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By Rona Barrett | Published on 10.14.2015 9:59 a.m.

gray matters

Let’s try and wrap what remains of our gray matter around this fact: seniors —including the scientific sub-groups  young-old, old and old-old — are the fastest growing population on our planet.

That’s right, it won’t be long before we seniors rule the world…that is, if we can ever find our glasses!

Is it any wonder then that the business of selling products and services to help seniors maintain active, healthy and invigorating lifestyles grows exponentially?

Over the years, as I talk with more and more seniors, I’ve realized that we don’t need to seek out self-help gurus, weekend retreats, how-to videos, you-too-can-look-like-the-photoshopped-me magazine pitches, health gurus — or even newspaper columnists — to instruct us how to live wonderful lives.

We seniors need only listen to each other.

This proved true after I invited the first 25 seniors over 70 to write in 100 words or less why they would enjoy being The Foundation’s guests at a lively evening of dining and entertainment at our 3rd Annual “Thanks-For-Giving” Barn Party to benefit the Golden Inn & Village Oct 30, 2015.

The responses took me by surprise in three ways. The number we received, how quickly we received them and how these seniors were able to passionately articulate what was on their mind.

If you ever wondered why I choose to be a senior advocate and sounding board for our senior loved ones here’s your answer: It’s such a humbling and inspiring privilege.

These words came from a 97-year-old woman: “My answer to the question of why I would enjoy a lively evening of dining and entertainment? I would enjoy it because I am alive!”

From a woman in Santa Maria: “Oh my, would I enjoy an evening of dining and entertainment? You bet! My husband has Parkinson’s disease. There is a certain amount of isolation and guilty feelings that go with chronic diseases. Life is about connections, compassion, caring and gratitude no matter who we are, what our difficulties are and even whatever our ages.”

A 77-year-old gentleman wrote: “I live with stage five kidney disease, chronic anemia, a bad hip and have had four cancer operations. To keep my balance, I use a walking stick; however, out on the dance floor, muscle memory kicks in and my wife and I can still enjoy dancing. It would be a pleasure to be invited to your party and be a living example of what seniors can do with the Lord’s help and by not giving up.”

A 92-year-old senior wrote: “I have volunteered for 30 years. When I help someone, I feel I am helped, too. I often tell folks, ‘If you look down you still see trouble, but if you look up, the bad stuff disappears.'”

An 80-year-old senior gentlewoman rhymed:

“Thanks for the invite, dear Ms. Rona. / My reply is ‘For sure I’m gonna / Love to be one of the twenty-five / To mingle, dine and maybe jive!”

Until next time…keep thinking the good thoughts.

— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at[email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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