Aging with Agency

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Aging with Agency

Building Resilience, Confronting Challenges, and Navigating Eldercare

Author: Sandi Peters Foreword by: Drew Leder, MD PhD Read by: Diana Gardiner

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An experiential guide to re-orienting our understanding of late adulthood as one of life’s most meaningful and transformative stages

Aging can bring new fears, challenges, and concerns. Loss of career, loved ones, or changing physical and cognitive abilities can leave us feeling isolated and scared. Sandi Peters shows us that growing older need not mean the end of personal growth. In fact, late adulthood can prove to be the most meaningful and transformative period of one’s life. The key, says Peters, is the development of one’s inner life, and with it a shift in one’s relation to the aging process. The book draws on history, philosophy, psychology, gerontology, and spirituality to deepen and expand our understanding of what it means to grow old in the twenty-first century. Peters shares time-tested contemplative practices such as meditation, active imagination, dream work, and creative writing designed to enhance one’s inner worlds and enable us to face life’s inevitable changes with equanimity and insight. She offers practical advice on issues such as assisted living and home care, and a refreshingly new perspective on matters of memory and cognitive change.

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Product Info

Release Date:
2020-05-19
ISBN
Audiobook
9781623175900

About the Author

Sandi Peters has a master's degree in psychology and has been working in the field of gerontology since 1986. Her area of specialty is life span development and the possibilities for renewal in older age. As a student of C. G. Jung, she has particular interest in the role of symbolic expression in older age, especially for those with memory loss. Peters is an avid swimmer (especially in open water), teaches swimming to adults, and is a longtime meditator and seeker. She lives in Berkeley, California.


Reviews/Press Quotes

“We live in a society with elderly people, but very few elders. There just have not been enough guides from the first half to the second half of life. Great elders reveal both a brightness and a sadness. They mirror you rather than asking you to mirror them. Aging with Agency is a guide to developing the kind of awareness that moves us from being old to being wise. Through story and example it counsels the reader to ripen rather than decline as the years unfold. It encourages movement toward gratitude and authenticity as the inner work of the second half of life is graciously embraced.”
—Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, author of Falling Upwards: A Spirituality for the Second Half of Life, and prolific writer on re-visioning Christianity for our time

Aging with Agency offers a wise and pragmatic framework for understanding the universal trajectory of aging, illness, and death. In charting how best to navigate the many changes of these life transitions, she highlights the seminal work of Jung, Maslow, and the Ericksons, as well as drawing on her own years of experience working with aging populations. Particularly helpful is her understanding of the challenges, difficulties, and options available at the end-stage of life. This wonderful book is an inspiring wake-up call to explore our own relationship to growing old and to be strong in advocating for truly compassionate care.”
—Joseph Goldstein, teacher, cofounder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening

“This remarkable book presents a profound—and profoundly challenging—new paradigm on aging. Drawing on her extensive clinical experience, Peters extends the Jungian view that aging is a time for individuation and spiritual development. She argues that such inner growth continues even with cognitive impairment and dementia—but only if caretakers recognize and foster the process. In losing memory, the elder is not simply disintegrating, but transitioning from ego to Self, as Jungians put it, or more generally, from this world to all worlds.”
—Allan B. Chinen, MD, psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of In the Ever After: Fairly Tales for the Second Half of Life and numerous other works using myth and psychology to elucidate various life stages 

“This book is actually more thrilling than its title implies. It presents the possibility of an exploration of vibrant and awakening awareness of the inner life that flourishes even as the body is coming toward the end of its viability. I would have called it Inward Bound.
—Sylvia Boorstein, Buddhist meditation teacher, storyteller, political activist, mother, and grandmother and author of numerous accessible books on meditation, most notably It’s Easier Than You Think and That’s Funny, You Don’t LOOK Buddhist

Aging with Agency is the definitive book on aging, why it matters, how to reperceive it, how to experience it positively, and how to support aging friends and family. Drawing on her thirty-plus years of experience with the elderly, Sandi Peters offers primers and perspectives on memory loss, and adds invaluable chapters on activities and practices that can help both the aging and their caregivers to thrive in the ‘afternoon of life.’ She also assesses the various options for living environments and identifies the ‘red flags’ that the elderly and their families must watch for in making arrangements for end-of-life care. Aging with Agency is a book with a triple entendre title: first, aging matters because it is growing phenomenon that families and our society must confront. Secondly, this book draws on the ideas of multiple wisdom figures who recognize that our elder years can be a time of growth, creativity, generativity, and value for both the aging individual and for our society as a whole. Finally, it provides ‘matters’ in the sense of offering practical information that needs to be widely known in our society as the cohort of aged people increases. This is an essential guide for all who seek to age well.”
—Susan Mehrtens, PhD, president of the Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences

 “Sandi Peters has written a practical book on the soulful aging process. She combines many years of service to the aged with integrated wisdom into a real primer of understanding of critical spiritual passages in the aging process. Grounding her work in Jungian Analytical Psychology, she challenges the reader to maturation, searching for meaning in diminishment, finding hope in loss and grief, and living our personal myths in depth into the dying process. Her research is available to us in a very readable way. As a formator of spiritual directors, I will suggest anyone journeying with an elderly person to  read this book for guidance and insight.”
—Donald Bisson, FMS, DMin, founder of the Center for Jungian Christian Dialogue and formator of Spiritual Directors nationally and internationally

Aging with Agency is truly a transformational work—one that can benefit a wide variety of reader: elders themselves, educators, mental health therapists, pastoral counselors, spiritual directors, retreat leaders, and professional and personal care providers. Even younger people— including millennials—who fear their own aging and are seeking something realistically positive about the later stages of ‘adulting’ can find hope in these pages. Sandi Peters has taken a wide-ranging, friendly approach to the process of maturing, with emphasis on the development of the inner life of the person as the ultimate challenge and raison d’etre for optimal living in the last decades of human life. Her focus on the potential for growth in the works of Jung, Maslow, Erikson, and Tornstam creates a quality of anticipation that growing old could actually be something exciting—a process to look forward to.”
—Jane Thibault, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and author of numerous work on the intersection of aging and spirituality

“What a refreshing landscape Sandi Peters, thought leader for our particular era of aging, invites us to explore. Yes, it reminds me of the beauty and comfort of my garden without which it would be difficult to live in these critical and changing times. This garden also affords me the seasons of pruning and attending to my nonbearing magnolia tree, concrete challenges of growth. So it is with this book as it opens us to the fruits of being present to our inner world. Through her decades of study and clinical care, Peters leads us down secure paths of presence, inquiry, and practice to come upon our own particular inner garden. One that both needs our attention and can sustain us through life most difficult experiences. Aging with Agency explores how to access this stream of life flowing water in challenging living environments and even with memory loss where she shows us our deepest self is not abandoned in memory loss.” 
—Marita Grudzen, MHS, associate director emerita of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center, Stanford School of Medicine

“The way Aging with Agency has woven together theory and practice, personal stories with those of the cultural and theoretical Zeitgeist, inspiring the reader—with practical suggestions—to move inward, to see her and his aging as a tremendous opportunity to deepen and grow, to connect with self and Self, is truly astounding. Along with a quote from William James, I remember him saying that ‘the greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.’ This book is testament to exactly that discovery! It is a major contribution to our effort to end the insanity we have in our perceptions of aging, of elders, of the way we care for our elders, and the way we look at life.”
—Nader Shabahangi, PhD, psychotherapist and businessperson, visionary and thought leader in the area of aging and how care is delivered to elders and the animating presence behind innovation programs aimed at assuring quality of life in the later years, most recently Elder Ashram in Oakland, California
 

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