My preconceptions about aging went out the window long ago. Even before I started working at Next, Birmingham’s 50+ Community Center, I would witness my own parents and in-laws embrace all that their lives offered.
My father was a polymath and perennial student, with a powerful memory and a thirst for knowledge. My father-in-law would proudly tag along to his three grandchildren’s hockey games, sometimes 10 games in a week. He never wanted to miss the fun. My mom, at 94 is still up for a good happy hour.
That was my anecdotal evidence that aging is far different today then with previous generations. Many of us have preconceived ideas about aging – but after working at Next almost nine years, studying this generation through vast amount of available research, and taking the time to understand and appreciate what makes this demographic unique, I have learned there is definitely a bright side to aging, and much to celebrate.
Next is home to more than 2,300 active adults — and continuously growing. I have the privilege of speaking with many of our members and I continue to get a better understanding of what their daily lives are like, and how Next can serve them better. The thing about Next, like many other transitional times in our lives – going to college, a new job, relocating to a new town — is the chance to reinvent yourself. Our members have had illustrious careers, made important contributions to society and raised families to be proud of. But come to Next and you will see a humbled sense of a shared background and an understanding that members come here because of the comfort and ease in being with others who are also actively enjoying their best days.
Those best days look different for different members. That is an important reason why we changed our name to Next more than eight years ago. What is “Next” is personal for each member based on their own life, no comparisons and no benchmarks on what society expects. Instead, Next inspires each member to lead an enriched life.
Our members are busy, engaged, curious and explorative. They participate in a wide variety of activities such as our Health & Wellness partnership with Henry Ford Health, lifelong learning opportunities showcasing exceptional speakers, meaningful social enrichment, art, fitness, travel and live entertainment.
The lesson I have learned is now is the time. The time to learn, to make new friends, to share interests, to challenge one’s thinking, simply put— to be involved.
Next has been a long standing fixture in the community offering a safe and welcoming place to gather for 45 years, and continues to evolve to meet the needs of today’s active adults. We provide high quality programming and reliable services, but our members provide the vitality, energy and sense of belonging that makes Next the unique and wonderful place it is.
Detailed information can be found on our website, BirminghamNext.org, or stop-in. Next is located at 2121 Midvale Rd. Birmingham, (248)203-5270.
Cris Braun is Executive Director of Birmingham Next