Creating a Global Community that Cares for and Includes Elders

March 6, 2017
Katia Petersen

I grew up in a culture where parents spend their lives taking care of their children and in return adult children are expected to take care of their parents through their later years. Living on a small island meant families stayed close to each other, which allowed for a greater support system to exist. My grandparents and great grandparents were part of my daily life and learning experiences, so in my worldview they were to be regarded with the highest respect, love and care at all times.

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.Betty Friedan

Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.Ausonius

Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.Bo Bennett

Derived from traditional values and historical experiences of aging, numerous cultural variants of elderhood affect how older generations are treated around the world. However, in this modern age of globalization and urbanization concepts are evolving and adapting to social change, transcending cultural tropes and national borders. Adult children live or work farther away from their parents. The upcoming generations become more and more globalized, and caring for one’s elders becomes much more difficult, and less of a priority.

Despite the challenges and demands of modern society, we can elevate elders and aging by being conscious of our actions and examining the values we hold, regardless of where we live. IONS’ Conscious Aging program is one way to transform our perspective on aging. It revives and reminds us of the wisdom, insight, and profound meaning that lives in elderhood, and can be shared with the larger community to the benefit of all.

How do we, individually and as a society, create a support system for elders, and a community in which they can feel a sense of belonging, compassion and value for who they are at this point in their journey?

Delve deeper into social conceptions and perspectives on aging — listen to Katia’s interview with the Transforming Aging Summit on March 7 to learn specific tools and practices we can use to elevate and honor our elders during their aging process.

Katia Petersen, PhD, Director of Education, is an author and recognized training expert in school improvement strategies, and integration of social-emotional and academic learning. Her work includes leadership and staff coaching, student and teacher support, as well as parent engagement and community involvement.

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