By the year 2060 the amount of Americans who are at least 65 years old will double to a staggering 98 million people, translating into nearly 25 percent of the population living through the “golden years.”
The community of Scottsdale could be a glimpse into the future demographics of the United States of America.
In the last formal census count it was revealed about 20 percent of the Scottsdale population — a community of 246,000 residents, which makes it the nation’s 92nd largest municipality — are at least 65 years old.
Duet: Partners In Health & Aging is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on helping bridge the gap between legacy resident and the generations who came after them through a conscientious approach to helping those who helped build the communities of the Valley of the Sun.
Duet’s formal mission statement illustrates an effort to promote health and well-being through vitally needed services to homebound adults, family caregivers, faith communities and grandfamilies.
“Duet’s free-of-charge services are available in the greater Phoenix area,” said Shelly Everson, a spokesperson for Duet. “In Scottsdale, specifically, we provide transportation services to doctor’s appointments and grocery stores to homebound adults; we host a family caregiver support group at Via Linda Senior Center; and we provide support to grandparents raising grandchildren and faith communities.”
Turns out, the Scottsdale Charros respect those who came before them and — through The Charro Foundation — provided Duet with a $3,000 grant focused on creating intergenerational connections between isolated seniors and young people.
Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins says the program, the effort and nonprofit agencies like Duet make the difference for many.
“Duet offers a wonderful program for fourth grade students at Scottsdale Schools to connect with senior citizens to share stories about each other’s lives,” he said.
“It educates and informs the students about how older people have lived their lives and carry out their activities as they age. The seniors love it because they become re-connected to youth. They re-live stories from their childhood and offer advice on how to live a quality life.”
If we don’t know where we have been, we may not find out where we are headed, Mr. Robbins says.
“America continues to age and this program will be more needed than ever,” he pointed out.
“There are so many valuable lessons that seniors can teach our youth about history, past generations and lessons learned by those who have lived before us. Seniors become more isolated as they (age), but this program allows them to engage with our youth on a personal level that would never happened without Duet.”
For nearly 60 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
For Ms. Everson, Duet is a vital community resource offered free of charge to those who need the support most.
“These services are needed because no one should have to face life’s aging challenges alone,” she said. “Too often, older adults and family caregivers feel isolated as they deal with the most overwhelming experiences of their lives.”
Ms. Everson contends day-to-day tasks can become insurmountable obstacles for many who call Scottsdale home.
“Duet eases the journey by walking alongside the people we serve on the path of caring,” she said. “From giving rides to the grocery store and medical appointments, to offering health promotion activities and support groups, Duet is here to provide compassionate help.”
Ms. Everson explains grant dollars from the Charro Foundation will go toward a pen-pal program originating from Navajo Elementary School, apart of the Scottsdale Unified School District.
“The grant from the Charros is very specific in that it funds a Scottsdale based pen-pal program for Scottsdale elementary students,” she said. “This year, we are working with elementary school students specifically at Navajo Elementary School.”
According to Ms. Everson, the pen-pal initiative seeks to provide elderly neighbors with a service opportunity while also teaching students the art of letter writing and correspondence.
Go to duetaz.org.
Scottsdale Independent Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be e-mailed at email@example.com.