Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO, says the Bonaventure family is about one thing: life on your terms. Bonaventure is dedicated to providing a comfortable, caring, affordable place to call home by providing the amount of expert help and care you desire—from a little to a lot. Recently, the staff of Presentation Solutions sat down for a conversation with Pam Gray of Bonaventure.
Presentation Solutions: Everyone gives up working at some point in order to retire and relax, don’t they?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Not everyone. Some senior adults have started a successful career when they were long past retirement age.
Presentation Solutions: Successful? You mean they continue working in established careers, don’t you?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: No, I mean completely new careers. A wonderful lady who goes by the name, “Grandma Moses”, worked on a farm until she was too frail to do manual labor. She taught herself to paint when she was 78 years old. She then went on to become one of the most successful folk artists of the last century, perhaps because no one could convince her she was too old to do it.
Presentation Solutions: But isn’t that just one individual who beat the odds?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Well, there’s also Peter Roget. He was a retired doctor who liked to make lists. He published his giant list of words as a book at age 73. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. Most people just call it “The Thesaurus.”
Presentation Solutions: Okay, okay. But those two are exceptions, right? Don’t all seniors eventually retire and settle into a sedentary lifestyle?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: At Bonaventure we encourage our residents to do what they enjoy. You’d be amazed at what senior adults can do with a little encouragement.
Presentation Solutions: So, amaze me…
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: How about great grandmother Mary Armstrong? On her 90th birthday, she celebrated by making a 12,000 foot skydiving jump. Or maybe biker chick, Bess Tancrelle, who celebrated her 102nd birthday by taking a ride on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Presentation Solutions: That is amazing! They must have never had any serious injuries or illnesses to allow such incredible feats, right?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: I can’t speak to that particular question, but one lady I know about named Tao Porchon-Lynch had surgery for a broken hip at age 87. Her doctor told her that her body would never be the same and to take it easy from then on. She thought about it, said no way, and at age 93 went on to ballroom-dancing competition. She also teaches yoga classes twelve times a week.
Presentation Solutions: That is one determined woman! Does that kind of thing happen often?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: It isn’t that uncommon in today’s world. Geriatric specialists tell us that longevity is the new normal. I expect more and more people will achieve surprising physical and mental accomplishments well into their 90s and beyond.
Presentation Solutions: Isn’t this a rare occurrence in the retirement community?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Actually, it’s becoming relatively common to see seniors participating in physically-taxing events like marathons and long-distance cycling.
Presentation Solutions: So it is an individual undertaking and not a community thing?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: It can involve a group of senior adults with the same interests. Senior leagues for softball, baseball and swim teams are forming across the country.
Presentation Solutions: What is driving this change in the way seniors spend their retirement years?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Baby Boomers are often mentioned when the topic of so called over-achieving seniors are mentioned. Baby Boomers have been accused of not wanting to grow old and are determined it isn’t going to happen to them. But the 80-, 90-, and 100-year olds we’ve discussed today aren’t Baby Boomers. Some of them are even older than the parents of Baby Boomers.
Presentation Solutions: But it seems a little strange that it is happening now across the country. Is something else driving these extraordinary changes in retirement attitudes?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: I would say, yes. It is a very recent phenomenon and there are definitely extenuating factors. People are more aware of how much lifestyle changes affect their health and longevity. Advances in medicine also play a major role.
Presentation Solutions: Even with those considerations, we’re talking about some serious physical exertion that demands unwavering dedication. How do they do it?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: For the majority, the simple answer is they love the activities they have chosen. The pleasure of their accomplishments more than outweighs the monotony of the daily effort it takes.
Presentation Solutions: We’ve talked about physical prowess. What about mental agility and senility?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: I’m glad you asked that. Often, people make a broad assumption about older adults. They are old, therefore they are mentally deficient. This is a harmful myth. The belief that cognitive function declines with age has not been proven.
Presentation Solutions: Are you saying that aging doesn’t affect our ability to learn and communicate effectively?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Well, for example, many people don’t remember that Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of England—twice. He served a second time in 1951 when he was 77 years old.
Presentation Solutions: No, I confess I didn’t know that.
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Much like Peter Roget and his Thesaurus, there’s Noah Webster. He didn’t publish his first dictionary until he was 69 years old.
Presentation Solutions: I suppose there are numerous authors we could name. What about other professions?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Barbara McLintock, the discoverer of genetic transposition, or cell mutation changing DNA, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine at the age of 81.
Presentation Solutions: I didn’t realize there were so many older adults who had made such an impact on our lives. I thought most people retired early to relax.
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: In today’s world, sixty-fix is not very old. While early retirement before the age of 65 does seem to be a trend, that doesn’t mean those retirees stop working. They often leave the work they’ve done all their lives to start a new career or pursue other interests that may not have been possible for them in their earlier life.
Presentation Solutions: These facts are definitely food for thought. It’s encouraging to know there is life after retirement. And it sounds like a lot of fun.
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: There are a lot of senior adults who agree. Getting older is inevitable, but how we handle it makes all the difference. Our outlook on aging has changed drastically in recent years and it continues to evolve.
Pam Gray of Bonaventure is passionate about offering senior adults the best in retirement accommodations and assisted living. Bonaventure communities are located in the Western United States. For more information, visit RetirementPerfected.com.