There is a common cultural ideal that the older one gets, the wiser one grows. Perhaps that is why we say “there’s no fool like an old fool” — by the time you’ve reached a certain age, you’re supposed to know better.
But is it true that with age comes experience, knowledge, and wisdom worth sharing?
Dr. Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College, has been applying scientific research to this question and the results can be found at “The Legacy Project: Lessons for Living from the Wisest Americans.”
The practical advice that Dr. Pillemer and his team collected from over 1500 Elders aged 70 and over is reported on the Legacy Project website, and will be published in a book to be released this fall. It confirms the idea that Elderhood is a time of continuing growth, and that Elders have much to share with us if we will take the time to listen.
Please visit the Legacy Project site by clicking HERE to learn more, to make your own contribution, and to browse through the lessons learned on a variety of life issues.
As Dr. Pillemer says, the Wisdom gathered includes gems on “how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, strategies for dealing with illness and loss, and how to grow old fearlessly and well.”
I don’t know the average age of the Elders who shared the advice learned over a lifetime, but if the average was 80 years, and there are 1500 contributors, that’s 120,000 years of Wisdom from which we all can benefit!
Here’s an ever better idea – Why not visit an Elder today and ask them how they’ve coped with life’s challenges, what they wish they could do differently, what their secrets to happiness are?
Make that phone call you’ve been putting off – your favorite Aunt is waiting to hear from you, and to share her Wisdom!
Many thanks to Dr. Karl Pillemer and his research team for taking a strength-based approach to Elderhood, and for sharing these results in such a generous way.
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist in Ithaca, NY. She is an Eden at Home Educator with The Eden Alternative, serves on the President’s Council for Family Life at Cornell University, and is teaching the Gerontology Fieldwork seminar for Ithaca College this fall.
I stumbled onto a music video this morning that really spoke to everything I’ve loved about working with Elders and their care partners for the last 28 years. It was so sweet and so beautifully done, I had to sit down and find a way to share it with you.
This story shows with great poignancy the deep connections that often form between Elders and those who care for them, and how both benefit from the relationship.
Genuine, loving care is both given and received in this tender relationship!
Loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, the three plagues of Elderhood described by Dr. Bill Thomas, co-founder of the Eden Alternative, are vanquished for both the Elder and the young man in this lovely story.
I wasn’t able to embed the video here, but I believe it is worth your visit away from my site to see Brett Eldredge’s music video, “Raymond” at youtube.
Just grab a few tissues, click HERE, and come back to comment on your reactions to the video. You can also visit Brett Eldredge’s website - this talented young man is raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks for spending some time with me today; please visit again!
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker and clinical social work gerontologist in private practice in Ithaca, NY. She is an Eden at Home Educator committed to changing the culture of care for Elders and their care partners. Learn more about Eden at Home and the Eden Alternative at www.edenalt.org
Three months of careful planning by many faithful gardeners has yielded a new harvest: twenty-four new Eden at Home Certified Trainers!
Congratulations to the remarkable group that attended the three-day workshop hosted by Community LIFE in Tarentum, PA, this past weekend; it was an amazing time of shared discovery and intense community-building.
This passionate group of committed people came together to learn about the Eden philosophy and how it can be used in overcoming the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom that cause so much suffering for Elders and their care partners. We shared stories, challenged perceptions of aging, and explored the ten-principles of the Eden philosophy.
We learned how to conduct Eden at Home care partner workshops and initiate real culture change.
Every participant arrived with an open heart and mind, ready to share from their wisdom and to learn from others.
As this workshop’s Eden Educator, I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve these fine people.
I wish each new Certified Trainer every blessing as they move forward with implementation of the Eden philosophy in their families, organizations, and communities.
Together, I know we will improve the quality of life for our Elder care partners and every member of the care partner team!
Congratulations, best wishes, and thank you!
It CAN be different!
Lisa Kendall is an Eden at Home Educator and geriatric social worker in private practice in Ithaca, New York. Subscribe to Lisa’s blog about self-care for every member of the care partner team by clicking the link at the top left of this page. Learn more about Eden at Home at www.edenalt.org
Coming to Pennsylvania!
EDEN at HOME
Creating Quality of Life for Care Partner Teams
Training Certification Workshop
Host: Community LIFE
702 Second Avenue, Tarentum, PA
September 25-27, 2010
Eden at Home Educator: Lisa A. Kendall, LCSW-R, CSW-G
Register NOW! Space is Limited
Working together, empowered care partner teams help to ensure the independence, dignity, and continued growth and development of our Elder care partners and each other.
What does EAH Trainer Certification offer?
After training, Certified Trainers inspire care partners, both within their organization and out in the community, to:
- Reframe perceptions of aging and disability
- Work together to reduce stress & burnout
- Build strategies on strengths, rather than limitations
- Develop meaningful connections with each other
- Create opportunities for all to give as well as receive
- Communicate effectively & thoughtfully
- Share joy, hope, wisdom, spontaneity, & respect
- Prevent loneliness, helplessness, & boredom for all on the care partner team
To learn more about Eden at Home, join us for a free informational webinar:
Click HERE to register
Who may want an EAH Certified Trainer on staff?
Non-profit organizations, state agencies, home health organizations, faith-based organizations, Area Agencies on Aging, hospitals, hospices, senior centers, care management, adult day services, independent living communities, and long-term care organizations with home health outreach or an interest in supporting ongoing needs after rehabilitation.
What is the workshop cost?
Early Bird: $385 per person until Sept. 14, 2010
Group: $360 for multiple attendees from same organization
Regular Fee: $435 per person, after Early Bird deadline
Fees cover 3 days of training, our scripted EAH Trainer’s Guide, additional reference materials, and food.
Questions? Contact Meredith Burrus at firstname.lastname@example.org
*** CEUs available with the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of Boards ***
Register HERE or by calling 512-847-6061
Is it OK to love your clients?
I say yes.
Before you report me to the State Ethics committee, I’m not talking about romantic entanglements or inappropriate sexual contact or even the violation of healthy boundaries.
But in the health care field we’ve always been told “don’t get too attached” to the clients that we care for. But doesn’t this go against human nature?
Most of the nurses, social workers, home health aides, and other allied health professionals I know have gone into this work because they care about people and want to help them. When you provide intimate, day to day care for human beings, the kind that eases suffering and reduces loneliness, and you hear someone’s personal stories, share lots of laughter and a few tears, you naturally come to love them.
And they love you, too.
Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Eden Alternative, has written about this in his book, “What Are Old People For: How Elders Will Save the World.”
He proposes that instead of denying the love that health care workers have for their clients, organizations acknowledge and support it.
To do so would ensure that such attachments are healthy and appropriate, and provide support for a worker’s grief when a beloved client dies.
Today, the love and affection workers feel is often forced underground, leading to stress and isolation for the worker, and could ultimately contribute to burn-out and turn-over.
Can you imagine how relieved our health care workforce might be to have permission to love, and have support and supervision to do so every day, on the job, in the open?
How much might this improve care for the ill and our Elders?
Lisa Kendall is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with advanced certification in clinical gerontology who works in home care, has a private practice in Ithaca, NY, and is an “Eden at Home” Educator. You can get more information on The Eden Alternative and Eden at Home at www.edenalt.org
Contact me if your organization would like to host an “Eden at Home” Certified Trainer Workshop!
Announcing a Webinar from the
Celebrating the Sacredness of Life and Death
Panelists: Cheryl Fitzgerald, C-GNP, C-ANP; Sharon Wolff, MSW; and Richard Gamache, MS, CNHA, FACHCA
Learn how a group of people from different disciplines can work together to improve end-of-life care and how we honor death for all members of the community. Learn about the four points of a mission statement that changed one organization’s approach:
- We believe death is sacred;
- We believe that no one should die alone;
- We believe staff, families and Elders need time and space to grieve; and
- We honor the memory of every life we have been privileged to touch.
Elmhurst Extended Care’s Celebration of Life program was honored by Rhode Island Quality Partners as the recipient of the Advancing Innovation in Healthcare Award in 2009. Our distinguished panelists will share how Celebration of Life is not only devoted to improving end-of-life care, but also to celebrating the lives of Elmhurst community members.
Cheryl Fitzgerald, Director of Clinical Services at Elmhurst Extended Care, is a nurse practitioner certified in geriatrics and an Eden Alternative Mentor. Sharon Wolff, Director of Social Services, is an Eden Alternative Mentor and Chair of Elmhurst’s Celebration of Life Committee. Richard Gamache serves as Administrator of Elmhurst Extended Care. He is also an Eden Alternative Educator and Mentor. Join us on August 18th for this inspiring webinar experience!
Have you ever thought about Aging as a good thing?
We tend to think about Elderhood as a period of decline and loss, but Dr. Bill Thomas, co-founder of the “Eden Alternative” philosophy of care, has worked for years and all around the world to bring a new message about the gifts of Aging and Elderhood.
Elders and the people who care for them have a voice, but it is often not heard in a culture that values youth, productivity, and physical strength.
Listen to Dr. Thomas and his message for Oprah, then check out the beautiful videos that many ordinary people have posted to YouTube to honor the Elders in their lives!
Let me know what you think – can we embrace Aging and change the culture of care together?