Elder Wise: Sharing Wisdom in New Ways

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explains in his book, Successful Aging, that as we get older, it is common to lose some of our sharpness. We may get distracted more easily and can’t recall things as quickly as we once could. But at the same time, Levitin says we gain wisdom with age due to our experiences, our ability to recognize patterns, the connections we can make, and the analogies we can use. Because we may think a bit differently, it is not that hard to understand why younger adults might consider older adults as being “out of touch” or no longer…

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Common Experiences & Unique Perspectives

The Common Experience of Being Invisible A Pew Research survey found that women in our culture are primarily appreciated because of their appearance. Men, however, are more commonly valued for other attributes such as character. Once women reach their fifties, our appearance can start changing fairly quickly. Once we lose our youthful looks, we may start feeling invisible. Men may also start feeling invisible after fifty, though it is generally women who tend to talk about this experience. About two years ago, I wrote To Be or Not to Be Invisible After Sixty for an online site called Sixty and Me.…

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Communicating Age Stereotyping through Elderspeak

  What is Elderspeak? Elderspeak is a form of ageism or stereotyping based on age. It is a particular way some younger adults speak to older adults. For example, someone using elderspeak might use a ‘singsong’ tone, or speak louder and talk more slowly when interacting with an older adult. Or, they might use simple vocabulary as though talking with a young child and combine it with patronizing terms like “dearie” or “sweetie” or using “we” rather than “you” when asking a question. I live in a rural community were terms of endearment such as “honey” or “sweetie” are frequently…

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“OK Boomer” Demands a Response

I’ve seen the phrase, “OK Boomer” a few times on social media but have largely ignored it until recently. After I wrote an article for a local newspaper about the need for intergenerational communication, a former colleague commented that my article was timely, given the increasing popularity of the “OK Boomer” retort.My article was about the importance of different generations working together on common community concerns. I had mentioned that labeling older people as “selfish” was divisive and would not help us solve bigger issues.My initial thought about pushback from younger community members was that older adults already worked shoulder-to-shoulder…

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Using Our Experience and Communication Skills to Counter Ageism

I studied German for a couple of years while in college. I don’t remember much about the language, but I do remember how my professor used her experience and communication to counter ageism. My professor had plain grey hair and a thick accent. She often wore a grey cardigan sweater and heavy, black shoes. At the time, I saw her as just another old person who knew German because she grew up speaking the language. Using Experience to Add Perspective Nonetheless, because my professor treated all of her students with respect, most all of us felt free to ask questions.…

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Using Experience and Communication to Bridge the Age Gap

Today, my husband and I are enjoying a visit with our nearly fifteen-year-old grandson, Nick. We asked him the usual questions about school, sports, and his future dreams.  Nick also asked his share of questions. Of course, it doesn’t take much effort to ask questions. However, it does take some effort to listen carefully so that we are really understanding each other. When we didn’t clearly know what Nick was talking about, we asked for more specific details or we paraphrased what we thought we understood. Listening is one way we can use our lifetime of experience to bridge age…

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Like an Unexpected Storm, Retirement Can Challenge Us in Unexpected Ways

Last week our local weather service projected that our area would experience from one to five inches of snow. We ended up with about a foot of wet snow throughout our county. Trees and power lines were down throughout our area. We lost part of our tall, Moon Glow Juniper hedge. I tried to save some of them by knocking off some of the extra snow with a heavy, industrial broom. Unwisely, I stood on a plastic chair while it was snowing to reach some of the juniper branches. It only took an instant to fall and bang up my…

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