Looking Back: Impact of Experiences at Age 20

Listening Witness Team 1966

It is mid-summer in Nashville, TN.  It is hot and humid and has been since the beginning of May.  There have only been a handful of days since then with a high temperature below 90 degrees.  I remember another hot summer when I was almost 20 years old, living for 3 months with a group of 5 other college students in Chicago, Illinois and how the experiences of that summer transformed my thinking and my life.

I thought about that today after finding an article I wrote after that summer of 1966 that was published in my hometown church newsletter.  In the article to the people in that Lutheran Church in Stoughton, Wisconsin where I grew up, I tried to express the impact of that astounding experience in my life.  What is most striking to me as I read it is how it speaks to our realities in 2018 far more than I would have expected.  52 years later and the issues are sadly similar, even if the specifics have changed somewhat.  Here is what I wrote (I have not changed the language – this was considered proper usage in 1966):

FROM OUR YOUTH

Listening, really listening to other people, is hard work. Because of the multitude of sounds constantly pounding against our ear drums, we have all but lost the ability to really hear and understand what people are trying to tell us. This includes us in the church who have, especially in the urban areas, failed to listen to the needs, wants, loves, and fears which people are crying out to us.

 

In an attempt to correct this, the Youth Department of the ALC (American Lutheran Church) sends Listening Witness teams of between four and six ALC college students into various congregations for the summer to learn to listen and begin to teach members of the host congregation to make listening a way of life so that they can be part of a true servant church.

 

This past summer I and five other Luther College students were in a congregation on the southwest side of Chicago. We were an integrated team situated in an all-white, lower-middle class neighborhood and congregation, one block from the Negro neighborhood.

 

Although we often found it easier to see things that were taken for granted by the congregation, we also had to guard against fast misjudgments and rejecting people and ideas because they were different from our own before we understood the reasons behind them.

 

We encountered much blind prejudice, within and outside of the church. We were told that ‘nice’ girls would not be part of such an integrated team and it wasn’t ‘proper’ for us to walk down the street with Negro boys. We had to change residences because the Negro member of the team walked us to the house, and the residents feared their daughter’s reputation would be ruined. Several boys refused to take part in a communion service after our Negro team member did, although they treated him as a buddy otherwise.

 

As a result of the summer, I have a much clearer picture of what the Church of Christ is and what it can and should be today. If we learn to listen and serve and love all as the Lord of the Church did, that Church can create a brotherhood which glories in human diversity. If we remain self-centered, cling blindly to tradition, build barriers between people, and ignore individual humans by stereotyping groups, we will aid and encourage hate, discrimination, fear and everything contrary to the Gospel of love we claim to believe in.

 

This applies here in Stoughton as well as in Chicago or any large city – being a Listening Witness must be a Christian’s way of life. We must listen to what is said, not what we want to hear or think should be said, and then witness to the situation in Christian love, not self-righteous judgment.

 

— Carol Brusegar  ( From The Ambassador newsletter of Christ Lutheran Church, Stoughton, Wisconsin, December 1966)

 

What have the milestone experiences been in your life? You may find some treasure in them!

 

In 1966, a number of significant things occurred in the civil rights movement. A chapter of this book is specifically about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “going north” and specifically the events in Chicago that year.
The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement

 

Multi-Tasking: Is It As Beneficial as We Imagine?

multi-taskingMulti-tasking seems to be a fact of life for most of us these days. With all there is to do, learn, and manage, it seems necessary. But as with so many other things, there are plusses and minuses; and it benefits us to consider those factors and manage our use of multi-tasking accordingly.

Does multi-tasking affect your health? It may seem like it is increasing productivity and saving you time and energy, and many of us are proud of our multi-tasking abilities. However, ongoing research has confirmed that multi-tasking can have negative effects on levels of productivity and, in some cases, of our overall brain health.

Multi-tasking Is Safe Only If Different Stimuli Are Used

Experts agree that multi-tasking is safer if the tasks involved do not use the same stimuli, such as reading a message from the laptop while listening to music. Our brain is not designed to deal with the same stimulus challenge at the exact same time.

That is why driving a vehicle and texting on a phone at the same time is considered extremely dangerous. You are using the same visual stimulus. They are both competing for the same limited focus. Although it appears you are multi-tasking, you can only be actively engaged with one or the other.

So instead of doing two things at once, you are actually rapidly switching from one to the other, and back again. If your attention is attracted to the phone for a second too long, the job of consciously controlling the vehicle ceases, and catastrophe can follow.

Another example is when you are attempting to listen to multiple conversations around you. I know I have tried to do that. But it is impossible to really listen to two people who are talking to you simultaneously, because your auditory stimulus becomes overwhelmed.

Multi-tasking Can Harm Your Memory Ability

If you find yourself multi-tasking, each task in which your mind is engaged will drain a part of your mental energy. As your mental energy drains, you become more absent-minded. This is because your mind begins to drift.

Even if you could complete the two tasks successfully, you will quite probably not recall how you completed the tasks. This is because our brain does not have the ability to fully focus on two or several tasks at the same time.

Each time you multi-task, your mind becomes a juggling act. When you multitask, you are diluting your mind’s investment towards each task.

When Multi-taskers Think They Perform Better

A study headed by Zheng Wang of Ohio State University (Multi-Tasking Study, Ohio State University)showed that people who were text messaging while being asked to focus on the images displayed on a computer monitor had decreased levels of performance.

What makes this finding even more troubling is that those subjects who were asked to multi-task using the same visual stimulus, believed they performed better, although the results showed the opposite.

Their ability to focus on images displayed on their computer monitor plummeted up to 50% even though they thought they were performing perfectly. The same study participants were asked to multi-task using different stimuli, such as visual and auditory, and even then were found to have reduced levels of performance as much as 30%.

Professor Wang stated that performance level perception when multi-tasking is not the same, as the results proved. Researchers have also found that media multi-tasking increases your risks of developing impaired cognitive control.

The most current research is confirming that multi-tasking means “performing multiple tasks sub-optimally”. Unfortunately, in addition to productivity losses, there is a compounding, taxing burden placed on the mental and emotional faculties. This results in accumulated stress, which is already a very real problem for many, if not most, to some degree.

Although technology today makes it difficult for us to avoid multi-tasking, we can manage the effect on our performance of tasks and on our health. Awareness and trying to remove the overload on your mind as much as possible can be very helpful.

There many approaches to productivity; check out some of the books available about multitasking and productivity:

Multitasking and Productivity

Great Superfood Choices for Summer

Superfood - Cherries

Many of us eat differently in the summer, particularly when the temperatures are hottest.  We eat lighter, and often healthier.  We can make intentionally improve our nutrition by making great superfood choices.

Superfoods are foods that contain more nutrients than average: very high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and more. Here are 13 that you can benefit from and enjoy during these summer months.

1. Cherries
Cherries have multiple amazing antioxidants. One of them is anthocyanin which provides easing of inflammation in your body and can help with joint pain. You can eat either fresh or frozen cherries.

2. Kiwi
Kiwi is sweet with a little tartness and includes many essential vitamins and minerals. It is a potassium powerhouse: a cup of sliced kiwi has the same amount of potassium as a cup of bananas. It also is lower in sugar and calories than many potassium-laden fruits and veggies with 7 grams of sugar – along with 5 grams of fiber – in a serving.

3. Bell Peppers
Choose all colors of bell peppers, such as green, yellow, orange, and red. In fact, using multiple colors adds vibrancy to your meals and often gives you a variance in the nutrients you get. Bell peppers contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and phytonutrients. Plus, they are very low in fat and calories.

4. Herbs
Most herbs are considered superfoods since they contain so many wonderful vitamins and minerals, but here are some of the best ones to find in the summer:
Basil – Nutrients in basil include vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, omega=3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, folate, and calcium.
Cilantro – Cilantro is extremely low in cholesterol, but it contains vitamins like C, E, A, and K. It also has dietary fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Parsley – Like many other herbs, it contains a good amount of folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

5. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is another type of dark, leafy green vegetable just like spinach and kale, except it is a little more bitter. It is full of phytonutrients, especially in the red-purple stems and veins of this vegetable. That is where you get a lot of the nutrients. Swiss chard also contains potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat it raw or cooked; if you cook it, it will be less bitter.

6. Lemons
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants and also contain fiber and micronutrients, as well as being very low in calories. There are endless ways to use them, but here are a few ideas:
Infused Water – Add lemons to water (as well as other fruits you may choose). A simple sugar-free strawberry lemon water tastes like lemonade, without added sweeteners.
Lemon Ice Cubes – Just add lemon juice to an ice cube tray and cover with filtered water. Add these to every glass of water you drink for nutrients and flavor.
Garlic Lemon Sauces – Make a citrus sauce or dressing and use them in a casserole with chicken, over a light salad, on pasta, or even to coat veggies.

7. Spinach
Spinach is more nutrient-dense than romaine or iceberg lettuce and makes a healthy salad on its own or combined with other greens. The top nutrients in spinach include Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Iron, Folate, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Manganese and Magnesium.

8. Avocado
Avocado is actually a fruit, and often considered a “superfruit” – or a superfood fruit. You get a lot of great fiber in avocados, plus vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium.

9. Watermelon
Watermelon is relatively low in calories, is fresh, sweet, and has a high water content so a little bit goes a long way. It is also loaded with nutrients including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which help reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and even protect your skin from UV rays thanks to the lycopene.

10. Strawberries
Strawberries have a higher-than-average amount of vitamin C. They are very antioxidant-rich to help fight illnesses and boost your immune system, and contain an excellent amount of manganese, a mineral that helps improve your health and vitality. Other important nutrients in this fruit are potassium and B vitamins.

11. Summer Squash
There are many different varieties of squash, from yellow squash to zucchini, but not all of them are available year-round. Summer squash have a good amount of vitamin C, as well as lutein and xeaxanthin. You can get help preventing a summer cold thanks to some squash in your diet. You can eat them raw, make a roasted veggie side dish with other veggies, saute with olive oil and seasonings, and include them in a pasta dish.

12. Peaches
Peaches not only have vitamin C, but peaches also contain potassium and fiber. Besides eating them fresh and whole, they can be added to salads, served over ice cream or yogurt, or grilled for a sidedish.

13. Blueberries
Blueberries contain vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They are low in fat and calories as well. Enjoy your blueberries many different ways, such as on your salads, mixed in with yogurt or granola, as a side dish, or just a light snack.

Eat light and healthy with these Summer Superfoods!!

TRANSFORMATION THROUGH STRUCTURED LEARNING AND LIVE EVENTS

In a world that continues to change at a rapid pace, we all need to keep learning in all areas of our lives. That continual learning can be stimulating and refreshing, and it can become tiresome at points. Have you ever just wished things could plateau for a short time so we could just BE? I have. Sometimes a break is good. But as we look forward into the next part of our lives after age 50, transformation through structured learning can be powerful.

We all have particular attitudes and proclivities toward learning. I describe myself as a lifelong learner. I have always read a lot of books and magazines. Probably until the age of 50, I mostly consumed non-fiction of various kinds. Since then I have read both fiction and non-fiction. In addition, my entire adult life has been molded and shaped by a variety of structured learning experiences. Over time that has resulted in transformation of many aspects of life. After two years of college immediately following high school, I took lots of informal classes and also designed and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Liberal Studies, graduating a year before my daughter completed high school and started college.

I have engaged in a variety of workshops, community education classes, and in the past 15 or so years, online classes and webinars. It is truly amazing what is available to us electronically, a lot of it free of charge and much at a reasonable cost. Many people complete degree programs entirely online.

A combination of virtual and in-person learning is ideal. The online tools that offer face to face interaction are one step beyond listening to content or even webinars with primarily one-way communication. These options include Skype, Facebook Live, Zoom and others.

In-person learning like workshops, live events, conferences, conventions, etc. give the added benefits of interaction with presenters/teachers and with other participants. This is helpful immediately as well as over time if you cultivate relationships beyond the time you are physically together. You can get support and feedback from some of your new circle on shared interests or experiences. This is particularly true if the topic of the event you attended was on a shared topic related to personal development. The perspectives of people with whom you connected around the topic can be invaluable as you continue to make use of what you learned in your life. Such relationships can be transformative in very personal and profound ways.

If the topic of the live event was more business-related, you may have connected with people who in some way can help you enhance your business. For example, if you have or are developing an online or even an offline business, you may have met people with whom you can share prospects for each of your products or services. You can keep in touch and provide support as you each are applying what you learned to your business ventures. Sometimes one of you will think of an idea for the other that might benefit their business.

Transforming our lives after 50 into a time of discovery, joy and contribution is an exciting prospect. Structured and in person learning can be an important tool and process along the way.

 

PROCRASTINATION: IS IT HAMPERING YOUR TRANSFORMATION?

Now and laterAll of us procrastinate sometimes….don’t we? I surely do. In fact I am in a pressure situation right now because of my procrastination. I have continually put off a task that includes a learning curve to be able to use a software program. There are always plenty of things to do that I can just DO, regardless of their priority. In this case, the task is related to a part time job I have; in other cases I delay doing things I know will help me transform my life in one way or another.

I have allowed myself to think of much procrastination as benign, and in fact it can be useful. By procrastinating on some things, it may turn out that they weren’t necessary or important in the first place. That can be true; it can be a passive way to prioritize.

Timothy Pychyl, who has done much research on the topic, points out that “all procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” Procrastination is a very special type of postponement.

The dictionary definitions of procrastination do not reflect the more benign approach. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary calls it “To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Oxford English Dictionary defines procrastination as a postponement, “often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “defer[ing] action, especially without good reason.”

This is causing me to look at how I think of my “delays” in doing things. I want to be more intention in sorting out things that are priority – important and important and urgent – from those that are not. That will allow the things I truly don’t need to do now, or perhaps ever, to be on a list but not nagging me as much. And those things I truly need to do sooner rather than later will be clear.
Of course that doesn’t mean that I will automatically stop procrastinating on those important tasks! So I found an article by Alexandra Sutcliffe that included these four suggestions for how to deal with procrastination:

  • “Write down you list of goals, breaking them into manageable chunks. Too big a goal and your eyes will gloss over it on the list, but broken into segments and you’ll feel more like tackling one at a time.
  • Set up a reward for later. Try disconnecting your laptop from the internet for a set period, after which you can relax and reconnect. This way you’re not denying yourself, you’re merely deferring the pleasure until you’ve got something done.
  • Attach one task to another, such as, a daily walk you enjoy, followed by the ten minutes of language study you keep putting off. Creating a routine will make any task feel more achievable.
  • If you constantly catch yourself admitting how you never get things done, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, use affirmations to spur yourself on. Remember, affirmations must always be positive, and in the present tense. Try, ‘I take charge and get things done. I seize the moment and take action’.”

Perhaps you will find these tips helpful, also. Here is the link to the entire article: Top Tips for Dealing With Procrastination

If you are interested in a good resource about this topic, I recommend
this concise book by Timothy A. Pychyl (quoted above):
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change 

Transforming Your Life With New Experiences, Part 2

razor wire

 

NOTE: In an earlier post, Transforming Your Life With New Experiences, I wrote about a particular experience in prison ministry with the Timothy’s Gift program. This post is about a more recent visit, this time to Arkansas prisons. This is a Christian ministry and that is reflected in the post.

 

REFLECTIONS ON THE TIMOTHY’S GIFT HOLY WEEK TOUR, MARCH 2018

During Holy Week, 2018, Timothy’s Gift had its spring tour with the theme “You’ve Got a Friend.” We observed those days leading up to Easter not with traditional church services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday. Rather, we had 8 services/programs in 6 Arkansas prisons.

Our extraordinary team of 17 including musicians, speakers and support folks brought a 4-fold message – You are Loved, You Have Great Worth, God is With You, and You Are Not Forgotten. We communicated those messages through music (secular and fun, spiritual, and Christian), spoken messages, and other exercises and experiences. By weaving together these elements, we provided multiple ways to touch those who come to the program.

We had a Maundy Thursday experience as part of each service. As Jesus shared the bread and wine with his disciples on that day, we share the bread and juice with the inmates – looking directly into their eyes and speaking the words of the love of God. All of the team members participated in the serving of the communion at least once so they had that experience, which is truly profound.

And we had Good Friday during each service as the message spoke to the crucifixion: God in Jesus experiencing the worst that human life provides and demonstrating that God has always been with us and will always be with us. We reminded them that one thief also crucified that day spoke “remember me” – and that they too are remembered.

The person-to-person interaction was especially precious as we greeted people with handshakes and hugs as they entered and left, had conversations which included their stories, heard requests to pray for individuals, and gave encouragement. Often there were tears.

One of the 8 services was in a women’s facility; and as always, the women were more emotional and participatory than the men. As they were moved out quickly to get back to their dorm for count, right after communion and before the final words could be said or last 2 songs sung, every woman was crying in response to what they had just experienced. Several were pregnant and seemed particularly moved.

Each location had its own uniqueness, due to the level of security, the type of units participating, the chaplain’s style and focus, and the warden’s overall leadership. Overall, the prison officers and chaplains were friendly and helpful – though a few started out differently. One officer who had not been fully informed about what would be required of him for us to do our two programs in two parts of the facility started out resentful. But by the end, he was complimentary and said “God bless you all” with a warm smile. We had many affirmative responses from other officers as well.

At one location where we had two separate services, the prison’s excellent praise choir and band performed as the inmates came in and left. Before the inmates began arriving, our instrumentalists and theirs played together and shared music. This added a whole new dimension to the gathering.

In our last prison, the location of the chapel required us to walk through a corridor lined with inmate barracks on either side. Getting glimpses of the rows and rows of cots, a couple of feet from each other, with men sitting and standing in those large rooms was sobering and sad. As we trouped through the corridor – 17 people with cases of sound equipment, instruments, music stands, communion supplies and more – many stared, some waved; more waved if we first waved. One can only imagine the range of thoughts and attitudes about our group as we entered. We had to walk back after set-up to get to the canteen area, and then back through to the chapel for the program. And then at the end, back to the entrance with all of our gear again. It was a strange experience each time, knowing there were diverse attitudes toward us and wanting to not seem either aloof, or afraid, or naively cheerful.

At the end of every service, each person who attended was given a survey to return and invited to write to us. After just a week after the first visits, dozens of letters have already arrived. We will be reading them and responding to as many as we can.

Each of the institutions wants a return visit from Timothy’s Gift. The inmates all seemed eager for us to come back. And every team member who went – 7 of them for the first time – seem eager to do it again. It is truly a transformative experience each time we are able to participate. It is a unique and powerful way to live out and share the love of God with others.

This is an example of an experience that transforms all involved.  How can you have such experiences?

For more information on this ministry, go to www.timothysgift.com

Benefits of Writing

Blogging - JournalingAre you a blogger or one who journals? Do you do any kind of regular writing? For some of us, it is a habit that started in our youth and is just part of our life. For others, we may write regularly for a while and then not for some time, and come back to it. It may be a habit that you don’t ever question. Or you may question the benefit of writing consistently. It’s possible you never have done this kind of writing.

I am a sporadic writer, although in the past months my blogging has become more regular and frequent on my business blog. I also do occasional posting on a personal blog.

There are various styles and purposes for journaling and for blogging. There can be benefit in trying out different styles and writing for different purposes at various stages of your life.

My mother didn’t journal as we think of it now, but she wrote in a diary every day for over 50 years. She usually used 5-year diaries that she purchased and which provided about 4 narrow lines per day. I have those diaries and they certainly provide a view into her daily life over the years. The emphasis was on what she did, what was going on with the family, and what the weather was. (Her diaries include high and low temperatures daily for those 50+ years in southern Wisconsin!) It is quite a treasure to have.

This is an example of very simple, regular writing that has value for the writer and those who read it later, if you choose to make it available.

Recently I read an article that listed seven ways that a habit of regular writing can improve our lives after age 50. Here they are:

• helps you clear the mind
• aids in the recovery of one’s memories
• you will be able to stockpile ideas
• improves your verbal and writing skills
• puts your life events into perspective
• you will feel like you have accomplished something
• it’s a great mental exercise

Author Eileen Williams summed up the benefits this way: “It is the best exercise for the brain. It enables the mind to relax, think freely with no stress. It keeps you fit and in good shape.” The entire article is on her blog, Feisty Side of Fifty: Benefits of Writing

Consider experimenting with different styles and purposes of blogs or journals if you already are a regular writer. If you are in a hiatus from a previous pattern of writing, give it another try – perhaps in a different style.

If you have never tried, write in some style for 30 consecutive days and see how you like it and if you begin seeing some of the benefits listed above. If you don’t know how to start, here’s a book that can give you ideas:  The Journaling Life: 21 Types Of Journals You Can Create To Express Yourself And Record Pieces Of Your Life

I would love to hear about your experiences!!

 

Patterns and Milestone Experiences That Transform

Experiences TransformOne of the joys of getting older – let’s say 50 and beyond – is that we can look back and see patterns and milestones in our lives. Seeing the patterns can be instructive and helpful in many ways. In early mid-life, most of us experience the intensity of jobs/careers, community involvement, family relationships to nurture and support – and more. As we move into a different phase of life, we can take time to do this.  Experiences transform, and reflecting on them can be part of transforming your life after 50.

I will share some of my experience with this kind of reflection.

Some time ago, I had the opportunity to be one of several presenters who shared personal stories with a group from my church. It was a wonderful opportunity to look back and identify some patterns in my life. One of them was “expanding horizons” and I also identified milestone experiences that had shifted my life in new directions. Each of us can likely identify ways in which our horizons expanded and how that impacted us.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. captured the essence of that by saying, “”A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

I found it quite enjoyable to look at that pattern as if I were floating high above, getting the view from the drone, if you will. In my case, I saw an image of concentric circles and that pattern of expanding horizons. I could recognize experiences that launched me from one circle into another, and later into another as the years passed. The changes were more than geographic and included mental, spiritual, emotional and psychological expansions.

The geographic concentric circles started from growing up in a small town in Minnesota, to college in two other midwestern towns, to a summer in core city Chicago, Illinois to much of my adult life in inner city Minneapolis, Minnesota to a couple of years in suburban Orange County, California to the past eight years in Nashville, Tennessee. I can see concentric circles of relationship with a wider diversity of people and of awareness of regional and cultural differences.

In addition to these overlaid concentric circles, I can identify milestone experiences that changed the direction of my life in different ways. The first dramatic milestone was the summer spent in Chicago when I was 19 years old. It was a city immersion program sponsored by the American Lutheran Church in several cities around the country, with our team of six people coming from a small college in Decorah, Iowa. Prior to this, I had lived in homogeneous small towns, both growing up and in my prior two years of college.

Then here we were, working full time jobs and doing neighborhood work in the rest of our time out of a city church located just on the edge of the demarcation line between a white community and a black community. Oh – did I mention: it was the summer of 1966!! Tensions were high in cities across the country as the civil rights movement was in its peak years. During that summer, Aug. 5, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Chicago for an open housing march through an all-white neighborhood and he was hit in the head with a brick or a rock. This was the mood of the time.

The experiences of that summer turned my attention to being involved with the social issues of the day, and gave me clarity that I wanted to be involved in things that made a difference. As a result, I left college and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where I would spend my years from 20 to 60 living and working in the inner city.

I encourage you to reflect on the patterns and milestones in YOUR life. It will be life-affirming and may open up some possibilities for you to explore as you are transforming your life after 50.

I encourage you to get a nice journal that you really want to write in.  I love the “Tree of Life” motif, and these are refillable, which is a plus.  Check out this version using my affiliate link: Tree of Life Writing Journal

Innovation Around Housing for Seniors – Your Parents Now, You Later

InnovationThe Baby Boomer generation has been responsible, directly and indirectly, for vast changes within society as they moved through the life cycle. Sometimes we forget all that happened from the time of our large cohort being born after the end of World War II and through about 1964. It started with the housing boom as the young families being formed after the (mostly) men returned from military service. The whole list of innovations, revolutions and changed viewpoints is clearly more than I can address in this post.

Now this generation is changing what it means to be over 50, and especially over 65. There are multiple facets of this, but the one I want to talk about here is about housing and care beyond independent living. Baby Boomers are 71 and younger right now, and have dealt or are dealing with these issues for their parents. What is created now will impact us as we move into the ages where we cannot live alone in our own homes.

An extremely exciting project addressing this need is MAGIC, a pilot project being conducted in connection with the University of Southern Indiana (USI) in Evansville and Dr. Bill Thomas, a nationally-renowned expert on aging.

MAGIC is aimed at creating a cultural transformation related to aging in community (Read the full release). With support from AARP, Indiana AARP and numerous stakeholders, we will pioneer a new (and very old) way of living. MAGIC stands for: Multi-Ability, multiGenerational, Inclusive Community.

Our goal is to bring together people of different ages, with different abilities and from different backgrounds, and look at ways to inspire and sustain a genuine human community….

We will kick off the MAGIC Pilot Project this spring by co-designing a model smart home. This “MAGIC Model House” will serve as a demonstration home showcasing the latest accessibility design, smart-home connectivity and low cost modular prefabrication methods I’ve developed through my Minka Dwelling project. We designed the Minka as an affordable housing platform that can be adapted to meet the needs of people of different ages and abilities.

The full article can be found here: I Believe in MAGIC

What exciting possibilities there are in this project, and others that will be inspired because of it. We truly can change the depressing scenario embedded in many aging persons’ minds of ending their years in a nursing home that fails to provide a good quality of life for them.

The numbers, though not as current as would be most helpful, are these: “The aging of the baby boom generation could fuel a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, to about 2.3 million in 2030 from 1.3 million in 2010.” Source:  Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States from the Population Reference Bureau.

Alternatives such as MAGIC can be effective in improving quality of life in our later years. It’s time for the creativity and innovation of our generation to focus more on this and similar issues. I can hardly wait to see what we can do!!

Dr. Bill Thomas is an expert in aging issues. His book, Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life covers a wide range of important topics.