Senior moments highlight a birthday week

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By Doug Bell

I’ve had my share of senior moments the last week, more of them unforgettable than forgetful.

No single piece of mail can more brutally deliver mortality’s sharp stick in the eye than the dreaded AARP membership packet, and my own little reminder of the five-decade milestone came when seniors and their concerns were uppermost on my mind.

As I turn 50, I’ve been revisiting some of the memories that have become less raw and painful with the passing of days. Last week at a fund-raising breakfast for the Seniors’ Resource Center, several people in my age bracket told of their struggles in caring for aging and infirm parents. It was the first time in a very long time that I have vividly recalled my own days caring for my depressed and physically deteriorating mother after my siblings and I moved her to Colorado in the late ‘90s.

For the two of us, that last chapter in Mom’s life was the final battle in a war that stretched over many years and countless grievances. Add to that my total inexperience in caring for an aging parent and having no other local family for support, and those were easily the most desperate and challenging years of my half-century so far.

And it’s a challenge that many people in Jefferson County face or will be facing very soon.

The population of seniors in Jefferson County is currently at 96,000, and that number is expected to increase to 165,000 by 2020. The Seniors’ Resource Center — which served 18,000 clients in 2008, a 30 percent increase from 2007 — provides transportation, adult day care and respite care for our community’s seniors. And, more critically, it provides support and an occasional break for the family members who have become full-time caregivers.

There are a variety of ways to help SRC, from donating items for the Holiday Food Box program to giving to the current capital campaign for a new state-of-the-art adult day and respite facility and for renovations at the SRC headquarters down the hill.

When I visit an SRC facility and see active, engaged and smiling seniors, I can pause for a few moments and find the fond memories of my own mother. And now that I’ve achieved the status of “senior” myself, the services SRC provides, and the people it helps, seem even more vital to young and old alike.

Doug Bell is the editor of the Courier.