'Let's get age out of it.'
The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center is redefining what it means to be a senior center, and the leader of that effort is LOACC Volunteer Coordinator Nicolette Hume.
At the beginning of 2019 Hume took over the Living Well Talk Series, which brings speakers into the LOACC to talk about a variety of topics related to aging and senior living.
Hume decided to shake things up in an effort to reimagine what services and advice can be offered to adult populations at local senior centers.
"My first thought was, 'why don't we focus on things that aren't your stereotypical senior programming and really dive into hot topics that are not age specific, that are just topics that interest any adult?'" Hume said. "Let's get age out of it — that's the biggest thing I tried to do."
The speaker series strives to present fresh, innovative and enlightening topics to enrich the lives of today's older adults.
In that effort, Hume scheduled a series of talks that were outside of the realm of things you'd typically associate with a senior wellness talk. One of those was a sex therapist who came in to talk about sexually transmitted diseases, intimacy and finding love in old age. They've hosted a talk on marijuana and the healing qualities of CBD. She brought in a hypnotist to talk about the benefits of hypnosis. Another speaker talked about personality traits, the nine-point enneagram test and what those mean for personal development and relationships. One speaker came to talk about retirement as a chance to re-envision yourself and go after a lifelong passion rather than simply ending a career.
"Boomers are not retiring like their parents or grandparents," Hume said. "They see themselves as thriving, vivacious and still growing. I want to reach out to that demographic because I want them to feel comfortable with who we are as a center and what we offer. We want to destigmatize what an adult center is."
The LOACC and Hume's efforts did not go unnoticed. In a recent community survey they received astoundingly positive feedback to the speaker series and topics they'd chosen in an effort to shake things up.
Hume's Living Well Talk Series was so well received that it gained national acclaim too. Earlier this year her program was awarded the 2018 Programs Excellence Award for "Best Health and Wellness" series by the National Council on Aging's (NCOA) National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC).
Hume will travel to Washington, D.C. with LOACC Manager Ann Adrian and Programs Supervisor Maria Bigelow for the NCOA's Age + Action conference June 17-20 where the three will represent Lake Oswego in receiving the award, as well as give presentations on how the LOACC is changing the game.
"One of the talks I'm giving at the national conference is 'Putting the Sexy in Senior Center,' because it's kind of taboo in our culture to have the word senior and sexy in the same sentence, and we want to change that," Hume said. "We're doing a disservice to the seniors we serve and the agencies we work for and the communities we provide these programs to. I'm trying to get people to expand their thought on what it means to bring programming to this older population."
The LOACC was one of 15 programs nationwide to be honored with the annual recognition for innovative, creative and replicable programs for older adults. The programs are nominated and winners are picked by a NISC Committee of senior center professionals
"The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center is an important destination for older adults in the City Lake Oswego, and we work hard to keep our programs fun and educational for our members," Adrian said. "We are honored to receive a NISC Programs of Excellence award, and hope that other senior centers across the country will be able to replicate the 'Living Well Talk Series' program to benefit their members."
Hume has scheduled several intriguing talks for this upcoming season of the Living Well Talk Series, one of which will feature author Cheryl Strayed, of "Wild" fame. Strayed will present her talk, "Owning Our Stories, and Living Our Truths," Sunday, Sept. 4 from 2-4 p.m. in the auditorium at Lakeridge High School, 1235 Overlook Dr. Tickets are $15 for residents, $20 non-residents.
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