Each May, the contributions of older Americans take center stage as communities across the country celebrate Older Americans Month. The theme this year is Connect, Create, and Contribute, encouraging older adults and their communities to connect with friends and family, create activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment, and contribute time, talent and life-experience to benefit others.
Road Scholar, the world’s largest not-for-profit educational travel organization, has created learning adventures for older adults for more than 40 years; in fact, the average age of a returning participant is 72 years old, and a significant number of those are women.
While 72 might seem old to some, here are a few 72-year-old (and older) men and women who are changing the world and challenging the notion of what it means to grow older:
Not quite as famous but equally impressive is 99-year-old Road Scholar participant Seymour Siegel. Seymour recently attended a Road Scholar program in Winter Park, Florida with his companion, Laura. Now retired, he enjoyed an impressive career as the former Executive Director of the Jewish Family & Children Service of Southern New Jersey, and the author of an Orphan in New York City.
“Road Scholar was founded on the premise that older adults like Mr. Siegel are vital, integral members of our communities who continue to push the limits of what it means to grow older in a youth-obsessed culture,” said James Moses, President and CEO of Road Scholar. “During my 40-year tenure at Road Scholar, I’ve witnessed the extraordinary capabilities of older Americans who remain engaged, active members of society. Road Scholar participants know that stimulation, friendship and camaraderie, and regular exercise, are the tenets of a healthy older age, and they experience all three on our learning adventures around the world.”
A recent survey confirms that Road Scholars attribute their mental tenacity and physical health to being active, learning new things, staying connected with friends and family, and traveling. As 65 million baby boomers reach their 70s and 80s, expect to see more and more ordinary older Americans doing extraordinary things.
There are, of course, some challenges with growing older; for example, how to ensure financial stability as one nears retirement age, as well as the prospect of having to care for ailing parents and loved ones.
Several years ago, Road Scholar began offering financial assistance for low income adults 50+ who would otherwise not be able to participate in a learning adventure. In addition, it has expanded its financial aid to include caregiver grants and awards specifically for educators.
Mary Jo Silva of Burlington, Kentucky was awarded a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant and used it to enroll in a hiking program at Rocky Mountain National Park. She wanted to get into shape and also push herself outside of her comfort zone.
“Respite is one word for the trip, but it was also an adventure… I wanted to make a commitment to myself to get into shape. I look better and feel better because of it. It was a real confidence builder. This trip was just the right mix of personal challenge and personal indulgence. I learned a lot about taking care of myself while on the trails and at high altitudes. The guides were great in celebrating with us as we reached our personal bests. Thank you kindly to those who made this trip possible. It is wonderful to see a company recognize the need of the caregiver population.”
This year, Road Scholar is searching for 100 educators, caregivers and low-income adults who wish to experience an educational learning experience. The organization will award 100 scholarships worth $1,500 between now and June 30th. All unclaimed awards will go unused. To apply, please visit the website at: www.roadscholar.org/financialaid.
Where would you go and what would you do if you won a $1,500 Road Scholar trip? Do you plan on applying this year? Let’s have a conversation!
Tags Getting Older