By: Dian Vujovich, Civic Association Contributing Editor.
If there were only three things to say about Scott Greenberg’s presentation at the Palm Beach Civic Association’s member luncheon Monday, Nov. 17, they would be: The food was great, the speaker even better and everyone left smiling.
That latter point is saying something given that his program was about that sometimes complicated and always extraordinary time in life -- seniorhood.
Scott Greenberg has been meeting with older audiences for years. As host of the popular radio program, “Oh My God, I’m Getting Older and So Is My Mom,” and author of a book by the same title, he is accustomed to addressing rooms where the youngest person might be 50 and the oldest well into his or her 90s. Just like the one at The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, where the Civic Association member event was held.
His presentation goal has always been to help adults understand some of the challenges and concerns they may face as they age. Challenges that could run the gambit from finding good doctors, to appropriate living arrangements to legal advice -- and any variety of subjects in between.
“We are all very ill-prepared for what the retirement years will bring, “ said Mr. Greenberg, who is also president of ComForcare Senior Services, a private non-medical home care agency serving residents from Boca Raton to Vero Beach.
If you’ve heard any of his radio programs—he owns and controls all of them so there is no need for sponsorship----you might think Mr. Greenberg sounds like he’s in his 40s. . In reality, this seasoned health care professional is a fresh 65 and proud new Medicare card carrier with a sense of humor that makes you think Jackie Mason and the Catskills rolled into one.
“Did you know that senior citizens are the leading carrier of aids in the United States?”
the native New Yorker asked the audience. “Band-Aids. Walking aids. Hearing aids.” To that the audience laughed and somewhere in the distance you could almost hear: Bada bing. Bada boom.
Mr. Greenberg was also serious about AIDS sharing the surprising fact that 50 percent of new HIV cases in the U.S. occur among senior citizens.
Subjects like that wake up seniors, and those caring for them, to the reality that today’s elderly live and do things much differently than those of previous generations. Even differently than when they were young. Instead of “getting stoned,” Mr. Greenberg said, they “get stones.” Instead of going to art fairs, he said it’s health fairs that top their to-do lists. “Health fairs are really good. They are like trick-or-treat for seniors.”
And he is right. It’s not unusual to attend one, have your blood pressure checked, take a bone density test and then go home with a bag filled with health-related goodies.
When asked what questions callers to his radio program ask most often, he said the answers might surprise you. “I get more questions about ophthalmology than anything else,” Mr. Greenberg said. “And another is, ‘When did we wake up and become our parents?’”
Greenberg answered the second question like this: “The truth is we are not our parents. If you grew up like I did, my mom lived on Avenue A, her brother lived on Avenue B, her mother lived on Avenue C, her cousins on Avenue D and everybody took care of everybody…That’s not happening today.”
Not only are families not living as close to one another as they once did, more often than not he pointed out that today’s family members don’t have the time, money or skill to care for aging parents or loved ones.
“Primary caregiving is now a professional job, “said Mr. Greenberg, a certified Alzheimer’s educator.
While caregiving can be stressful for everyone involved, the good news is it isn’t a job every family member will have to face. Or, one every senior will need.
If there’s one thing he thinks everyone could benefit from, no matter his or her age or stage in life, it’s volunteerism.
“I think volunteering is magical and it’s magical for a whole variety of reasons, “Mr. Greenberg said. “It gives you a place to go. It gives you purpose. It obviously helps the group you are volunteering for. And if you don’t show up, someone will be out looking for you.”
Blanche Benton and her daughter, Barbara Striebel, were at the luncheon and shared their thoughts about the presentation.
“I loved everything about it,” said Mrs. Benton, who turned 90 in August. “It was so lighthearted and I didn’t get bored.”
Mrs. Striebel summarized Mr. Greenberg’s program like this: “He reinforced the power of laugher. And he had us laughing at our own aging as we are learning new skills about it.” Bada bing. Bada boom.