Welcome to this December issue

There is much in the news. Elders are becoming a larger and larger part of national populations - in part because of health advances but also because births went up born AFTER the depression of the 20th century and now those people (us?) are entering their elder years. While some economists look at this as potential economic disaster, others think of it as a potential economic boon as new businesses are formed to meet new needs.

I have given a lot of thought this. It could be a book in itself! But let me just offer one idea.

There is a growing need for retro fitting homes and apartments to make them easier for daily living. The sooner one starts, the less costly such changes can be since they can be made without urgency. Please do a web search for UNIVERSAL DESIGN.

Read some of the articles. Some suggested changes are inexpensive, eg. door handles instead of door knobs. Making some of the changes will not only ease daily living as you continue to age but they will make your home far more marketable if and when you decide to move. Universal Design - it is the wave of the future.

More on Elderhod

I continue to explore the role of elders in those societies where the role flourishes. As noted before, the role of elder was dropped during the industrial revolution because the factory system needed younger, stronger and able bodied workers. Old people were seen as liabilities rather than assets. But the increasing use of electronics, coupled with a growing population of older persons is making new social change possible. We are the generation that can revive and renew the role of Elderhood in our societies.

STORIES. In those societies where elders are central and respected, one of their functions is the repository of stories. In the developed world stories are created and circulated by adults - books, television and movies. Recently we have seen a shift as the electronic world allows young people (Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Chinese micro-bloggers) to create national stories.

But there is an important aspect of story that only elders can do because only elders have access to the raw material of these stories. Family ...generational stories. Stories that offer children and adults a sense of a 'place in the world', a sense that they can endure, succeed, have purpose.

One of the big aspects of generational stories....and one that is often very meaningful to the young is what we call NATIVITY stories. If you read about great leaders they all seem to have a coherent NATIVITY story....an auspicious story of their birth.

Parents are often so involved in births that they do not pass on a meaningful nativity story that centralizes and celebrates the child. But grandparents and great grand parents can. Example: "I will never forget the day of your birth. I was at...... when I got the news. I was so happy to know you were born." What a gift to a child to hear someone SAY they were happy they were born!

Goodness there are some adults who even now might be glad to hear a parent actually say they were happy that they were born!

But then there are other stories....stories of how a child kept trying (to walk, to ride a bike, to...) and finally succeeded. Such stories build a sense of 'I can get through this too...".

Little children love stories. And then too, you are the repository of stories about YOUR parents, YOUR grandparents. Telling such stories - even stories about hard times endured or great difficulties overcome can shape the minds and hearts of children so they have a sense of a 'place in the world', a sense of coming from a long line of people who have endured, survived and even flourished.

Elders ARE the repository of family, neighborhood and tribal stories. Story can give a child a sense of place in the world. Story can help a teen or adult face and get through tough times. Stories in which the teller expresses confidence that the hearer of the tale will also 'get through or accomplish' because they have either done so before OR they come from a line of people who have also met and dealt with great difficulties...... This life giving role of telling positive stories about others is a privilege and prerogative of elders in a society.

Stories are not just about US. Elder stories nourish the young and help the adult to go on....because it is in story that they realize that can do this.... they have done things before and/or they come from a line of people who have done such things before.

Note - I repeat that Elder stories about about THEM...or their forebears. We are the repository of stories for others. Yes, you have your own stories - stories about your life. But they are not what this is about. The wonder of great elders is that they tell stories for the benefit of others.

Tip of the month

A quick tip. If you live where the weather makes outdoor activities hard and you are not into gym workouts, do consider dancing. Dancing with the Stars is a popular TV show (you can even get Internet clips of past shows). Imitate these dancers. Put some music on...or get an internet radio station going and dance in the kitchen. Dancing can be good aerobic activity. It helps balance. It enhances mood. And recent research shows it is also good for the brain.

Dance with a partner but if that is not possible, dance alone or even with a broom. When the weather outside makes walking hard, I dance.....and my great old shepherd dog often comes into the kitchen and tries to get into the act. It can be an uproarious time.... a real relaxer in the day. AND I know it has many health benefits too. So dance this December!

That is it. Be well. Decide to be happy....and think about becoming a story teller for others.