SPIRITUAL RESILIENCY AND AGING: Hope, Relationality, and the Creative Self
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:43
SPIRITUAL RESILIENCY AND AGING:
Hope, Relationality, and the Creative Self
By Janet L. Ramsey and Rosemary Blieszner
(Society & Aging Series, Editor John Hendricks, Baywood Publishing Company, Amityville, NY, 2012)
“Certainly practitioners who work with older adults need to be constantly engaged in attempts to increase their sensitivity to and empathy for the psychological and spiritual strength in the people they accompany” (24)
During my first CPE residencies at the University of Minnesota Hospitals I encountered something right out of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion; I called them “Scandinavian Farm Wives”. My visitations included a cancer unit where I seemed to encounter a number of older women who in the sharing of their personal stories would offer a litany of woes that shredded my heart. The depth and breadth of sorrows experienced were mindful of any Greek tragedy or the Book of Job; yet rather than curse God and the day they were born these women would conclude our time together with these words or similar; “But you know pastor, through it all, God has been good.” In those days I was in awe of these saints of the church and wanted to know what it was that they knew.
When as a pastor you are visiting a shut-in and you come away feeling refreshed, or you stop into that hospital room to offer words of comfort and you come away comforted then I would say you have encountered an elder saint of the church. Just being in the presence of these men and women seems to nurture the soul. I tell every young pastor to find these people; nurture a relationship, then listen and learn. watch for and to get to know—those people who they come to offer to comfort of the church I have come to believe that it takes a lifetime to truly appreciate what the gospel offers to us.
Janet Ramsey and Rosemary Blieszner have asked pastors of Lutheran churches in Germany and America to identify those saints in their congregations: 4 men and 4 women in each group. The method is an interview in which the narrative answers are analyzed. These 16 men and women are 65 years and older. They all have World War II as a backdrop of their early formation.
For many of us in ministry research papers are not high on our reading list. But I want to say this is not dry fact and figures displayed as grafts and charts rather this is qualitative research in which the story becomes the vehicle of expression. The method itself is well explained helping us to understand this narrative method derived from the works of Michael White, and Dan McAdams and others who contend that we all sort out the experiences of our life in the form or a story. The analysis of these stories has been influenced by “a feminist, postmodern turn in both psychology and systematic theology…” This perspective allows for the dialectic to move from an emphasis on the polarities such as hope or despair to the greater paradox of both hope and despair becoming the better portrayal. (This recognition of a paradoxical perspective in later life is also echoed in Wendy Lustbader’s book “Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older and two books AgeSong, and Love Fills In The Blanks: Paradoxes of Our Final Years by Dr. Elizabeth Bugental). It is not a counting up of how often a person attends worship, prays, and / or reads scriptures but takes into consideration the developmental aspects of a lifetime of experience and even transformation (e.g. how is forgiveness demonstrated). One can say that the participants are examples of growing older, growing wiser, and growing more complex – this is not an easily held surface idea of “faith”, but the depth and breadth of hearing, participation, often struggle, reflection and acceptance.
One of the values of this book is that it may make many of us re-examine (and perhaps re-prioritize) aspects of our ministries. The title of the book gives away the researchers findings Hope, Relationality, and the Creative Self. Spiritual Resiliency as demonstrated in the stories told was nurtured through a long standing culture of hope (I’m conscious of how the Eriksons saw this as the foundational outcome of Trust in the first stage of development) This hope is not just grounded in a family of origin, but in a combination of the experience of the church specific and the metanarrative of the Church universal. A realistic Hope is part of the Church in which we participate – this is not a saccharine optimistic all is wonderful view, but the wonderfully complex Lutheran perspective of our being Saint and Sinner in an Already and Not Yet Kingdom of God.
Relationality theologically is for some of us the heart of Christianity. God is relational as demonstrated by the Trinity (I like how this was portrayed in the novel, The Shack). God’s ongoing relationship with creation has been part of our metanarrative, which results in a personal God demonstrated both in the long practiced tradition of prayer and the Christian understanding of the “incarnation”. Change becomes an aspect of our experience of relationship with the divine, whether it be understood as epiphanies of that which already is, but has been hidden, or becomes better understood with maturity, or as process theology suggests that it is in the mutuality of the relationship that God allows God’s self to be changed. Whatever the source, the God that we find ourselves in relationship with in late life is a different God than in our youth.
Relationality in psychology is the connectedness and belonging that we understand as part of our human need. Our faith in the personal aspect of God as experienced through the incarnation of the community of faith, the body of Christ, the local congregation allows us to be part of something greater than ourselves, to be not only accepted but to be needed and valued. But the complexity of Relationality over time is that it also includes disappointment, betrayal, and loss; not once but multiple times. How do people integrate these experiences into their stories? They do it creatively.
One of the things I appreciate about this book is that each chapter ends with a paragraph titled “IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND PRACTICE”. The book is worth its academic pricing, solely for these reflective paragraphs on the implications toward pondering and practice.
It has been noted by others that God was in the midst of creating (being creative) when we are told that we were made in the image of God. “In Christianity, the language of imago dei—the image of God—is used to describe the Relationality at the heart of both God’s life and the life of humankind”(p.81). Our imaginations is our greatest source of creativity. We are able to see connections between God and ourselves, God and others, ourselves with others, self with self over time, and ourselves with all creation—we can imagine God creating Leviathan-a monster that is terrifying for the sport of it. We can imagine ourselves responding to the terrors of storm and flood with a proclamation of “glory”, we can imagine receiving and offering forgiveness for that which at one time we would have considered unforgivable. We can take an image (imago) developed for survival and apply it to a new situation. And when with time the imago no longer fits we are able to create not only a new image, but a new narrative. We can take the repeated circumstances of life and create new responses.
I’d like to make a connection here with Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upwards: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life; Rohr describes the first half of our life as engaged in creating our identity for the exterior world; then some form of crisis of health, circumstances, life-satisfaction or identity shifts us to an exploration and a reprioritizing of our inner life. Imagination allows us to create the space in which we can laugh at ourselves; “that this in turn leads to emotional repair and release, especially during times of stress” (p.98). I loved the finding that humor and play were often found in spiritually resilient people. Laughing at ourselves may open us to forgiveness – forgiveness allows us to imagine a new relationship – an embracing (an important metaphor in this research). Laughter and humor allows us to feel safe enough to change. Transformation is often marked by a change in the story and humor may be precisely the source of a new perspective (a renewal of Hope and a healing of Relationality) of what we prioritize as important.
“As gerontologist William Randall (2008) wrote, many older adults end up with overly constricted stories of who they are, with “closed-in, tightly edited narrative that effectively, curtails their curiosity, their interest in the future, their will to live. Sadly, this often happens just at that stage in life when precisely the opposite is what they need: a story that is sufficiently fluid and open, substantial and dynamic, to supply them with a lively sense of meaning” (Randall, W. L. Letting Our Stories Go: A Narrative Perspective on Spirituality in Later Life. Presented at the Third North American Conference on Spirituality and Social Work, p.11). One of the tasks of counselors and therapists, then, is to encourage deep, fluid, and nuanced narratives” (p.146).
The last third of the book is really about the spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and gratitude that encourages reflection; that help to create a narrative that is “sufficiently fluid and open while establishing an identity that is “substantial and dynamic” within relationships with self, others, and the divine that provides “a lively sense of meaning”.
I highly recommend this book.
Monday, 23 November 2009 13:30
Connie Goldman's New Book Explores Women's Insights on Aging
Posted: 23 Nov 2009 07:58 AM PST
Connie Goldman is one of America's gems. Author of five books, and a former daily and weekend host of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, her new release "Who Am I . . . Now That I'm Not Who I Was?" is a another gift.
In this book, the Minnesota native who now resides in Hudson, Wis., collected conversations with 18 women between the ages of 50 and 80. Each tells of her own life experiences, challenges and learning, sharing her personal truth in her own words.
Connie says, "I believe they've revealed themselves honestly and openly in an act of verbal undress. Their stories are about the passion and possibilities of change in their lives throughout the years, about learning and growth, about discovery and wisdom."
The book is wonderful. And to give you a sense of what you'll find inside, I'd like to share a message from Connie from the second to last page:
Conversations That Can Make a Difference
I've always had a compelling interest in other people's stories. Listening to or reading the stories of others, we laugh, cry, empathize and sympathize. I've found over and over again that I and others gain insight and wisdom from someone we don't personally know and might never meet. As someone reveals their story we discover things about our feelings, aspirations, priorities and values. We share their courage, determination, new learning and strength. Their experience can enrich and inspire us.
People often ask me where I find such interesting people to interview. I tell them what I'm telling you now -- Everyone has a story. Just listen with your mind and your heart and they will share their travails and their triumphs. You too have a story that can inspire and inform others.
I hope some of the 18 stories in this book have offered you some insight and inspiration, a personal gift in disguise. I've said the following five words many times over the years but they remain true for me and I hope for you.
Facts Validate but stories illuminate.
Former Seattle Times Columnist Launches New Blog on Changing Aging
Posted: 23 Nov 2009 07:48 AM PST
The movement of the Age Wave continues to bring new perspectives, new ideas and new careers:
Former Seattle Times columnist Liz Taylor and partners have launched a blog: agingwellconsortium.com. From 1994 - 2008, she wrote an enormously popular weekly column on aging in The Seattle Times that attracted thousands of readers regionally and nationally. Deploring the outdated ways in which much of the business of aging is carried out today, especially by government and eldercare providers, Liz calls for a wholesale change in their missions, values, and attitudes.
Liz describes the Aging Well Consortium this way:
The Aging Well Consortium brings together professionals, citizens and experts from a broad range of disciplines and experiences to inform and make life better for all of us as we age.
We believe personal accountability and planning is key to having some control over what happens to us as we grow older. Nothing can stop us from getting old -- except death. When people embrace their aging rather than deny it, they begin to age “deliberately,” taking purposeful steps that will allow them to age as gracefully and with as much dignity as possible.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 21:35
November/December 2009 (G) C20
With November being National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, we thought we'd share information on a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center production Adults With Down Syndrome And Alzheimer's Disease: A Practical Guide For Caregivers. The DVD provides an inside look at care for persons with Down syndrome and a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Writer, producer, and director of the film, Julie Moran, DO, shares some insights on how the film came about, and what she has personally learned from working with families and caregivers of adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's below.
Save 10% on the Alzheimer's/dementia care resources in this Hot Sheet until December 31, 2009. (Discount can not be combined with other discounts or special pricing.)
Adults With Down Syndrome And Alzheimer's Disease: A Practical Guide For Caregivers
Adults With Down syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease: A Practical Guide for Caregivers
With the current rise in life expectancy for persons with Down syndrome and their increased risk of developing Alzheimer's with advancing age, this timely and informative DVD will help professional and family caregivers to understand the changes Alzheimer's can cause in memory, communication, and behavior.
Also, interspersed throughout, is the real story of Jim Gillis, a man with Down syndrome and later, Alzheimer's. Shared by his mother, Ann, Jim's story documents the progression of changes from onset to late-stage Alzheimer's.
Writer/producer/director Julie Moran, DO, says the idea for the film "started when I was told that no training videos existed for direct caregivers of individuals with the dual diagnosis of DS and AD. There is tremendous need for accurate and practical education on this topic, and I was compelled to create a teaching tool to help close this educational gap".
How does Dr. Moran hope this DVD will help caregivers deal with a loved one with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's?
Dr. Moran says, "My hope is that this information will let them know they are not alone in this process. The DVD is structured to provide a personal perspective from a mother of a man with DS and AD, a medical perspective from an expert in the field, and a practical communication/behavior perspective from a behaviorist who works with adults with AD and DS. The DVD presents comprehensive information in a progression through early-, middle-, and late-stage Alzheimer's. It is designed to allow the viewer to return to view it throughout the course of the disease to provide practical guidance specific to the stage of their AD."
The DVD covers the most common symptoms and behaviors of each stage, as well as, how to adapt care as the person's needs change during each stage.
Early-stage Care includes how to use gentle redirection techniques, create a calm, soothing environment, and communicate in a positive, reassuring manner.
Middle-stage Care includes how to manage progressive difficulty in expressing and understanding language, and increased cognitive impairment.
Late-stage Care includes how to deal with severe memory impairment, loss of self-care skills, and ways to continue daily stimulation and social interaction.
When asked what she personally discovered during the course of filming and producing the DVD, Dr. Moran said, "I have been humbled to personally witness the care and dedication of families and caregivers of adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's. They are hungry for information on this topic because they want to be prepared for what's ahead and they want to know they are providing the best care they possibly can."
In closing, Dr. Moran says she hopes the DVD will help viewers "feel more empowered in their caregiving by knowing the facts about the disease, how AD progresses, how to adapt their caregiving throughout the life span, and how to better care for themselves".
(Jim Gillis passed away in 2008 with his mother at his side. Mrs. Gillis continues to inspire through her example and her advocacy for adults with Down syndrome.)
(Dr. Moran has established a busy outpatient practice devoted entirely to the care of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and continues to care for many older adults with Down syndrome. She lectures extensively on the topic of Down syndrome and Alzheimer's.)
48 minutes Purchase $159 Rental $60 DVD
Other Videos of Interest:
Learning To Speak Alzheimer's: An Introduction To The Habilitation Approach To Care
Based on the popular book (by the same title) written by Joanne Koenig Coste, M.Ed., Learning To Speak Alzheimer's takes a common-sense, meet-the-person-where-they-are approach that minimizes stress, optimizes functionality, and makes Alzheimer's care easier for the care-receiver and the caregiver. Applying the basic concepts of habilitation (which is simply caregiving that embraces the remaining abilities of the person with dementia), the video shows how to create a suitable environment in which the person can lead a quality life through proactive adjustments. 2008 release. Winner of 6 major awards!
32 minutes Purchase $179 Rental $59 VHS or DVD.
What Every Caregiver Needs To Know About Alzheimer's Disease
For professional and family caregivers, this training package provides an informative explanation of Alzheimer's, how it affects different parts of the brain, and the specific changes that take place as a result. It also explains the three stages of Alzheimer's (Early Stage, Moderate Stage, and Late Stage), identifies the most common symptoms, and shows how to simplify and adapt care for each stage. Interspersed with real family profiles, scenarios of dementia-related behaviors, feedback from real caregivers, and comments from dementia care experts, Drs. Gail and Kim Petersen, this video is full of useful information. Includes Manual.
54 minutes Purchase $99 No Rental VHS or DVD.
Dementia With Dignity
Real-life situations show how the quality of life for persons with dementia can be enhanced when caregivers 1) understand the unpredictable effects of dementia, 2) learn how to communicate and respond to the specialized needs of the person behind the illness, and 3) encourage use of the person's remaining skills to build self-esteem and stimulate intellectual abilities. Includes strategies for many of the challenging behaviors of dementia, including, disruptive behavior, evening agitation, wandering, and refusing to eat.
60 minutes Purchase $169 Rental $55 VHS or DVD.
The Family Guide To Alzheimer's Disease
This 5-volume set was created to guide caregivers through the challenges and rewards of caring for a person with Alzheimer's from initial diagnosis to the final stages of Alzheimer's.
Understanding Alzheimer's (Volume One)
Will help caregivers understand the nature of Alzheimer's. It explains the causes, the three stages, typical symptoms, and common treatments. 62 minutes
Behavior Issues (Volume Two)
Will help caregivers adjust to the unpredictable behaviors that Alzheimer's can bring, such as, hallucinations, agitation, and incontinence. 67 minutes
Daily Life (Volume Three)
Will help caregivers to communicate better with their loved one, and shows how to create a safe home environment that increases the comfort level of the person with dementia. 42 minutes
Family Caregiving (Volume Four)
Will help caregivers turn Activities of Daily Living--dressing,grooming, and bathing--into opportunities to nurture and bond with their loved one. 62 minutes
Transitions (Volume Five)
Will help caregivers recognize when to consider moving a loved one to a care facility, and gives insight from others who have gone through the loss of a loved one. 44 minutes
Purchase $24.95 each or get the 5-volume set for only $99.95 VHS or DVD. (Series price constitutes discount on this package.)
that you can request a free E-catalog of our videos and DVDs?
In addition to E-Catalogs on
- Videos On Aging (general catalog with a sampling of our topics),
- Health & Wellness,
- Elder Abuse & Domestic Violence, and
- Fall Prevention
you can now request an e-catalog on these topics on:
- Activities For Persons With Alzheimer's
- Intimacy and Aging
- Video Resources on Aging for Libraries
We would be happy to e-mail, fax, or send you a hard copy of any categories that suit your specific areas of interest. Just call (800-779-8491), fax (773-881-3368), or e-mail us at
and we will forward them right away. Special discounts are attached with each e-catalog. Please ask if you do not see a catalog on your area of interest.
We hope to see you again next time.
Terra Nova Films
THE POSITIVE AGING NEWSLETTER September/October, 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 21:34
THE POSITIVE AGING NEWSLETTER
The Positive Aging Newsletter by Kenneth and Mary Gergen,
dedicated to productive dialogue between research and practice.
Sponsored by the Web-based Health Education Foundation and the Taos Institute.
“THE BEST IN INSIGHTS IN AGING”
Wall Street Journal
Issue No 58
- COMMENTARY: Traveling Beyond Oneself
- RESEARCH: The Importance of “We” in Marital Well-being
Aging and Scientific Productivity
Invitation to participate in well-being research
- IN THE NEWS:
A New, Worldwide Senior Care Program
The Purpose Prize: In Praise of the Encore Life
A Medical Model and Marvel
Never Too Late for Love
- BOOKS AND WEB RESOURCES OF INTEREST:
Who Am I … Now That I’m Not Who I Was? By Connie Goldman.
- READERS RESPOND
- OPEN INVITATION
- Information for Readers
*** COMMENTARY Traveling Beyond Oneself***
We recently returned from a two-week lecturing stint at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. This stay provided some splendid opportunities to visit the ancient temples and shrines that adorn this precious city, stroll the busy shopping streets, explore the forests and riversides, and meet with friends and colleagues to dine on traditional tatami mats. Needless to say, many of these worldly experiences were exquisitely pleasureful.
However, hovering about these experiences was also a certain sense of unease. We are scarcely alone in our enjoyment of world travel. And indeed, most people list travel somewhere toward the top of their list of post-retirement plans. In effect, the world is filled with thousands of us imbibing the pleasures of the world’s museums, gardens, theaters, forests, monuments, restaurants, and so on. But consider: is it sufficient that the sum effect of these efforts is simply personal pleasure? Are these merely consummatory acts, similar to eating an ice-cream cone or watching a comedy? The question is all the more plaguing, as such travels often leave a heavy footprint of carbon. Do we satisfy our curiosity at the world’s expense?
A contemplative moment at the Myoshinji temple, a home of Zen Buddhism, prompted a more promising vision: As Buddhists reason, meditation is not an end in itself. Rather, afterwards, one experiences a renewed and compassionate sense of connection with others and the world. Could we not understand our privileged indulgence in the world’s treasures in a parallel way? It is not just the impact of these experiences on the pleasure center of our brains that is important. Rather, it is the capacity of these experiences to continue their flow - through us and into surrounding the world - that grants them special significance. To experience beauty, serenity, wonder, deeper understanding, and a new appreciation of others is to leave us with new capacities to create and share with others. When these experiences add to our support of the arts; hospitality to foreign visitors; sharing the outcomes of gardening, flower arranging, and cooking; and investments in world peace, the experiences are magnified. When we share these with our children and their families, our gifts are quadrupled as they carry them on. We become the ripple effects of the world's cultural treasures, and their potential to create a more beneficial future for all.
Ken and Mary Gergen
***RESEARCH: The Importance of "We" in Marital Well-being***
To paraphrase Shakespeare, what is in a name? More particularly, what is in a pronoun? In this study, researchers addressed the significance of using "we-ness" vs. separateness pronouns, such as "I" and "You," with 154 married couples. The couples, who were middle aged or older, were requested to have a conversation about their marital conflicts. In addition, their emotional experiences during this quarrel were evaluated, and later, each of the partners was asked about how satisfied they were in their marriages. The sample tended to be white, upper middle class and well educated.
Results indicated that using we-ness pronouns was associated with relatively high levels of positive emotions, low levels of negative emotions, and low levels of cardiovascular arousal. Interestingly, when one spouse used we-ness words, it proved soothing to the other spouse as much as to the speaker. This finding suggests that using "we" can be a healthy choice, as well as emotionally comforting.
Older couples showed greater levels of we-ness usage than did the younger couples. They appeared to have a greater sense of shared identity than the younger ones. This may be due to their having navigated more adversities, handling disagreements, and celebrating joys. (It is also the case that they are still married to each other!) Among older people, the wives were more affected than their partner by the use of separate pronouns by the husband.
We wonder what would happen if couples and families consciously employed "we-ness" in conversations? Might this turn of phrase create more positive and relaxing moments, and enhance emotional closeness and compatibility?
From: We can work it out: Age differences in relational pronouns, physiology, and behavior in marital conflict.? by Benjamin H. Seider, Gilad Hirschberger, Kristin L. Nelson, and Robert W. Levenson. Psychology and Aging, 2009, 24, 604-613.
*** RESEARCH: Aging and Scientific Productivity***
The belief that science is a young person's game and that only young scientists can be creative is still widely shared by university administrators and members of the scientific community. Yet the average age of university faculties is growing older. Between 1995 and 2006, the percentage of full-time faculty members age 70 or above has gone up three-fold. If the stereotype is accurate, won't this mean a decline in scientific productivity? To address this question, Utrecht University professor Wolfgang Stroebe has reviewed research on the association of age and scientific productivity during the last four decades in North America and Europe. Although early research typically showed a small age-related decline, this decline has been absent in more recent research. Rather, there is substantial stability in individual productivity across the life span, and past performance is by far the best predictor of future productivity.
In a recent longitudinal analysis of the association of age and productivity for 112 members of the U.S. National Academy of Science, a select group of eminent scientists in the biological, physical and social sciences - productivity increased rapidly until approximately 20 years into one's career, then flattened over the next 15 years, and then rose again in the last 5-year interval. Since these individuals started publishing their first paper between 22 and 25 years of age, they would have reached their first peak around age 45. After a 15 years leveling off, their productivity would have increased again after age 60.
In another study, productivity among professors in Quebec increased to age 50 and then stayed at the same level until age 70. Thus, these professors sustained their productivity at a high level throughout their careers. There is also no decline in quality for the group of active professor. In fact, the average number of papers they published in high impact journals rose steadily to age 70 and so did the average number of papers that are among the top 10% of highly cited papers.
The findings of the research on age and scientific productivity should help to put to rest the fears that the graying of academia will lower scientific productivity. In general, argues Professor Stroebe, past performance is a much better predictor of scientific productivity than age. Researchers who are highly productive in their thirties, are also much more productive in their sixties and seventies than researchers who are not very productive at young age.
From: The graying of academia: Will it reduce scientific productivity? By Wolfgang Stroebe, Utrecht University, Netherlands
*** RESEARCH: Invitation for You to Participate in Wellbeing Research
Researchers have devoted decades to understanding what leads some people to be healthier than others. However, most people have only studied disease and disorder and failed to also address strengths and wellbeing. In this study, we want to look at what is going wrong and what is going right in different people from around the world, and in all age groups. We want to capture the entire picture of what it means to be healthy and most importantly, track people to understand how they change over time. This is the first study of its kind to look in depth at people's wellbeing from around the world. If you chose to participate, you'll be helping us to answer some of the most tantalizing questions that our society faces today!
If you are interested, please sign up through the study web address: http://www.wellbeingstudy.com The study is open every third month (the next intake period is the month of December, then March etc). Participation requires completing around 30 minutes of questions every three months for a year (five times in total).
Many thanks in advance! Aaron Jarden, Head of Department - Psychology
School of Information and Social Sciences
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
*** IN THE NEWS ***
- A NEW, WORLDWIDE SENIOR CARE PROGRAM
In 1994, Paul Hogan was keeping his grandmother company in his mother's house. He wondered what happened when older people did not have a family member close at hand to provide company and a little help at home. His curiosity lead him to imagine a new company, which did just that for older people. The resulting inspiration - Home Instead Senior Care - has now grown to international proportions, and his income along with it, as he has created a franchise system in several countries, including Japan.
The arrangement involves hiring female caregivers 55 to 65 for a 15-20 hour workweek to visit older people, help them with non-medical tasks, from cooking and laundry to playing games and arranging outings. The host pays about $20 an hour for services, of which the visitor receives about half. Hogan projects that his business will continue to grow as the world's population over 65 will rise from 7% today to 15% in 2050. The franchise in Japan was taken over by Yoshino Nakajima, who was taking care of her parents in Osaka, and needed some support. She partnered with a local Japanese businessman, who coined the term companionshippu to describe the service. Although Japanese elders seem reluctant to invite a stranger into their homes, over time the idea gained popularity. Each new country involved in the project has a master franchise manager, who tailors the service to the sensitivities of the local culture.
From: Grandma Opportunity by Francine Russo, Time, September 14, 2009, Global 4.
- THE PURPOSE PRIZE: IN PRAISE OF THE ENCORE LIFE
The Purpose prize is sponsored by Civic Ventures, an organization that is dedicated to helping people develop meaningful lives that involve helping others through their encore careers. Their booklets and guides, such as the Blueprint for the Next Chapter, Life Planning for the 3rd Age, and The Life Planning Toolkit can now be found at www.civicventures.org/booklets.cfm
With decades of energy and passion ahead of them, the new winners of the $100,000 Purpose Prize have shifted their perspectives and changed their lives. Not one of them is thinking about retirement. They are in their encore careers, using their experience to take on society's biggest challenges in new and innovative ways. They are shaping a better future for all generations. The winners include:
- A psychiatrist who now enlists therapists to provide free counseling to returning veterans and their families.
- A former telecom executive who brings broadband - and profits - to economically distressed farm communities in Appalachia.
- A professor who now turns toxic waste into safe, "green" bricks.
- A MEDICAL MODEL AND MARVEL
At the age of 97 years, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published some 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good," which has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than he.
From: International Herald Tribune, Asahi News, October 15, 2009, 3.
- NEVER TOO LATE FOR LOVE
Congratulations to Beth Ashley and Rowland Fellows! They were married August 22, 2009 on board the Sea Wife, a boat in the Sheepscot River in Maine. What is special about this wedding is that, although the bride and groom met each other when they were 12 and 13 during summer vacations, they didn't commence their courtship until nearly 70 years later. Despite the decades of separation, when they finally met again, they reconnected almost immediately. They began traveling together, first to Maine and later to more distant places. Finally in Shanghai, they shared their first kiss, and she said, "I felt as if I had come home. I had found the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."
Author and good friend, Isabel Allende, commented, "Rowland plans to live to be 100, so they have 16 passionate years ahead of them." Mr. Fellows commented that they had a lot of catching up to do, "but we better do it quickly. We can always relax a little more toward the end."
From "Beth Ashley and Rowland Fellows" by Vincent M. Mallozzi, New York Times, September 13, 2009, 16.
*** BOOKS AND WEB RESOURCES OF INTEREST ***
*Book Review by Mary Gergen: Who Am I ... Now That I'm Not Who I Was? By Connie Goldman. (2009). Minneapolis: Nodin Press.
In this highly readable book, Connie Goldman shares a series of conversations with 18 women between 50 and 80, each of whom tells a story about her adventures in growth and discovery in aging. Each story is followed by an Afterthoughts section in which Goldman reflects on the central images and ideas of the stories.
One of the delicious attractions of the book is the inclusion of quotations concerning the potentials of aging; among them are:
"To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly." Henri Bergson;
"I believe the most important thing beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare." Maya Angelou;
and one all-time favorite of mine, "Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life." Mary Oliver.
The general theme of the book is that aging provides the opportunity for one to create a new capacity to live life fully. As Goldman says, "I'm convinced that the challenge of aging isn't to stay young; it's not only to grow old but to grow whole - to come into your own. It's your time to embrace that challenge and figure out who you are now that you're not who you were." (pg. 12)
For more information on Connie Goldman, see www.congoldman.org
*Website containing blogs from various people on topics related to aging, health, sexuality, and other facets of the Third Age:
From Robert F. Benjamin (505-672-1544 -New Mexico)
Upcoming events of interest to the Positive Aging community are productions of two stage plays I wrote, TIME ENOUGH and PARTED WATERS. Both of these plays are rich in questions and insights about positive aging: TIME ENOUGH is scheduled for production at the Desert Rose Playhouse, Albuquerque, during the first three weekends of November 2009. It's a late-in-life romance about re-connecting, companionship, and moving past grief. It's been a big crowd pleaser during its previous two productions. It will also be performed January 2010 at the Fernandina Little Theatre (Florida). The story is a rekindled romance of a lonely widow and an adventurous codger, both mid-60s, who reveal their secrets at three in the morning, and are forced to make an excruciating decision.
PARTED WATERS will be produced at the North Fourth Theater, Albuquerque, during the last two weekends of January 2010 and at Teatro Paraguas Studio, Santa Fe, during March 2010. It's a contemporary drama about crypto-Judaism in New Mexico, featuring the elderly Reynaldo, who struggles to pass a secret family tradition to his grandson without alienating the rest of the family. It was a box office success during its premiere, March 2009 at Phoenix.
Annie Glasgow writes:
I'm a 74 year old who speaks on the discovery of LIFE EVERLAUGHING within our tragedies as well as our triumphs and addresses ways in which our live can be filled with AM-AGING GRACE as we navigate this process usually called "living," but which is truly "aging."
Yesterday, I discovered a copy of a "welcome" I had given at the Memorial Service for my first husband who was a fine and famous person who died at the age of 49. I was 46 at the time, and as I read the words which I wrote and spoke at that poignant time, I was both moved and reassured to realize that my attitude of joy in living and rejoicing even in the face of great grief was embedded within.
You can see how the philosophy which you hold and provide through the Newsletter is so dear to me and how delighted I am to look forward to my re-subscription on my email inbox.
"Endorphin Annie" Glasgow's speaking celebrates the wit and wisdom of the 'wellderly' and serves as a reminder that "You're never old until you've lost all your marvels."
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*** ANNOUNCEMENTS AND UPCOMING EVENTS ***
THIRD ANNUAL POSITIVE AGING CONFERENCE
November 18-22, 2009: Gerontological Society of America, 62nd Annual Scientific Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia. Creative Approaches to Healthy Aging. For information, visit www.geron.org
December 7-9, 2009: The Third Annual Positive Aging Conference will be held at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Conference themes include: Life Transitions, Holistic Health Care, Building Community, and Artistic Creativity. For details about the Positive Aging Conference and how to participate visit: http://msg1svc.net/cjhmw/185269/60/22706/5403/0/T/rvgw.html
CELEBRATING POETS OVER 70: Call for Poems
Tower Poetry Society and the McMaster Centre for Gerontological Studies are soliciting poems written after the age of 70. Selected poems will be published in a jointly sponsored anthology. "Celebrating Poets over 70" will be the tenth volume in the Writing Down Our Years series published by MCGS. A maximum of four typed poems may be submitted. Send poems and a 50-word biography by email to Ellen Ryan (
) or by mail to: "Celebrating Poets over 70," Tower Poetry Society, c/o McMaster University, 1280 Main St. W., Box 1021, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1C0. Individuals with poems selected will receive a free copy of the anthology. Due date is November 15, 2009.
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Thursday, 15 October 2009 13:59
The world overflows with creative intentions that become beneficial actions. This may not be the view of the world we get from the nightly news, but when you start looking for the constructive efforts carried out by people all over the world, you will be amazed and heartened by what you discover. Yes, there are wars and rumors of wars. Yes, our planet is desperate for restorative caretaking. Yes, people’s individual suffering is profound. And also, a wave of renewal unlike anything our planet has ever seen is sweeping through people’s minds and hearts, bringing us to the threshold of a new chapter in history in which we can turn again to the most promising potentials of human nature: to create, peace, beauty, harmony, and joy wherever we go. Great difficulties give birth to even greater opportunities.
The examples speak for themselves. Prompted by a dream, Vijali Hamilton traveled through cultures around the world using art and ceremony as natural expressions of the struggles and solutions of each community she encountered. You will find her video story under our “Caring for the Earth” topic (scroll down to “Links”):
Gratefulnews takes you traveling to more instances of creative problem-solving around the globe: flood-relief efforts, great hardship turned into kinship, a town’s eco-rebuilding…
…and whether on the road or at home in Gampo Abbey, Ani Pema Chödrön brings practical compassion into focus through her sparkling example and writings:
Pema Chödrön’s teachings remind us that the world we envision must begin with our individual practice and spread into all our relationships, even permeating our dreams as Vijali Hamilton discovered. As we at A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L) approach our Thanksgiving fundraising campaign next month, designed to let you honor someone for whom you are grateful, we feel the great dignity with which each of you strives to embody a grateful life. Our hearts overflow with gratitude for your partnership with us in this transformative venture. As a new poem by Dale Biron suggests –
– we all have our days of feeling like an “old clunker” facing insurmountable hills, but a “mysterious fuel,” the very wonder of existence, keeps moving us into bold, innovative solutions.
Patricia and Margaret
on behalf of our ANG*L Webteam