Thursday, June 20, 2013

Positive Aging Day 2013

Photo by WSU Aging Studies
Earlier this week, I had the chance to attend Positive Aging Day here in Wichita, KS. This event is supported by a number of organizations, including the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging.

In addition to 20 sessions in concurrent sessions, we enjoyed a keynote speaker (Rip Gooch, member of the Black Aviation Hall of Fame) during lunch.  Find a detailed program here.

I attended the following sessions:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movies Set in Nursing Homes

Photo by North Dakota National Guard. 
Most movies focus on the characters. Sometimes, however, the setting exerts considerable influence.

The setting looms large for many movies filmed in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or even active living retirement communities.

Often the conflict for movies with such settings stems from an environment populated primarily with people in late adulthood.

Below find a sampling of such movies, which mainly feature films but two documentaries as well.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lifestyle Choices Help Us to Get Old

Yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch b. 1918. Photo by Born in the South

"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it,
you've got to start young." Theodore Roosevelt

How we age depends a great deal on lifestyle choices.   Yes, family history and environment play some role. However, we can improve the quality of our life as we age (and we are all aging) by making healthy choices every day.

The Get Old program, run by Pfizer and their partners, supports healthy aging by providing information on how to make better lifestyle choices.  In a statement released today, Pfizer shares this eye-opening fact:

"Chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and many could be prevented or delayed through simple lifestyle changes. According to the World Health Organization, eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity and smoking – would prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancers."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best of Boomer Blogs #311

Photo by Domen Jakus
I am pleased to announce that I am hosting my first blog carnival. This refers to a digest of sorts. Every eight weeks, I take a turn hosting links and overviews to seven other blogs, authored by other Boomers. This gives you a chance to see what some of my peers are discussing.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about new, voluntary labeling for alcohol, which took the Treasury Department 10 years to adopt. It’s unfortunate that the labeling isn’t mandatory because consumers need to know how many calories are in the alcohol they’re drinking and, in addition, what the alcohol content is. 

Sean McGrath
SoBabyBoomer remembers that half a century ago, the birth-control pill offered women the ability to switch off ovulation, to separate sex from reproduction. It played a part, as the ‘60s got under way, in propelling a host of profound changes, cultural as well as reproductiveThis post also discusses new research on "female Viagra" drugs and the more psychological nature of female desire. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life with Father: Ship Shaped

Dad and his girls, circa 1974. 
My childhood was influenced in part by my father's service in the U.S. Navy.  I was born state side while my dad was serving active duty in Japan. I have a telegram in my baby book that was sent to him, announcing my birth.

A short time after his return, I spent a year as an infant living in housing with my parents on base in Pearl Harbor. We then lived off base in the Bay Area of Northern California. We lived for a time in Monterrey and then Pacifica, cities close to the navy base.

During the middle of my kindergarten year, our family moved to Cypress, California. My dad had recently started working full time as a civilian in the oil industry, but he was still in the navy reserve.  He served through the base in Long Beach--one weekend per month and two weeks per year.
This is part of a Generation Fabulous blog hop.
The thumbnails below will expire after a couple of weeks,
so here are a few of my favorites from this set:

Grown and Flown shares Dad's Sayings
A Faded Ginger realizes Now I Get It
Fur Files' dad is a Special Kind of Crazy

HuffPost50 selected 19 photos from the blog hop for a slideshow.
(I'm slide #13.)

Military culture for Dad didn't stay sequestered to his ship. We felt a little influence at home.  He taught us how to make our beds using military standards.  We learned to iron clothing so they looked as crisp as his uniforms. He had a nautical barometer and matching nautical clocks in the house. The latter rang out time marking  military shifts. "Six bells, and all's well!"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Robert C. Peck's Tasks for Older Adults

Photo by Wunkai
Some people age without growing up.

Stage theory can help, but the extension of the average life span to about 50 years old to now about 80 years old has rendered older theories incomplete.

Erik Erikson's stage theory a bit anemic when describing midlife and late adulthood.

I recently learned that Peck thought so, too.

Robert Peck has expanded the life stage model to describe these tasks for those in midlife and late life:
  • valuing wisdom vs. valuing physical power
  • mental flexibility vs. mental rigidity
  • ego differentiation vs. work role preoccupation
  • body transcendence vs. body preoccupation
  • ego transcendence vs. ego preoccupation
Clearly, the preferred traits are those listed first in each pair: valuing wisdom, mental flexibility, ego differentiation, body transcendence, and ego transcendence. They allow growth and development.

Dr. Bill Plotkin has done a lot of great work defining life stages. He looks at non-industrialized communities past and present. He also draws on nature as inspiration and takes people into the wilderness of Colorado on retreats.  He is also a professor of psychology.  Here is a post about his stage theories, which include a lot of powerful roles for people in the second half of life. 

Imagine a person who demonstrates the "opportunity for growth" traits:
She would accept changes to her body but still work to be healthy and strong. She would be a life-long student who develops new skills and interests in midlife and beyond.  She adapts, recognizing that she probably cannot hold the same social roles at 80 as she did at 20, but she would accept or even create new roles that employ her strengths. She can also develop new skills to meet her present challenges.   
Some people have a difficult time adjusting to age. I believe this is true for a number of reasons. 
  1. We as a society don't live in multi-generational communities, so we don't observe older adults develop. Most media images focus on people 15 years old to 35 years old. (I've noted more media including people up to 45 years old; however, that still leaves many members of today's adult population). 
  2. We live in a youth-obsessed culture where physical beauty, physical strength, power and fame are revered.
  3. We are still trying to develop religious practices to support new views of spirituality that replace dogmatic, overly authoritative religious traditions that many of us dismissed as young adults. 
As the Baby Boomers move into late adulthood, they will help articulate their path to spiritual enlightenment so that others might follow and not despair when faced with late-life challenges. Members of other generations are doing this, too.

Aging is more complex and contains more opportunities for growth than many people imagine.