This past year has been a challenging one for my husband’s family, especially Richard’s mother. His Dad, who was in hospital in St. Andrews, Scotland, for nearly six months, has now moved into a nursing home. Richard’s mother and siblings visit him several times a week. Unfortunately Richard cannot get back to Scotland that often, but keeps in regular touch with his mother. This coming Sunday will be their 64th wedding anniversary, but it is doubtful that Grandad will remember, such is his cognitive impairment. Still, I am sure they will share a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.
As anyone who lives with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s will tell you, this can be one of the toughest illnesses, both for the person suffering and for their family and close friends. This is why I was intrigued by an article my daughter Alexandra sent me while she was attending a wedding out in B.C. last week. British Columbia has just established the first ever Dementia Village so that those who are afflicted by severe memory loss can live in a normal environment with complete safety.
Check it out here! Would love to hear what you think!
As I mentioned in my last post, this was the theme of an excellent workshop/retreat I attended last month at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario.
“Resiliency in aging is different from when you were young,” workshop leader Teresa Bryant told us. Bryant is a psycho-therapist and former Director of Supportive Care at St. Joseph’s Hospice in London, Ontario. As she noted, “When you break your leg when you are young, you know it will heal completely. When you break your leg when you are older, you will probably walk differently and have certain ongoing limitations.”
She also noted that resiliency in aging is less about cure or achieving complete healing and “more about adapting to changes” in one’s life. The second half of life is all about negotiating losses and changes in our relationships, finances, and health. Our success in negotiating these changes, to a large degree, comes from our attitudes — in other words, from our inner self. Quoting author and spiritual director Kathleen Dowling Singh, Bryant said courage in our later years is also different from the brash determination of youth. “As with any other muscle, it starts with doing small things” and taking small steps. It often begins by paying closer attention to the people around us and being intentional about spending time in prayer and meditation. Check out the July/August 2019 issue of Aging Well* for more on this important topic and to subscribe to this excellent newsletter.
*Aging Well — Celebrating the Young at
Heart, is an e-magazine published by
Morcom Media Group, with news, features,
and commentary for people as they
age. Published 10 times a year: January/
February, March, April, May, June, July/
August, September, October, November
Publisher/Editor: Pat Moauro
Associate Editor: Glenn Cutforth
The last time I wrote, I mentioned that in June I had the opportunity to take part in a very interesting workshop/retreat on resiliency and aging at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. One workshop I found to be unique related to how we view art. Both Richard and I love to visit art museums when we travel, so this workshop intrigued me..
Entitled “Gazing in Art & The Art of Gazing”, it was led by former Regis College professor Maureen McDonnell, who invited us into a different way of “seeing”. This is something that Jesus was always inviting his followers to do — to see things differently. In fact, most great spiritual leaders have called their disciples into a deeper way of seeing life.
McDonnell introduced us to the spiritual practice known as “Visio Devina”, a Latin term which means “Holy or Divine Looking”. Dating back to the thirteenth-century nun, Clare of Assisi, the Visio Devina includes four steps: gazing in silence, consideration, contemplation, and imitation or transformation. It takes time. It requires quiet and a clear focus. It involves meditation. It is not something to be rushed. Those who practise Visio Devina often come away with a deeper appreciation for the painting or sculpture they are looking at, a new lens on the subject matter, and even a sense of spiritual awakening.
Why not find some quiet time and give Clare of Assisi’s Visio Devina a try?