Life and Death Matter

Yosemite Sunset

This week I am contemplating several ideas about how we relate to living and dying. Especially as to how this is played out in the direction our healthcare model has been evolving. Underlying this evolution is the drifting away from the original purpose of medical care – the alleviation of suffering and the duty to cause no harm. Somehow we have moved to an orientation that sets death against life, with the ultimate purpose of avoiding death at all costs, regardless of how this affects quality of life, creating more suffering and harm. read more

Aging in the New Millennium

Whistler View
With the size of the older population in the US growing larger and larger as the “boomers” reach 65 and up, we are seeing an opportunity to create a surge in holistic wellness promotion. There are many obstacles to realizing this goal. For one, the medical model that is most accepted in the US does not foster holism very well. The drive to treat disease through pharmaceutical intervention, and when that is not effective, through surgical or other invasive interventions, is a direction that we all should be trying to avoid with all our efforts. Not to say that drugs and surgery do not have their place in the medical intervention model. These interventions are most successful in the acute response to urgent trauma care, like a gunshot wound or the injuries sustained in an accident. When it comes to treating chronic conditions that are mostly related to lifestyle and environmental factors, these interventions are basically “closing the barn after the horse has gotten out”. read more

Grace in Aging

100 Birthday

This picture was taken at the 100th birthday party of my godmother. She lived to be 102 years old. Throughout her life she was a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was a gardener, potter, and artist. She practiced Tai Chi. She had a sense of humor and was generous. She shared her joy in life with everyone who knew her. She leaves a legacy of beauty and grace.

Living over a hundred years is no small feat. It is amazing and it is especially profound when a person can continue to share wisdom, humor, wit, and insight. There are some who reach such an age with minimal medical problems and require less care than others. I suppose we can compare quality of life and suggest that the less medical conditions and less care required could reflect a higher quality of life in these later years. There are probably hundreds of ways to measure quality of life. I think, as a picture paints a thousand words, the photo in this week’s post captures a measure of quality of life that cannot be denied. read more

Senior Spirituality and Holistic Wellness – Part Three

Spirit Stump (1024x768)

In Part Three, the final installment in my series on senior spirituality and wellness, I will discuss what I learned about how these seniors faced mortality from a spiritual wellness perspective.

Ages of these seniors ranged from 67 to 90 with a mean age of 80.25 and a median age of 83.5. In other words, the majority of the participants were over 83 years old. These were active members of their senior community. They also had a variety of health conditions that required some kind of regular intervention. For a couple, the conditions had the potential to be life threatening. Sadly, one of the participants was deceased within a year of completing the interview for the study. read more

Senior Spirituality and Holistic Wellness – Part Two

El Capitan

As I mention in Part One of this series, spiritual seniors experience a relationship with a higher power or higher plane, and this relationship is a large aspect of wellness for them. This week I want to discuss the nature of this relationship as described by the seniors in my study. The most important characteristic of this relationship is that it is interactive. This interactivity has strong similarities with certain differences for various individuals.

For the religious members of the study, the interaction with spirit was described in the context of prayer and meditation. For the members who were not affiliated with any religion, the interaction was also described in the context of prayer and meditation, though it was not a prayer to God or Jesus, it was more to a Universal Higher Being. I did not try to distinguish or define the meaning of the higher being, I simply accepted each individual’s meaning in context. read more