The newly renovated and expanded community center will soon open in Branford. It’s a combination of the town’s recreation and senior activities, brought together under one roof.

Even thought there was some interest initially, in building a new facility, the decision to renovate the existing building proved to be a wise one. It’s in a convenient place, it has good bones, suitable for reapportioning space and function, and they were able to find space for additional parking.

Lots of people are looking forward to seeing the completed project. I like the fact that the building is emblazoned with a sign that states; Community Center. A welcoming invitation to everyone in town to assume that, at some point in time, there will be something taking place there that will bring you in.

I can imagine all sorts of interesting things, from basketball games in the gym, to lectures in the common area, to meetings in the small rooms and perhaps classes on interesting topics and even old fashioned arts and crafts. Hopefully the kitchen will be available for cooking classes and demonstrations.

What I like most about this new place is that it will not be discriminatory in its programming; all are welcome at any age. There was a time when our recreational activities were separated by certain physical characteristics, such as age or work status.

Changing demographics and the redefinition of age-related activities have given us a new, more expansive outlook on how we age and even what it means to be older. Not many of us really want to be referred to as seniors, or any other specific age related designation.

Let’s just acknowledge that with age, certain aspects of life change and with age a person gets to have options for how to spend leisure time. Let’s just say that retirement, even though it’s becoming a later in life occurrence, does provide many choices for how to live your life.

Some things you may want to do, you may want to do with younger people, while other things you may want to do with others in your age group. Why don’t we just allow people to decide for themselves.

The gym that I go to has members from across the age spectrum. Even though I’m probably the oldest member by far, we all coexist very nicely and I think we have developed a renewed appreciation for how we adapt to our physical challenges at various stages of life.

There was a time when inter-generational living arrangements were common. In my old neighborhood, grandparents very often lived in very close proximity to their children and grandchildren. We had opportunities to interact with each other and support each other as well. The custom now is to separate us by category, some of us like it and some resist.

Anyway, getting back to the Community Center, I hope we do make it open and welcoming for all; let everyone figure out what they want to do and in some cases, people will find themselves in mixed company, and that would be a really nice outcome.

Of course, some of us elders will want to spend time together, doing things that only we have time to do, and learning things that are meaningful to us at this stage of our lives.

As we live longer, remain healthier, and redefine what life should and can be like at various stages of aging; we get to lift old restrictions and develop much broader expectations for our ability to continue to be part of the mainstream, and live fuller lives suited to our own liking. Let’s get rid of cubbyholes and labels and limited expectations, let’s just live life to the fullest, in ways large and small.

Connecticut Media Group