Take a few minutes to read Love Lessons From the Wisest Americans, published 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.
Leave it to Dr. Bill Thomas to write a new book, in this case Second Wind, and then use the book tour, not just to publicize its release by joining radio personalities and attending book signings, but instead to educate in a big way. Dr. Bill, some of his Eden Alternative and Green House Project colleagues, and other friends have undertaken a nationwide educational SecondWind Tour — with stops in 25 cities between the beginning of March and the end of May 2014. He’s using the book and the tour to promote his philosophy — and his beliefs — about aging.
Dr. Thomas’s philosophy is powerful, which is good because he is proclaiming and evangelizing to a large and very powerful demographic — the boomers — a generation that is beginning to age in earnest. A goodly number of us don’t quite know what to think about aging or how to get on with it. Of course we know we are going to age but are definitely uncertain about next steps. Participants at one of Dr. Thomas’s SecondWind Tour events — my husband and I attended the Washington, DC festivities — see and hear quite a bit about aging, gaining some insight, ideas, and tools that stimulate even more thinking. Did I mention that Dr. Bill is a great storyteller?
Sometimes at my church in late October we sing the hymn, For All the Saints. At that service we remember the many dedicated and committed people who have died over the course of the year. For me, this service is always a time to think about long time members, most of them elders and many the age of my parents, who have accomplished much and made the world and community — not just our church — a better place.
This celebration of All Saints’ Day makes me think about getting older, how much life I have left to live (quite a few years, I hope), and whether, when the time comes and my life ends, I will look back and feel like I have lived my life with service to others.
My church is celebrating its centennial year, and right now it’s mid-May, not October. I just enjoyed another opportunity to listen and ponder the well-lived lives of elders (age-wise, not in the church governing sense), some departed, but a good many still alive and active. So many of these people, contributing time and talent, ensured during the first 75 years, that the church would endure for generations, making is possible for the rest of us to celebrate this 100th year. For three hours people shared stories and special memories about the history and lives lived in ways that affect change without rubbing their religion in the face of others. Though it was a long afternoon, hardly anyone left before the event ended.
Assisting parents with their health and other issues often keeps us focused on difficulties, so it is easy to forget just how much experience older parents have with the game of life.
Now research from the University of Michigan’s Culture and Cognition Program published in the April 6, 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) (click here for the abstract) suggests that older family members offer significant perspectives and positive attitudes and may be uniquely suited to help solve problems in their communities. The authors found, “Social reasoning improves with age despite a decline in fluid intelligence.” In his Associated Press (AP) article, In Social Dealings, Being Older is Being Wiser, Randolphe E. Schmiddescribes the research in detail.
Is there something that has struck you about a parents’s social wisdom?