As the CEO and Founder of Phoenix Senior Living it is no secret that serving and honoring seniors and their families is my passion. Even when Phoenix Senior Living was only a dream, I was always vehement about having a strong and thriving inter-generational platform when I finally launched my vision. Now that my dream of Phoenix Senior Living has been realized — we will soon have 10 Phoenix Senior Living communities serving seniors throughout the Southeast — I have only become more passionate about bringing our youngest generation together with our wisest generation.
Both personally and professionally, I have experienced the wisdom of our elders; they are some of the most knowledgeable people in our society, bringing a lifetime of experiences many Americans can only imagine. Experiences like illness with limited medical assistance, oppression, loss, crushing poverty with The Great Depression, and a World War. Our elders possess a unique kind of wisdom borne of surviving these experiences that could, and should, provide a valuable lens through which younger people can view their own lives.
Sadly, ageism does still exist and our seniors are often subject to prejudice and discrimination. It is truly a shame to think that seniors, with a lifetime of experience and memories — memories that include a time when communities were close and stable, when air and water were cleaner, when people didn’t have to lock their doors, when people grew up working (understanding if there weren’t any “good” jobs available, they took whatever was available and worked hard at them) — would be so often overlooked for their advice. They know better than most that you can live well with less and be happy.
I ponder the fact that our elders survived the Great Depression, so why would we not want to hear from them and how they managed to hold their families together in a time much worse than our own economic downturn? With our wars abroad today, we could learn a lot from our veterans who fought for our country in World War II and the Korean War, as well as their spouses and children who supported their efforts at home. These men and women have such incredible, unique, and valuable stories to share and their experiences provide life lessons that could help us all.
For me personally, I know the importance of the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. Studies indicate it is second in emotional importance only to the relationship between parent and child. Both grandparents and grandchildren enjoy the benefits from staying engaged. Research confirms that almost 90% of adult grandchildren believe their grandparents influenced their values and behaviors; I, for a fact, know how important it is. I experienced it as a young person growing up, and to this very day I treasure the life lessons I learned from my own grandparents. I now have the privilege of watching my own children learn at the feet of their wise grandparents, a relationship we all value. We should all be aware of the valuable resource we have in our remaining members of the Greatest Generation, and how quickly we are losing their wisdom. The world will continue — our Wisest Generation would tell us that — yet I must say that the world will be much less interesting without this remarkable group of people.
At Phoenix Senior Living, we will continue to value and treasure the lessons learned from our Wisest Generation.