Museum invites public to ‘experience’ advanced age ahead of Senior Citizens Day

At 80 years of age, Tel Aviv native Rivka Zahavi does not feel old.

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September 30, 2013 21:09
2 minute read.
RIVKA ZAHAVI (left), who is 80, takes a visitor on a tour breaking age stereotypes.

RIVKA ZAHAVI 370. (photo credit: DANIELLE ZIRI)

 
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At 80 years of age, Tel Aviv native Rivka Zahavi does not feel old.

“I know I am old, and that word doesn’t bother me at all, but personally, I feel like 12,” she said. “I think that as long as one doesn’t feel limited, they are not old.”

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The secret to aging well, she said, has to do with never losing one’s curiosity and, most important, always keeping busy.

Zahavi has always made sure to keep busy. Since retirement, she has never stopped looking for new things to do.

About a year ago, she begun working as a tour guide in the exhibition “Dialogue with Time” at the Israel Children’s Museum in Holon, aiming to bridge the gaps between generations and break stereotypes on old age, along with 30 other energetic seniors.

The exhibition includes an hour-and-a-half-long guided tour, during which visitors get a peek into the world of senior citizens through games and a series of interactive experiences.

To begin with, guests enter a yellow room with stations presenting various tasks made difficult by staged physical barriers that seniors typically experience, such as going up a couple of steps with large heavy shoes, putting pills in a specific order for the week according to speedy voice directions, unlocking a door with a shaky hand and sending a text message with large gloves on. A thin fog mimics the vision of a senior suffering from a cataract.



The visit includes discussions about healthy aging, stereotypes and a trivia game.

“People think that to be old is to be sick,” she told The Jerusalem Post at the end of a tour on Monday, ahead of Senior Citizens Day.

“This exhibit is about healthy aging,” she explained. “Aging is much a matter of choice, as long as you are healthy, of course. In fact, I think the better way to put it is that the choice lies in what type of elderly person you wish to be.”

One of the most important aspects of the display is breaking people’s preconceived opinions about seniors, Zahavi explained.

“Every person who comes here comes with stereotypes,” she said.

“They usually come out of the yellow room feeling confused and defeated, but then they are quickly surprised. One man told me the word ‘hope’ was what he was taking out of this experience.”

“This job moves me like nothing else,” Zahavi said. “The interaction with people is what is touching to me, because each group is different, each person is bringing their own perspective into it, and I learn a lot from them too.

“The best is when a few generations of the same family come together,” she added.

World Senior Citizens Day will be marked in Israel on Tuesday.

According to an online survey released for the occasion by the website Motke, a nonprofit portal offering a social hub and addressing the everyday needs of the elderly in Israel, about 89 percent of more than 1,500 respondents aged 50 and older maintain a Facebook page and a quarter of them said they log into the site daily.

Approximately 7% of the senior participants said Facebook was a “waste of time” and only 3% have never heard of it.

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