NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Anyone with an “older” person in their life is likely familiar with the trials and tribulations of aging.
There are medical concerns, complicated living arrangements to be made, and worries about what life will be like as a senior citizen.
At Parker, which operates four senior facilities in Middlesex and Somerset County, things are a bit different.
New Brunswick residents might be familiar with "Parker Home at Landing Lane," located on the outskirts of Buccleuch Park since 1907.
With 110 years under their belt in New Brunswick, Parker is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on the “ways to make aging manageable, relatable, and enriching for all of society,” according to their website.
In fact, Parker is so invested in this mission to adequately assist the elderly that they conducted the “Aging in America Survey,” with rather surprising results.
It turns out that “old” might not mean what it used to.
According to the survey, about 84% of "Baby Boomers" don’t consider themselves to be old, and 71% of those surveyed do not worry about aging very much at all.
This survey sheds light on something not many people like to talk about.
Perhaps the perception of aging is changing across the country, or perhaps places like Parker are making it a more bearable (and even youthful) experience.
Peggy Wilson and Terry Manowitz, residents of the non-profit's assisted living facility in Highland Park, didn’t seem the least bit phased by Parker’s 110th year in operation.
“I’m almost that old. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, really,” said Wilson, who is 90 years old.
The two women were much more excited to talk about the plethora of activities they can sign up for, including art classes where Wilson constructs self-proclaimed “masterpieces,” and Manowitz spins away all day at the gym.
“I love the gym. Keeping active helps me along the day. Even just riding a bicycle keeps me moving along,” said Manowitz, age 95.
When asked their personal thoughts on getting older, the dynamic pair answered quickly and confidently.
“Everyone worries about what happens when you get older, but I don’t think much changes. If something hurts, I don’t go to the doctor right away. I see what I can do,” said Manowitz. "I’m not afraid of old age. People are afraid, but they don’t realize it’s gradual."
Wilson expressed that the worst part of getting older was losing loved ones and losing her ability to drive.
“I felt like I lost my legs when I had to give up my car,” she remarked.
Wilson extended her gratitude to Johnson and Johnson for being an instrumental part in adding the assisted living at Stonegate to the Parker franchise.
Ultimately, the survey found 29% of respondents worry about aging, but that obviously doesn't include Peggy and Terry.
“I steer away from thinking those things,” said Terry when commenting about general concerns people have of getting older, “I just think ‘tomorrow is another day.’”
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.