A Better Old Age: U Mich Public Health Magazine Theme

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Check out this magazine issue.

The other day when I picked up a copy of Findings, the alumni magazine of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I discovered that the entire fall 2013  issue focuses on how to age well and improve old age. My husband is a Michigan alumnus, but the magazine is freely available as an easily downloadable and easy-to-read PDF file. The magazine is filled with information about retirement, aging, changes to expect, and ideas to make retirement fulfilling — useful for adult children and their aging parents.

This issue’s theme, A Better Old Age, addresses a range of topics including 15 Ideas for a Better Old Age, an article that examines future changes in the world of aging, and a special Guide to Thriving filled with interesting tips. In another article author Nicholas Delbanco shares thoughts on Lastingness: The Art of Old Age —  his 2011 book that examines artists who live long and productive lives into advanced elderhood. And 95-year-old retired but still active Michigan professor Robert Kahn discusses his principles of aging well, taken from his 1998 book Successful Aging. In another feature, To Retire or Not, Michigan School of Public Health professors who have retired share some of their thoughts about their new lives.            Continue reading

VMRC Green House Homes Update – September 22, 2012

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I get to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) to visit my parents about every two weeks. Each time I drop by the Woodland Park construction site to see how the Green House Homes are coming along.

The hope is for new residents to move into at least some of the homes in January.  As I’ve chatted with a few of the residents who may be the initial community members, I detect a sense of excitement, reticence, nervousness, and just a bit of awe — feelings that just about everyone has when moving is a possibility.  And the homes continue to rise.

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Woodland Park (VMRC) Green House Homes Update: August 26, 2012

Construction of the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Green House Homes at Woodland Park is moving along. On two of the buildings the outside stonework will be completed soon. The stonework was so lovely that I shot a close-up with my camera.

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Learning All We Can About Assisted Living

Check out 10 Things Assisted Living Homes Won’t Tell You, an August 15, 2012 article over at Smart Money.

These tips for adult children and their families look like common sense suggestions. Often however, when family members seek an assisted living community for an elder parent, they need to make decisions quickly without much time to read all of the fine print and ask the less obvious questions. Sometimes time constraints can put common sense at the bottom of the list.

Check out item number eight in the Smart Money list, “We pay people to put you here.” A family needs to know a lot about the placement service itself before considering its recommendations for an assisted living community.

Our family was most fortunate to discover Chesterbrook Residences in Northern, Virginia, where my husband’s mother lived for nearly two years. Their policies were transparent and clear.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: an Entertaining Metaphor for Aging

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The other night we went to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and boy, did we enjoy ourselves.

A group of British retirees, most seeking lower costs and a bit of adventure, ends up as the guests in a seedy, formerly grand hotel in Jaipur, India. In fact, the hotel is terrible. It’s not what they expect, but the endearing, entrepreneurial proprietor draws them in. As the movie zooms in on the characters’ personal stories we found ourselves gazing through familiar late-in-life prisms. Did I mention some of the fairly obnoxious adult children?

Marigold introduces a woman who was let go after training her own replacement, the parents who invested in their daughter’s start-up (yes, boomers everywhere are giving lots of money to their kids), and the woman who trusted her beloved husband who then left her in debt. We become acquainted with a retired attorney, drawn back to the place of a great love affair, and several others who just want to be less lonely. Because these are British characters, the frustrations tend to be understated — but frustrations, none the less. The Indian characters are just as engaging, fully developed, and far more exuberant.

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Goodbye, Jessie: A Remembrance

My friend Jessie died about a month ago. Though I had not chatted with her for over three years, I  counted her as a much-loved friend and colleague.

I met Jessie in August 1984 when she dropped into my second grade classroom to introduce herself. I was new at the school, and she was a warm, welcoming, and experienced colleague, always helping in any way she could. Countless times she came through the door to chat, offering support and listening to me describe a problem or challenge. Actually Jessie was a magnificent listener, never ever jumping in too quickly with advice. And nearly 20 years later at another school, she played the same role with my daughter who was then a new teacher.

Jessie knew how to live and to age well. Despairing events happened or health issues intervened, but she coped with fortitude and then moved on with grace. When her husband died, she mourned, as did we all because he was amazing, too. Yet despite losing a soul mate, my friend got on by living her life fully with family and friends.

Even as she aged, she did not want to retire from teaching, so Jessie found a school, led by an extraordinarily wise administrator, where she could teach part-time and where she continued to work into her 80s, mentoring other young teachers, just as she had mentored me.  Jessie knew exactly how she wanted to structure her retirement.     Continue reading