Dear Readers, we got lucky once again. My niece and nephew are retired and one of the many things that they are enjoying are the many classes of interest for the over-60 crowd.

They recently sent me information about the latest class that they had attended and thought it might be of interest to Our Corner. The title of the talk by Dr. Bill Thomas, guest speaker, was “The Four Types of Ageism: An Ageist Society Cannot Be an Age Friendly One.”

I had mentioned, previously, that a long-time dream of mine was to have the opportunity to continue learning for as long as possible, as I think it helps keep us sharp and adds much to our lives.

Niece Donna very kindly sent me a video of the talk and I’ll do my best to get it down on paper. Thanks so much to Donna and David for helping with today’s column.

But first, let’s see what the catalog had to say about Thomas’s upcoming talk: “A recent survey of people over 60 found that nearly 80 percent of respondents reported experiencing ageism. Typical examples included episodes in which others had assumed the presence of memory or physical impairments simply because of a person’s age. Thirty-one percent reported being ignored or not taken seriously because of their age. The survey’s author, Duke University’s Erdman Palmore, found that the most frequent type of ageism — reported by 58 percent of respondents — was being told a joke that pokes fun at older people. Does this matter? Yes, it does.’”

(This certainly came home to me on a recent occasion. I’m thrilled to be an elder and am enjoying it immensely, but every now and then I seem to be judged, not by anything other than my age, and I find it very offensive.)

“Ageism compromises the health and well being of older adults. Ageism strips our communities of multigenerational engagement and reciprocity. Ageism diminishes the ability of older people to experience the richness and meaning of life after adulthood – elderhood. Dr. Bill Thomas will take us on a journey where we learn about the different types of ageism and explore how to develop communities that are free to rebalance, redesign and rediscover community living that embraces the exquisite arc of life that stretches from birth to adulthood and beyond to elderhood.”

Well, this introduction has certainly sparked my interest, how about you?

Thomas has a wonderful speaking style, a good mix of seriousness and almost a comedic routine.

He began with the statement of what the older generation has to offer, what they are good at. They are good at grandparenting, sharing stories of the past, how they lived, and worked, raised families, fought in World War II, many things to share.

He likes the idea of our being a “Tribe” and talked about the different kinds of ageism. In our late 20s we start aging. Our bodies change about 1 percent every year.

He equates energy to having a velvet bag on the bedside table with gold coins in it. When you are young, you have many coins and you take the amount of coins that you will need for energy for that day. As you age, you have fewer and fewer coins, as you need less energy.

Thomas gives this geriatric hint to help ensure a greater older age:

1. Stand tall, take a deep breath in, hold and exhale.

2. For good posture, stand so that ears are directly over shoulders, with hands facing in toward hips.

3. Again, take a deep breath, hold it and exhale. Thomas advocates working hard on our posture, plus we will have less chance of falling.

He also offered four things that will help us live better. He calls it MESH:

#1 Move. You have the strength you need. It depends on how you move. The more you move the more strength you will have. So keep moving.

#2 Eat. Food is your friend, your source of strength. Eat a variety, not too much — mostly plants. Eat with others. Sharing good food with good friends is very good for us.

#3 Sleep. Try sleeping through the night, but if you do awaken, try to enjoy the sounds, feel gratitude and thanks and count your blessings, each one.

#4 Healing. If you have lost a loved one, you cannot go back. You must go forward finding a new you, a new way of being.

If you should run across someone who makes an ageist comment, ask, in a kind manner, what do you mean? Why do you believe that? Please explain.

Thomas is working with others on a plan for more integration of different ages living together, in mutual respect, learning from and teaching one another. We wish them much success, as this sounds wonderful.

He focuses on how to be a happy elder: Be positive, spiritual, be true to yourself, be who you are, keep mind active, have good relationships, have the courage to try new things.

“You are: good, strong valuable here for a reason, blessed the glue that holds people together.”

Thomas closes with this: “Our job as elders is to be the bridge connecting the past, present and the future.”

In closing, I believe Thomas hits many nails on the head in this video. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear.

Please think about meeting some new folks. My heart tells me that dear friends are so worth their weight in gold. Be kind to everyone, be the kind of friend you look for in others.

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