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By: Korie Marshall, Editor

I am one of them – those people who tend to get a bit down, or lethargic, or into hibernation mode in January. Whether it’s officially Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the cold and lack of sunlight, burnout from the Christmas season and all the unhealthy food and habits, or a bit of all three, I definitely feel it. I’ve noticed it since my early 20’s, but it seems that it gets worse as I get older. Or maybe feeling a bit under the weather for a while has made me think about what might happen when I can no longer do some of the things I can do now.

It felt so good to see so many people from all over the valley at a meeting on Monday about helping seniors. It was good to be reminded, and learn some new things, about the services available here, specifically for seniors, but many of them are available to everybody. Someone at the meeting said “We’re all getting older,” and it is of course true. Someone else said it’s hard to get younger people to think about the services that seniors need – they say they’re not seniors yet, they’ll deal with it later. But everything we do for seniors we do for our entire community, and for our own future.

We often spend a lot of time thinking and planning for vacations, or a new kitchen, or our careers. Making our community senior-friendly is really just about planning for ourselves a bit further out. Do you want to have to leave your home, and even leave your community, because the things you used to be able to do are getting a bit harder? Or do you want to be able to stay here, continue to be a part of your community, hang out with your family and friends, and keep doing the things you like, the things you can do and are good at?

To me, being part of a community is about building on your strengths, and helping people, while admitting you sometimes need help too. One of the big questions that came up in our meeting on Monday is that a lot of seniors won’t ask for the help they need. That’s not unique to seniors, but it’s definitely an issue that will have to be looked at when you think about helping seniors. How do you find out who needs help, and what help they need? Well, asking people, for sure. But you won’t find out everything that way.

Debbie Sharp, Coordinator for the Better at Home program from united Way, told us that some communities did spend a lot of time (and probably money) surveying residents to find out what the needs are. That may seem like a good idea in some cases, but Sharp suggested – and I agree with her on this – there is enough knowledge here already about what seniors in our valley need. There are enough active seniors and people who have lived here long enough telling us what they need. Sure, the plan may need tweaking. Sure, there may be some needs we haven’t even thought of yet. But I’m sure we’ll get to them.

I think I was the youngest person in the room at that meeting. Partly I was there to do a story for the paper, but a big part of why I was there – and a big part of why I do stories for the paper – is that I care about what is going on in our communities. We have a lot of different demographics, many people who have entirely different needs. If we start thinking about what older people need, and helping them with that, we’re starting to address issues that affect many of us.

I know Marion Farquharson has been talking to a lot of people about this. She comes up with great ideas, and she notices a lot. Props to her for getting things this far. I know with the people I’ve seen interested and involved, it will go much further.