‘Experience Never Gets Old’ For Residents And Staff

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In the hit movie, “The Intern,” Oscar winner Robert DeNiro describes retirement as “an ongoing relentless effort in creativity.”

Portraying a 70-year-old recent widower Ben Whitaker’s personal loss is compounded by a desire to return to the workforce. There is a hole in the retired phone directory company executive’s life he “needs to fill. Soon.” The film pitches through Ben’s collective soul searching as he tries to figure out the meaning of life through its many transitions.

Jules Ostin, portrayed by Anne Hathaway, is a successful and youthful CEO to a start up online clothing business, who attempts to balance the demands of her growing business and family priorities. The storyline sees Ben applying for a Senior Internship at her company “About The Fit,” in a Brooklyn, NY warehouse where Ben had previously worked for 40 years.

Some of the funnier movie moments involve technology and Ben’s attempts to grasp the business world’s high technologies. He enlists his family to help him learn, create and upload his video application—no snail mailed cover letter and resume required.

The successful video interview highlights Ben’s trustworthiness, dependability and crisis management skills and he wins the position by reinforcing his lifetime of experience. Ben’s passionate plea recognizes that “it’s a brave new world. Why not consider me?”

The in-person interviews with the talent acquisition staff are comical with questions we remember being asked: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Ben responds, “at age 80.” The staff person realizes that some questions typically asked may not work as well with an older adult.

The opportunities and realities this movie portrays are important for us to embrace. Through discussion we create successful and innovative transitions from careers to retirement. Ben’s situation is not unique, where we risk holding onto a job title, and identifying ourselves solely on the basis of our once-held title or role.

At the same time, where will we find a qualified labor market to support a service-driven economy in the future? The concept of transcending generations and developing meaningful relationships that have mutual benefit and purpose are at the heart of our wellness initiatives at John Knox Village.

At age 54, I have been blessed to serve more than half of my life in this profession—some 28 years. Being mentored and coached along the way have made me into the person I am. Just as Jules confides to Ben in one scene, I, too, have felt the calming effects when surrounded by people grounded in the knowledge that only a lifetime of experience can provide.

My third year of service at John Knox Village begins in January. Time does go by quickly and experience learned from residents reminds me that 10 to 15 years will merely be a blink away. I will be close to Ben’s age then.

The movie reminded me that the mentors from whom I have learned within the six communities in which I have worked is too great to number. Yet I am grateful for each person who has supported and shaped my life.

Future opportunities for our residents are in the planning stages with several South Florida and beyond academic and business organizations that utilize the concept of a Business Incubation Lab.

Imagine the possibilities where innovative minds of all ages meet at John Knox Village to explore how current products, services and housing for older adults could be improved or created. The vitality of our community is an exciting lifestyle in which to be a part.

I envision a business accelerator aimed at helping deliver innovative products and services for various populations. There is a Louisville, KY-based company called Innovate LTC that explores such ideas for the 50+ market. To learn more about their important work Google them at http://innovateltc.com

Good things occur when we focus on making a difference in the lives of others. We are a community that thrives on evolving and being engaged in life’s scrimmage.

I highly recommend seeing “The Intern.” Relationships that transcend generations are like the expression, “Oldie but Goodie”

I wish to dedicate this article to the many John Knox Village residents, board members and staffers who provide insights and life experiences to me daily.

— Gerry Stryker, John Knox Village Chief Executive Officer