Cleveland Elder Community Offers Housing to Student Musicians

In March 2015 I wrote Elders and Students Living Together: A Novel Housing Idea, describing how a Humanitas Deventer elder community, in the Netherlands, implemented the concept of “woonstudent,” by designating four apartments for students to live in at no cost. The only requirement? Resident students are expected to volunteer with their older resident neighbors, and together the two groups create an amazing intergenerational community.

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Visit the Judson Manor website,

A May 2015 New York Times article, In Cleveland, Young and Old Keep Tempo of Life, highlights another intergenerational community program, this one in Cleveland, Ohio. The Judson Manor elder community designated three apartments for students at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), offering free housing for as long as each student attends the Institute and expecting each student to perform at least once a month. Read what the description of the program on the Judson Manor blog. What began as an experiment has been a huge success and you can read the a piece about the students at the CIM website.. The students feel they have learned a lot as do the elders. (See a CBS News video below.)                   Continue reading

Music that Heals the Soul

Music by itself cannot heal a disease. No one these days, however, disputes that music can heal the soul, making illness more bearable.

Some time ago I wrote about Alive Inside, a movie that documents the success of therapeutic music programs with elderly participants who have dementia of Alzheimers. The program, started by Dan Cohen, pairs a patient with an iPod music player that contains recording of favorite music from a person’s life. Check out this video clip from the documentary.

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The Gift of Time to Watch a Baby Grandchild Learn

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 12.31.53 PMIf you read and write about aging — your own, your parents’ or older adults in general — you often hear people comment that as they get older, they feel that their perspective broadens. Aging adults often describe how, as they age, they have more time to observe, reflect, and  worry less about differences of opinion.

I’ve discovered the gifts of time and observation as a first-time grandparent with my new infant grandson. Although I raised my daughter through the same developmental steps that my grandson is currently passing through, I now have more flexibility to watch the way he learns things. I’m watching a mini-scientist figuring out his life, and I get to observe so many of the incremental learning steps.

Of course, I was aware of the the ways my daughter learned when she was an infant and I was a young mother — but nowadays, I have lots more time because I am no longer responsible for the big things that young parents manage in their lives — work, schools, doctor’s visits, and more. My mother, now 88, tells me that she had the same experience as a grandmother when my daughter was an infant.            Continue reading

Famed Clinicians: Prepared but Not Ready for Death

In Memoriam page at the National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam page at the National Institute on Aging – Click to enlarge.

When we think about dying, about the end of our lives, we may look to the experts for guidance — to those people who have long experience with various aspects of aging and the medical issues that complicate the process of dying. We assume that these people have their own end of life details all worked out.

This week a New York Times article by Alexandra Butler, a poet, helped us gaze into the experience of the well-prepared.

Robert N. Butler, M.D., the founding director of the National Institute on Aging, and his wife, Myrna Lewis, a social worker who specialized in support for older women, had all of the details worked out, and they shared all of this information with their daughter. Their preparations, so well conceived and worked out, assumed that Dr. Butler would pass away before his wife, but this did not happen. Just like anyone else, these two experts were confused at the unexpected turn of events. Moreover, when his wife was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, it became clear that while they prepared and saw to the arrangements for the end-of-life, being prepared for death is a lot different than being ready to die.

In her article, Alexandra Butler writes that despite the uncertainty and challenge of watching her parents die, she was very glad that they had made the preparations for palliative care with no extraordinary interventions.

No one wants to die. Some people handle this by avoiding the topic — and the preparations. Others handle it by speaking incessantly about the expectation of dying. Still others, work hard to ensure that each minute detail is in place, so that family members spend time saying good-bye. Dr. Butler, who is also the individual who coined the term ageism, was prepared, but as his daughter points out, he was not ready.

When Dr. Butler died in 2010, I wrote this post for AsOurParentsAge.

Best Quotes

  • Our deaths are the last message we leave for those we love.
  • In a world where so many of our fellow human  beings live with threats of terror and destruction, if you are lucky enough to imaging you might have any measure of control over how you die, that is a privilege that would not go to waste.

Alexander Butler’s perspective offers support and encouragement to those of us — adult children and aging parents — as we navigate the the final years of aging.

Just Where Is That Fountain of Youth?

Yale University Museum

Fountain by Hans Vredeman de Vries, Dutch,  1527 – ca. 1606 Yale University Museum

Have you noticed how large pharmacies devote more and more aisle space to diet supplements, pills to fix this problem or that, anti-aging products, and vitamins that “can fix” almost anything? I’m also confronted by colorful catalogs and continuous ads, all encouraging me to try one product or another.

Jane Brody has just written an excellent article on the New York Times Well Blog, For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp, Published on May 11, 2015, Brody’s piece focuses on the ways that marketers are taking every opportunity to make us think it’s possible to do something to slow down, or even stop, the aging process, but most have no data to prove the claims.

Read the entire article, but here are two of the best sentences, succinctly summing up Brody’s thoughts:      Continue reading

Elders and Students Living Together: A Novel Housing Idea

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This picture was shared with AsOurParentsAge.net by  Humanities Deventer community administrators. Many thanks!

What if every long-term care and assisted living community had a few areas where students could live for free in exchange for an hour a day of volunteer work? Wouldn’t that create an interesting multi-age community? Well it’s been tried in The Netherlands, and it’s successful.

According to a story from the Australia Broadcast Company (ABC) an assisted living community in The Netherlands now sets aside six rooms for college students. The students live free in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work each month. The students and the residents love it, though according to a student interviewed in the article, the main problem is that people they know die.

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