Saturday, November 29, 2014

Phyllis Sues, Active at 91

Photo by Zabara Alexander.
Today I stumbled across a slideshow about 91-year-old dancer, actress, fashion designer, and music composer, Phyllis Sues.

I decided to spend some time learning more about her.

Born April 4, 1923, Phyllis has been active for decades, but her recent activities include the following:

Friday, November 28, 2014

King Lear: One Play, Two Views

"King Lear and Cordelia" by Edward Matthew Ward
Photographed by Sofi
One of the joys of aging occurs when I revisit works of literature after a decade or two. I find that rereading a novel, poem, short story or play gleans new insights based on generational perspective.

Shakespeare's Hamlet, Williams' Streetcar Named Desire, Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Illych" and Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" are just a few of the works that look different to me when I reread them at midlife.

Most notably, my perspective on Shakespeare's  King Lear changed when I reread it in my fifties.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Oak: Poem

Photo by
Bob Gutowski.
I'm interested in poetry that focuses on aging.  Here Tennyson uses the four seasons to describe how people experience life stages.

The Oak

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Summer-rich
Then; and then
Autumn-changed
Sober-hued
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked Strength.

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Elsa y Fred: Spanish-language Original

Released July 28, 2005
I've long had Elsa y Fred (2005) in my Netflix queue (the Spanish-language film). But with the recent release of an English-language adaptation, I decided to finally get around to viewing the original.

Manuel Alexandre plays the reserved Fred opposite China Zorrilla's impulsive Elsa.  They meet when recently widowed Fred moves into her apartment building.

Elsa lives in the moment, pursuing pleasures and contorting the truth to suit her needs.  Fred lives in constant fear that something bad might happen, so he is very risk averse. Elsa is constantly challenging him to loosen up, seize the day and enjoy life--starting with enjoying her company.

While their relationship provides regular conflict, they also have to manage outside forces.  Elsa and Fred both have adult children who are trying to manage their lives--for good or for ill.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Being Mortal: Book Review

Published 7 October 2014.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End was published in October of this year, and it's been getting very high praise.

Surgeon, teacher, speaker and author Atul Gawande fashions a book about the difficulties many people face in their last months of life.

Advances in medicine have given people a myriad of options in how to address serious illness, particularly cancer.

When should patients work with medical professionals to intervene and when should patients refrain?

In other words, should people aggressively pursue every avenue for extending life despite the low probability of success and without considering the hardship that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery might create?

Other questions posed by the book: When should patients pursue less aggressive treatment options? And when should they switch from life-saving care to comfort care?


Friday, November 21, 2014

Grateful for Aging

An aging flower still has beauty. Photo by Theen Moy.
When I decided to study gerontology five years ago, my intent was to combat aging as a formidable foe.  After 20-30 hours a week focused on the topic of aging, I'm often grateful to be getting older.

This post is part of a Midlife Boulevard blog hop. The thumbnails below will disappear after a while, so I'm saving a handful for future reference. Enjoy! 


This Thanksgiving season gives me occasion to explain what I mean.  Let me list the blessings of aging:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Grace in Aging: Book Review

Published 5 August 2014.
I'm going to review this book before I fully digest it. Let me explain.

In The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older, Kathleen Dowling Singh presents a series of meditations that invites people in midlife and late life to become mindful about the aging process.

Singh has a rich background as a transpersonal psychologist, hospice worker, and frequent lecturer on the spiritual aspects of dying.  She grew up Catholic and then left the faith to study Buddhism. She now resists that label--or any other. "I guess at this point I don't see a need for a label."

Her writing draws from wisdom literature from a variety of traditions.  Her book requires slow reading with frequent pauses for meditation, journaling and transformation of thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Alz Awareness Month

Photo by Mitch.
A sponsored post on behalf of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute.

Modern medicine has enjoyed sweet success in preventing and treating a number of diseases.

People are living longer because there have been great strides in addressing heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

However, there is still no cure for Alzheimer's Disease  (AD), which is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.  Consider wearing a purple ribbon!

It's a good time to focus on the prevalence of the disease and to learn about some ongoing work to prevent and cure AD in the near future.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Better with Age: Book Review

Published 16 September 2014.
[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.] 

This fall,l aptly named Spry Publishing has released a practical guide to negotiating the second half of life.

I had the opportunity to read Robin Porter's Better With Age: Your Blueprint for Staying Smart, Strong, and Happy for Life.

More and more people are living to 80 and beyond. But are we making preparations before late adulthood for such longevity?

This book is aimed at readers in midlife (or for long-range planning young adults).   The bulk of the chapters are organized by decade transitioning from midlife to late life.

Here is the table of contents:


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Alive Inside: Film Review

Limited Release 18 July 2014
Available on DVD 18 Nov 2014
I wasn't able to sleep in Sunday morning, despite the opportunity to "fall back" with Daylight Savings Time.

With an extra hour on my hands, I decided to watch the 78-minute documentary Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (2014).

I wept through the entire film.

Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett follows Dan Cohen, founder of Music and Memory for three years as Cohen gives people with dementia personalized iPods.

Cohen asks people with dementia or their caregivers, "What are your favorite songs?"  Then he builds a playlist around those songs and gives people their own iPod and set of headphones.

When residents hear their favorite music from bygone decades, the "come alive" with an increase in their language, movement, memory and social engagement.  These scenes were very moving.

Some people might remember seeing this clip of Henry, uploaded to youtube in November 2011--three years in advance of the film's completion.