Creative Aging Expert

May 2007

In This Issue


Uplifting Conference on Aging

The New Hampshire State Conference on Aging focused on the positive side of aging. I attended two inspiring workshops, Repowerment: Forget everything you have been told about being old, and reinvent yourself and Life After 70: A time to create. These sessions, along with my keynote, Get acquainted with the new age senior, explored the theme, "Climb Every Mountain: Life Affirming Strategies."

CART Reporters (Communications Access Real Time Translators) recorded every speaker's words on a big white screen in the front of the room. As a hard-of-hearing person, this made it much easier for me to always know what was being said. It was a huge stress-reducer!

Another unique feature of the conference was the provision of buses to bring seniors from every region of New Hampshire to the far north for this one day conference. Their $12 conference fee entitled them to the bus ride from different pick-up points around the state. There was so much interest people were turned away when registration reached 500.

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The Boomers Again

"One of the charms of the boomers, the watermelon in the demographic python, is how they are managing to age without getting old. My favorite factoid comes from a Yankelovich study showing that boomers define 'old age' as starting three years after the average American is dead. It's a new wrinkle on the 1965 song by The Who: 'I hope I die before I get old.'"

Ellen Goodman in a Richmond Times Dispatch column.

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More from Dr. Gene Cohen

For his book, The Mature Mind, Cohen studied over 3,000 older adults by using interviews and questionnaires multiple times over the years since 2000. To organize and elaborate on his view of maturity more fully, he proposed four stages of mature development. The first, "Midlife Reevaluation," occurs during the 50s and 60s, which is a time for exploration and transition. (Where have I been? Where do I wish to go?) Such a stage need not generate a crisis; in its most positive form it yields a sense of continued quest. Next is a "Liberation Phase," in the 60s and 70s. (I am not a victim of my past. The time for action is now. If not now, when?)

After sustained engagement there may be a "Summing Up Phase." Here one may review one's life, resolve tensions, and integrate old and new activities and relationships. This may be a time to create memoirs, and for many, to give back to the family, community, world. Finally one may experience a stage of "Encore," in the late 80s and beyond, which may involve a continuing desire to go on, even in the face of adversity or loss.

As reported in the Positive Aging Newsletter, Sept/Oct 2006.

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Osteoporosis Article

Scarlette Bennett Tapp interviewed me for an article on osteoporosis, "No Bones About It: Living with Osteoporosis." The article, published at momseasychair.com, included a lot of good information.

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The 60s Chicks from Kansas

While bicycling the 7-day Bike Safari Ride in northern Florida/southern Georgia, I bumped into Kay, Mim, Bonita, and Signe - four exciting older women known as, "The 60s Chicks from Kansas." One of them had just turned 70 and another would be there soon, which might eventually make them the "70s Chicks from Kansas!" They met at various Kansas bike rides - the first of which was a couples' weekend overnight ride. Their husbands really weren't into it, but were very supportive of their wives going off to ride different biking events, like the Ride across Kansas, SAGBRAW in Wisconsin, and the Tour de Nebraska.

Says Kay, "We're all independent enough and have had some type of a career, raised families ...so we don't feel guilty now about taking some time for what we enjoy doing. Fortunately, we are a very compatible group that seems capable of 'going with the flow.'"

After doing the bike across Kansas (BAK) several times, they hatched the idea to try other states. They have great fun meeting new people and planning where to go next. Says Mim, "Our 60s Chicks is a friendship of common interest and like-minded adventure. Most of my friends would not ride a bike or sleep in a tent. Heaven forbid showering in odd-ball places or being dirty. I have found soul-mates. My husband does not bike but is extremely supportive. He loves to hunt and fish, so we have great fun sharing our different interests and friends. Makes for a very good marriage. When I leave on a bike trip....he tells his friends I am leaving for 'camp,' just like one of the kids. And it's true!"

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Friendship Force Trip to Australia

Friendship Force is a non-profit international cultural exchange organization where people visit foreign countries while meeting and staying with local people. From August 29 to September 15, 2007, a Friendship Force of Colonial Carolina will travel to Australia to share two 6-day homestays with local families in Queensland and in New South Wales. For specifics, email: cjshields@touchnc.net or Mbram@earthlink.net. For general information friendshipforce.org.

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Research: Singing for Dear Life

A recent year-long research project shows that engagement in cultural activities makes for happier, healthier seniors. The project focused on people with an average age of 80 who either volunteered to join a singing group that met once a week at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C., or they were recruited to be in a comparison group.

The music group sang in a professionally conducted chorale for 30 weeks, and in addition they gave several concerts during this period. Baseline measures of physical health and medical treatments were taken, as well as scores on a morale scale, a loneliness scale, a depression scale, and a survey of social activities. Participants kept a journal of doctor visits and lists of medications they were taking. Researchers took care that the differences between the groups were controlled for in all analyses. While at baseline there were 166 participants, 12 months later there were 141. About 80 percent were women, and most of the participants were white (92 percent).

The results from this year-long study were highly favorable to those who participated in the musical program. They reported a higher level of physical health, had fewer doctor visits, used less medication, and had fewer falls and other health problems. They also reported better morale, less loneliness, and they had a more active social life at the end of the year; the comparison group's social activities showed a decline.

This study supports the view that serious engagement in cultural activities, such as music and artistic programs, supports healthful behavior in other realms as well. A lively culturally-engaged older population is one that is more likely to be self-directed and fulfilled, and less likely to require long-term care.

From an article in The Gerontologist, 2006, 46, 726-734 by Gene D. Cohen, Susan Peristein, Jeff Chapline, Jeanne Kelly, Kimberly M. Firth and Samuel Simmens

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Art Linkletter Sounds Off

In Art Linkletter's new book, How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life, he says, "We've gained 30 years of life, and it's time to clear up the myths about aging. Most older folks aren't sick or senile; they're active and productive. No one should be afraid of getting older, but there are things they can do to ensure a healthier and happier old age."

He and his wife of 70 years, Lois, have nine grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren. The entire family subscribes to Linkletter's philosophy of working - and playing - hard. Each year, the clan goes backpacking, hiking, and surfing together. Until last year, the vacation included skiing. "I was on a business trip and came home to find that my wife had given my ski gear away," says Linkletter, who says he skied "high and fast." She said that she wanted to continue being my wife, not my nurse.

Ninety-four year-old Linkletter hopes his new book will encourage boomers to head into their "second prime" with enthusiasm and vigor. "Don't retire, become a 'seniorpreneur,' keep a positive outlook, and maintain your sense of humor," says Linkletter, who is taking his own advice. "I've got speaking engagements scheduled until I'm 100; I figure if I'm booked, I'll have to be there."
Richmond Times Dispatch, 11/20/06

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Retirement Living and Erickson Tribune Story

If you didn't get to the Retirement Living website to view my 6 minute Creative Aging interview on the Art of Living Show, you can now view it on my website TheAgingAdventurer.com. The Erickson Times, sponsors of the Retirement Living web site, featured a story about my take on retirement, Aging on the Trail.

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Emily Kimball
3220A West Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23221-1306
(804) 358-5536
Fax (804) 358-2415

web: TheAgingAdventurer.com
email: etkimball@aol.com