In my previous article we touched on the many reasons it is important to get strong and stay strong. However many people have a preconceived and over-simplified notion of how to get strong… you go to a gym! But how many people do you know that go to a gym and never make any real change or progress?
Alzheimer’s: Genes or Lifestyle?
The body of evidence points more and more to the great influence of environmental, dietary and lifestyle factors over genetic mutations on the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases.
I was talking to my friend last week, Lawrence Ewing, Executive Director of Marin Ballet, and he used the phrase, “beauty awakens.” Our conversation was revolving around dance workshops, concerts, awards and the process of assisting dancers and audiences in emerging from an imposed sleep. We talked about it as a process of leaving the virtual world to discover, awaken, re-invent, the connections between the live performer and the live audience.
It is my personal tradition to watch the yearly Academy Awards. In Germany, it was broadcast late at night. I was enjoying a nice sparkling wine, while excitedly watching the nominees arriving on the red carpet.
I have had the opportunity to get to know elders with life stories encircling the last forty to sixty years. From the space where we first meet, to the following moments shared, we grow together. In this relationship, I also meet their spouses, children, grandchildren, friends and extended family. It is an honor to meet them all and share time with them.
Resiliency & Courage Through the Journey
A gift I receive from our elders is learning about the steps they took in navigating their lives. I am curious and inspired by our elders’ journeys. I love to learn about how they coped through life’s challenges and adventures, and how they are currently coping with present life situations. I learn about their passions, survival during war time, career choices, having children or not, world travel, health challenges and more.
Most times, I am meeting our elders at a time when they are beginning a new chapter in their lives. It may be a time when they are moving from their forever home to give community living a go. Yet, many times they decide on this chapter because of a loss of a partner or a change in health. Or because they’re plain tired of cooking for one. As this may be a hard chapter for many, everyone who is involved in the decision shares reassurances for the future ahead.
Our shared journey of aging is a powerful process. We have so much to learn from each other and much to share with each other. I am grateful to say that many of these meetings have turned into deep, meaningful, supportive friendships.
Love & Respect
One elder friend moved to the community at the age of 94 due to being legally blind. This man had much charisma and a successful career in television. He had survived World War II and shared his meeting with Bobby Kennedy while aiding in his presidential campaign and living through his assassination. I truly appreciated being in his presence and hearing about his life!
One day he asked me, “Do you live your life with a road map? A plan?” I pondered his question and concluded the first 31 years of my life I followed a road map. Then one day, I placed my road map into a box, stored it with all my physical belongings and chose a new map. This new map was chosen with my heart, my spirit. I did not know what the end result would be. It felt right at that time in my life.
I met a female elder in her 90s who shared her spirit with grace and determination with me for over three years. The love and respect we shared was genuine. At least four days a week, we would meet in the dining room or on the pathway. Our moment of engagement was looking into each other’s eyes and speaking to our loving hopes and respectful wishes for the day. We both wanted the very best for each other, in all of our days.
This is a glimpse into the relationships I have made over the last five years. The elders and their family members have brought value to my days and years. My wish for you: may you applaud your courage through aging, continue to soar with your spirit and cultivate continued respect for you and our elders.