In Later Years: Finding Meaning and Spirit in Aging

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
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A Unitarian Universalist minister and chaplain at a large senior residence community leads us on a journey through the stories and experiences of elders, offering insights into navigating this unique stage of life.

Drawing on scores of personal interviews, this straightforward yet introspective volume of real-life accounts provides a felt sense of the challenges and blessings of aging. Unlike many books on the topic, In Later Years focuses particularly on older seniors--those in their late seventies, eighties, and nineties. Interviewees thoughtfully share their joys, regrets, accomplishments, and things left unfinished, while also considering the ways they cope with diminishing physical and mental abilities. Weaving these personal reflections and accounts together, Marshall explores questions of meaning and spirituality that ultimately reveal larger themes and hold up the opportunities for discovery, connection, and renewal available to us in advanced age.

The book also serves as an invaluable resource for family members and caregivers, suggesting ways to understand and help with the issues that attend growing old. Detailed appendices provide tips and a simple curriculum for gathering and facilitating group discussions.

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About the author

Bruce T. Marshall is a writer and minister who has served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Maryland. He is now a chaplain at Riderwood Village, a retirement community in Maryland. His previous books include A Holy Curiosity and Taking Pictures of God.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
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Published on
Dec 31, 2018
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781558968172
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Language
English
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Genres
SELF-HELP / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Win McFadden, now in his nineties, is an international senior track and field star who still participates in U.S. Masters and Senior Olympics competition. In You Dont Have to Act Your Age, he has written a book with a radical mission: to convince the many millions of people over the age of 65 that the remaining years of their lives can be healthy, joyful ones.

He poses the following questions: Suppose that in our effort to be as healthy as we could possibly be, we engaged in a pursuit that also let us have funand that while having fun we became totally absorbed and therefore willingly disciplined in our efforts? Suppose further that because of our dedication and discipline, we were eventually rewarded by public recognition and tangible rewards? What if as our days sped by in this happy, rewarding, and disciplined existence, we also met large numbers of friends who were similarly healthy, dedicated, and interesting? And suppose that through the friends we made and the recognition we received we became able to be of service to other older people who needed help in bringing themselves to a condition of greater health and fitnessand therefore happiness. That would be true satisfaction of the highest order.

He claims that his positive answers to these questions have been the result of his participating in Masters athletics and teaching physical fitness classes for older adults. In this second edition of You Dont Have to Act Your Age, McFadden has added tips for seniors on how to choose an exercise class that meets their needs, as well as advice for younger relatives of seniors who now live in convalescent facilities on how to encourage their loved ones to remain as physically fit as possible.

For the first time in human history, the prospect of living a long, healthy and productive life has become a reality for the majority of people What was the privilege of the few has become the destiny of the many. Robert Butler, MD, Gerontologist Choices & Changes is offered as a guide on how to plan to get the most from lifes second halfnot how to plan to get the most from retirement. While you may think this is splitting hairs, you will come to realize how the words we use impact our perceptions, our self-image and ultimately our reality when planning for and experiencing the future.

I have attempted to avoid the use of stereotypical terms like retiree, retirement, senior and other mindless terms often used to categorize millions of active, wise and responsible citizens (except when necessary to establish context.) I contend that how you choose to view the years ahead and your role in shaping that view will have a major impact on the quality and quite possibly the quantity of those years. Therefore, before discussing the elements of your life plan, it is important to spend some time talking about expectations, aspirations and the words we use when discussing and creating our plans.

In order to communicate with one another, we use words first, to create categories in which we then place people and things; and then, to create criteria with which to distinguish between those categories (age, sex, nationality, race, religion, education, etc). As we do this, the categories ultimately (and often unconsciously) shape our world view.

Retirement, for example, is a word stereotypically used to categorize that portion of life that occurs when one quits working and becomes old. As such, we tend to distinguish retirees from productive members of society. We then help others distinguish these people by creating categories to describe places where they gather (senior centers) or dwell (retirement communities, healthcare centers, assisted living communities or 50+ communities.)

Retirement is that magical time of life when the focus somehow shifts from who you are and what you doto what you once did and who you used to be, as if all your experience is at once inaccessible to the person youve become How does this type of prejudice occur? Where does it come from? Lets examine the word.

Various dictionaries offer multiple definitions of the word retirement:

To go away, retreat or withdraw to a private, sheltered or secluded place
To go to bed
To give ground as in battle, retreat, withdraw
To give up ones work, business, or career especially because of advancing age
To move back or away or seem to do so

You probably have noticed most of these definitions focus on quitting, going away, withdrawing from or giving up. Retirement implies that your self worth and your worth to society are a thing of the past. Such an implication is negative, unfounded and dangerous to ones health.

It is fine to retire for the evening; but it is not fine to retire from life simply because of some mindless designation. While retirement may have been an appropriate descriptor of later life during the industrial age, when very few people lived into their 60s and 70s, the term is no longer relevant when applied to todays active, healthy and well-educated older adults.

Perhaps it is time to retire words like retirement, retired or retiree when referring to people in lifes second half, just as we have retired other words used to categorize and demean minorities and women over the years.

I have been railing a
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