Posted by suzanne on Apr 30, 2017
Thanks to our aging population, increasing numbers of people are reaching mid-life. They have made it to a certain age and realize they need step it up a bit to maintain their health. Some decide they need to work harder in order to become healthier.
In fact, people are paying more attention to the benefits of healthier, more active lifestyles across the lifespan. It is possible to improve health by working at it. The objective is for people to have not only increased lifespans, but increased healthspans. The approach of using the seven dimensions of active aging can help.
The seven dimensions of active aging is a model for health and wellness. I often share this model when people are interested in learning more about health, wellness and aging and want to understand how to live fuller, healthier lives. This model helps people to design a rich, well-rounded lifestyle and set goals for health and wellness.
The seven dimensions of active aging are the key areas to be aware of for healthy aging in order to improve the quality of life as individuals age. The seven dimensions of health and wellness are:
- Cognitive – brain health
- Physical – body fitness and sexuality
- Psychological – emotional health
- Social – relationships and social connections
- Spiritual – divine, psychic and transcendent
- Occupational – vocation, work and calling
- Environmental – the natural and build world
With this holistic approach to health and wellness, these dimensions are interconnected to create the whole person and their life. Being active and engaged helps individuals by stimulating at least one, and often, many of these dimensions. It is important to live a balanced lifestyle so that each of these dimensions are developed or stimulated. This is what individuals strive to achieve.
The Canadian population is aging and there are more older adults than previously. People are also living longer today than ever before. They want to live longer and healthier lives. They want to maintain or even improve their health and are paying more attention to health and wellness in order to achieve health-related goals and objectives. Healthspan is very important. The seven dimensions provide a broad perspective of the best ways to think about health and wellness. In addition, the dimensions indicate the areas for improvement in order to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
Posted by suzanne on Apr 12, 2017
There is a realignment of work and retirement in society as the population ages. It is a growing trend. Older adults are continuing to work past traditional retirement age.
CBC’s The National followed a couple of Canadians as they reflected on their decision to keep working into their later years. They found work opportunities for their ‘next act’ that help generate an income and maintain their lifestyle. Furthermore, their work is personally fulfilling and meaningful to their community.
Benefits go beyond the paycheque; working keeps people active and engaged. It was also nice to hear another perspective on the benefits of hiring mature workers.
I coined the term redirection to refer to the new stage of career as people transition into new pursuits and occupation to stay engaged and continue to work. Redirection is an alternative to retirement. It is an exciting time of life. New possibilities are investigated and explored. Older adults discover that their skills and competencies are transferable. My new documentary film explores five people’s experiences with redirection.
CBC News discusses the trend towards delayed retirement. Provinces like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are already rethinking and implementing policy to address this new trend.
It is time to rethink government policy to consider the ways people are and can work longer and what this means for social structures and institutions in Canada.
Category: Active Engagement, Aging Population, Aging Workforce, Career, Economic Issues, Family, Health and Wellness, Intergenerational, Life and Living, Longevity, New Retirement, Relationships, Social Policy, The Redirection Project, Work
Posted by suzanne on Feb 1, 2017
Older adults are continuing to work into their later years. They work for meaning, purpose, engagement, stimulation…and a paycheque.
Some individuals retire, then decide it is time to go back to work.
This is a beautiful video telling the story of one woman who retired, then decided to keep working into her later years.
Mature and experienced workers have a lot to offer. It is challenging and rewarding to redirect into new occupational pursuits.
Posted by suzanne on Jun 30, 2015
In what ways can all generations engage and participate in a conversation and dialogue about greater longevity and a vibrant later life? An excellent start is to foster intergenerational relationships with intent, harness the power of intergenerational bonds and interactions, something that is largely untapped. Research indicates that these as perspectives, experiences and interactions are not commonly engaged in either direction – older to younger or younger to older.
One part of the Age Friendly Communities initiative needs to be to encourage and cultivate non-familial intergenerational interactions. Where are the best places to seek out intergenerational interactions? Here are the five top places and spaces for intergenerational connections to thrive. These are through:
- Volunteer and service work, as individuals from different generations contribute their time to the same cause or issue in the community
- The workplace, where individuals from different generations work, converse and solve problems together
- Associations with neighbours when interacting with people living in the neighbourhood
- The broader community where individuals meet and speak with others as they engage in daily activities and daily interactions, living their lives; and
- Learning and educational institutions, especially as intergenerational learning becomes more prevalent such as in the Sociology of Aging course I taught at York University
If the generations engage more readily in these five top places then the trigger questions for success are – how can dialogue and conversations be encouraged on meaningful issues of mutual concern? How can outward facing messages be stimulated that engage all ages in conversation, so that everyone benefits?
Finally, the top tip for strengthening intergenerational interactions is to encourage good listening skills. In this way, each individual will hear better across generations. Everyone is valued and respected. It is necessary that the generations listen to each other in order to hear each other. This is how intergenerational bonds and connections are fostered. It begins by taking this first critical step. This is an excellent beginning and an excellent way to develop better intergenerational relationships.
A version of this was posted on the Planet Longevity blog.
Posted by suzanne on Dec 9, 2014
What happens when lifelong learners are invited into spaces and places normally reserved for young learners? You get Intergenerational Education. This new and emerging type of education occurs when you mix passion, dynamic innovation and out of the box thinking and bring it all into the classroom. The results and the benefits are phenomenal.
Dr. Chris Alfano, my colleague in Kingston, teaches high school students and older adults in an intergenerational music program. The vibrancy of this classroom is incredible and it has been my pleasure to observe this class on more than one occasion. Chris and his music class received some much deserved attention for the incredible work they all do to bring music into people’s lives through intergenerational education. Great joy is created when they share what they have learned and bring music out into the community.
I teach Sociology of Aging at York University using an intergenerational education model. I have been thrilled to see this new trend catching on. Recently, I visited two intergenerational education class opportunities. This confirmed the rich learning potential for young and old alike.
Last week, I visited the University of Victoria to observe an interdisciplinary, intergenerational class as well as speak with the professors leading this course (The YUFA Teaching and Learning Development Grant that I received from York University facilitated my visit). The UVic students are enrolled in ‘Exploring Aging through Film’. What an inspired idea for an interdisciplinary university course that brings young and old together while strengthening links between research and teaching. This course is the brain child of Dr. Holly Tuokko and her colleagues. The support for this creative course, the vibrant learning environment and the high student interest were striking. It was wonderful to see the development of intergenerational education and how far it has progressed on the West Coast.
My colleague at York, Dr. Gary Turner, also incorporated intergenerational learning into his class for the first time two weeks ago. Again, everyone was pleased with the results and I have every expectation that he will do it again next year.
These classes use Experiential Education to engage students, both young and old. This model has rich potential.
There is a new brand of education emerging in the field and it demands that we pay close attention to it.
Posted by suzanne on Sep 30, 2014
Our time as a society is unprecedented in terms of our ability to develop positive opportunities for multiple generations to live, work, play and learn together. We have more forums, research and technology available for exploring these opportunities to make this a “society for all ages”.
One such forum is the upcoming 43rd annual Canadian Association on Gerontology conference Oct.16-18, 2014 in Niagara Falls where the theme is Landscapes of Aging, which is appropriate in that it explores a wide, bountiful horizon of “emerging possibilities”.
At this year’s conference, I am chairing the Saturday morning Divisional Symposium: Intergenerational Learning within Formal Educational Programs: Older Adults and Younger Students. My presentation within this is entitled Intergenerational Learning Partners: Learning through Lived Experience at the Undergraduate Level, focusing on my Sociology of Aging course developed at York University.
In this course last academic year (2013-14), eight older adults were invited into the undergraduate classroom and the students learned empirical and theoretical perspectives on aging and later life through “lived experience”. The majority of the students were in their 20’s and did not inherently have knowledge of this area of study. Both the students and the older adults regularly interacted in this university class, which is an innovative method of linking these generations.
Posted by suzanne on Jul 15, 2014
‘Young and older together.’ This was a mantra of Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers in the United States. Maggie was ahead of her time in recognizing aging as an issue and redefining what aging means in society.
As human beings, we need strong bonds and connections to individuals of all ages. It is up to all of us to cultivate these interactions and relationships so we can reap the many rewards. Individuals and communities benefit from intergenerational experiences.
Recently, I was quoted in the Grey Bruce Kids magazine about intergenerational interaction. Kristen B. Dyer, the author, encourages children and their parents to seek out or create intergenerational opportunities. Please check out the article “Intergenerational Bridges’ in the June issue.
Catch the joy of intergenerational interaction!
Posted by suzanne on May 8, 2014
Reading a recent Toronto Star article, I was quite moved by the story about the death of an incredible 21-year old university student named Kristina, who was studying nursing. Kristina donated her organs to help save the lives of five people. One of them, Susan Vieira, a 64-year old retired nurse, received Kristina’s heart. When she found out about Kristina, she decided to go through Kristina’s bucket list, checking off items on her behalf.
To me, this speaks of intergenerational relationships and the natural connection and affinity between young and old. Youth and older adults have so much in common. As Susan and Kristina’s story demonstrates, even in death there is a strong mutual bond. Moreover, we inspire each other. Susan, an adventurous woman, continues living life to the fullest so that Kristina’s vitality, exuberance and zest for life lives on.
Intergenerational relationships refer to social interaction between different generations – connections between individuals of different ages. In the community, the focus is often on relationships where the individuals are not related to each other; hence, beyond the intergenerational connection that occurs in families between grandparents and their grandchildren.
Our society has a tendency towards age-segregation, rather than promoting intergenerational interaction and connection and the strengthening of these bonds. Children go to age-graded schools, adults go to their places of work and older adults have seniors’ centres, seniors’ programs, seniors’ housing and…well you get the picture.
Even within families, intergenerational interaction has decreased due to social changes from employment mobility and shifting family structure. Programs that consciously engage the generations and act to connect them go against the norm of segregation.
In my work, I actively promote intergenerational interaction and have seen the results first hand. I teach a Sociology of Aging class at York University and have consciously cultivated opportunities for intergenerational connection. This has been rewarding for everyone involved.
There are more community programs being developed for the purpose of stimulating intergeneration interaction, such as Cyber Seniors and The Creative Space. In Canada, i2i promotes an intergenerational society. Community is strengthened when the generations come together. There is still much work to be done to help us realize the untapped potential of intergenerational bonds and connection.
Together, we are stronger – we can work towards our goals and reach our vision of a Canadian society for all ages.
Posted by suzanne on Apr 2, 2014
Our lives are most meaningful in the ways we touch the lives of others. This is the great beauty of life and what provides the deepest meaning and fulfillment.
When we are of an age, how will we continue to associate, interact and engage with others? As we age, some of the best moments are when we are in the company of those who are of a different age. Yet, lives are often lived separately; we segregate the generations to different domains, spheres and social structures. When we separate the ages in our society, we make this special interaction more difficult to achieve.
It is difficult to find suitable language to describe those who are older but are also young at heart. They are seniors and elders in comparison to my age. But I don’t perceive them with the connotation that the word ‘old’ describes. When I get to know them as individuals, their age disappears. In fact, when the generations interact and intermingle, we realize we have much in common after all; any differences evaporate through caring, loving and laughing together.
It is wonderful to see the young inspire the old and the old inspire the young. This is what can be achieved through intergenerational interaction.
Posted by suzanne on Jun 3, 2013
Human beings are social creatures and social relationships are critical for well-being and optimal development. Individuals interact with family, friends, co-workers and neighbours as well as out in the broader public sphere.
Individuals gain much from these social relationships. There is the love of family – the one born into, and the one chosen, because sometimes close friends feel more like family.
Individuals maintain friendships and family relationships across the life course. Close friendships are important for human development and we are wise to maintain our friendships and hang on to them during the life-journey. It is also worthwhile to support family relationships by cultivating strong family ties.
Relationships can be deeply meaningful in life. That is the beauty of connection. Think about your longest-lived relationships and what they mean to you.
As individuals, we support and encourage each other. Our lives interweave. We influence and inspire each other. Relationships provide great joy in life.
I have been giving much thought to relationships and connection. Coincidently, Dr. James Fowler presented last week at the NICE Knowledge Exchange (the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly) and offered his thoughts on connection. He recently wrote a book entitled “Connected“. Dear readers, you might be interested in this book if you are enjoying my posts on connection and social relationships.