Why write this blog?
1. To share decades of experience as a professional in the field of aging.
2. To start a conversation about how WE want to age and what needs to be different.
The largest group in history is turning 65 and this seems a good time for a blog that combines information for serving this group and also considers aging styles for individuals who find themselves amidst the “Cult of Youth” in America.
Aging has been front and center for me as a professional for 40 years starting with my fieldwork as a Graduate student in a Hospital-based Senior Day Health Center. There, I fell in love with the people I met and their stories and views about life. In the early eighties we tried to imagine the Coming of the Baby-boomers and began to lay the groundwork for programs to serve the present and future seniors. In 1979 I founded Artworks, a program for frail elders, that involved a whole person approach, the arts and a great deal of creativity. It was pioneering work that required a leap of faith. We, the staff, were mostly artists of one stripe or another and together we imagined making things different for our clients (see Inspiration).
At that point I learned I can turn vision into reality. Fate contrived to place me squarely in the field of aging ever since. Luck has arranged for me to still be here to talk about it.
In the mid eighties I also taught art, and sense of place classes to students aged 55+ for 12 years. In my lifelong learning classes I heard how many had compliantly locked away their desire for creative self-expression in childhood, got on with living up to expectations and now, after doing their duty, felt the urge to connect with that important hidden self. I delightedly watched them blossom into painters, writers, dancers, poets and form lasting bonds because of their discoveries.
For the past 30 years, as C.O.O. of a non-profit organization called EngAGE combined with my previous work, I have been changing the way aging is perceived and been responsible for thousands of people “doing” aging differently from before. Both Artworks and EngAGE have received much recognition for our work. I, with surprise and gratitude, was acknowledged by the California Arts Council with a Director’s Award in 2002 for dedication to the Arts in our state.
This blog then invites you to join the conversation about aging today, either as a professional and/or as an individual who wants to continue to experience rich meaning as part of the aging process for the decades to come.
signed Maureen Kellen-Taylor, Ph.D.