Posted by suzanne on Dec 3, 2020
This week, I listened with great interest to the story of Izzy McQueen, an 88-year-old dedicated Santa’s helper in BC.
Thirty-five years of volunteer service! What an achievement! Congratulations for your commitment to sending out thoughtful and compassionate letters to children.
What a shock to be let go from meaningful community work; and with a voice message!
I am impressed with Izzy McQueen’s work and her experiences as a Santa elf. What a dynamo! She thought she could do it, and she did! The postal service should have given her ‘grand’ recognition for her tireless work as a dedicated volunteer to children and adults alike, in Canada and around the world.
Thanks to Daybreak Kamloops with Shelley Joyce for covering this story on Dec 1st, 2020.
Posted by suzanne on May 11, 2020
Canada cares. Volunteering and donating are foundational activities in our country. We get involved and support others. We inspire each other when we work together towards important community goals.
And it’s never too late to make a difference. In fact, John Hillman, a 101-year-old Second World War veteran, is walking 101 laps around his retirement home in Victoria, British Columbia in order to raise money for charity.
Hillman was inspired by Captain Tom Moore in the UK. Captain Tom completed 100 laps and raised an incredible £23m.
In turn, Hillman is inspiring others and making a difference in his community — at age 101.
What does Hillman inspire you to do?
Posted by suzanne on Nov 24, 2019
When we think about health in later life, much attention is on illness and chronic conditions. Research has often focused on illness and disease in later life, overemphasizing this as part of aging when it is possible for individuals to manage health issues and maintain a positive perspective on aging.
Older adults are healthier than in previous generations. In addition, life expectancy has increased significantly over the past 100 years. In the past, people would not live into their 60s, 70s or 80s. For example, my grandfather passed away just shy of his 100th birthday.
Many factors influence longevity. Research has discovered protective genes and environmental factors that influence life expectancy and longevity.
People continue to live with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Individuals can manage different health issues while continuing to work, volunteer and provide caregiving to others. These activities are meaningful to individuals, families, communities and society in general. Fulfilling and satisfying activities provide broad health benefits such as belonging, social interaction and a sense of purpose. All of this contributes to mental health while keeping individuals connected to their communities.
More research should examine these protective health factors during later life rather than focusing solely on the health issues and risks.
Posted by suzanne on Dec 31, 2017
Happy New Year. The best time for new beginnings is now as the new year begins.
New mindset. New shift. New direction. Redirection.
Congratulations on your retirement. Now it’s time to redirect.
Congratulations on intentionally contemplating your future retirement.
Redirection…because you don’t know what is just around the corner.
The time is ripe to figure out your next challenge and your next chapter.
Vital engagement. The time is now.
Posted by suzanne on Oct 1, 2015
This week, Statistics Canada reported that older adults age 65 and over now outnumber children and youth under 15 years of age. This is a new social trend that is expected to continue and in fact grow in the future. This demographic change will certainly impact society.
There are more older adults in Canada than ever before. They are a diverse group with a variety of needs. Furthermore, as they move through the life course, this demographic group continues to have social impact on social institutions and vice versa.
There is work to be done to address issues related to our aging population and bigger conversations that we need to be having about our aging society. Innovative policy, programs and services as well as more research and education about issues and topics related to aging and older age are required to help Canada and Canadians adjust to the social change we are experiencing.
Aging is an interdisciplinary field. It requires specialized as well as holistic, broad-based knowledge. The new collaborative partnership on aging research and education between York University and Trent University that connects their new aging-focused research centres is an innovative example of what is needed going forward.
The new research centres at York and Trent both have an interdisciplinary focus and a mandate to increase the capacity for research and education on aging and aging issues. With this partnership, York and Trent can effectively capitalize on the strengths, perspectives and expertise of scholars and researchers in the field of aging and accomplish even more innovative work. Furthermore, it will enable these two institutions to bring more resources and various viewpoints and experiences to bear on issues related to aging. The partnership will provide a holistic understanding of aging that can inform policy, programs and services for stronger, healthier communities. This is what will assist Canada to adjust to the shifting demographics and changing social needs.
What a coincidence that we are talking about this population shift and what is needed in time for October 1, the day the federal government has designated as National Seniors’ Day.
Going forward, however, there is great need to be forward thinking, innovative and purposeful to address the social and demographic changes we are experiencing.
A version of this blog was posted on LinkedIn on October 1st, 2015.
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 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 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.