Posts Tagged ‘Elderhood’

Gratitude and Meaning: What’s Important to You and Your Elders?

What gives your life meaning? Do you know what is meaningful to the Elders in your life? This is a wonderful question to ask at the upcoming Thanksgiving Day table! Do so with an open heart, really listening to the answers and withholding judgment. Remember that “Meaning” is unique to each of us, and may change over time. Read the rest of this entry »

Connectedness and Well-Being for Elders

Welcome to the sixth installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

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From the time we are born, we need to feel connected to other people.

Babies who don’t have a sense of connection to their caregivers can suffer from neurological changes that impede their growth, development, and health over the course of their lifetime, and they may even die from “failure to thrive.”

In this brief video, Dr. Edward Tronick shows how distressing “disconnection” is:

 

The truth is, we survive as individuals, families, communities, and as a species because of the myriad ways we support, connect, and cooperate with one another.

The mythical ideal of “independence” that prevails in the west leads us to shun or shame those who appear to be “dependent.” Ageism and able-ism keep us from seeing the reality of “interdependence” that underlies human existence.

We also tend to crave connection with places, things, and ideas. We cherish “home,” and we treasure objects that represent our various connections. We hold close our philosophies, religions, and world views that we feel connect us with others, with nature, and with the universe.

Who or what satisfies your own need for connection? Does the care you give to others interfere with, or enhance, your sense of connection? What about the Elder in your life… is there a sense of genuine connection to people, places, and things at this time in their life?

Please share your thoughts, and connect with our community!

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Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

The Wisdom of Elderhood; Fact or Fiction?

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbelshaw/4598949523/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Photo by Doug Belshaw via Flickr

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.  

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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.

Elder Stories: A Veteran’s Day Rememberance

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/

Photo by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

One of the most gratifying aspects of my work with Elders and their care partners has been the opportunity to listen to their stories.

On this Veteran’s Day, I am remembering the very special men and women I’ve known who have entrusted me with the stories of their military service to our country.

Those tales were always deeply embedded in that person’s life history, and included stories of everyday existence and extraordinary loss; the finding of love and founding of family; the formation of lifelong occupations, friendships, and deeply held convictions.

Some of the Elders had written their life stories and wartime experiences into formal or self-published books, and I was privileged to see the world through their eyes as I read their words and shared in their reminiscences.

Others told me the secrets they’d long held next to bruised and broken hearts, and now I keep these safely next to my own. 

Still more brave men and women had now slipped into a wordless place, and their daughters and sons became keepers of their stories, I the grateful audience and reverent witness.

On this Veteran’s Day and on all days, I join the nation in humble gratitude and awe for the dedication and service of the members of our Armed Forces, past and present.

Thank you.

The True Heart of Caregiving

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

A Bountiful Harvest for Eden at Home

Eden at Home Certified Trainer Workshop, Tarentum, PA

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. 

Family Blackberry Harvest

photo by Cristian Bortes via Flickr

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

Eden at Home Trainer Certification Workshop: September 25-27, 2010

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: 

September 14th

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 education@edenalt.org

 

*** CEUs available with the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of Boards ***

 

Register HERE or by calling 512-847-6061

Rural Gold

Photo by Rory Martin via Flickr

Will Oprah Embrace Aging? Will you?

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?

Young Lady or Wise Elder?

It seems like only yesterday that I had my first real job working with Elders and their families, and started learning the lessons that would lead me into a career that has become my passion. It’s hard to believe that time has passed so quickly, and that I’ve been on this road for almost thirty years, gathering knowledge and expertise in the field of aging and caregiving.

One of the first things I learned was to never “talk down” to an Elder by calling her “Dearie” or “Honey,” or to think of Elders as “cute.”

Imagine my reaction yesterday at a local bistro when the cashier referred to my silver-maned husband as “the young man” and to me as “the young lady!”

It was weird.

And insulting.

I’ve worked really hard for a very long time and taken some hard knocks along the way.  My first reaction was that I don’t want my experience and wisdom invalidated by a patronizing label.

My second reaction, the one that was sort of underneath the first and that I’m ashamed to admit, was my uncomfortable awareness that what the cashier saw before her was my own inexorable aging.

I truly think there is great beauty in the faces of the Elders I know. I love spending hours talking with them, looking them straight in the eye, and listening carefully to their stories.

I don’t know why I’m uncomfortable with what I see reflected in my own mirror; maybe I thought maturity would have a glow about it, a kind of softening that comes with wrinkles and graying hair. Maybe I’m just in that mid-life place where people tell me I look tired even when I’m not, and the mysterious beauty of true Elderhood is still to come.

Either way, I’m not a “young lady” anymore, no matter how you look at it!  I have chosen to embrace my own Aging and to celebrate the gifts that it brings, even as I gather the bumps and bruises, scars and wrinkles of life’s bittersweet journey. 

Above all, I will continue to work toward changing a culture that celebrates youth to the exclusion of Elderhood, and I will never call an Elder “young lady.”

Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker specializing in gerontology, and is an Eden at Home Educator committed to changing the culture of care for Elders and their care partners.  You can learn more about Eden at Home and the Eden Alternative at www.edenalt.org.

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