Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Invisibility of Being Old, Disabled or Both

Credit: Adobe Stock 

An 82-year-old woman with post-polio syndrome feels erased from society
By Grace Birnstengel for Next Avenue 

When you’re an older person in a wheelchair or walking with a cane, people treat you differently. Sure, some might be quicker to open doors for you, but most of the behavioral reactions aren’t positive ones. The combination of being old and disabled causes what many refer to as “invisibility.” 

Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, explored this idea in a recent column through the lens of 82-year-old Nancy Root, a woman with post-polio syndrome Bruni met while giving a lecture on a cruise. Root taught Bruni how it felt to be seen as invisible because of her age and perceived ability. 

“People looked over her, around her, through her. They withdrew,” Bruni wrote. 

An Intersection of -Isms 

The concept of invisible older people — specifically older women — is not new. Novelist and screenwriter Ayelet Waldman discussed with us the invisibility of turning 50 as a woman. 

“I had no idea that as soon as I got to his age, to be a 50-year-old woman, the sexism gets completely complicated by this idea that not only are you incompetent as a woman, but you’re incompetent because you’ve reached your senescence! Or something,” Waldman told Next Avenue. “I really do feel like they don’t even see you.” 

The intersection of ageism and sexism provides a uniquely taxing form of oppression. Add a layer of ableism to that and you start to see exactly what Root describes experiencing.

Edited Out 

Root had polio as a 2-year-old in the late 1930s; now, post-polio syndrome — which many childhood survivors of the disease develop — degrades her muscles, forcing her to use a cane and a wheelchair. As she’s aged and the condition has worsened, Root has noticed that people no longer look at her the same. Instead, she’s erased. 

“Doctors’ offices are the worst,” she told Bruni, recalling how people won’t address her directly, but rather speak to whoever is pushing her wheelchair. “I’m not acknowledged. ‘Does this lady have an appointment?’ ‘Does this lady have her medical card?’ They don’t allow this lady to have a brain.” 

And it’s not just at doctors’ offices. This extends to nearly every situation — movie theaters, flights, grocery stores, you name it. 

“They make dismissive assumptions about people above a certain age or below a certain level of physical competence,” Bruni’s column said. “Or they simply edit those people out of the frame.” 

Root told Bruni she thinks strangers worry that she’ll need something from them, or perhaps they see their fears about being older manifested in her and can’t bare to face them.

Regardless of the root cause of how we see older, disabled people as “other” or less than, Root’s experience is the reality for countless older, disabled adults. 

Harkening back to 2016 Influencer in Aging E. Percil Stanford’s story advocating for the humanization and value of older people, we as a society must do “everything possible to embrace the inclusion of older people in every aspect of life.” 

Only then will people like Nancy Root start to see change.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2018. All rights reserved.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Take the Time to Better Care for Yourself

Credit: Adobe Stock

7 steps to the self-care you need
By Ken Druck for Next Avenue

Becoming a smarter, stronger, more self-caring version of yourself is both freeing and empowering.

I recently discussed the concept of self-care and the ways to set yourself up for — and avoid sabotaging — the way you take emotional and physical care of yourself. After you agree that you are worthy of self-care and will overcome the factors you let stand in your way before, you’re ready to move forward with these seven steps to self-care:

Step No. 1. Make the Decision to Change the Way You Take Care of Yourself

Undertaking change of this magnitude and importance takes courage, humility, conviction and a vision of your best possible future. These steps allow you to say “Yes!” to yourself. You have a right to do the things that make life better, easier, less stressful and more joyful and to say “No” to the people and things draining and depleting you. Sustainable change requires a promise that you make to yourself: “I will do whatever is necessary to become the better (more self-caring, self-respecting) version of myself.” You may not know exactly how you’re going to change deeply ingrained, habitual thinking and behavior, but you are 100 percent committed to finding out and following through.

Step No. 2. Define Your End Goal

Begin to sketch out how you want it all to look and feel after you’ve succeeded. Perhaps you’re sleeping longer, exercising regularly, eating better and speaking to yourself with greater kindness/compassion. You may be ready to hand in your resignation as someone’s doormat, whipping post, dumping ground and enabler in favor of a more reciprocal relationship. Or you may be a “pleaser” who’s ready to face your own fears about letting people down.

Some of us have gotten used to following the elephant around the circus with a shovel. And we’re just waking up. Something is shifting inside of us, declaring, “Enough!” and “It’s time!” We are ripe for a change.

So, whatever your end goal, take the time to state what it is. Get clear about your desired outcome by writing it down, as in: “The return on my investment of learning greater self-care is going to be ______.

Step No. 3. Make a List of Things/People You Need to Say “No” To

Write down 15 people and things you need to learn how to say “No” to. Begin each sentence with “The people I need to learn how to say ‘No’ to are …” or “I need to learn how to say ‘No’ when . . .” Some of us are born caregivers, pleasers and rescuers. Having spent a good part of our lives taking care of other people’s needs, we almost automatically say “Yes” to others who seem to require assistance. We do this even to the neglect of our own health and well-being.

But now it’s time to stop putting yourself and the people you cherish at risk by overcommitting to things that are not in your best interest. Prioritizing and saying “No” may be quite difficult in the beginning. Old feelings of guilt, obligation and responsibility are hard to kick. After a while, however, you’ll begin to feel 100 percent better and thank yourself for staying strong. The people who matter to you will still love you, and the ones who depended on you to say “Yes” even when it wasn’t right will be somebody else’s problem. The results of learning to say “No” speak (loudly) for themselves.

Step No. 4. Lighten Your Load, Unburden Yourself and Allow Yourself Some Pleasure

Although it may be terribly unpopular (years of training the people around you that with a little guilt, you’ll do anything), it’s time to begin letting folks know that you’re in the process of making a change.

Learning to delegate and share and assign responsibility to others, like any new skill, takes time and practice. You may be unaccustomed to the patience, kindness, encouragement and support you get from others. And you may be unfamiliar with the act of giving yourself permission to turn off the computer and phone and just take a hot bath. Don’t let the old voices of self-criticism, fear and condemnation weaken your resolve, as they once did. Continue to get clear about the things that lighten your heart and your load. Set yourself free to delight in and savor the goodness of life. And, most of all, give yourself permission to be happy.

Step No. 5. Listen to Yourself

Sometimes the best source of wise counsel comes from within. Stop, go to a quiet place, take a deep breath and tune in to yourself. Listen to the inner voice that tells you to “slow down,” “relax” and “take it easy” — the one that gives you the encouragement, strength and guidance you need to take care of yourself in the best way possible. Listening to the kindest, most patient, supportive, forgiving and nurturing parts of yourself is always a good thing when it comes to self-care. So, stay strong. Don’t allow any of your self-care saboteurs to talk you out of what you now know is best for you.

Step No. 6. Find or Create Self-Care Opportunities in All Your Relationships

The choices you make in your relationships are as much a reflection of your willingness and ability to practice self-care as any other factor. Relationships are also one of life’s greatest testing grounds for discovering, learning and practicing self-care. Balancing taking care of your relationships with family, aging parents, kids, friends and co-workers with taking care of yourself is one of life’s greatest challenges. Keep reminding yourself that it’s no longer OK to cave in — and that you can do this!

Step No. 7. Pat Yourself on the Back for a Job Well Done

When it comes to taking better care of yourself, every step forward, including baby steps, is worthy of an encouraging, congratulatory pat on the back. You did it! Despite the fear and resistance that comes with change, you are summoning the courage and strength to become the better, more caring version of yourself. This is difficult (inner and outer) work, not to be taken for granted or glossed over. By stopping and appreciating yourself, you are writing new chapters in the books The Care and Feeding of Me and My Honor Code for the Work I Do.

Self-care is your hand resting gently on your heart. Giving yourself your due has nothing to do with selfishness, entitlement, arrogance or taking food out of someone else’s mouth. Self-care is a gift born of a humble gratitude for the life you’ve been given and the person you are. Self-care is a work in progress. So, take every opportunity to implement and improve your master plan. Don’t wait until a crisis or the end of your life to grant yourself permission to indulge in loving self-care — or to finally feel deserving of it. Do it now!

My wish is that you cultivate life-affirming, health-giving self-care practices. Allow yourself to receive as graciously and freely as you give. And may the gentleness, kindness, self-compassion, generosity of heart, forgiveness and permission you’re learning to give yourself spread like a warm breeze across the world. A self-caring individual, family, community, company and world is one that is resilient, compassionate, competent, productive and, ultimately, at peace.

Ready to put a new self-care plan into action? Let’s do this! Click here to print your own Self-Care Action Plan.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2018. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Meet Front Porch Board Member and Board Chair of the Sunny View Foundation, Lynn North!

Congratulations to Front Porch Board Member and Board Chair of the Sunny View Foundation, Lynn North on her many accomplishments!

Meet Lynn North, Real Estate Professional

This article was re-posted from Bay Area Women Magazine

Q: How long have you been in the Real Estate business?

LN: I have been in real estate for almost 14 years, starting as an assistant for 2 of the top agents for a year to really get a sense of the business and develop a strong understanding of the details. Prior to changing careers, I was a vice president at Pacific Bell and SBC, where my team built the infrastructure that we now know as Silicon Valley with all of the large accounts headquartered here. Also, I ran our church (Immanuel Lutheran Church) for 5 years when our long-term pastor retired. As a youth director at our church during 4 of those years, I took 40 teens to Mexico to build homes for the poor, which was very inspiring and really rewarding in seeing how it gave the kids a broader perspective of life.

Q: What designations or certifications do you hold?

: Relocation is my current designation, where I help my clients and their families moving to this area get settled into the community. Alain Pinel Realtors has an extensive relocation program, where I have helped many of my clients buy vacation homes or relocate to anywhere in the world through their recommendations and referrals. Previously, I have had SRES, which focused on seniors.

Q: What percentage of your clients are buyers vs. sellers?

LN: The majority of my clients are sellers. While I am in the top 5% of my business, I only take one listing at a time, so I can dedicate my time to that seller in marketing their home. The result is I usually bring in the highest offer for that neighborhood, which gives them their greatest return on their investment. I attend to all of the details, including preparing their home for the market and directly working with all of the potential buyers and their agents. For my buyers, I really focus on what they are looking for and make sure they have a great lender, which can strengthen their offer and make them as competitive with all cash offers. Also, I have a good reputation amongst my peers, so listing agents really encourage me to write an offer for their property, which helps my buyers as well. I am thorough in researching the comparative market sales and reviewing the disclosures, so my buyers are confident in what they are buying and at the right price.

Q:If you had to make one prediction of where the Silicon Valley Real Estate market will be in 2020 … what would it be?

LN: I believe there will continue to be a strong demand for housing with continued struggles of less inventory and pent up demand. Many seniors and baby boomers are not moving because of their capital gains and the need to keep their property taxes down with Prop 13 (currently they can only transfer it to 11 counties). Frequent needs in the cycle of life are first time home buyers, young families moving up, baby boomers downsizing and selling their parents homes, along with people from all over the world here for new jobs. Our main concern is buyers being priced out of the market as well. We should see a correction in our appreciation rate to go to a more “normal” rate soon (10% per year).

With 5 world-leading industries headquartered here (see list below), we continue to be a buoyant economy with jobs requiring many skill sets & healthy appreciation rates:
  • Entrepreneurial/VCs/Stanford
  • Tech including Apple, wireless, chips, Google and new AI
  • Bio Tech, Pharmaceuticals & Medicine (Stanford & UCSF)
  • Clean Tech such as solar, Tesla (automotive)
  • Animation Entertainment (Pixar, Nvidia & Lucas Films)
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment while in the Real Estate business

LN: Helping my clients realize their dreams in getting their first home or seeing my retired clients realize their greatest return on their investment for their retirement.

Q: Can you tell us about your involvement with the Sunny View’s Foundation?

LN: I have been chair of the Sunny View board for over 15 years, which is a non-profit senior retirement community in Cupertino. We have created an environment where our seniors have a renewed purpose to their lives and are able to continue to thrive in their later years & fulfill their legacy. We leverage tech products such as iN2L (very large computer wall tablet) and artificial intelligence tools such as Echo dots and Nest thermostats to assist them. With iN2L, our cognitive or dementia residents in Summer House can play the piano and entertain their neighbors or other residents can see their hometowns or attend their grandchildren’s weddings. Partnering with local high schools, those students can earn community service hours in writing the biographies of our residents as a gift for their families. Residents raise money for scholarships for the staff and together they work on community projects that benefit children in the hospital. The local Lutheran churches started it, so the spiritual element is there and we have a full time chaplain who brings wonderful programs and worship services for our residents as well.

Q: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why? 

LN: I would like to answer with 2 people. Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln. As a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln (my paternal grandmother’s grandmother’s cousin was Nancy Hanks, his real mother) I would love to interview him on how we can heal our nation by realizing we have more in common than have differences. I would love to meet Jesus to learn from him on how he changed us to serve others and be inspired by his message on gratitude and being in his presence.

Q: What’s your favorite movie? 

LN: Like most people, movies that inspire me or give a historical perspective (Titanic and Hidden Figures) or funny stories such as Mama Mia or The Great Outdoors.

Q: What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you? 

LN: My dad told me to be true to yourself as integrity is critical and then you'll be in a position to take care of others. By being a caring and honest person, you will attract the right people in your life. Make a difference and make your life count, as life is so precious.

Q: What do you like the most about living in the Bay Area? 

LN: As a 4th Bay Area generation,
  • It’s vibrant with great jobs, is inclusive & multi cultural with wineries, great restaurants and entertainment
  • Has the best weather & within 3 hours of snow for skiing or half hour to the beach
  • Is intellectually stimulating (near top Stanford (dad was an alum) and Cal (grandparents and uncle were alums)
  • Close to 3 airports for easy access to travel
  • Great sports teams as we’re 49ers, Warriors and Giants’ fans
  • San Francisco, which is one of the most beautiful and coveted cities in the world.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wesley Wheelers’ First CyberCycle Competition

By Dan Chang, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community

A few weeks before a national CyberCycle competition took place among senior communities, Wesley Palms Retirement Community had a chance to get acquainted with this stationary smart bike. Equipped with virtual reality screens, CyberCycle connects riders from all over the world and allows them to compete with each other.

The goal of the national competition was for a team to ride as many miles as possible during a week. Since many of our team members had only ridden the bike a couple of times before the competition began our goal was simple: the Wesley Wheelers were determined to stay out of last place! However, by the third day of the competition, we learned that we were in sixth place nationwide, out of a total of 85 teams. This generated a wave of enthusiasm and a desire to hang on to that position! By the fifth day of the competition we learned that we were only about 10 miles behind a team from Alaska that was in fifth place. That night we managed to pass the Alaskans to take over fifth place and were determined not to let them recapture the lead.

We needed to build up an insurmountable lead, about 20 miles, by midnight during the last
day of the competition. However, at dinner hour the day before, we learned that we were only a few miles behind the fourth place team in New Jersey. This ignited another wave of enthusiasm and adrenaline. That night and the next morning we rode a few extra miles allowing us to pass the New Jersey team by breakfast on Saturday morning. Knowing that the race would end for us that night, the team decided to keep the bike as “busy” as possible all day Saturday to try to stay in fourth place. The lead for fourth place changed during the day and we were passed by New Jersey during the lunch hour. Two of our grittier teammates, Barbara and Phyllis, determined that they were not going to let that happen again during our dinner hour. They kept the bike busy through dinner. Well, needless to say, we passed the New Jersey team when they stopped to have their dinner. We kept riding until 9 pm PDT (12 midnight EDT). They never caught up and by then, we had built a 40-mile lead over the Alaskans so we stopped to party!

We learned a lot about ourselves, teamwork and sportsmanship during the event. Especially from the first place team from Santa Barbara. It turned out that our top rider, Dan,
was in fourth place in the individual rider’s competition, and only a few miles ahead of two of the Santa Barbara riders during the last hours of the competition. He was also only a few miles behind the third place rider (also from Santa Barbara). So our strategy was to continue to ride intermittently in order to keep the third place competitor riding, thereby preventing the fifth and sixth place riders from catching up (since Santa Barbara only had one CyberCycle). Unbeknownst to Dan, the lead riders for the Santa Barbara team had stopped riding in order to allow as many of the entire team’s riders to achieve 10 miles in order to get their “badges” and “T-shirt” for the competition. Their lead riders sacrificed their potential third and fourth-place individual rider finishes and Dan wound up in third place even though any one of those three riders could have easily passed him. What a great lesson in teamwork and sportsmanship!

Learn more about CyberCycle from our sister community, Fredericka Manor HERE.

Friday, January 5, 2018

My New Year’s Un-Resolutions for 2018

Credit: Adobe Stock

Getting out of your own way and finding Zen
By Ken Druck for Next Avenue

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m changing things up a little this year and making a few New Year’s “un-resolutions.”

Perhaps it’s the campaign for irreverent and audacious aging I’ve been on since the publication of my new book. The oppositional-defiant 68-year-old kid in me is tired of making New Year’s resolutions. Having been hell-bent on self-improvement most of my life, maybe I’m doing this to free myself of the shoulds, coulds and ought to do’s.

Taking a break from making agreements I might not keep; pressuring myself to be better, smarter, thinner, healthier, richer and happier; giving myself a sabbatical from striving, stressing and/or straining to willfully plan or control the future or make deadlines… might be just what the doctor ordered.
2018: A Year to Learn Valuable Life Lessons

The new year, 2018, could be the perfect time for learning valuable life lessons.

The hidden benefits of taking a step back from my driven type-A personality and letting things evolve naturally could add immeasurably to the quality, length and enjoyment of my life. Not to mention my relationships. I ‘ve decided that my word for the new year is going to be “ease.”

And so, with all due respect to procrastination-ending promises, spirited goals, deeply held commitments and news-making fresh starts, I’m opting out of New Year’s resolutions and treating the first of the year as just another precious day.

My Un-Resolution for the Year Ahead

The sun will rise and fall in the absence of anything resembling a resolution. Instead, my un-resolution, to leave all well alone, resist having to resolve anything, and let go and relax will go into effect at midnight on Dec. 31.

This doesn’t mean I’m not open to positive change and self-improvement this coming year. Or that my contrarian inner child has taken over and I’m going to the dark side. Nor does it mean I’m opposed to making things as good as, if not better, than they’ve ever been. I’m actually counting on having one of my best years ever in 2018.
Becoming More ‘Zen Ken’

It just means that I’m going to lighten up, calm my heart, feel grateful for what I already have and become a little more “Zen Ken.”

By lightening up, I’m going to allow myself to move through the moments, hours, days, weeks and months of this new year allowing — rather than pressing — to get things done. Allowing my moods, motivations, energy, dreams, aspirations, habits and patterns to rise and fall with the sun will be a refreshing departure from my task-driven way of life.

How to do this will, of course, be a challenge — I imagine there will be lots of deep breaths, saying “no” and biting my tongue involved. But I’m ready. Taking time off from exerting effort and forcing change will open new doors of discovery. And I’m excited.

Driving Some Family Members Crazy

Resolving not to lose weight, work less, get healthier, save the world, make more money, eat better, learn to play the guitar, grow my business — or even be a more loving father, fiancĂ©, son, brother and uncle is already driving a few of my family members crazy. “How could you be so negative?” one of my positive-think friends asked.

Driven by our ardent willfulness, pressure, adrenaline and “never enough” messages, we fail to allow that which is already unfolding in us, and in the world, to emerge. This year, I’m going to get out of my own way, step aside and trust that the better version of me will awaken if, when and how it’s ready to do so.

I’m ready to see what good things can bubble up without champagne-induced New Year’s Resolutions — and run with them.

Signing off gratefully and wishing you an especially joyous new year,

Zen Ken

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2018. All rights reserved.