In many countries the population is aging, and conversations focus on what this means for the seniors and how we structure our societies. Yesterday I listened to an interesting radio program Designing Communities for an Aging America, with experts Paul Irving, Ruth Finkelstein and Kathryn Lawler. The focus was on creating a society where seniors can experience a healthy and more purposeful aging instead of being sidelined. As Ruth commented: ‘we have persuaded ourselves that older people don’t have a meaningful contribution to make to society’, and ‘this is squandering of one of our growing resources’.
Yes! I am so grateful to be involved in an organization that views seniors as the creative, productive talent that can still make a great contribution, and enjoy themselves along the way – Granny’s Finest.
Granny’s Finest is a social enterprise that focuses on building social connections between seniors through the creative process. For almost three years, I have been the coordinator of Huizen, NL which includes almost 60 women. During this time, I have observed the how the bonds develop between the women and why they stay in the organization. Here are a few observations to contribute to the conversation about aging.
- Many seniors still have intellect, energy, curiosity and drive for something that interests them. They want to be engaged with something bigger than themselves with a purpose. As Granny’s Finest is a social enterprise, something new and unique, this seems to meet their need.
- Granny’s Finest is dynamic, as it is a fashion brand with a heart. New patterns, changing colors, shifting customer needs, brand promotion – keep the seniors interest and they enjoy participating in the flow.
- What I find the most interesting are the bonds that develop due to the creative process. The women learn from each other, share ideas, make mistakes and try again – they are vulnerable with each other. This leads to trust and interconnection, which helps tremendously when they are dealing with health and family issues. I believe the creative process leads to a deeper connection than if they only met for coffee. The women mention this as well – the energy of Granny’s Finest is so different than other groups of which they are a member.
- Although programs which link young and old are attractive (and mentioned often in the podcast), seniors also want to be connected with each other! We all like to be with our own age group now and then, to share experiences, history, and reference music that others remember as well.
The women in our clubs are between the ages of 55 and 89. Some travel by bike, auto, wheelchair, walker – whatever their bodies and weather allow. They contribute their talents and are ‘paid’ with social connection and bonds of friendship. Instead of being passive spectators of society, they are active in the growth of a social enterprise, of a national fashion brand.
To conclude – when designing solutions for seniors in our society remember they have talents, wisdom, energy, drive and want to remain engaged and socially connected.
by Theresa Sigillito Hollema
For more information about Granny’s Finest, contact Theresa, firstname.lastname@example.org