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There's So Much More To Do The SeniorScape®



The other day a business associate asked how long I’ve been in my profession. After a few moments of pondering, I was astounded by my response. I received my Master of Science Degree in 1974.

Oh my goodness!!!! I’m having my 50th year anniversary.

 

As our conversation continued, as I often do, I passionately described my big vision film project to address the important issue of improving the value we place on older adults which ultimately affects the care and treatment they receive. My associate didn’t miss a beat when he poignantly said, “50 years for a speech pathologist to find her voice.”  We both laughed, but this gave way to several thoughts.

 

People have asked me when are you going to retire? That always seemed like a peculiar question to me. My usual response is, “retire from what?” The expectation is that I’m finished with my work years. Thus, it’s time for me to sit down, rest, relax, retire…. there is not much more for me to do or expect from my life. It dawned on me that conversely this latest passionate pursuit seems like I’m at the beginning.

 

Beyond the film project, I proceeded to explain how society’s ageist attitudes are often internalized by adults, ultimately sabotaging their own feelings of self-worth as they continue to age.

 

A recent experience in my gym with a man age 58,  punctuated this point. He is hearing impaired and was offered technology that would afford him the ability to hear almost normally. After describing it he stated, “what’s the point, I’m already 58. How much more life do I have left.”? He’s an avid gym goer who appears in great shape, expressing the importance of staying in the best shape possible as long as possible. Therefore, his thinking seemed counterintuitive to me.

 

I experienced another conversation which seemed to be a sign of internalized ageism. This from a therapist at a skilled nursing facility rehabilitation department. At age 50, she was already identifying herself as old. She described her greatest activity as getting up from the sofa to get a beer. I couldn’t help but wonder what her  thinking was towards the greatest number of people between the ages of 60-90 with whom she is offering therapy services.

 

As March is Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight the achievements, of women in their later years as an example of the possibilities at any age. However, one of the essential ingredients is mindset. What is your mindset about your own age or about older adults, and especially the oldest amongst them?

 

At first glance, the following achievements by adults in their later years of their life would be thought of as extraordinary. Indeed, not everyone is physically, mentally, or financially able to continue these same areas of pursuit. It’s about pursuing your individual passions or interests…if you never try, you’ll never know.

Keeping the mind and body active and healthy to the maximum degree possible is an important ingredient to continuing to live a happy, fulfilling, and purposeful life. This goes a long way in dispelling any negative attitudes from others and dispelling any negative attitudes you hold about your own age. This, no matter where you are living.

 

I hope you’ll be as inspired by these stories as I am.

 

Twila Boston, Age 98

Twila Boston graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in American studies at the age

of 98. Her family differed from Anne Martindell, age 87, discussed below, in that getting an education was expected in her family. Thus, at the age of 98, she returned to school to complete her degree. She holds the prestigious honor of being the

oldest person to graduate from Utah State University.

 

Mary Fasano, Age 89

In 1997 at the age of 89, Mary Fasano was the oldest person to graduate from Harvard University.

Mary met her husband at a sewing factory in Warren, Rhode Island. The couple moved to Braintree Massachusetts, where they added four children to the one child they already had. They ultimately sold Fasano’s Diner, which they had started 12 years prior. The Fasanos went on to launch a catering business. After retirement, Mary Fasano decided to go back to school. She first enrolled in Braintree High School. She earned her high school diploma in a matter of two years, at the age of 71.

 

In 1979, Mary enrolled in Harvard’s Extension School. Over a period of 14 years, she studied a variety of subjects, including art, Shakespeare, and Italian, among others. She was awarded the prestigious Santo Joseph Aurelio Prize for receiving an associate degree from the Extension School and exhibiting extraordinary academic achievement and character for those persons over the age of 50 who receive their undergraduate degree.


Julia Hawkins.

A retired schoolteacher an avid Bonsai tree gardener. She began her journey into competitive athletics at age 75. After winning bronze and gold medals as a cyclist at the Senior Olympic games, her next athletic endeavor as a runner began at age 100.  She continued her competitive pursuits and at age 101 in the Senior Olympic games and established the record in the 100-yard dash for a runner at age 101. She was quoted as stating: “You won’t be perfect at 101, but nothing stops me.”

 

Anne Martindell, Age 87

After graduating from Smith College at the age of 87, Anne Martindell was honored by the New Jersey

Legislature in June 2002. She is the only graduate from Smith College to have simultaneously received under-

graduate and honorary degrees.

 

Her memoir, Never Too Late, chronicles the course of her studies. She entered her first year at Smith College as a member of the class of 1936 but was forced to drop out a year later because her father didn’t approve of women becoming educated. She pursued a career in politics, serving as a New Jersey state senator, the director of the office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa. After raising her family of four children, she reentered Smith College in 1999 at the age of 84 and received her degree in American Studies. She entered Smith College as a prestigious Ada Comstock Scholar.

 

Nola Ochs, Age 98

Nola Ochs and her granddaughter both graduated from Fort Hays State University in the same year, 2007. Nola, graduating with a 3.7 grade point average, was 95 at the time. She graduated with a degree in general studies with an emphasis in history before going on to earn her master’s degree at the age of 98.

 

Anna May Robertson

Do you recognize the name Anna Mary Robertson? If your answer is no, you may recognize her name as the famed artist: Grandma Moses. She began painting at age 75 and continued until the age of 101. Her paintings are proudly displayed at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Museum. A United States postage stamp is the image of one of her paintings which is on full display in the White House.

 

Donzella Washington, Age 80

Donzella Washington, at the age of 80, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in social work from Alabama A&M University in December 2019. Her overall GPA was 3.4; however, she achieved a perfect 4.0 in her last semester.

 

Willadene Zedan, Age 85

Willadene Zedan didn’t continue her education after graduating from high school. She returned to the University of Wisconsin in Marian, after her husband died in 1998. She graduated in May 2013.

Upon returning to school, she realized that she loved the atmosphere of the college campus. She began slowly, taking four classes a semester. Her strong spiritual faith led her to a degree in theology. She’s assumed a new career as a doctor’s assistant.

 

What more is there for you to do? What are your passions, and unfulfilled pursuits? The timing to consider these questions couldn’t be more poignant than during Women’s History Month.

 

March 8th is International Women Day. I am proud to be participating in an event to commemorate the day and discuss my ideas about ageism and our responsibility to age as healthfully and gracefully as we possibly can. Exalt in reaching our eldest years and share our wisdom. Tune in Friday, March 8th 1:30 CET.




 

To learn more about the ingredients for your Longevity Wellness Action Plan, email:


or set up a time for a free consultation on my calendar at:

 

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