Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mature Adults Embrace Their Wild Minds

Photo by geebee2007.
When talking with people about wellness in late adulthood, many stay focused on the body. However, wellness includes emotional, social and spiritual health as well.

Since turning 50, I have found guidance about wellness from the writings of Bill Plotkin, founder of Colorado's Animas Valley Institute.

His 2007 book Nature and the Human Soul describes 8 stages of development, drawing on Jungian archetypes and primitive cultures.

(A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.) 

Plotkin gives more attention to older adults than many stage theorists do. Half of his stages are dedicated to adulthood. He describes two stages for elderhood, showing how late life adults play a key role in supporting healthy societies.

Friday, May 24, 2013

LGBT Right to LTC

Photo by Eric.Parker
The demographics of older adults are shifting in the next two decades. Not only will the percentages of older adults increase, but the number of race/ethnic minorities among their ranks will increase.

Long-term care administrators are aware of this, and there has been more training for staff about how to demonstrate cultural sensitivity. In addition more overt language about cultural diversity has been written into the mission statements for long-term care facilities.

Lagging, however, are overt statements about fostering an environment friendly to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as observed by Page Faegre. Most people feel extremely vulnerable when entering a care facility. Those who have experienced discrimination and even abuse because of their sexual identity / gender identity have increased fear when placed in long-term care.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life Span vs. Life Expectancy

4 Generations: Photo by Jun's World
[Edited to add information on Bolivian supercentenarian and link to Helmuth's article.]

It's impossible to know precisely how long you will live. Nevertheless, many seek information on life expectancy so that they can manage their resources.

122 = The maximum human life span.

85 = The average life expectancy for women in the US who reach age 65.

82 = The average life expectancy for men in the US who reach age 65.

77 = The average life expectancy for those in the US measured from birth.

First, it's important to know the difference between life span and life expectancy.

Life span is the maximum number of years that a species can live.  It's the upper limit. For humans, this is 122 years. Jean Calment holds the record for the oldest documented living person. She lived for 122 years and 164 days.  There is some buzz about a man in Bolivia exceeding that record by reaching age 123, but Guinness hasn't verified his documentation yet.

Life expectancy is the statistically expected number of years projected for a person's length of life.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pomp and Circumstance

Dr. Nicole Rogers and Karen D. Austin
Photo by Michael S. Austin.
Between August 2010 and May 2013, I have been pursuing a graduate degree in Aging Studies.  The discipline is also sometimes called gerontology.

This month I'm completing my schooling with a little pride, pomp and circumstance.

Shakespeare provides that phrase:

Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th'ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!

(Othello, Act III, scene iii)

I highly recommend the program, directed by Dr. Nicole Rogers (pictured here ---> ). I chose the social science track, which allowed me to study the contributions of sociologists, psychologists and economists to the phenomena of aging.

When allowed to choose the topic for my research projects, I chose to study cognition: age-related cognitive changes, mild cognitive impairment, mood disorders, and Alzheimer's Disease.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day Reflections: Literacy Lessons

Mom and Me - June 1965.
The book of Genesis claims that Adam named the animals prior to Eve's appearance in the Garden of Eden. I have a hard time accepting that part of the creation story.  In my own life, and in the lives of many others, it's Mother who names the world.
Photo by trec_lit

She just didn't teach me to identify the basics: cup, water, shoe, banana.  Over the years, she taught me to name and label things I couldn't hold in my hand: love, pain, divinity, irony.

My mother has a keen mind, and she's a lifelong student. Even when she quit her job teaching home economics to raise me and my two sisters, she still read voraciously, wrote in her journal, talked to like-minded friends and in all ways scrutinized the world around her.

At midlife, she returned to school and got a master's degree in a completely unrelated field, humanities.  I ended up doing the same: first studying English and then at midlife getting a master's in the unrelated field, aging studies.