Monday February 16, 2015

Aging by the Book

Amsterdam Central Library

Amsterdam Central Library (Alain Cossette)

Baby boomers are identified with youth culture. So who do they think they are when they get old? The answer may be in their stories, the ones they tell and the ones they share. Ottawa librarian Wendy Robbins looks at the growing popularity of a narrative approach to aging, even for individuals with dementia.

Participants in the program:

Keith Oatley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Human Development & Applied Psychology, University of Toronto.

William Randall
, Professor in Gerontology, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative.

Ellen B. Ryan, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Department of Health, Aging, & Society.

Reading Circle guests:
Facilitator: Trudy Medcalf, PhD, educator and researcher in gerontology.
Participants:  Artemis, Yash, and Gaetane

Robert Bockstael narrated the readings.

On Seeing Red

Wash it separately.
They called me carrots...
I always wished
my hair was a different colour.
Kids made fun of us...about 1914 it was...
used to make me
all knuckles and teeth.
Made me see red!
I gave her the hardest kiss she ever had.
The colouring does everything.
Makes you smile a smile,
makes you feel good.
Red roses remind me
of someone I love.
Flowers remind me of death and sickness.
When you feel it, you feel it,
when someone you love passes away.
My husband
always gave me
red roses at Christmas.
I think
we did everything
Always had flowers in the house.
I like
every red I see.

 - Group poem facilitated in Long-Term Care (participants with dementia). From You Grow Out of Winter: Poetry in Long-Term Care, edited by Chris Hagens, Andrea Cosentino, and Ellen B. Ryan (2006) McMaster Centre for Gerontological Studies.

Reading Circle Readings used in the program:

How it all Began, by Penelope Lively, published by Penguin, 2012
Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, by Carl Jung, published by Vintage, 1961.

"Thanks, Robert Frost" by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems, published by The Backwaters Press, 2006.

"On Seeing Red," by a group of patients in long-term care, from Y ou Grow Out of Winter:  Poetry in Long-Term Care. Edited by Chris Hagens, Andrea Cosentino, and Ellen B. Ryan (2006). For more information contact McMaster Centre for Gerontological Studies.

Reading List:

The Stories We Are: An Essay on Self-Creation
(Second Edition) by William Randall, published by University of Toronto Press, 2014

Storying Later Life: Issues, Investigations, and Interventions in Narrative Gerontology edited by Gary Kenyon, Ernst Bohlmeijer, and William Randall, published by Oxford University Press, 2010.

Read for your Life: Literature as a Life Support System, by Joseph Gold, published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2001.

Related Websites:

Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, home base for William Randall.

Writing Down Our Years, Ellen Ryan's website dedicated to "Aging with Spirit."

On Fiction: an online magazine on the psychology of fiction, with contributions from Keith Oatley

Online Elder Circles: A Guide to their Creation and Benefits: Trudy Medcalf's recent research project for the Sheridan Elder Research Centre.