Poetry is an act of peace.
Peace goes into the making of a poet
as flour goes into the making of bread.

— Pablo Neruda


Mary Oliver with Maria Shriver Oprah Magazine 2011


Pulitzer prize-winner Mary Oliver, age 76, has been described as the best-selling poet in North America. Her lifelong calling to write poetry has brought many of us ‘up close and personal’ to small living things (e.g. grasshopper, bee, mockingbird, sweetgrass, and blue iris). As well, she has taught us that this attentiveness is prayer.

Maria Shriver was able to interview Mary Oliver earlier this year. One of the best quotations from Shriver’s interview is:  “They say if Mary is taking a walk, and she begins to walk slower and slower, and finally she’s standing still scribbling, you know it was a successful walk.”

On the Internet you may view the interview video and transcript of Shriver’s interview, and you may listen to Mary Oliver reading Wild Geese and The Fish.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious,
you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.

So this is how you swim inward.
So this is how you flow outwards.
So this is how you pray.

When it’s over, I want to say:
all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom,taking the world into my arms.
Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

NEWS: Creativity & Aging Through the Lens of Film

Here is a great website which presents video clips on various aspects of aging: Creativity & Aging

I just watched my favourite excerpt from Il Postino – illustrating generativity and mentoring.

You might enjoy looking at this website which presents a project organizing video clips around 5 themes of aging and creativity.

NEWS: Can Exercise Keep You Young?

We all know that physical activity is beneficial in countless ways, but even so, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University was startled to discover that exercise reduced the many signs of aging in mice: loss of muscle size, mobility, hair, and even brain volume.  TO READ MORE>>

RESEARCHER’S TIP:  On Communicating with a Hearing Loss

Older adults who have a hearing loss experience a great deal of frustration when other people do not make an effort to speak clearly to them and to look at them when they speak.  Of course, the difficulty with hearing loss is that the speaker will probably not realize that the listener has a hearing loss. We encourage older adults with hearing loss to be assertive and to let other people know what help they need e.g., “I have a hearing loss. I can hear you if you look at me when you speak.

~ Louise Hickson, University of Queensland, author of Active Communication Education (ACE): A Program for Older People with Hearing Impairment (2007) and Communication Disability in Aging: Prevention to Intervention (2003).

BOOK REVIEW by Kate Ducak

Montessori Methods for Dementia™: Focusing on the Person and the Prepared Environment
Gail Elliot. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University, 2011.

Montessori methods are a way to increase the confidence and abilities of persons with dementia.  They are based on learning principles created by Maria Montessori and further developed by Cameron Camp to enable persons with dementia to participate in various activities and maintain their social roles.  The main Montessori principles include task breakdown, guided repetition, progressive and modifiable difficulty, and matching the demands of the activity to the abilities of the person.

Montessori activities are designed to make the most of the person’s learning and cognitive abilities, while minimizing language demands by placing external cues in the person’s environment.  The Montessori activity sequence typically includes inviting the person to participate in a meaningful activity based on her/his skills and interests, using familiar objects or materials, demonstrating how to complete the activity by breaking it down into simple steps, providing time and encouragement for the person to complete the activity, and ending by asking if s/he would like to do the activity again another time.

The Montessori Methods for Dementia™ program was developed by Gail Elliot at the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging at McMaster University in conjunction with Dr. Camp and is delivered in a two-day workshop.  The book provides a wealth of easy-to-use information on dementia, dementia care, and Montessori principles for dementia with numerous activities, programs, forms, tools, templates, and examples.  One of the messages in the book is that Montessori Methods for Dementia™ are simple and inexpensive to implement with beneficial results for everyone involved.

This book can be used by family caregivers to learn more about the disease, Montessori principles, and how to create routines and meaningful activities for their loved one with dementia.  For instance, it has guidelines on how to create a schedule for daily routines with a sample included, and examples of activities such as arranging flowers, games, and puzzles.  Family caregivers could also recommend this book to staff who assist with the care of their loved one with dementia in adult day programs, retirement homes, or long-term care homes because of its practical information, templates and case examples as well as a model for programming.


Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done…
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
~  Alfred Lord Tennyson

Spirit can be said to be the driving force behind the motive to serve.
And the ultimate test for spirit in one’s old age is, I believe,
can one look back at one’s active life
and achieve serenity from the knowledge
that one has, according to one’s lights, served?
~ Robert K. Greenleaf

Until next time,