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 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 Dec 8, 2016
Redirection is an alternative to retirement. A large and growing proportion of older adults are choosing to work past what has traditionally been thought of as ‘retirement age’. This represents a significant shift in our society.
The Redirection Project examines this new and emerging social trend. Results of the research will be shared in January. First, a webinar will be held on January 12th, 2017. Sign up here. Second, there is a presentation at Cannexus17 in Ottawa on January 23rd. Sign up here.
The documentary film Redirection: Movers, Shakers and Shifters discusses these issues and portrays the stories of five adults who found second or third careers after age 50. The English and French trailers of the film are available. The documentary film is been screened through feature presentations around the country to great acclaim.
Posted by suzanne on Oct 17, 2016
There is a shift surrounding later life with the extension of working lives. In fact, both work and aging have changed a lot compared to earlier times. Specifically, the nature of work has changed, people are working longer, and people are aging differently.
People are living longer than in previous generations. They are thinking differently about their work and occupation. Work fills various objectives for individuals.
The documentary film “Redirection: Movers, Shakers and Shifters” shows the experiences of five people age 50 and older as they moved into second or third careers. The film is being released through feature presentations. The one minute trailer is available for viewing.
What will later life work look like for you? What’s next?
Posted by suzanne on Jan 31, 2016
It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to focus on Canada’s aging workforce at the recent symposium devoted to this topic. In fact, since presenting at CEDEC‘s Maturing Workforce Symposium held at Cannexus16 a few days ago, I have continued to reflect on some critical issues.
The aging population equates to an aging labour force and this has implications at the individual, organizational and societal level. These complex issues demand employer policy as well as social policy to help address them.
Life spans have increased and individuals are responsible for saving more for their retirement at the same time that financial markets and investment returns are shaky. It is no wonder various polls report that more people expect to continue working past traditional retirement age.
Mature or older workers have different goals and needs than younger age groups. They want flexibility from employers. They need career pathways that help them meet specific objectives.
Both the way we work and the linear career path of the past have changed. This collides with our intergenerational workplace and makes it urgent that employers create new programs and policies to facilitate talent management, training and development and career progression.
Later life career development is new terrain in the work-life landscape. Navigating job change and moving into mentorship roles are difficult tasks. In addition, succession planning and knowledge transfer need to be mapped out. Businesses and organizations are trying to identify and understand what this means in their workplace.
With these powerful demographic and economic forces, we are undergoing a major social and cultural shift surrounding later life work and retirement. We are in a revolutionary transition and social policy is required to help guide and manage this significant change that will affect established social structures in Canada. New evidence-based policies and programs are required.
Finally, these issues are complex. Collaboration and partnership are required to navigate this emerging later life landscape.
Posted by suzanne on Jan 26, 2016
I coined the term redirection to refer to the new stage of career as individuals transfer their skills, experience and knowledge in a new direction. By pursuing a new occupation, individuals are able to use some of their strengths while learning something new. This provides revitalization.
Attention Northumberland County Residents, please click here: Magnet Redirection Project.
The Redirection Project examines how Canadians in their 50s, 60s and beyond are turning away from traditional notions of ‘retirement’ to seek new employment. There is a radical change taking place with an expansion of our working lives and re-imagining of retirement as the baby boomers enter what has traditionally been viewed as their retirement years.
The Redirection Project is a CERIC-funded national research initiative. The project consists of a national survey (see below), success stories to help inspire others and a documentary film (see the story contest).
The research examines partipants’ experiences with later life work and career development as they shift gears and pursue new types of work.
If you are age 50 or over and seeking new employment (or have already found your new career), you are invited to participate in important research about this topic in order to help others in similar circumstances.
The project has received great coverage in the Globe and Mail.
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 Nov 28, 2014
Volunteers have a highly valued role in society. Volunteer efforts are very important from coast, to coast, to coast. This is because they help keep communities, non-profit organizations and charities going.
Volunteering is a great way to stay active and also to contribute and give back to the community. It is socially and mentally stimulating and is good for aging well.
I am always pleased to hear about the ways that older adults volunteer in the community, especially the length of time they have been volunteers and the different volunteer roles they hold.
I recently wrote a short piece about volunteering that appears in the Fall/Winter edition of Revera Living Magazine. Please read it here.
Posted by suzanne on Oct 1, 2014
Older adults need to be celebrated as people: As human beings and as unique and special individuals. It is refreshing to see positive images of older adults because often they are viewed in negative ways: As a drain on society, as consumers, as past some best before date, or even as invisible in society.
Within in society, images and perspectives of older adults, aging and later life matter. These impact people.
The theory of Symbolic Interactionism indicates that our view of older adults and aging develops through interaction with other people. In essence, our sense of self is influenced by how we are viewed by others or put another way, we view ourselves through the eyes of others. It can be argued that this ‘view’ extends to social institutions and structures in society and the way they portray older adults. These portrayals and perspectives contribute to the social discourse surrounding later life and influence how we view others as well as how we view ourselves as we age.
Hence, I was very pleased to read recent copies of Revera Living magazine. This publication portrays and celebrates older adults as the real, vital and interesting people that they are. The magazine recognizes each individual as unique, with something to offer. This sentiment is important every day, but especially on October 1st, International Day of Older Persons.
Posted by suzanne on Aug 3, 2014
This August, it is timely to recognize leading-edge American social activist Maggie Kuhn for her work in the field of aging. August 3rd marks the 109th year since her birth. Maggie was a champion of aging and the later years. She founded the Gray Panthers in August 1970.
Maggie’s work is notable not only because she was ahead of her time with her vision. She also broke stereotypes and, at age 65, embarked on the most important work of her life. In fact, rather than accept being pushed into a quiet retirement by her employer and societal pressure, she chose to take action and work for the rights of older people. After being forced into retirement from the Presbyterian Church, Maggie, along with her friends who found themselves in similar circumstances, organized and founded the group that became the Gray Panthers. The organization focused on the issues of older people including pensions and pension rights, health care and age discrimination. Gray Panthers also addressed the larger social issues of the time such as the Vietnam War.
“By the year 2020, the year of perfect vision, the old will outnumber the young.”
Maggie was a charismatic and energetic leader. She advocated for older adults to have a voice and the opportunity to provide input into programs, practice and social policy. She encouraged older adults to stay involved and take action on social issues. In doing so, she started a cultural revolution.
Maggie also believed in the power of intergenerational connection. One of her mantras was ‘Young and old together’. Under her guidance, Gray Pantners came to represent the possibility and power of later life and to stand for social and economic justice and peace for all ages. The organization’s motto is ‘Age and Youth in Action’ very much echoing Maggie’s sentiments. Maggie herself demonstrated how older adults can be active in the world, working for social issues that are important to them.
“Learning and sex until rigor mortis.”
Until her death at age 89, Maggie continued her work as an activist and advocate. She redefined aging and is a role model to all of us – women and men, young and old alike.
“There must be a goal at every stage of life! There must be a goal!”
Maggie Kuhn was a visionary leader. She inspired many people to view aging differently. She left an incredible legacy. Unfortunately, ageism, discrimination and lack of intergenerational connection continue to be issues that require attention in our society. These are barriers to a cultural revolution that would shift our society from a youth-oriented culture to a society for all ages. In our aging society, we need more people like Maggie to help move the cultural revolution forward.