Intergenerational care: Where kids help the elderly live longer
‘Good things are happening’
“When we bring children and residents together, the elderly together, you can see right away that good things are happening,” Somers said.
These “good things” are evident to any observer.
More than 10 children make their way along the garden paths into the lounge where the residents are stretching their arms and shaking their legs. Most faces in the room are smiling, and a few residents reach out to encourage the kids to come toward them specifically.
As small children roam about, trying the exercises themselves, cuddling up to residents and in some cases performing headstands, the rest of the room comes alive.
“They’re responding to an external stimulus, which is a toddler with an adorable grin fumbling towards them, carrying a toy, trying to interact,” Somers said.
The benefits in terms of health are also clear to see.
Residents “very often forget their own physical limitations, and they find that they are encouraged; they stretch themselves; they will lean up out of their chair, extend a hand, engage in conversation,” she added.
My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
First, I give you Schubert’s Ave Maria. It is more beautiful than I can describe and my go-to when I am overwhelmed by the ugliness in the world today. I hope it will give you as much comfort and delight as it has given me over the years.
Second, I updated the homepage for this blog to provide a roadmap. What started out simply as letters to you about lessons I have learned over the years — hoping these lessons would help you avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes I and others have made — has given rise to certain themes that if articulated might help you better put these lessons into perspectives. I copied the revised version below for your convenience.
Finally, I wanted to remind you to live life with purpose. For some (many, actually), money or wealth is their raison d’etre. But, that is an unwise choice. On their deathbeds, no one asks for more time at the office making money. Often, retirees lose their zest for life upon retirement because they lost their raison d’etre, their purpose in life. As alluded to in the CNN article above, purpose is the zest of life … without it, we are lost and simply exist, not thrive. I want you to thrive.
Years ago, when I sold books door to door, I met an elderly woman one early morning. I knocked on her door, and, as we started to chat, she unloaded upon me a litany of ills that have befallen her. After listening for a while, I asked, “Why do you get up in the morning, then?” (Yes, I was young, and I was an idiot. I would never be as blunt or rude today. Well, hopefully, I wouldn’t.) At that point, she became upset and reversed herself, listing all the important things she had going on in her life and why it was important for her to get them done. In other words, she changed her tune because she refocused on her purpose for living.
What do you live for? I submit that you should live life to the fullest and make the world a better place along the way. Below, in the revised homepage, are my thoughts on that.
I now leave you with my favorite quote from Hunter Thompson:
Enjoy your ride! But, remember that you can do well by doing good along the way.
All my love, always,
My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai,
Life has its challenges and obstacles, but nothing changes that most basic, fundamental, and unadulterated truth: you two are the best things that have ever happened to me. I am lucky to have you for my sons.
I love you with all my heart … always and forever. Not a day passes that you are not in my thoughts, and your absence do not weigh heavily on my heart.
Current circumstances conspire to keep us apart. But, that is only a temporary condition. Know that everyday, I am doing my best to fight my way back to you so that I may be there to help you grow into the amazing men you will become.
These posts are but temporary solutions to fill the gap until my return. Through them, I hope to give you guidance and continue the lessons that were started from the moment you took your first breath — and took my breath away.
You will find that the overarching theme for this blog (and my life — and, hopefully, yours as well) is that WE SHOULD STRIVE TO LEAVE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR HAVING LIVED. That’s my Golden Rule. Consequently, the Corollary is to HELP IF YOU CAN, BUT DO NO HARM IF YOU CANNOT HELP.
Specifically, how do you make the world a better place? First, be the best YOU can be. No one can ask for more of you.
To achieve that goal, I share with you lessons I’ve learned about how to live well and what it takes to be successful in America. Note two things: (1) I am talking specifically about what it takes to achieve what is considered to be professional success in the U.S. and not elsewhere in the world; and, (2) the focus is on success as defined by society at large and not on your personal definition of success. Your definition may be different. That’s OK. But, know that if you chose that path, it would be a rougher road to hew. The choice remains yours.
Second, fight evil wherever you find it. This is your duty as a human being. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. If not us, than who? I am always mindful of the words of Martin Niemoller, the Protestant pastor who spoke out against the Nazi and suffered in the concentration camp as a result. He said,
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Regarding my prescriptions for a life well-lived, all I can say is be brave, my sons. Be courageous enough to be the real you and the best you possible, despite the niggling comments of others. Be strong enough to stand up for yourselves and your visions. Be willing to fight for them. Also, fight injustice. Speak out against evil.
I know these are not small things I ask of you, but the world will tend towards disorder unless energy is expended to counteract the disorder. If not us, then who? We are the stewards of our world. Do try to leave it a better place by actively working to make your little corner of the world a bit better than when you first found it and by stopping those who try to destroy whatever beauty lies there. A world without beauty is not a world in which we are meant to live and thrive.
Regarding our situation, be patient, my sons. Be strong. Be good. The truth will prevail. I promise.
It took me five years to fight the Enron of Healthcare and expose their corrupt practices. How much longer will it take to fight and expose corrupt government officials?
Until we reunite, know that I love you always and forever.
All my love, always,