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Reframing Aging:Older People as Community Assets Rhoda Meador, Ph.D. Director, Ithaca College Gerontology Institute You will notice a colored card on your seat. On the card, write Side # 1 and list 5 words that come to mind when you think about aging. Don’t over think things-just write the first five words that come to mind.
Crossroads - Need to Reframe Aging • Current view of aging in our culture often emphasizes costs and challenges associated with aging population • Physical and mental decline • Losses • Burden on families and society • Health problems and associated costs
Human Cost of Ageism Becca Levy, PhD, of Yale University conducted longitudinal study of 660 people 50 years and older, those with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions of aging. -Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 83, No. 2).
Reframed Perspective • Increasing recognition that older adults can be dynamic, generative contributors to their families and communities • Supportive family members • Active, participatory health care consumers • Healthy aging • Seasoned , dedicated volunteers • Encore careers • Productive, dependable workforce
Types of Contributions Family Support Civic Engagement Older Workers Creativity Wisdom
Family Support • Older adults support their families via many different roles, including: • Grandparents • Family caregivers • Health care advocates • Advisors • Teachers • Passing down values and traditions
Family Support: Economic Value of Caregiving Family caregivers provided the equivalent of $450 billion worth of care to their adult parents and other loved ones in 2009, an amount that makes caregivers one of the largest and most overlooked pillars of the U.S. health care system. AARP Public Policy Institute, "Valuing the Invaluable: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving, 2011 Update."
Civic Engagement: Formal and Informal • Most engagement happens on an informal basis • Look around-a large proportion of volunteers and community leaders are 60+ • Local governments • Community boards • Faith-based organizations • Philanthropy
Civic Engagement: Experience Corps • Formal, research-informed program model • High intensity volunteering for older adults • High impact roles in public elementary schools improving outcomes for children • Critical mass of older adults: • Shift outcomes for schools • Force for social benefit • Social networks and friendships
Experience Corps Model • Volunteers 60 and older • Serve in public elementary schools: K-3 • Provides meaningful roles; • Addresses important unmet needs: at-risk schools • High intensity: 15 hours per week • Sustained dose: full school year • Critical mass, teams in each school • Monthly stipend to reimburse for expenses • Health behaviors: physical, social and cognitive activity • Fried et al, 2004
Older People in Workforce In a 2008 AARP survey of older adults, 75% of women and 78% of men considered "need the money" as a major reason for working. The need to maintain health insurance coverage was cited by 63% of men and 58% of women.
Support and Training for Older Workers: Experience Works National community-based organization that helps older adults get the training to find good jobs 2009-2010 31,142 older workers in 30 states and Puerto Rico were served 2009-2010 3,288 older workers got jobs Past 10 years more than 55,600 low-income seniors found employment
Experience Works-Emily Abrego At 60, Emily no longer able to make homemade tortillas that she sold to help cover living expenses Training and placement in Audubon Science Center, where she helps with children’s programs
Creativity and Aging Artists who flourished as they aged-Matisse, Titian, Monet, Grandma Moses, Da Vinci, Tennyson, Rembrandt, etc.
Creativity:Linden Center for Creativity and Aging Explores the relationship between the creative arts (e.g. music, acting, painting, photography and writing) and the enhancement of quality of life among older adults.
Creativity: Enduring Masters Series A partnership of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, Ithaca College School of Music, Linden Center for Creativity and Aging Features older artists and musicians like Stanley Drucker, Marian McPartland and Billy Taylor performing and reflecting on aging and their art
Wisdom Wisdom has been attributed to older people in nearly all world societies from ancient times. Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. records and preserves traditional cultural values, oral history, prophesy and other messages of guidance from indigenous elders in order to regenerate the greatness of culture among today’s and future generations of native peoples. http://wisdomoftheelders.org/
Wisdom: Legacy Project • For the Legacy Project, Karl Pillemer and his Cornell research team systematically gathered nearly 1500 responses to the question : “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?”
Life’s Lessons from Legacy Project • “Take each day and live it, love it, it might be your very last day here.” • “When you face a decision really think it through, then don’t look back.” • “Awe, that rush of quiet passion in the presence of great beauty or immensity, is a necessary ingredient for the full appreciation of life.” • “You learn as much from unpleasant experiences as you do from pleasureable ones.”
Reframing Challenges as Opportunities • Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are creating the perfect storm for the increased prevalence of chronic conditions • Arthritis • Diabetes • Chronic pain • "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself"--Jazz pianist Eubie Blake, upon reaching the age of 100.
Opportunities-Health and Wellness Physical changes and negative health events can be mediated by attention to health and well-being. Prevention Recovery
Opportunities-Health and Wellness • Wellness activities in senior centers • NYC-United Hindu Senior Center
Wellness: Ithaca College Center for Life Skills Partnership between Longview, IC School of Health Sciences & Human Performance, and ICGI-Ithaca College faculty and students from a variety of disciplines come together to offer individuals rehabilitation services to enhance their quality of life, independence, health, and personal growth.
Finally, what will it take to reframe aging? • Challenge ageism! • Advocate for policies that provide structural supports. • New York State Office for the Aging: Livable New York • http://www.aging.ny.gov/LivableNY/ResourceManual/Index.cfm
The Future of Successful Aging • “We maintain that the future of old age depends to a significant degree on making images of aging more positive, empowering people to live healthy lives, and redesigning society to include more age-friendly technology and opportunities for challenging and meaningful roles in old age.” (Baltes, Smith, & Staudinger, 1992) • It’s our choice
Closing Activity • Now, on the other side of the card, write Side # 2 and list 5 words that come to mind when you think about aging. • Thank You!