[San Juan Silver Stage | June 2020 | Kathryn R. Burke

Age brings inevitable discomforts (arthritis, unsteadiness, sometimes fuzzy memory), but that doesn’t dictate that the “golden” years must be spent sitting in a recliner and mindlessly watching TV. The secret to successful longevity is to move! Get up! Get going! Get out and do things. And that’s the impetus behind The 90s Club, which meets once a month at the Senior Center after lunch (and now accepts some in their eighties as well).

It began because Wini Tappan, who turned 94 in February, was seeking answers for senior services and having trouble finding them. She lunches regularly at the Senior Center, and through discussions there with folks in their 80s and 90s, she realized that there were others who needed help, and couldn’t figure out where to get it. So she started digging for information—not an easy task when you have macular degeneration and hearing loss. Neither of which slows Winnie down, though. (Despite those issues, plus having suffered a stroke, broken neck, and heart attack,  Wini was swimming at the Rec Center until it closed for Covid. She never missed  a Saturday Night Dance at the Senior Center—until it, too, closed for Covid. We recently published her fourth book; she wrote her first at age 55!)

The information on how to help seniors is out there, but it’s murkey, often confusing, and sometimes really hard to find. But she did, and knowing she needed to share it, started the club. Wini researched age-related topics then arranged for guest speakers. She reached out to Cindy Marino at the Rec Center for help in planning and executing club activities. Last fall, members enjoyed a color tour in Ouray County, with lunch at The Grit Café in Ridgway. During the holiday season, the Rec Center van took the group on an excursion to view Christmas light displays, followed by dinner at Paghres Restaurant in Montrose. The blub has toured and lunched at a variety of fascinating places, learning as they go, often wearing the special club tee shirts she had made for them. You know that old saying, “It’s never too late”? Well, ninety isn’t too late to learn new things.

Before the Covid Crisis, the 80s & 90s Club met the third Friday monthly at the Montrose Senior Center, 1800 Pavilion Drive. After lunch (optional, and prepared by the Homestead), the group enjoyed a special program. Or join other club members there to venture out into the surrounding community for one of the informative, entertaining excursions Wini and Cindy have planned.

During the Covid Crisis, with the Senior Center shut down, Wini remained determined to keep the group together. With the help of Cindy Marino, she initiated a weekly Conference Call. Members tune in by cell phone, and can stay in touch, share stories, and look forward to when they are able to meet in person again. Recently, the group began meeting outdoors, at Lions Club park with a bag lunch. .

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Age has not stopped Wini and her club from figuring out the “way” to be together, in spite of difficult circumstances.

UPDATE. June 9, 2020. Wini suffered a brain bleed. After a short stay at Montrose Hospital, she was transferred to Valley Manor Nursing Home. There, like elders everywhere who are incarcerated in these facilities, she may not have visitors and contact with the outside world is severely limited due to her poor hearing and sight and otherwise diminished capacities. So she, like so many others, suffers from forced, debilitating isolation. If the illness doesn’t kill her, loneliness could.

“But I can still talk . . . and THINK!,” she says. Wini is a new proponent and protestor for SENIOR LIVES MATTER. Lets all join her in her fight and make a statement to Save. Our. Seniors.

Kathryn Burke is a former caregiver and author of numerous books on caregiving. She is also a web designer and has published the San Juan Silver Stage, online at silverstage.news, for over 25 years, which includes a special section for seniors.