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Why Saratoga Needs An Intergenerational Center For Younger Olders

Self Esteem – A huge cohort of baby boomers is entering retirement age!  These Younger Olders have bought into the cult of youth!  We all need to start seeing wrinkles and gray hair positively as the natural badges of maturity, like “ripeness” is the natural expression that fruit as it is fully matured.

Productivity – America and the world cannot afford to have highly experienced, mature people simply retire to do nothing meaningful and productive for 20-30+ more years of their lives.  Young people see older people as unproductive and a burden to society. I believe the idea of retirement needs to be rethought; an Inter-generational Center can change attitudes and values.

Leaving a Legacy – The golden years are opportunities for reinventing one’s self with encore careers for the common good. Involvement of elders in an Inter-generational Center can make a lasting impact and leave a legacy.  The retired “builder generation” and aging baby boomers have huge wealth that needs to be invested in upcoming generations.  An Inter-generational Center would bridge that gap.

Mutual Enrichment – Saratoga needs the wisdom and attention of elders mixing with youth and vice versa.  An Inter-generational Center that has this as a conscious goal would give new meaning, purpose and vitality of the younger olders as they are no longer employed and it would provide needed nurture for younger generations.   Saratoga youths need community service hours (time that could be spent with elders) to get into good colleges.

Ethnic Diversity Appreciation – Saratoga’s Anglo culture has a lot to learn from it’s Asian neighbors about the esteemed role of their elders.  Many Chinese families live in multi-generationall households; Indian families often have overseas parents visit in their home for several months.  Asians now represent very large segments of Saratoga residents;  the community would benefit with more cultural interaction. Young people more easily accept ethnic diversity among their peers; they can help elders can grow in this regard.

Being Community Makes Us More Human – Saratoga needs closer connections within our community, particularly because of its suburban character. Elders exist because they show us how to make a community.  As we give to them, they give to us their wisdom, their experience, their affection.  When we come together to meet their needs, we learn how to live more fully as human beings.

Being vs. Doing – The fast pace of life and change in Silicon Valley has left many with a spiritual void and little time to reflect on the meaning of life – what’s really important.  Time pressures on multiple breadwinners, smaller family size, broken families and the rise of technology all contribute to why older people are not treated with respect.  Working adults are all about doing, whereas elders have the gift of being.  Work is made for mankind; not mankind made for work.

New Housing Options For Elders – The demographics of Saratoga continues to skew older as long-time residents attempt to stay in their homes as long as they can; many don’t see positive housing alternatives that motivate them to move.  Builders,  elder-care professionals and city officials need to expand the range of housing options (with more non-institutional, small group, home settings) available for seniors within Saratoga neighborhoods. Aging Saratogans are wealthy on paper because of the value of their real estate; they want to stay local and could free up some cash if only they had more attractive options.

Green Houses & Eden Alternatives – I have previously blogged about William H. Thomas, MD and Green Homes (see link below).  These are places where older elders reside in small clusters of 7-10 persons.  These Green Houses are inspired by the richness of close personal relationships and the healing power of community.  Eden Alternatives are friendly, non-institutional homes for the elderly with gardens, pets, plants, and children.  Recently I have been reading Dr. Thomas’ 2007 book What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save The World.*  I am excited about continued application of his Green House and Eden Alternative concepts.

Positive Aging – Similar ideas and movements working to change old paradigm about aging and to improve the quality of life among older people are popping up such as Silicon Valley Positive Aging Forum. Leading Edge Institute, Inc. in Cupertino was founded on the premise that Silicon Valley should be actively involved in working to find innovative solutions to issues like wellness, life-long learning, urban design, services, work and creative engagement for people in this next phase of their life contribution.

Leading Edge is having a seminar on March 11th at Avenidas in Palo Alto on “Concierge Service”, discussing the Beacon Hill Village model, also found locally at Avenidas Village and SF Village.  I will be there and hope to see you there too.  Help pioneer and Intergenerational Center in Saratoga.

*Incidentally, Dr. Thomas has also written: In The Arms of Elders: A parable of Wise Leadership and Community Building and Life Worth Living: How Someone You Love Can Still Enjoy Life in a Nursing Home.

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Rick Bonetti, SRES | Alain Pinel Realtors | 408-857-8800 | DRE#01237009