Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Advice for Future Corpses: Book Review

Published 12 June 2018. 
Because I teach a university class on death, dying and bereavement, I read about a half dozen books on the topic annually. 

Usually, the books take one of two approaches:

The author describes the physical, legal, and economic aspects of dying.


The author describes the social, emotional, and metaphysical aspects of dying.

Tisdale does both in her book Advice for Future Corpses: A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying.

Tisdale worked for years as a nurse, but she writes like someone who is trained in the humanities. She quotes Greek philosophers, European poets, and Buddhist monks in order to create spaces for her readers to meditate about the meaning of death and dying.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Gero Screagle Pride

USI defeated West Texas A&M 94-84.
I was one of 7,330 fans at the Ford Center.
When my husband took a job in Evansville, I wasn't sure what opportunities I would have to work as a gerontologist.

I didn't need to worry.

The first week that I arrived, I met a neighbor who works in the administration building at the University of Southern Indiana. Their mascot is the Screaming Eagle: Screagle.

Stephanie told me that the College of Nursing and Health Professions (led by Dr. Ann White) regularly hired part-time instructors to teach gerontology classes.

A few weeks later, the director of the gerontology program, Dr. Katie Ehlman, hired me.

She had been using my post about elder speak to teach her students about the power of language to affect attitudes.

I started teaching in the Fall of 2016, and I have also beein helping with MAIA: Mid-American Institution on Aging and Wellness. Follow #MAIArocks on Twitter.

Here is a list of the courses I have been teaching:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

On the Brink of Everything: Book Review

Published 26 June 2018. 
Palmer J. Palmer was goaded into publishing this book--On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, & Getting Old (2018)--after his editor noted the theme of aging showing up in his recent writings. 

From his vantage point on "the brink" or the edge, Palmer observes: 

"What I know for sure is this: we come from mystery and we return to mystery. I know this, too: standing closer to the reality of death awakens my wonder at the many gifts of life" (p. 16). 
This book shares insights based on his growing awareness of his own mortality. 

Palmer is in his 80s, and has been a community organizer, author, writer, speaker on the the topic of seeking the true self. (His work reminds me a bit of the quest that psychologist Carl Rogers describes.) 

Those who are concrete, literal, practical people will have very little patience for Palmer. Those who are contemplative, idealistic, and focused on exploring inner landscapes will be inspired. 

The book is a collection of essays (some previously published in books or on blogs) and poetry. Some material is new. Other reviews here at Goodreads indicate that the book revisits recurring themes in Parker's work, so it seems as though it's a good overview of his work. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Gracious Uncertainty: Book Review

Published 15 August 2017.
Jane Sigloh, a retired Episcopal priest, has published Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of Life (2017).

Because I am scheduled to teach Spirituality and Aging in the upcoming fall semester, I'm selecting 20 books on that topic so that each of my students can do a report to supplement the textbook.

Many of the books are tipped either to theology or to fold wisdom. However, too many of the books I've selected are steeped in theology (or even psychology or New Age theories).

Sigloh's book leans more towards the folk wisdom side of the spectrum. However, it's clear that she is well read and can take a more academic approach. She often chooses to be more accessible, and it's a strength.

Her chapters are brief, maybe three or four pages long, making them ideal as daily meditations. They might also serve as prompts for writing in a journal.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Book Review

Published 27 February 2018.
I like to read about mature athletes, but usually I just read news stories.

I was delighted to read runner Ida Keeling's autobiography, Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race against Time (2018).

Keeling, born in 1915, writes from the perspective of a centenarian. She was raised by parents who immigrated to New York from the Caribbean.

She worked in factories while raising four children. For the more part, she was a single mother. Later in life, she worked in the records department of the Harlem Hospital.

Not only does she describe her own experiences. She's a witness to larger cultural, political, and historical forces. For example, she describes the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights, and Vietnam. She also responds to the election of Obama to the presidency.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Women Rowing North: Book Review

Published January 15, 2019. 
Mary Pipher has written a book for women in the second half of life.

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age was published in January of 2019.

I was happy to get my hands on the book in March. Pipher, who is in her early seventies, does describe her own approach to meeting life's challenges; however, she introduces us to dozens of women. A handful of these appear throughout the book.

She also brings in some quotes and describes some research findings. However, she chiefly tells stories about herself and others.

I read Women Rowing North over four days: one day for each of the sections:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

End Game: Film Review

Released May 4, 2018.
End Game (2018) is a documentary by filmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman.

Set in the San Francisco area, the film profiles the last weeks of life for five people: Mitra, Pat, Thekla, Kym, and Bruce.  These five are either patients receiving services through the UCSF Medical Center or the Zen Hospice Project. 

End Game also depicts family members trying to find ways to respond to their love one's loss of function, pain, and suffering.

We also observe doctors, nurses and social workers addressing patients' and family members' concerns.

At first glance, viewers might think this documentary is about the physical or legal aspects of end-of-life care. It does touch on these topics, but it's really more about how to retain one's humanity during the dying process and how to address questions about what constitutes quality of life.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Crack the Code: Book Review

Published November 5, 2018.
Louis Bezich combines reading, research, and personal experience to write a book for men 50 plus on how to adopt healthy behaviors.

His title reveals his dual content. Crack the Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men over 50. 

Bezich doesn't just give evidence-based facts about healthy lifestyle choices--diet, exercise, stress management. He also discusses the psychology of changing one's habits.

Consequently, he includes information from psychology alongside information from the health professions.

The book includes not only research from scholarly journals but interviews from case studies conducted by the author. The reader gets to "hear" the experiences of mature men taking control of their health.

Friday, January 25, 2019

From the Stage to the Page

Photo by Jorg Schubert.
I don't want to write too much about this because I'm trying to be positive. However, I want to document a shift that I'm experiencing at midlife.

I am shifting away from being an outgoing person in social settings to being largely absent.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 7th Blogoversary

Photo by Jim Larrison.
Seven years ago today, I launched this blog, The Generation Above Me.

For the previous six years, I have posted the Top 10 or 20 Views over the life of the blog. When I checked the statistics this morning, the posts in the Top 20 stayed relatively constant over the last year.

Here are the All-Time Top 5 Posts for this blog:

5. Films Set in Nursing Homes
4. Books about Aging
3. Adjusting to Bifocals
2. Films about Aging
1. Films about Alzheimer's and Other Dementias

If you want to peruse the list of posts 6-20, you can visit last year's blogoversary post: