No one ever expects to get old.
But eventually, that day comes - and a York County group wants to make the aging process smoother for residents.
For the first time in public, the York County Community Foundation presented its comprehensive plan for improving life for aging Yorkers. It unveiled the Embracing Aging Initiative to a crowd of about 200 at the second annual Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's Founders' Lecture and Luncheon, held at Penn State York.
The plan is aimed at addressing the aging population as a whole, as some become isolated, some enjoy leisure time and some age like rock stars, said Jane Conover, the foundation's vice president of community investment.
And that's what communities across Pennsylvania need to do, said Brian Duke, secretary of the state Department of Aging.
"You have the spirit. You have the drive ... You're doing the right thing. Keep doing it," he said.
The plan: Funded by the $6 million Hahn Home endowment, the plan has several goals aimed at addressing a growing baby boomer population, Conover said.
The foundation wants to expand transportation options, offer a larger variety of housing options, create a one-stop source of information for seniors, ensure public policies are age-friendly and promote the positives of life after 50, she said.
Once these strategies are finalized, the initiative will implement them in 2014, she said.
The major perk is that addressing these areas will improve communities for residents at large - not just older adults, Conover said. For example, larger signage, better sidewalks and lighting would improve the outdoor climate for everyone, she said.
During the presentation, Conover sought audience feedback on those ideas. Attendees were keen on village living, new types of gathering places for older adults, a strong health care network and more cultural and recreational opportunities for older adults.
The foundation will continue to collect feedback from residents to ensure its goals are aligned with what the people want, Conover said.
Looking forward: Getting older is a big deal, said Sherry Fair, 60, of West Manchester Township.
"They say it's just a number, but it's not just a number," she said.
"It's a slap in the face," added Linda Kestner, 65, of York City. "We're getting to that age that we never thought we'd be at."
The women, although a bit jolted by the idea of aging, said they were receptive to the foundation's action plan.
"I think it's great. ... Hopefully it'll spur more activity for those past a certain age," Kestner said.
And for Fair, who's in the middle of the baby boomer generation, it's the perfect opportunity to start thinking about the future.
"It's so timely," she said.
Having a plan and addressing problems is exactly what this community needs, said Susan Crooks, 60, of Springettsbury Township. Transportation in particular is integral, as many seniors become isolated when they are no longer able to drive, she said.
"It keeps them prisoners in their own homes," she said.
Back in the day, Crooks said, people were more neighborly and more willing to both help others and ask for assistance.
"You took care of each other," she said.
And now it's time to come together and help each other out, Fair said.
"It's about integration: It's about the wholeness and bringing everybody along," she said.
-Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.