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November 6 - 10, 2017

This Week in Dialogue with the Authors will focus on Positive Aging through the lens of three books. The authors contribute to a growing appreciation of the aging process while challenging the longstanding view of aging as decline. By focusing on the positive aspects of aging, retirement and opportunities in our 8th decade and beyond, these authors explore the availability of resources, skills, and resiliencies. They bring useful insights and stories into the realm of practice but create hope and empower action among older people. By moving beyond the stereotypes of repair and prevention, to emphasize growth-enhancing activities, we can contribute more effectively to the societal reconstruction of aging. These books are great for anyone who is interested, engaged and oriented toward continuing enrichment over the life course.

The Books: ;


Paths to Positive Aging: Dog Days with a Bone and Other Essays, by Mary Gergen & Kenneth Gergen

This book is a treasure trove for erasing the stereotypes that darken the vision of aging, and encountering the passing years as a marvelous gift. It is a persuasive document declaring that we are indeed fortunate to grow old. Reinventing aging is to focus on the gains of aging is to realize that the later years are among the richest and most rewarding of one’s life.


70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, by Jane Giddan & Ellen Cole

As they turned 70, the authors of 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade set out to investigate how women their age and older were living their lives. They sought role models for themselves and messages for the droves of baby boomers on their heels. They were curious about the challenges and joys of their age-mates, their work and retirement status, living arrangements, family and social connections, and more. This book, informative and inspirational, describes what they found in their reading, their ongoing blog, and 70candles conversation groups held in various parts of the U.S. 


Retiring But Not Shy: Feminist Psychologists Create their Post-Careers, Editors Ellen Cole & Mary Gergen

The stories in RETIRING BUT NOT SHY combine to produce an inspiring, poignant, funny, motivating rich mosaic on the stage of life, “retirement.” Whether these amazing feminist authors are “poised on the diving board,” in “the mid-air plunge,” or in “splash down and re-entry,” they provide very honest, informative personal and professional experiences and insights as they look back, as well as forward. It is a superb discourse on the variety of ways to engage with this stage of life. Readers (women and men, retired or not) will laugh and cry and relate to the humbling parts of life. We can all be inspired to make choices now to have meaningful and rich futures. -- Melba Vasquez, PhD, ABPP

Listen to the recording of the webinar held on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 - click here.

Chat from webinar - click here.

Please feel free to continue the online conversation below for as long as there is interest in doing so.

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  • I embrace my age .... I love my age ...I have no wish to be younger! ... when we go out into the world with dignity and don't cringe at being old or insist we 'feel young' we will be examples of the new way of aging!

    I've participated in a Death Cafe in NZ and it was really enjoyable .... about 8 of us from 40yrs to 78yrs sitting in a circle having the opportunity to talk, initially without interruption, about whatever we wanted (not necessarily death related) and being listened to.  One woman talked about her sister in a nursing home, another about not being able to grieve when her mother died, another about hearing different perspectives - getting out of her 'group'. 

    Many medical people (often palliative care doctors) are now raising the need to talk about end of life issues ... and the hospice movement is a growing phenomenon which includes chaplains introducing 'life review' practices, legacy letters, designing your own funeral etc 

    This organisation sounds wonderful:

    And as mentioned in the previous post .... opportunities to talk about and develop our spirituality after 60yrs, I believe are essential ...especially if we are NOT from a religious background. I  think if we gave more prominence to this aspect of our being at this stage in our life we would not have nearly the difficulty we do with aging or the end of life. We may cultivate the qualities of 'elders' more too so our society would not treat older people as badly as it does (in Western societies) segregating them from society and devaluing them.

    I do think this book is seminal to contemporary aging and is still very relevant;

    If you could design one thing about your own death, what would it be?
    • Meg hello! and thank you for joining this chat and your enthusiastic sharing of these excellent sources of material.
      I watched the Drivers of Ageism video and was heartened by the work going on there.

      I appreciate your responding to topics we shared in our webinar. It was an interesting conversation...hopefully the first of more to come.

      I agree that if we walk and speak out proudly and confidently....and nurture younger generations...we set a good example about aging and old people.
      If you could design one thing about your own death, what would it be?
  • Just listening to your conversation about the need for social connection, housing, forming new friendships and social engagement in current issues in later life ... all really important issues. I'm 63yrs. I live in NZ now after many years in Australia and became excited about ageing when I heard Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi speak about his book 'From Aging to Saging'. For the past 10yrs I've been researching and engaging with groups internationally (Sage-ing International, Pass It On Network etc) about ageing in particular about the fabulous initiatives occurring throughout the world....from 'aging in community' (as opposed to aging in place), intergenerational projects; the very young with elderly AND 20-35yrs olds with 60 - 75yrs olds involved in community, the growing number of people over 60yrs creating businesses for the first time mostly in the social sector do good!, activism for the environment and inequality etc, anti-ageism campaigns, ...SO much is happening now!! ...'Positive Aging' has been taken up at the local government level in many countries - they run a variety of programs. I agree with the Cree concept of being an Elder and urge many of us to go down that path.... to develop the qualities and skills and outlook required ...age does not make one an elder. Spirituality is another dimension in aging which is grossly neglected in non-religious contexts. I'd love to talk more ... multi-age friendships are key and if you are passionate about something ... an issue, a cause, a project you easily make friends with young people - age is irrelevant. I could go on and on!!! ;  Sincerely Meg ....

  • Hello All, and thank you for the inspiring dialogue. I'm sorry that I will have to miss the webinar this morning. I neglected to consider the time difference, and I am flying to IL for my monthly trip of caregiving with my 93 year old Mother!  I look forward to further events of this type! Best to you all.

  • Good morning, all. I had no idea what this week-long conversation would be like, but I am delighted with the many who responded, and your thoughtful comments. You have inspired me. I look forward to our live webinar in a few hours.

    • Thanks Ellen and others for your facilltatorship. Well done And to all who contributed I now feel older :)

      I am hoping the principal organizer of the 9th International Positive Aging conference will be joining us. This Taos conversation is inspiring this conference.

      Warm Best, Peter

  • HI everyone.  So glad to see so many creative comments about aging here.

          Peter, I had no idea that this conference was here in Philadelphia.

      I’ll talk to Ken about submitting a proposal.  Its amazing to me how

     the topic of positive aging (and all its other names)  has become so

    popular in recent years.  All Good.  

         Ken and I just returned from China, where they have translated our book

    on positive aging into Chinese in Taiwan.  We became aware of their

    care of older people by  family members. They go to the parks, museums, and other public places, in the care of their younger relatives.  

              We were also “taken care of” in ways that were unfamiliar,

    and unlike the States.  This felt both good and bad…

    Always an arm out to support one going down the stairs, a hand on

    one’s head getting into a car, opening doors, asking if you are ok or tired.

    I think we aged, in a way, being there.  Back home, we are returning to

    our younger selves.  One must be careful not to be too solicitous of someone older.  What is the right blend?  An important and sensitive matter.


    • Welcome back. Such interesting reflections on aging or being older in China. Reminds me of the importance of cultural factors in aging. I remember those experiments by Langer i think where people got older in controlled environments when the space itself was older. 

      Rick Moody, our planning committee chair, was/is planning to engage you in the conference for sure! It has been on,  off and on again from a planning perspective.  I am obviously engaged as well again working on health, intergenerational, and spirituality. Looking forward to the call tomorrow. 

    • Mary,
      Welcome back! Sounds like you had an interesting trip.

      I’m thinking about your question about how much help is too much.

      Veneration of elders has been a tradition in China, but I understand that as the younger generation moves away from rural homes and into cities, old relatives are left behind without that traditional support.

      Where the relationships do continue, younger relatives still do help their elders, as you describe.

      Now the question...does too much support and assistance lead to more dependency and hasten aging, and does its absence keep older people more active and independent? Who should decide what is ”enough” and when?

      It’s a great topic for discussion here.
      • I recently had an opportunity to interview psychiatrist, Aaron Beck. As I was reviewing my questions, I wondered if they might be too "hardball," and briefly considered revising them.  I then concluded that it would be insulting to Dr. Beck not to ask my original questions.  At 96, Dr. Beck was more than prepared to answer my queries. 

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