Yearly Archives: 2013
Posted by suzanne on Oct 2, 2013
Many individuals are drawn to the new and the novel, yet they often fear change and new experiences.
People are curious about the world, about the possibilities lying just beyond the sightline. A love of learning drives curiosity and an interest in new things. Learning new things is fun, exciting and enjoyable.
New things capture the imagination and create excitement; however, the double-edged sword is that the new is also anxiety-provoking. The new is uncertain and never guaranteed. It represents the unknown as well as the unfamiliar, so that while we gain energy and enthusiasm for the new and novel, this newness and uncertainty make us anxious. These contradictions are part of what makes us interesting as human beings but also part of what holds us back when new opportunities arise.
The uncertainty that derives from the new and novel can curtail the pursuit of our goals and our learning as well as our growth as individuals. We tend to get stuck in the same familiar ways of routine and habits rather than having the motivation to continue learning something new or taking the steps toward change. We can become overwhelmed by the change and the new direction rather than make a big change.
1) As individuals, we enjoy learning new things and are attracted by the new and novel
2) While new things are exciting, they also make us anxious
3) The new can lead to change, growth and transformation if we make a choice to go with the change
There is a newness and unexpectedness of each day when we change, embrace that change and welcome the beauty of the new day into our life. Change keeps life fresh. Novelty is vital in life. It keeps life interesting. For those who welcome it, there are ample rewards.
Posted by suzanne on Aug 15, 2013
Individuals are busy people. Life keeps people busy. Everyday while trying to fit in demands, responsibilities and obligations and going about life, individuals adjust their schedules, prioritize and re-prioritize.
Daily, it often seems, many have to hit stop and reset as the path of life takes unexpected turns. Plans become scrambled. Something requires our attention; sometimes it is completely unexpected, sometimes it is a request from a loved one. There is a realization that something needs to give and we need more time to accomplish what is most important or something highly critical needs some attention. But it requires that time and energies shift so we can devote more time to another area of life that has become a critical priority.
Individuals are always trying to re-balance during the journey of life. Change is constant. Individuals are always re-assessing, re-aligning and re-jigging. Thus, goes the dance of life, as we shift, spin and spiral towards one thing and away from another. The dance is constant, no matter what age or stage of life. Even in later life, the freedom to choose commitments and activities does not mean that the dance does not continue. We are always seeking to fine tune and adjust lives to fit in time: with friends, for ourselves, with a loved one and for work and productive activity. The dance of life that is required is never-ending and the most resilient of us endure with a sense of humour as we parcel out time.
It all comes down to time and managing our time to do what we most want to do, what we have to do and what is necessary. Somehow, time seems to move faster as we age.
Dear Readers – What are your impressions of time and the flow of time? What are your thoughts on the shifts and changes of balancing life?
Here’s to the ‘tick, tick, tick’ as we dance through life!
Posted by suzanne on Jun 28, 2013
Many factors have impacted our image of retirement with the traditional age for retirement influencing expectations in particular. Age sixty-five looms large as a magical age for retirement and seniorhood. Yet, this was not always the case.
Retirement is a social construction. In the past, there was no retirement. There were few elderly people because it was rare for someone to reach old age.
When retirement was first conceived in 1883 by Chancellor Otto Von Bismark of Germany, western society was different. Perspectives were different. Sixty-five years of age was chosen for an individual to receive a pension; however, this was with the expectation that most individuals would never live long enough to actually retire and collect the pension.
A lot has changed. Older adults are healthier and life expectancy has increased significantly over the past 130 years.
Individuals want to remain active and engaged. It is no longer your grandmother’s or your grandfather’s retirement.
Posted by suzanne on Jun 13, 2013
June is important to recognize as Seniors’ Month in Canada. This is good reason and an excellent opportunity for communities to celebrate seniors and the role they play in society, to increase awareness of seniors programs, services and policies and to redefine aging and seniorhood.
Despite the aging population in Canada, unfortunately, there have been few innovative and creative celebrations and events in honour of Seniors’ Month.
One stood out: I attended some of the Seniors’ Month offerings in Peterborough, Ontario. I met some amazing seniors and people who care about seniors. The programs and events in Peterborough were wonderful.
There is a lot happening this month for Peterborough Seniors’ Month. Check it out!
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.
Posted by suzanne on May 31, 2013
June 1st is Intergenerational Day, with more than 100 cities across Canada participating. This day highlights the benefits of intergenerational relationships.
Intergenerational engagement means connecting the generations – not siloing them – and it encourages social inclusion. Young people keep seniors young and seniors provide young people with a broader perspective on their experiences. Social interaction between young and old creates stronger bonds between the generations and breaks negative stereotyping.
Seniors and elders are role models of healthy aging for the younger ages. In fact, my grandfather was my role model. He inspired me in my work.
How are you exploring the ‘intergenerational’ in life? How often do you see the older adults, and those younger than you, who are in your life?
Congratulations Sharon MacKenzie of i2i for excellent work on Intergenerational Day.
Posted by suzanne on May 21, 2013
In my work, I meet seniors regularly, and recently, on separate occasions, I had the privilege of speaking with a 100-year-old woman, a 95-year-old man and a 74-year-old man.
I like speaking with seniors and elders. Our conversations are refreshing and invigorating. The discussion is engaging and stimulating. It is a great joy to speak to interesting individuals with so much to share.
From these conversations, I am reminded that one key to healthy aging is connection. Whether you are an energetic senior or elder or a more frail one, it is important to find the opportunity for connection.
In fact, this is true for human beings across the life course from cradle to grave. I am quite aware that I gain as much from these conversations as the seniors and elders do themselves.
We are social and life is about connection and relationships. It is important that we remind ourselves of this often during our busy lives.
Give your loved ones a squeeze and smile broadly at everyone you meet today – both young and old.
Posted by suzanne on Apr 22, 2013
In honour of National Volunteer Week (NVW) it is a good time to blog about volunteering, community service and charitable work.
Many people want to give back to the community for what they themselves have received. This is meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of others. Many boomers, seniors and elders who I talk to describe the satisfaction they receive from their volunteer work. This work is important and they find it fulfilling. By helping others, not only do they find their work fulfilling; it better connects them to community and adds to their quality of life.
The report I co-authored with Paula Speevak-Sladowski entitled Volunteering and Older Adults has recently been released. This report is important to share with organizations and communities that want to better engage older adults in volunteer work and community service. This report can help to inform programs, services and policy as we give greater attention to our aging population and create age friendly communities in Ontario and in the rest of Canada. Not only is volunteering an activity that helps individuals remain engaged in the community; research also indicates that it contributes to better health.
Meaningful and fulfilling roles and activities help us all ‘age well’.
Posted by suzanne on Apr 20, 2013
Individuals want to be active and engaged during the second half of life. We work and we play. Of course, it is important to continue doing meaningful, fulfilling activity. This makes us feel good about ourselves and about life.
Engagement means doing, participating, being involved, contributing, learning and using skills, strengths, gifts and talents. This requires exploring options and possibilities to find the right time and the right fit within in the right place for you.
Staying active helps us to be physically and mentally stimulated. This keeps us healthy and aging positively and provides purpose and meaning in life.
I often hear about this desire to stay active and engaged from the individuals who I work with and interact with. However, there can be too much of a good thing.
During retirement we can get caught up in the ‘busy ethic’ that we have in our society. This leads to too much activity and too many demands. Unfortunately, when we find it hard to slow down, just to take some deep breaths or to take a break, this creates great stress and anxiety.
In my work, I advise individuals to slow down so they can take the time to stop, reflect and contemplate all that is good and wonderful – the blessings, the precious things in life. Contemplation enables your mind the time required to catch up to your body.
Relatedly, balance in roles and activities is important because sometimes we do too much while trying to do it all. We need to make decisions, re-arrange and re-sort our lives; then, take away activities no longer important to us or that just no longer make sense. We have to prioritize and determine what is most important, most meaningful and fulfilling. Sometimes we need to take additional time to see things through to fruition. And sometimes we need to recognize that we are not ‘key actors’; we need to know when we are planting seeds that will later germinate.
We need the reflection time and the balance to see the bigger picture and to be more personally fulfilled so we can achieve what comes next.
Cultivate a balanced, engaged life. Excellent advice at any age.
Posted by suzanne on Mar 30, 2013
In 2011, the proportion of seniors in Canada grew to 14.4% and the median age rose to 39.9 years. As Canadian society ages, there is great interest and attention given to aging across various fields and disciplines: health care services, caregiving, housing and aging in place, career and occupation, lifelong learning and education, leisure and recreation, and well-being and healthy living, including lifestyle, diet and exercise. Services, products, supports and technological aids for seniors and aging are being developed, provided and offered.
The field of aging is ever dynamic. There is a lot happening. All of this impacts our attitudes and perspectives and how we view aging. We are reshaping aging on so many fronts. The field is evolving and is entering a new stage as we embrace the New Vision of Aging.
I view the second half of life as a time of growth, enlightenment and transformation. As an educator with a passion for sharing information and knowledge, I am particularly interested in lifelong learning and its influence on healthy aging. Learning is lifelong. Learning is social. Engagement in learning can herald deep personal growth and development during the second half of life. It is rewarding and a great privilege to work with so many individuals who are in this vital stage of life.
Be part of the New Vision of Aging. It is an exciting time to be in the field.