Remember those classic science fiction movies, "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "2010, The Year We Make Contact?" At the time they were released, those dates sounded so far away, and now 2010 is right at our fingertips.Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several regular contributors to 55 Plus share their thoughts about the coming year and what they would like to see; for themselves, their families, seniors and the country in general.
Mike Johnson, executive director of the Center at the Park said, "Is world peace too much to ask for?" Then he offered his hopes and wishes for 2010 and beyond:
"Peace on Earth and goodwill for all humankind, Universal Health Care for all Americans, a stable economy, jobs for the jobless and homes for the homeless."
Debbi Pierce, Southeastern Washington outreach coordinator, Alzheimer's Association-Inland Northwest Chapter, shared her thoughts: "2010 means many things to me. On a personal level, realizing my life will experience changes, although expected they are never easy. I feel extremely blessed by Ron and Connie, who have been a daily part of my life since my husband's illness was first diagnosed. Our daughters and grandchildren mean the world to me, and I hope that 2010 provides the opportunity to spend more time with them.
"My church body provides continual support in ways that I can't even express. Mainly, I don't know how anyone can make it through the challenges of life without a personal relationship with the Jesus Christ. He alone has touched my life in amazing ways this past month, and I look forward with excitement and anticipation at what He has in store for my life in 2010," she said.
"On a business level, I am looking forward to starting 2010 as a full-time staff member of the Alzheimer's Association-Inland Northwest Chapter. The support of the Union-Bulletin and Blue Mountain TV has helped in getting the word out about the existence of the chapter and services offered to people, like myself, who deal with dementia. Lives have already been touched in Walla Walla, and that brings the peace and joy of the season to my heart.
"My hope is that seniors and families who are trying to cope with dementia will reach out to resources," Pierce said, going on to list several resources, including Aging & Long Term Care, the Alzheimer's Association, Hospice of Walla Walla, and the Walla Walla Senior Center/Adult Day Care.
"The biggest need that I see for 2010 is for people to get involved with advocacy, whether their family has been touched with Alzheimer's or not, it will be in the future. Get on board and help to restore and even increase funds for research, given the sobering numbers of lives affected," Pierce said. "My prayer is that all will find the help and peace that they need in their lives for 2010."
Duane Cinnamon, owner of Seniors Helping Seniors, said he's also very concerned about health care.
"Our government is wanting to put this plan together, taking money away from Medicare ... The senior population already needs more help, not less," he said. "It's the wrong approach. We need to find better answers about health care.
"I would like to see more focus on providing quality care to the people. Eighty percent of medical expenses in a lifetime are incurred in the latter part of your life."
"Our senior citizens should be the most important people in our lives, and they're being swept under the rug. They broke their backs and made sacrifices to build this country and they're being neglected, and even abused. I would like to see our attitude toward seniors change. They deserve more respect."
Others wanted to see better communication.
"I would like to see a more thoughtful dialogue about those things which challenge us as a community, society, nation and planet," said Paul Franzmann, Fort Walla Walla Museum communications manager. "The current level of discourse is too often overly loud and focuses on laying blame. Lies and deception to keep necessary changes from happening do not help anyone other than those with vested financial interests who wish to preserve the status quo for the sake of their profit margins. A good mantra for the sake of everyone would be, 'Let's do what's best for our children.' If we take care of that, we'll all be better off."
Looking to the future: 2010, here we come!