Saturday, August 21, 2021

Spirit of Generosity: Helping Seniors Age in Place

minerva seniors

Earlier this summer, we highlighted the ways in which the Spirit of Generosity is working to uplift early child care services across the Adirondack region — it’s also helping aging adults improve physical and social health outcomes.

There’s good work happening in senior care everywhere, but in particular the Sleeping Giants program — established in Minerva in 1969 — provides meaningful connections for seniors living in this remote town with a population of approximately 800.

‘Our program provides opportunities to our local residents who have lived here most or all of their lives and those who have chosen to retire here,’ Sleeping Giants member Suzanne Crouse told us during a visit back in 2018. She said their meetings, activities, and offer enjoyable and stimulating ways for them to feel connected with both their community and the region, which helps avert feelings of isolation and loneliness.

While membership is somewhat exclusive to this group — you have to be 50 years or older to join — participants say the feeling of camaraderie and togetherness is priceless. The group’s president, Carol Frazier, told us it feels like a family.

Members learn from and support each other. While there is often a guest speaker at their meetings — a 22-time 46er once shared tales of his trekking adventures — they don’t need to look far for interesting perspectives, and often tap their own members to share their stories.

For many seniors across the region, aging in place isn’t easy. There are limited opportunities to socialize, find companionship, participate in recreational activities, and continue to learn.

It is projected that by 2030, according to the New York State Office for the Aging, more than one-third of the population in most North Country counties will be over the age of 65. And, statewide, the fastest growing population is over 85. In our region, 27.8% of adults 65 and older live alone. These demographic trends present both challenges and opportunities for our towns and villages.

On the opportunity side, elderly residents contribute to our communities in so many positive ways, including socially, economically, and through civic engagement. On the challenge side, more elders are aging in place, there is a shortage of home health aides, and transportation to services, including vaccination sites, is limited.

A grant awarded from the Community Fund for the Gore Mountain Region at Adirondack Foundation introduced us to Sleeping Giants in Minerva. Dozens of our funds support vital elder programs like Mercy Care for the Adirondacks, the Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake, Clinton County Office for the Aging and many community volunteer friendship programs for seniors across the region. We can all play a role in helping seniors thrive — whether through financial support, lending a hand, or being kind.

All summer long, Adirondack Foundation is celebrating the Spirit of Generosity by highlighting stories about the generous people, organizations, and collaborations that enrich the lives of people in the Adirondacks. Every Saturday, Adirondack Almanack is sharing an essay by Cali Brooks, President and CEO, about some of the people and programs that Adirondack Foundation invests in and partners with to enhance the lives of people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy.  Readers can win the opportunity to direct a grant to an organization that aligns with the Foundation’s Generous Acts program. To enter, simply create a social media post that captures what generosity means to you and tag Adirondack Foundation’s accounts.

Photo: Minerva’s Sleeping Giants senior citizens program. Photo by Lisa Godfrey

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Cali Brooks is president & CEO of Adirondack Foundation. After working with nonprofit organizations in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the United States, Cali returned home to the Adirondacks and worked for the HKH Foundation where she conducted a survey to assess the economic, social, cultural, and environmental strengths of the Adirondack region. She then joined the Public Affairs office of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and co-founded the Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program. She and her family live in and love the Adirondacks.

2 Responses

  1. Zephyr says:

    This is great! Luckily, my wife and I have been able to help our aging parents stay in their homes, but it isn’t easy. It is OT, but another huge problem is age discrimination on the job. In an area that has an aging workforce and a shortage of workers I hope things change, but right now blatant age discrimination is rampant everywhere. It is not even hidden–you will be made fun of, asked inappropriate questions about your age, and lose job opportunities and wages because of your age. That needs to change.

  2. Vanessa B says:

    This is great, congrats to all contributing! All of my grandparents stayed in their homes – my grandpa until the day he died at 90. It takes a lot of love and effort to help older folks lead dignified lives through illness and other hardship. Thank you to all of those helping to do so.