Aging with Dignity and Independence: Uncovering and Leveraging Local Wisdom

Posted on March 22, 2012 by Suzanne Gregory

In a recent Sarasota Herald-Tribune article, Barbara Peters-Smith interviewed Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist, about his recent book, “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.”  He mentioned that his research over the years focused on problems, and in this study, he tried to look at older people as resources.

Dr. Pillemer recognized that older Americans’ reflections of lessons learned from their life experiences were a source of wisdom that could pass by too easily untapped.  In an online video, one research interviewer described it as somewhat “prophetic” that the life experiences shared by older adults in some ways mirror the economic issues facing many young adults today and the resulting wisdom is invaluable.

It struck me that while our research intent was different, we uncovered local wisdom in the Aging with Dignity & Independence Initiative that transcends the experience of aging.  In the course of asking about the challenges and supports to one’s dignity and independence, we gathered the following comments and strategies:

“Forgiveness and a thick skin…”

“I have maintained my self-worth by concentrating on my goals without getting bogged down by the obstacles that we all face all during a life time.”

“Treat others like you wish to be treated.”

“I have always believed in prevention...both in wellness and financial planning.”

“Volunteer if you can, if you’re able to….And keep in touch with friends… Get up in the morning and don’t wallow in the doldrums.  If you don’t feel happy, get up, get out, and do something.”

On March 16, we hosted the first of the community sessions to share the local research and facilitate discussion about ways each of us might chose to be a part of the community solutions inspired by this research report.

These sessions are a chance to make our community better at preserving the dignity and independence of older adults, and as a natural consequence, improve quality of life for all ages.  I hope you will join us.

Visit a previous blog post for details. To register call SCOPE at 941.365.8751 or email  with “RSVP – ADI Sessions” in the subject line.

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