Elder Perspectives on Life and Love for Younger Generations

book-cover-305x450Those of us lucky enough to have aging parents who live long and remain nominally healthy are often struck by the wisdom we hear as they ruminate about relationships and love in the past. To really understand what they are getting at we must toss away any notions that our parents are merely clinging to the “good old days” and instead gaze through a prism that acknowledges their wise and long-term perspective.

Karl Pillemer, Ph.D. writes, “What elders have that young people don’t is something special: the view from the end. For them it’s no longer a mystery as to how everything will turn out — it’s already happened.”

Dr. Pillemer is the author of 30 Lessons for Loving. I wrote a short Valentine’s Day post, Elder’s Share Wisdom About Love, sharing a Next Avenue review of the book, and was intrigued. I bought the book and posted it here on this blog as my current read. Now I’ve read the book and have more to say.

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Watching Ourselves Age With the Brown Sisters

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Those of us with elder parents spend a lot of time thinking about age and change. As adult children, we observe the aging of our parents, but not infrequently we wonder aloud how they got so old. At the same time we don’t always notice how we, too, are growing older.

In October 2014 the New York Times Magazine published a feature by Susan Minot, Forty Portraits in Forty Years, that described the remarkable photographs of the Brown sisters. The photos, shot with the four women in the same order and with somewhat similar poses over 40 years, demonstrate with singular clarity how we grow older. Photographer Nicholas Nixon took the pictures, which were recently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.                       Continue reading

Elders Share Wisdom on Love: A Valentine’s Day Treat!

Adult children learn a lot from elder parents.

book-cover-305x450Take a few minutes to read Love Lessons From the Wisest Americanspublished over at the NextAvenue.org site and a great Valentine’s Day treat. The article, published on February 12, 2015, will help to clear up quite a few misconceptions about our aging parents.

Written by Suzanne Gerber, this piece describes research interviews with around 700 elders documenting what they say, looking back, about love and life. Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, Ph.D conducted the research and wove it into a book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationship, and Marriage.

At his Vimeo video website, Dr. Pillemer has posted some of the interviews. You can also visit Dr. Pillemer’s Legacy Project website. Check them both out.

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Thanksgiving: A Time To See Older Relatives

Yes, Thanksgiving is a time for adult children to pack up and pay a visit to parents, where ever their homes may be.

Today’s Washington Post, it’s the last Sunday before Thanksgiving 2014, features an interesting article, Thanksgiving: A Rare Holiday That’s Isn’t All About Kids. The short piece, appearing in the Post’s Outlook section, points out that although Thanksgiving celebrations include lots of multigenerational activities, the holiday itself has not become as kid-centered or commercial as other holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

01-Jan-2012_to_31-Dec-2012-1According to author Jack Santino, a folklorist at Bowling Green State University, the holiday is geared toward important concepts like giving and thanks, but it also recognizes our need to go home — and sometimes considerable distances — to reconnect with parents and other relatives. Thanksgiving Day celebrations emphasize traditions of families, extended families, and country.                              Continue reading

Cyber Seniors Documentary: Well Done!

This afternoon at the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) conference in Washington, DC, I saw clips from a documentary, Cyber-Seniors, about teenage volunteers in Toronto who work with elders — people in their mid to late 80s and older — and the rich clarity of their interactions. Many of these people retired before computers appeared in any significant way into the workplace.

The movie, which travelled around film festivals, has already screened in more than 80 viewings around Canada and the United States — with more to come. It shares special moments, difficult moments, looks of wonder, moderate shock (usually at what grandparents see on their grandchildren’s pages), and the excitement we all feel when we learn something new. And yes, sometimes it’s funny. Cyber-Seniors has garnered lots of good press. (I do wish, however, that people in the media would stop calling elders “cute.” You media folks will grow older some day andhttp://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_26931356/magid-exclusive-amazon-fire-phones-fight-ebola-west-africa you WILL NOT appreciate being labeled as cute.)

Here’s a clip of a teenage mentor teaching a woman to take a selfie.

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Fitness Age vs. Chronological Age

Adult children should check out the October 2013 New York Times Well Blog article, What’s Your Fitness Age? The piece by Gretchen Reynolds shares information about the concept of fitness age — it can differ significantly from an individual’s chronological age — and how researchers calculate the measurement for individuals.

Reynolds points out in the article that, while we cannot change our chronological age, we can do things that improve our fitness age. The research took place at a Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim with results published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (abstract), a journal published by the American College of Sports Medicine.      Continue reading