By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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group tries to dispel myths of older adults

April 17, 2014
Ventura County Star

When her husband died, Mim Bromberg never dreamed she’d live in a senior environment let alone live 81 years.

“I find it hard to believe that I’m 81 years old, but I have checked, and the age is true,” Bromberg joked during a recent intergenerational meeting of youths and older adults at Vintage Simi Hills in Simi Valley.

“I never expected to live in a senior retirement center,” she continued. “I was unhappy at first but now I love this place. I hope all of you have a place like this at my age to be able to live in.”

Bromberg is among a three-member group of women at Vintage Simi Hills who inspired the Resident Community Outreach Program, an effort that involves dispelling myths of older adults.

Vintage Simi Hills residents Betty Preston and Mim Bormberg smile as they talk about some of the things they have done while living at Vintage.

“The residents speak from the heart about what life is really like at this age and what it is really like to live in an assisted living community,” said Florence Trapani, activities director at Vintage. “This program enlightens the community as to the value and importance of this population, and that life is still good for them.”

Formed in January, the group has spoken at the Simi Valley YMCA, as well as the Simi Valley Kiwanis Club, where life stories were laced with humor, wisdom and insight to living a full life, said Floyd Martin, Kiwanis program chair.

“They do not like to be stereotyped as seniors and want to correct that image by their actions,” Martin said.

The panel most recently spoke to youths from Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley involved with a ministry at Vintage that reads from the Bible, sings hymns and other activities on Mondays.

Vintage Simi Hills residents Florence Koss (from left), Betty Preston, Mim Bormberg and Mary Bernnan talk about some of the things they have experienced as older adults. They are members of a newly formed Resident Outreach Speaker Panel from Vintage Simi Hills.

“You go back to other cultures and the elders are the people around the campfire; they’re the ones that everybody listens to,” said Jack Gibson, a teacher at Grace Brethren in charge of the youth ministry. “Now elders have very little role in society apart from being grandmas and grandpas so if the young are going to learn from those with years of experience, you have to be intentional to bring them together.”

On April 14, the youths learned that Mary Brennan, 82, is a New York native with 16 grandchildren whose late husband worked three jobs to ensure she could remain a homemaker.

“The best advice I can give anybody for making the most of your life is to laugh a lot and try to do at least one thing every day to make someone smile,” Brennan said.

Betty Preston, 89, talked about working in the shipyards during wartime and outliving three husbands as well as her desire not to attend college.

Tyler McGue, 19, listens to seniors from the newly formed Vintage Simi Hills Resident Outreach Speaker Panel. Tyler was at Vintage Simi Hills with fellow Grace Brethren Church members to listen and learn what life is like as an older adult.

“My father couldn’t afford to send me but I didn’t want to really go anyway because I didn’t want to be a nurse or a secretary,” Preston said. “Those were my choices not like today.”

Preston added that she never dreamed she’d reside in an assisted living facility in her later years.

“I thought I’d be in my house until the day I died, but then I fell and broke my hip,” Preston recalled. “Here I am, a year later, and I love it.”

Matthew Daunt, 17, said he was inspired by the group’s intention to dispel stigmas.

“I didn’t know they didn’t consider themselves old,” the teen said. “It brings me joy that they have fun at this age.”

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