Experience shape seniors’ moral compass

Experience shape seniors’ moral compass
If you’re an older adult and recent news reports about the firing of media icons Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Garrison Keillor have rattled you, you’re not alone.

 I’d like you to read these two statements:

“Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times.”

“Lance Armstrong was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life as a result of long-term doping offenses.”

Which of these facts carries greater weight when gauging Armstrong as a person?

I posed this question to a group of seniors in Calabasas recently. It didn’t surprise me that all but a couple chose the second statement.

Studies have shown that when judging strangers and rating their likability, seniors weigh negative information about moral character more heavily than information about their abilities or accomplishments.

Good advice for seniors: Don’t worry, be happy

Good advice for seniors: Don’t worry, be happy
I marvel at my husband, who’s asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Not me.
If I had a nickel for every time I lay awake at night thinking about something I needed to do the next day or replaying in my mind something that happened at work I’d be rich.

In my 20s I remember being embarrassed when a friend told me I emotionally reacted to a problem that might be rated a two like it was a 10. I actually wished that I had been born less inclined to agonize over even the smallest of things.

I’ve been a worrier my entire life, but thankfully, age has tempered my fretting.

It’s not that I have done anything special—except get older. It seems nature helps us to manage the ups and downs of life more skillfully as we age.

There is a theory called the Paradox of Aging, which posits that peoples’ reasoning changes as we get older.

Nurses deserve a week of attention

Nurses deserve a week of attention

The month of May has several days celebrating special things. One of my favorites is May 25, 2017—National Chardonnay Day! On a more serious note, May 6 through 12 was National Nurses Week, which got me to thinking about the nurses who have made an impression on my life.

One of my first nursing memories is of our school nurse, Mrs. Hagan. School nurses today probably have a whole lot more to contend with than the tummy aches and bumps and bruises that Mrs. Hagan treated when I was a kid. I’m sure today school nursing is a challenging but rewarding job.

In my teens I had the not so great experience of spending months at Massachusetts General Hospital, recuperating from a major illness. My parents lived an hour away, and my mother made the trek every morning to see me and then home again each afternoon to take care of my father and two sisters.

The hospital was a pretty lonely experience after my mother left each day.

Memories inspired by cooking utensil lead to legacy letter

Memories inspired by cooking utensil lead to legacy letter

It’s just a tin cup. The kind that prisoners used to bang against the bars of their jail cells in old movies. The kind the chuck wagon cook used to dish up campfire stew for the cowboys.

It’s exactly 8 ounces, with markings denoting ¼, ½, ¾ and 1 cup.

It is the most precious thing I have of my mother’s. A few years ago, I discovered it in her cupboard as I was putting away dishes. I could not believe she still had “the cup.” That cup brought back so many wonderful memories.

As the oldest child, I had some “me” time with my mother before my sisters were born. Once they came along, we all had to share my mother, but cooking time was, for all my childhood years, that time when my mother and I did something together by ourselves.

Give gift of happy memories

Give gift of happy memories

As we age, our memories seem more significant, and more vivid.

Holidays are a great time for sharing memories. At our holiday events we inevitably end up in fits of laughter, holding our sides and wiping away tears.

Some of our stories get retold each year. Like the time my dad was using a blowtorch to remove the paint from the window frame and burned my mother’s silk curtains. Or when my sister at 5 years old asked how they trained monkeys to use guns—this was after she heard on television about the guerrilla troops fighting the war in the 1960s.

It doesn’t matter whether we are with our “real” family or with our local family of friends; memories offer an intimate view into others’ perceptions and can be a wonderful bonding experience.

This past holiday with our local family of friends we played “The Voting Game,” a card game intended to reveal the personalities of those who play. It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot more about how we feel about one another.

Here are some questions that may elicit some good memories at your next family gathering:

This holiday season, don’t forget to shine your light on others

This holiday season, don’t forget to shine your light on others

“It feels good to be a part of the universe as it shines upon others,” Acorn’sFamily Man” columnist Michael Picarella recently noted.

Why is helping someone an action we associate with the feeling of being happy?

One explanation is that in doing so we experience “vicarious joy,” or the pleasure we get from improving another’s situation or well-being.

Holidays seem to be a time when many of us look to see how we can help others.

Actions can be as simple as putting coins in the kettle for the Salvation Army, dropping off baked goods for an elderly neighbor or driving a friend to an appointment.

Acts of kindness happen all the time between individuals, both friends and strangers. Facebook is filled with stories of one human helping another. And more often than not, the person doing the helping feels they got more out of the experience (vicarious joy) than the person they helped.

On aging with grace

On aging with grace

Earlier this year, history.com cited the “Seven Most Contentious U.S. Presidential Elections.” The current election had not, at that point, made the list.

I think it is safe to say that during this past presidential race, very little grace was shown at a time when our country could have used courtesy and goodwill from our candidates.

As two senior presidential candidates (ages 69 and 70) were campaigning to be the leader of the United States, each had the opportunity to be a notable role model for our younger citizens. They had the opportunity to demonstrate aging with grace.

By aging with grace, I don’t mean being comfortable with your wrinkles, gray hair or a few extra pounds. I mean living and acting in a state of awareness and seeing conversations, events and actions from multiple points of view.

There is a secret to aging with grace. 

Seniors’ rich history and powerful stories need to be shared

Standing before you is a grayhaired man wearing clothes that could have come from a garage sale.

Even with the aid of a walker, his gate is unsteady. He has difficulty hearing and shouts to ask others to repeat themselves. His eyes are dull and cloudy behind his smudged glasses. His voice is coarse and weak from years of use.

This man is not your loved one, and you avoid eye contact; your gaze passes right by him. Maybe it’s because he appears uninteresting or maybe he reminds you of your own mortality.

Would it surprise you to learn this man was a decorated war hero or that he raised three children as a widower, or that he was the head of programming at NBC or an accomplished musician?

Make an effort to give local this season

 

As the holidays roll around, many of us look toward giving to those less fortunate.

According to a recent study, over 30 percent of all charitable giving last year occurred in December, which is why our mailboxes have been filled recently with requests for donations.

There’s the practical aspect as to why most giving occurs this month: People are in a giving frame of mind and want to make sure their donation occurs before a new calendar year. It’s also why charities are dependent upon a good holiday season for a large portion of their annual fundraising.

The Giving USA Foundation publishes national estimates on giving by individuals, foundations, bequests and corporations. You may be surprised to learn that 75 percent of all giving is by 

Carrots or cookies

When I was a kid, my mother taught me a lesson about appetites and hunger. An hour before dinner, when I asked her for a snack, she offered me carrots.

“But I’m not hungry for carrots,” I whined, “I’m hungry for a cookie.”

She replied, “If you’re not hungry for carrots then you’re not really hungry.”

Now that I am all grown up, I know eating a cookie an hour before dinner will spoil my appetite. But why do I want one?

My answer is stress.

Stress is my reaction to life’s demands. It results in me staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. or renders me unable to recall the words “paper towel” in a conversation or instigates my yelling at the toaster when the bagel gets stuck.

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