/Old news

Old news

By Emily Stonehouse

The process of aging is guaranteed. It’s the only constant in life. 

Yet this society we live in does everything in its power to reverse that. 

Anti-aging creams. Wrinkle removers. Boxed dyes to cover up well-earned wisps of grey. 

Apparently, we aren’t allowed to age as a society. It’s not often discussed. So can we age as a community?

According to the most recent census taken of Minden Hills in 2021, there are 490 individuals in the township between the ages of 20 and 30, and 1040 between the ages of 70 and 80. Whether society likes it or not, aging is happening right here, right now. 

Last week I attended the community discussion Aging Together as Community, hosted at the Fish Hatchery by the Haliburton Highlands Long Term Care Coalition and the ReThink Policy Change group.

The presentation garnered nearly 100 participants between in-person and Zoom, and offered insight and vibrant conversations about the inevitability of aging; what’s needed, who needs support, and how do we do this together. 

A worthy topic of conversation, and one that seemed to elicit sparks of curiosity amongst the room. 

But here’s the thing; it was a room full of people who were already comfortably into the aging process themselves. People who were curious about their next steps. Their futures. Their outcomes. 

Here I was, hovering in my early-30s, and one of the youngest in the room. While this phenomenon happens more often than not in the county (I mean, according to the census, there are only 169 other 30-something women in Minden), it came as a shock to me that young adults weren’t taking an interest in this. 

We are at the age where questions are coming out about our own families, our own futures, our own next steps. 

Aging is happening to everyone, and the concept of aging goes beyond getting old. It impacts everyone in some way, because we are a community of caregivers. Aging isn’t just changes in your appearance; it impacts your mobility, your mind, your surroundings. And, as these needs shift and change, the support required amplifies. 

And while the challenges mount, so should the celebrations. Aging is an honour, a privilege, a gift. Yet the idea of “getting old” is taboo. A central theme of the Aging Together as Community conversation was to pinpoint that elephant in the room, and take it for a ride. Delineate the scare factor of aging, and face it head on. Honour the art of growing old, because it is a journey worthy of respect, admiration, and tremendous value. 

Aging is a process that needs to happen together. We can’t just pass into the next bracket on the census and start to care about it. We have to care about it right now. We have to care about how we are treating our bodies so that they can age comfortably. We have to care about how our decisions impact the generations after us. We have to care about how we can help the generations who blazed trails before us. Aging is a community effort. It’s not a singular, taboo anomaly that we can disregard. In this community, it’s all around us. 

And it’s the folks in the older demographics who are leading the way right now. They are the volunteers, the dreamers, the facilitators of service clubs, the keepers of knowledge. And when they move on, who’s going to fill those shoes? Who’s going to keep our community afloat?

It’s time for young adults to step up, get involved in the community, and start the conversation about aging today, so that we can have a tomorrow where we all thrive together.