rd annual Celebrating Seniors Week is now in the history books. What a week it was, with over 50 events in our three communities alone.

Since our inception, I have hoped that our celebration would expand beyond the communities of Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park. And this year, that is exactly what happened — in a big way.

From Joliet, Shorewood, and Plainfield to Riverside, LaGrange, and Hinsdale, 25 other communities passionately celebrated seniors during the week of May 16-23. In almost every community, there were fantastic events and "60 Over 60" honorees.

What started as a simple idea — to organize volunteers to protect older adults in our community — has become a movement. It's a growing recognition of all that has been done by so many people to make our community a wonderful place to grow and age.

One of the cornerstones of Celebrating Seniors has been and always will be to highlight the significant contributions that older adults make to our community. We owe a debt of thanks to those who have come before us.

Ask any one of our 180 "60 Over 60" honorees from the past three years about their experience with Celebrating Seniors and you will hear some common answers. The first thing we hear is "thank you," followed quickly by, "I really don't deserve this."

"Yes, you do," is our simple response. "In fact you have been nominated by your peers and selected by our committee. So many people think so highly of you that we need to celebrate."

To get a clear understanding of what Celebrating Seniors means to our community, you should ask your park district, library, local hospital, township office, or any independent business that serves older adults.

To a "T" they will tell you it is invaluable. The Celebrating Seniors organization grows business, fosters community, increases collaboration among these stakeholders, and challenges these community partners to share and innovate for the benefit of the community.

Please consider how you might join us in Celebrating Seniors next year. And meantime, if you just can't wait until next year, consider making a donation or joining a committee. We'd love to have you join us.

Jim Flanagan, a lifelong resident of Oak Park and River Forest, is founder of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition. He can be reached at jflanagan@bentron.com or 708-386-3100. Celebrating Seniors is online at www.celebratingseniors.

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