This morning, I attended the "Futures Festival: Opportunities, Challenges, and Strategies for Older Adults and Communities"" at UMM's Student Center in Oyate Hall. I had the chance to meet my former St. Paul mayor (1991-1994) Jim Sheibel, who was one of the featured speakers!
Anyways, I don't have time to write about everything I learned right now (will later on), but I will share briefly that I thought this was a very life educational for me. In the beginning of the event, I thought about "why" I'm here. First, I thought this would be a good lesson for the Blandin Leadership Retreat: Life-Long Learning section. Second, this will be valuable for my "aging" parents (my dad is retired). Thirday, this will be valuable as a "Consumer Counselor" at the local group home I work at.
West Central Minnesota Handbook for Older Adults and Communities for Fall 2004. A former All American City "colleague" (David Fluegel) of mine came up with this!
One of the interesting notes from Jan Hively of Vital Aging Network (VAN) was the importance of the church institution that has played an important role in the involvement of the elderly. She then read about “Facts Revelant for Vital Aging” (a small handout), which was an eye opener (some of what was listed and read was shared a KSAX Ch. 5 on the evening news at 5pm later that night on the local television). …
”Negative thoughts about aging that elders pick up from society are cutting years off their lives. People with more positive perceptions of againg lived 7.5 years longer than people with more negative perceptions.”
An exercise she had our small groups (Michelle-Marshall, Roger, Ron-Milan, Elizabeth-Graceville) do was to list as many words on “Signs of Vital Aging”: passion, energy level, etc…
After, Jim Sheibel had the whole audience say out loud….
”I’m a resource [everybody], I’m a Vital Resource” [55 and over only]
As part of the “Wisdom Circle” session, there was a panel of 5 experts (practioners, artists, community leaders, etc..):
Bill Holm (making connections)
Each shared for about 5 minutes on their background and experience on the theme of his event. One of them had an interesting quote, ”One needs to focus on the other’s abilities instead of their disabilities”. I personally thought about the “consumers” at the group home. I work at, which each one has a special talent or skill that gets overlooked. It was then followed by open questions from the audience. One question that sticked out was, “How can spirituality teach about the problems on materialism amongst the youth?” Roger Oleness shared about the “U Haul Story”. If I could add, I would share about the need to open their perspectives “outside of their perspective” by giving them a global perspective (e.g. summer youth focus church mission trips). I was remembered also by a conference (see Impact 2000) I went too, which the speaker talked about how the youth need to not get tempted by those MTV Rap Videos (e.g. gold jewelry, fancy cars, partially naked women-as an example) . Also, this personally reminds me how “we” are so blessed in America, which “we” take for granted on a lot of “stuff” (e.g. car, religious freedom, government aid/benefits, etc…). If their was more social interaction with the young and old generation (e.g. yesterday’s Rural Talk-parents relationship with their kids play a big part in their successful education), this can be an important discussion!
Towards the end, we had an “Envisioning Exerise”, which we had college students come join the older adults in the different tables. I sat with several college students that listened intently to what the “older folks” had to each share individually of their vision. One of the college students threw in a story/life experience how schools teach competiveness (e.g. comparing each others’ grades with classmates) and individualistic accomplishments. She shared this after receiving her paper from her professor prior to this exercise. The moderator asked us to picture our own communities from the perspective above on a helicopter in 2010. Our each small group exercise was to list or draw what we would like to see in our own communities that contributes to vital aging. We had a large sheet of paper, which we jot down what everybody shared. First, we drew a circle labeling it “Community Center”, which the small group came up with a consensus as a future asset. Ironically, this was talked about locally as a Morris Vision 2010 back in 1999 during a Blandin related community meeting. Our group would like a community center that would bring “everyone together” (e.g inter-generations, inter-culturaly, etc…) instead of current “segregated” buildings (e.g Senior Center). Another shared how these nursing home facilities for elderly people need to have “holistic”/”family oriented” environments (instead of “institutionalized”, which is a similar goals to the local group homes in the area.)
The last session was on ”Next Steps”, which we were each individually challenged to apply what we learned from the above sessions and exercises. The moderator asked us to share within our small groups and then share with the rest of the audience. One of the folks contributed about the benefits of “animal therapy”, which has been reported to be a “good healing” process for the elderly (especially the lonely). I personally challenged myself about how we need to diffuse “negative talk” (e.g. stereotypes, prejudices=> racism), which I shared with the rest of the group…
”old people drive to slow in town”
”the youth are just always causing trouble”
I then remembered a related issues on diffusing stereotypes (see Multicultural Retreat), which we each need to each play a part by not letting “negative talk” in our daily conversations. For example, when someone says something “negative” about the elderly, just tell them it’s not true (don’t conform to their talk by not saying anything because you are sending a message that you are agreeing with them)! Another personal step I would like to make is promoting an idea that was brought up from a group member;=>” elders babysitting” (a big community need). My parents baby-sit my niece, which some young parents don’t have this opportunity (I didn’t have the privilege too visiting grandparents as they lived across the other side of the world, which I was honestly jealous amongst my peers growing-up). A community suggestion, we can pair elders who are willing to baby-sit with mothers (especially single moms) that are looking for babysitters. Another one that came to me was on mentoring , which I would like to see elders paired up with youth that share the same issues based on experience (e.g. have an elderly person who has successfully got out of alcoholism meet with a youth/young adult struggling with this problem). Someone in the audience mentioned how elders can be a “history buff”, which younger folks can learn a lot from them. One of the “older folks” in the small group talked about the decreasing family values in our current society. He particularly shared the lost of respect for elders, which many young folks are increasingly having problems with this. I didn’t have the chance to share my family cultural background, which my dad disciplined me on respecting him and my mom. I share the same experience with other new second generation Americans (especially Asians), which first generations parents are challenged with this social issue. Another cultural value from my family that can be valued by others is the supporting of each other more. My family talk about how the kids will take care of their parents when they get “too old” (not able to take care of themselves), which “nursing homes” are not heard of back in our parents’ homeland (Philippines-a few maybe ). Earlier in our small group, someone shared that young adults are “too busy” with life (e.g. career focus), which many don’t have time to spend time with their elders.
Morris Senior and Community Center
Judy Nord Johnson, Stevens County Coordinator on Aging
603 Oregon Ave.
"The senior center serves as a center for seniors to meet and engage in various activities. Some of these activities include: socializing, crafts, quilting, playing cards, bridge, and other games. Additionally, the Morris Senior and Community Center offers well balanced and tasty meals served from the kitchen at noon daily (except Sunday.) These meals are provided by a separate organization known as Nutrition Services Inc. The meals are available to seniors and the public for $3.50. Meals on Wheels operate from the center and they provide meals to those unable to get to the center."
Morris, MN 56267 Phone: 320.589.1514 Senior Citizen Homes
My uncle (70 years old) just got citizenship to the U.S. (March 2006) and is now looking for job opportunities. His interest is gardening, so I went to "search" for opportunities that he might be interested in:
A Story of Encouragement
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-n-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
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TO A GOOD FRIEND
(from Gina on Sunday, January 11th)
It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman, in his 80's, presented to have sutures (stitches) removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, we began to engage in conversation. I asked him if he had a doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I then inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer Disease.
As we talked, and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him. "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."
I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm and thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life."
True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
Good friends are like stars...You don't always see them, but you always know they're there.
"This is the story of Adjartey and the efforts by Mercy Ships in taking care of the elderly in developing Africa."
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