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AGING 100 Archives

February 15, 2009 Redesign -- Please Bookmark!

Attention Readers! We are launching a new design for the blog that will be hosted directly at the URL Please navigate to and reset your bookmarks and sign up for our new RSS Feed. In the coming days we will set up an automatic redirect to the new hosting site. See you there!

Web Master

Posted by Kavan Peterson on February 15, 2009 8:00 PM |Permalink |Comments (0)

November 17, 2008

AGING 100 Students

Click on the AGING 100 button on the left to comment in the AGING 100 open thread discussion.

Posted by Kavan Peterson on November 17, 2008 3:09 PM |Permalink |Comments (0)

November 1, 2008

Aging 100 Students Click Below


Posted by Kavan Peterson on November 1, 2008 7:03 AM |Permalink |Comments (14)

October 28, 2008

Baby Boomers Beware

Attention Baby Boomers! Your children are growing up, and they want their future back:

The movement begins here.

Hat-tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Posted by Kavan Peterson on October 28, 2008 9:57 PM |Permalink |Comments (5)

October 1, 2008

You say you want a revolution?

Finally, here's a video preview Bill and I put together last week for a look inside Aging 100:

Posted by Kavan Peterson on October 1, 2008 5:19 PM |Permalink |Comments (0)

September 18, 2008

Changing Choices

Aging once offered few options to older adults choosing living arrangements. We've come a long way from the stark and difficult choice between home and impersonal institutional settings.

The expression aging in place has long been a rallying cry promoting independence among older adults. Studies show that 85% of elders aged 65 and older prefer to stay in their homes as they age. However, many people mistakenly believe institutional care to be their only residential alternative. Making a choice between toughing it out in their own homes or shuffling down a drab hallway to face fruit cups and mystery meat is an easy one.

Yet growing old in one's home may not be the safest, most socially conducive, or cost-effective housing choice. An increasing number of developers and gerontologists recognize aging as part of a community as a compelling new way to help older adults remain independent and emotionally fulfilled.

"After World War II, the idea of aging in place became everything that being put into a nursing home was not," says William Thomas, MD, a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Erickson School and the founder of The Eden Alternative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to deinstitutionalizing nursing homes. "We believed that it was the miracle solution to healthy aging, but living alone with no family nearby can be a really difficult thing to do even though conventional wisdom says it's what's best."

And More Chrunchy Goodness...

While communal housing for older adults is relatively new, intergenerational communities have been around since 1991, with about 5,000 people living in close to 85 cohousing units across the country. These neighborhoods are generally made up of about 40 households per community with older cohousing neighborhoods running a bit smaller.

Janice Blanchard, former director of the Denver Office on Aging, believes that cohousing communities resonate for many baby boomers, given that many left their parental homes to live together, sometimes with a lover, often with friends, delaying marriage and childbearing for years.

"Living in community is not a radical idea. In fact, it is our natural state," Blanchard says. "Homo sapiens, like our ancestors before us, are a tribal, communal animal; it is unnatural as a species for humans to live alone."

Laura Beck lives in EcoVillage at Ithaca, a cohousing community located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. As a program director for Eden at Home, part of William Thomas' nonprofit, Beck delivers educational seminars to improve quality of life for care partner teams. She has also written extensively on cohousing and aging in community.

"Cohousing is a model where people come together intentionally and go through a shared-intention living process. It's not a commune; people own their own homes," Beck says. "There is shared infrastructure including a common house within each neighborhood. Everybody owns a piece of it; it is an extension of our homes."

Beck describes a pedestrian environment in which cars are kept away from the center of the neighborhood that is "very intergenerational," with ages ranging from newborns to people in their mid-80s. Decisions that involve the shared infrastructure are made by consensus. "This is a great opportunity to see how the intergenerational dynamic plays out, watching children create relationships with elders that are not their own grandparents," she says. "They can learn from each other, and it happens organically every day."

Beck writes about the strong sense of ownership that residents develop through community building. Unlike developer-driven projects or NORCs, cohousing residents design a locality that reflects their needs. The process takes about two and a half to three years to complete and involves building relationships with neighbors long before the physical land exists. Developers may guide the planning process but the community's mission and character, according to Beck, are in the hands of the residents.

Excerpted from...

Changing Choices — Aging in Place in the 21st Century
By Athan G. Bezaitis, MA
Aging Well
Vol. 1 No. 3 P. 30

Posted by Dr. Bill Thomas on September 18, 2008 6:08 AM |Permalink |Comments (3)

September 16, 2008

The World is Changing


In Bykovsky, a village of 457 on Russia's northeast coast, the shoreline is collapsing, creeping closer and closer to houses and tanks of heating oil, at a rate of 15 to 18 feet a year. Eventually, homes will be lost, and maybe all of Bykovsky, too, under ever-longer periods of assault by open water. "It is eating up the land," said Innokenty Koryakin, a member of the Evenk tribe and the captain of a fishing boat. "You cannot do anything about it."

To the east, Fyodor V. Sellyakhov scours a barren island with 16 hired men. Mammoths lived here tens of thousands of years ago, and their carcasses eventually sank deep into sediment that is now offering up a trove of tusks and bones nearly as valuable as elephant ivory.

Mr. Sellyakhov, a native Yakut, hauls the fossils to a warehouse here and sells them for $25 to $50 a pound. This summer he collected two tons, making him a wealthy man, for Tiksi. "The sea washes down the coast every year," he said. "It is practically all ice - permafrost - and it is thawing."

More Here

The thing is that we, like the woolly mammoths of old may not like the direction these changes are taking.

Posted by Dr. Bill Thomas on September 16, 2008 6:56 AM |Permalink |Comments (1)

September 8, 2008

Stress and Memory Loss – an explosive cocktail

I attended the Montréal Ageing and Design conference over the past three days and I would like to share with you some things I have learned with great pleasure.

Montréal is a great city, my friends and I took our time to eat good food and drink wine, nothing seems rushed here. Laid back, friendly, bilingual Canadians. Oh yes, before I forget, from the conference, one of the most impressive lectures:

"Stress and ageing – an explosive cocktail." A lively and charming presentation by stress researcher Sonia Lupien, Ph.D., from Montréal*. As the "middle generation,“ we think we are stressed, but in fact children and our Elders are more stressed. Stress, not ageing, has a devastating effect on our brain.

What causes stress?

Four additive factors lead to stress, such as novelty, unpredictability, threat to one’s ego and the sense of low contol (acronym NUTS).

All four factors are continuously present in the life of Elders in an institution. Due to this environment they suffer from depression and memory loss, both reversible if we encourage social support through friends, family and staff, through supporting active grandparenting, laughing, physical exercise, singing, praying, listening to music, hugging, kissing and just being.

You can measure all this by taking saliva samples, testing for cortisol, a stress hormone. Suddenly the "touchy-feely soft facts“ of companionship, reciprocity and spontaneity as promoted by the Eden Alternative appear to have a "hard“ scientific backing.

-- Christa Monkhouse (out for some more wine again)

*Lupien S.J., Fiocco, A*., Wan, N., Maheu, F*., Lord, C*., Schramek, T*., Tu, M.T*. (2005). Stress Hormones and Human Memory Function across the Lifespan. Psychoneurondocrinology, 30:225-242

Posted by Kavan Peterson on September 8, 2008 9:27 AM |Permalink |Comments (0)

September 3, 2008

'Superstar' on aging

[Editor's Post]

Physician and elderly care pioneer launches experimental course at UMBC

Readers paying close attention will remember Bill's twitter a couple weeks ago about having dinner with Tanika White from the Baltimore Sun. Looks like they had a nice chat:

When it comes to aging issues, he has been called a visionary, a culture-changer and a prophet. And last week, he became simply Professor Thomas.

On Thursday, Thomas began teaching "Aging 100: You Say You Want a Revolution," for freshmen at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Erickson School on Aging, Management and Policy.

The class, which he helped develop, is experimental. Only about 15 to 20 students will attend the inaugural course. But UMBC administrators think that the eventual reach of the class will be far greater.

"Among experts on aging, Bill Thomas is a superstar," said UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III. "[He] is one of the most thought-provoking scholars in this field. ... And he is serving as a kind of magnet in attracting people to the Erickson School and to the Baltimore area."

Read the full story here.

-- Kavan

Posted by Kavan Peterson on September 3, 2008 2:03 PM |Permalink |Comments (0)

August 31, 2008

Changing Aging Updates

[Editor's Note]

Hi Folks -- Another summer is winding down and although peaches will be in season well into September, today feels like a fall day. It was cool and drizzly this morning and campus is once again full of student life.

I want to say welcome to UMBC students from Dr. Thomas' exciting new undergraduate course "You Say You Want a Revolution: How Boomers are Revolutionizing Aging." Bill and his colleague Judah Ronch will be revolutionizing undergraduate education with this groundbreaking course. They're throwing the pointy-headed lecturer model out the window and experimenting with a live video-mashup TV-style interactive classroom. More on that below.

But first, Bill gets back from Italy tomorrow and hopefully will have some great picts and stories to share from his travels. I also want to briefly share a couple new features readers can look forward to this fall.

You may have noticed the new box on top of the right hand column that reads "What Am I Doing?" That's called a Twitter feed. What, you may ask, the heck is a Twitter? Simply put, it's a way for friends to share "what they're doing" online anywhere, anytime, through a quick cell phone text message. Here's a quick explainer:

Bill spends a lot of time on the road meeting cool people and visiting cool places and with Twitter we'll be able to hear more about it.

Back to the video mashup course. Starting next week, Bill's students will be visiting the blog as part of their classwork. We'll be launching a new section of to feature their course and I invite all readers to follow along. We may even webcast some of the courses live to give everyone a sneak peak.

Until then have a great Labor Day and if you're in Maryland find some peaches, they're amazing this year!

-- Kavan Peterson

Posted by Kavan Peterson on August 31, 2008 9:49 AM |Permalink |Comments (0)

©2007 Erickson School