As we move through our elder years, how can we continue to evolve with dignity and grace? How can we remain safe, assured that “someone has my back?” How can we help our loved ones and fellow sangha members do the same?
These and related questions arose in response to the Village Zendo Book Group’s discussion last year of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, which addresses America’s moral and medical failures regarding the elderly. In response, the Village Zendo is offering a two-part online workshop this Fall entitled “The Elder Years: Grit, Growth, Grace”. All are welcome to attend to consider what might lie ahead for ourselves and those we love as we navigate growing old in America. Reading lists and helpful resources will be provided and also posted on our website.
We hope this series leads to further dialogue about how we can strengthen our sangha and receive support while supporting others. Please join us!
For questions or further information contact email@example.com.
Laying the Foundation: Planning for Safety, Security and Support
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Presented by David Jimon Kunin, Diana JiFu Liakis, Marjorie ChoGaku McCoy
In Tricycle’s Winter 2022 edition, longtime Buddhist practitioner and author Douglas Penick wrote “If you are reading this, your chances of ending up in a nursing home are just short of 50/50. That is to say, 4 out of 10 of Tricycle’s readers are likely to end their lives in institutional care…. [P]eople have to make the most difficult decisions, plans concerning the last years of their lives, at a time they are least capable of doing so. Nonetheless, we will age, and something will happen to us…. As Buddhist practitioners, we will frequently have heard that we should practice to prepare for death. Now it will be clear that, as Buddhaghosa indicates, the path that will prepare us for death is old age itself.” (Penick, The Magic & Mystery of Aging)
Our second workshop on the challenges and gifts of aging will offer practical information and resources for planning legally, medically, socially and situationally for our elderhood and death. The workshop will include formal presentations, as well as opportunities for participant questions and confidential intimate expression. (Specific medical, financial and legal advice will not be provided).
To prepare for the workshop, registrants and presenters alike are encouraged to reflect on “homework” questions, which are found here.
The workshop’s updated reading and resource list is found here.
We recommend attendees have the reading and resource list, as well as pen and paper, available to you during the workshop.
Laying the Foundation: Recommended Reading
Callahan, The Troubled Dream of Life
Ehrenreich, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
Gawande, Being Mortal
Nuland, How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter
Brody, Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer
Callanan and Kelley, Final Gifts
Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There’s No Tomorrow
Willis, Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life (written by a former student of VZ’s Foundations in Contemplative Caregiving class)
Matlins and Magida, eds., How to be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
Matlins, ed.: The Perfect Stranger’s Guide to Funeral and Grieving Practices: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies
Lief, Making Friends with Death
Ostaseski, The Five Invitations
Thurman, Robert. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: Mahayana Scripture. University Park, PA: Penn State Press. 2001.
Musho Rodney Greenblat: Dharma Talk “Facing Sumeru”, Sept. 1, 2022 https://villagezendo.org/student-talks/
David Jimon Kunin’s “Metaphors to Help Hospice Nurses’” https://www.youtube.com/user/sanag13
New York Resources (Most states have similar resources, findable online)
Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive order for a Master Plan on Aging in New York State. https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-executive-order-create-new-yorks-first-ever-master-plan-aging
The New York State Department of Health website has an excellent and vast collection of information on health issues at: https://www.health.ny.gov/healthaz/. For example, among many other articles under the letter “A” in its A to Z listing, one can locate information on adult-care facilities, AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, advanced directives, arthritis.
New York State Medicaid Program: https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/
The New York State Office for the Aging website offers information on programs and resources for elders, as well as assistance in locating appropriate care. Also check out its “innovation and tools” link. https://aging.ny.gov/
The Alzheimer’s Association/New York State Coalition is the statewide organization supporting all New Yorkers affected by dementia. https://www.alz.org/centralnewyork/about_us/new-york-state-coalition
New York’s website devoted to “right to die” issues and advocacy is: https://deathwithdignity.org/states/new-york. The website includes a map showing the status of such legislation in each of the 50 states.
The New York State Bar Association website has a public resources section that includes information on how to locate an attorney in relevant specialized fields such as elder law; trusts, wills and estates; real property; and how to locate pro bono (free) legal services in the State. Go to https://nysba.org/public-resources/. Several New York City local or specialized bar associations have similar services. For example, The New York City Bar Association: https://www.nycbar.org/get-legal-help/. Finally, most county bar associations in New York also have an attorney referral service.
2020 Profile of OLDER AMERICANS including The Administration on Aging, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: May 2021. https://acl.gov/
Economic Policy Institute: The state of the residential long-term care industry/A comprehensive look at employment levels, demographics, wages, benefits, and the poverty rates of workers in the industry. July 27, 2022 https://www.epi.org/
AARP summer 2022: United States – AARP International https://www.aarpinternational.org:
“More than 37 million older adults do not have adequate financial resources.
More than 10 million older adults face the threat of hunger.
More than 19 million people older than 50 live in unaffordable, unsafe, or inadequate housing.”
Understanding Medicaid Eligibility: Basic home care and nursing home eligibility. Video upon request. DC 37 Members Education Series. September 21, 2022, Douglas J. Chu, Esq. www.elderlawny.net
National Association for the Deaf: https://www.nad.org/seniors/
Some Answers to Your Questions
How Does Loneliness or Social Isolation Affect Seniors? https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html
Do I Need a Geriatrician? https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2019/geriatrics-specialist.html
How Do I Keep my Home Safe as I Age? https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tip-sheet-home-safety-tips-older-adults#:~:text=Safety%2Dproof%20your%20home,when%20you%20walk%20on%20them.
How Do I De-clutter? https://www.neighbor.com/storage-blog/how-to-get-rid-of-things/
Where/How Can I Donate Household and Personal Goods? https://www.moneycrashers.com/best-places-donate-used-stuff/
How Do I Transition to a Smaller Space? https://www.bhg.com/decorating/small-spaces/homes/tiny-home-transition-tips/
How Do I Locate the Right Senior Living Facility for Me? https://health.usnews.com/best-assisted-living/articles/steps-for-choosing-the-right-senior-living-facility#:~:text=Your%20local%20or%20state%20agency,%2D800%2D677%2D1116.
How Do I Find an Intentional Community? https://www.ic.org/
What is a MOLST? https://molst.org/how-to-complete-a-molst/molst-form/
What is a Living Will? https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-is-a-living-will
What is a Health Care Proxy? https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf
What is a Power of Attorney? https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/power_of_attorney/#:~:text=A%20power%20of%20attorney%20gives,to%20act%20on%20your%20behalf.
What does Estate Planning Entail? https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/
See also the Reading and Resource list prepared for the Spiritual Challenges in Aging Workshop (given November 6, 2022)
Laying the Foundation: Homework
Before the December 4th workshop, spend time thinking about, perhaps writing on, some or all of the following questions, as well as any others that arise during this process. Thank you.
What strengths, gifts, experiences do you bring to your elder years?
What steps have you already taken to prepare for your safe, secure aging?
Do you know whether you need a will? If so, do you have a current will?
Do you have a health care proxy? A power of attorney?
Where do you keep your important documents? Who knows where they are?
Do you have family and/or friends you plan to age alongside? Live with? Do they know that?
Do you expect to use in-home care of any kind to allow you to live as you wish?
Can you afford to live where and how you hope to spend your final years?
The Path of Wisdom and Compassion
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Spiritual Challenges, Gifts and Practice in the Elder Years
Led by Willie Mukei Smith, Anne Jisei Reigeluth, Trudi Jinpu Hirsch, Sherri JyaKuen Posey, Tita Angangco, Keely Rakushin Garfield and Marjorie ChoGaku McCoy.
Spiritual Challenges of Aging: Recommended Reading
Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes
Crosthwaite, What it Feels Like to Change
Frankl, Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything
May, The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection between
Darkness and Spiritual Growth
Moody, The Five Stages of the Soul
Singh, The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Age (Buddhist perspective)
Schacter-Shalomi, From Age-ing to Sage-ing
Atchley, Spirituality and Aging
Richmond, Aging as a Spiritual Practice (Buddhist perspective)
Richmond, Elderhood: A Buddhist Approach to Aging Well
Fischer, Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up
Lama Surya Das, The Big Questions: How to Find Your Own Answers to Life’s
Essential Mysteries (Buddhist perspective)
Egan, On Living
de Hennezel, The Warmth of your Heart Prevents Your Body From Rusting
Hillman, The Structure of Character
Grosz, The Examined Life: How We Love and Find Ourselves
Willis, Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life (written by a student of VZ’s Foundations in Contemplative Caregiving 2010-2011 class)
Scherer, Work and the Human Spirit
Cope: The Great Work of Your Life
Toms, True Work: Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do
Ellison, The Third Act of Life
Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Bernhard, How to be Sick – A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers
Price, A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing
Levine, Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart (Buddhist Perspective)
McKeithen, blue peninsula: essential words for a life of loss and change
Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last (Buddhist perspective)
Levine, Meetings at the Edge: Dialogues with the Grieving and the Dying, the Healing and the Healed (Buddhist perspective)
Levine, Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying (Buddhist perspective)
Dalai Lama, Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life (Buddhist perspective)
Eagleman, Sum: forty tales from the afterlives
Saunders, Beyond the Horizon
Kunitz, Passing Through: The Later Poems
Zuckerman, Eugenia, Like Falling through a Cloud
Updike, Endpoint: and other poems
Murray, ed., Poems to Live By: In Uncertain Times
Young, The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing
Your participation is important to us. If you would like to attend but are unable to give the full payment contact Ryotan Roshi at the Kaku Sensei Memorial Scholarship Fund.