When planning Short Term trips, most people’s hopes are for teens and young people to get fired up about living their purposefully. After all, that’s when a person lays a foundation for the rest of their life. But what about those who already have a foundation and maybe have some wisdom to go with it? Seniors are not only a burgeoning part of the American population, but they also aren’t ready for a rocking chair. They want to see new places, learn new things and perhaps teach a few things to younger people. And why not? Modern transportation and information systems make it increasingly possible. Here are four opportunities Short Term trips can offer seniors:
1. To see new things. Now I’m not talking about the touristy types of new things here. Seniors can be tourists on a cruise, if they choose. But getting off the beaten path and hanging with locals is not a touristy thing. Helping a class in Eastern Europe or China with English will certainly get you out of your comfort zone. The question is, are your seniors too old to learn new things like Teaching English As A Second Language? Perhaps they can lead younger team members by example in gracefully accepting new experiences. The truth is, no one who is willing to risk their comfort zone is too old to learn what is really happening in the world. And the best way to know this is to see it first hand.
2. To make new friends. While young people search for novel experiences, most seniors are more interested in relationships. After all, relationships with others enrich lives already rich in “things.” Working alongside nationals in other countries can be a golden opportunity to widen a senior’s circle of friends. E-mail and snail mail (you know, through the Post Office) can keep seniors in touch with new friends even after they have returned to the United States. Unlike young people, many seniors actually try to keep in touch with their friends. They may even want to go back and see them again, if the situation permits. Planners considering adding seniors to their Short Term teams may want to consider permanent relationships with a particular international partnership or project so this option remains available.
3. To make a difference. Anyone can make a difference. That is the truly great lesson of life. History proves that imperfect people change the world, no matter the age. American seniors long to know they still make a difference. In 2003, 18.6 percent of men over age 65 still worked and most said they worked because they liked their job and wanted to stay on. It gave them a sense of purpose. Seniors have lived a while and hopefully learned from life lessons they can pass on to team members or to the people they are serving. If nothing else, they may know how to slow down and really listen to others.
4. Personal renewal. Inner transformation can occur when people are put in different situations. The newness of it gets the brain to think, and in turn that enlarges the heart. Seniors are richer for new experiences. Prejudices shift and often totally disappear. One-sided beliefs get dismantled with new information. This all adds up to personal renewal, the kind that helps seniors find new joy and purpose in life.
Does adding seniors to your Short Term plans add some new considerations? Of course. But there are plenty of experts to help. Travel insurance experts can help with those types of concerns.
Good Neighbor Insurance annually insures close to 100 short term teams. Check out our short-term team plans.