Saturday, November 17, 2012

Women Help All to Get Old

Sharon Couto, Maye Musk and Sally Beatty Photo from Get Old
I have long suspected that women are primarily in charge of people's bodies. Whether they are gestating bodies, feeding bodies, healing bodies, cleaning up fluids flung loose from bodies, or assisting aging bodies--women are most often in positions of key management over such matters.  I know that in my house, I am the person most focused on effective body management.

Other family members, consumed with personal achievement or leisure activities, often put the health and function of their bodies on the back burner. So I ask them, "When was the last time you ate?" "Why are you coughing?"  "Are you getting tired?"  "Are those shoes too small for you now?"  "How did you get that bruise?" "Why don't we eat some leafy greens?"  

Yes, sometimes little girls, men and boys help with these body-focused duties as they occur in the domestic sphere. I love a man who will change a diaper or a teen who will clean up vomit or a child who will choose carrot sticks over cookies. I applaud them.

However, my trip to the Get Old* blogger summit this October confirmed my suspicions. No matter what our current age or social role, we women are clearly major stakeholders in the management of bodies.  And most every body wants to get old in a healthy way. 

The blogger summit also confirmed another notion: Everybody ages.

In attendance were 10 vibrant bloggers who address issues across the lifespan.  Although my list forces these bloggers into concern based on the "age" of their blogging topics, all demonstrated interest in connecting the generations through family life, education, storytelling (with words and images) and advocacy.

Those blogging about parenting and grandparenting:
Those blogging about midlife concerns:
Pfizer employees fostered an environment rich with prompts for discussion. Much thanks to Sally Beatty (senior director of external communications), Warachal Eileen Faison (medical director), Caroline Roan (president of the Pfizer Foundation) and others. We met before dawn and enjoyed a yoga class before spending the remainder of the day talking about healthy aging with guest speakers: Maye Musk (pictured above), Carla Hall, and Amanda Steinberg

Warachal Eileen Faison, Alison Rhodes, moi, Caroline Roan from Get Old
As the day unfolded, we shared facts and narratives about how we manage bodies--our own bodies and other bodies in our household. We discussing topics ranging from nutrition, fashion, exercise, finances, housing, mental health, time management, health care, and skilled nursing.  And we noted that women do this work while standing on shifting ground.

Women must respond to major life changes in the lives of loved ones while also managing changes in their own lives, their own bodies. If you want a glimpse into the challenges of managing a middle aged body, check out this post, which I wrote just hours after the summit concluded. There's a lot going on with us as we take care of you all!

Even though my blog's topic concerned the oldest among us, I was the "youngest" blogger there, just having started this blog 10 months prior. Consequently, I was prepared to be awe-struck by the talent gathered together that day.

But in reflection, this was my take-away: Gathered together were a group of intelligent and capable women with tender hearts, all talking about how we can better manage our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones in support of healthy aging.

We all possess bodies that age and present a variety of challenges. That fact formed our common ground that day and allowed us to share how we rise up to meet these body-based challenges. 

For Other "Takes" on the Day, check out these posts from other bloggers in attendance, which include fabulous pictures of the day's events:

*Get Old is an initiative supported by nearly a dozen organizations seeking to amplify the conversation on aging and striving to learn more how Americans of all ages are rising up to meet the age-related challenges as they affect individuals, families and society. They were very kind to provide my transportation and hotel accommodations so that I could participate.  They also let us bloggers keep our yoga mats from our morning's exercise class. And at the end of the day, they sent us off with a gift bag of vitamins and other small items. 

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