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David Wolfe on Jung’s Seven Tasks of Aging

category_bug_journal2.gif David Wolfe, who blogs at Ageless Marketing, has produced a series there covering Carl Jung’s seven tasks of aging. These tasks are not like washing the car and paying the bills that you can quickly check off your to-do list and move on to the next. They are ongoing processes that enrich your understanding of yourself and your life all the way to the end.

I first read Jung on this topic decades ago, but the seven tasks are not suited to or meant for young people. They are not possible until you have lived, really lived.

David’s purpose in his series on Jung is to convince marketers that elders are not ordinary consumers. Our mindsets are different from midlife and unless marketing and advertising people understand these differences, their products will not sell.

If you are reading Time Goes By, you are probably not a marketing professional, but that should not deter you from David’s series where you will find the clearest explanation of Jung’s tasks I’ve read anywhere among the general commentary. To nudge you toward doing so, below are links and short excerpts from David for each of the tasks.

Task No. 1: Facing the Reality of Aging and Dying

“Those who have successfully carried out Jung’s first task of aging have grown ageless in their outlook. Moreover, they have discovered that the last quarter of life is not as lousy an experience as they might have anticipated at age 40.

“One benefit of reaching this state is an almost adolescent feeling of being beyond harm’s way. Abraham Maslow saw this arising from a lifestyle in which “A day is a minute, a minute is a day.” It’s about living in the moment in a constructive way.”

Task No. 2: Life Review

“…the second of Carl Jung’s Seven Tasks of Aging – life review – can have a deeper effect on many people than nostalgia does, especially the older they are.

“Life review involves a critical examination of one’s life leading toward reconciliation between the sweet and the sour in life. It is a process for removing regret and anger from one’s worldview.”

Task No. 3: Defining Life Realistically

“In Winter, the primary developmental objective is to develop a sense of oneness with all and reconcile the sweet and the bitter in life. The main life focus is reconciliation – finding harmony and peace with ourselves, others and life in general.

“Winter’s mythic theme is irony, reflecting a persistent anticipation that the unexpected is always around the corner – though not necessarily in a negative sense. In fact, the unexpected often delights the older person as much as it does a child. Irony is particularly therapeutic in how it helps us cope with what we can’t change. And, it often provides us with a certain comedic twist to ease the burdens of old age.”

Task No. 4: Letting Go of the Ego

“Letting go of the ego enhances personal well being by taking one to new and higher levels of life satisfaction. Beyond that, research indicates that getting beyond the self to turn more attention to helping others improves the efficiency of the immune system. People who help others tend to live longer and healthier than those who stay wrapped up inside themselves.”

Task No. 5: Finding a New Rooting in the Self

“The worldviews of people in the first half of life are generally rooted in the external world. In contrast, the worldviews of people in the second half of life tend to be rooted less in the physical or mundane and increasingly in the nonphysical or metaphysical (or spiritual).”

Task No. 6: Determining the Meaning of One’s Life

“Life meaning among the young is framed by styles of appearance, language, material acquisitions, and social affiliations in the quest for a solid footing in the external world...

“However, the search for life meaning undergoes a major shift in the second half of life. Whatever people’s material success, many find less and less meaning from “things.” So, they begin to look inward rather than to the outer world in their search for life meaning.”

Task No. 7: Rebirth – Dying With Life

“Jung’s last task of aging, “Rebirth — dying with life," is a familiar theme throughout the religious genre, but he was not thinking religion when he framed that task. Success in prosecuting this task leads to loss fear of life and death alike. Rebirth after dying with life transports a person into the timeless domains of an artist lost in his or her work or a child absorbed in play when living in the time of a delicious moment is all that matters.”

As you can see even from the short excerpts, these are no ordinary tasks. Rather than doing, they require being and a conscious contemplation of unconscious changes that take place within us.

Perhaps I came to studying and writing about old age in my own old age from reading Jung when I was young. I remember then looking forward to the day when I could bring my lifetime experience to the seven tasks.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Kay Dennison recalls an elder relative who lived when Abraham Lincoln was president in A Great, Great Grandma - A Memory.]

Extreme Outsourcing - Elders

category_bug_journal2.gif Just about everyone knows the frustration of trying to get answers from customer service located in India or parts unknown. And many are the woes of people whose jobs have been transferred overseas. Now, eldercare is being outsourced too.

On the edge of collapse from caring for his aged and ill parents 24/7 for three years on his own and unable to find a nursing home in Florida that would not bankrupt the family, Steve Herzfeld “outsourced” his parents’ care by moving with them to Pondicherry, India.

“His 89-year-old mother, Frances, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease, now receives daily massages, physical therapy and 24-hour help getting to the bathroom, all for about $15 a day. His father, Ernest, 93, an Alzheimer’s patient, has a full-time personal assistant and a cook who has won him over to a vegetarian diet healthful enough that he no longer needs cholesterol medication.

“Best of all, the plentiful drugs the couple require cost less than 20 percent of what they do at home, and salaries for their six-person staff are so low that the pair now bank $1,000 of their $3,000 Social Security payment.”

- The Seattle Times via Chicago Tribune, 3 August 2007

[ASIDE: A question that has puzzled me for a long time is how drugs in other countries can cost so much less than in the United States. Brand-name or generic, they are manufactured by the same pharmaceutical companies as drugs in the U.S.]

The $2000 monthly cost to Herzfeld and his parents covers food, rent, utilities, medications, phone and staff. The story notes that there are few trained geriatricians in India, but that is true in the U.S. too which has fewer than 9,000 with the number dropping every year.

“Herzfeld’s mother has a daily hour-long session with a physical therapist, who flexes her stiff legs and gets up on her feet briefly with a walker. A nurse, on duty all day, braids flowers into the old woman’s gray hair, massages her legs and arms, holds her hand while she watches television and feeds her meals.

“A massage therapist gives both of the aged Americans a daily full-body massage, and a cook fixes them simple Indian meals.

“Ernest spends much of the day watching cable television in an overstuffed chair, reading a couple of local English-language papers. He sometimes catches a rickshaw to the beach or botanic gardens with his aide or his son.”

- The Seattle Times via Chicago Tribune, 3 August 2007

The family keeps in touch with friends and relatives in the U.S. with email and internet videophone.

A week ago, I reported on my recent visit to a retirement community that includes in the price assisted living and full-time nursing should they, in time, become necessary. It was the first of what will be an ongoing series at TGB on retirement living choices, but in making a list of possibilities to research, India did not cross my mind.

The costs of long-term care in the U.S. are not going to get any cheaper in coming years and it is doubtful there are affordable choices in the U.S. that can compare to living in one’s own home with a full-time staff. The only downside I can see to the India alternative is distance from family.

What do you think?

(Hat tip to Molly who blogs at Life on Tiger Mountain.)

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone tells how he learned the joys of the open road at age 14 in My Trucking Career: In the Beginning.]

Blog Troubles

Crabby Old Lady is aware some images - LIKE THE TOP BANNER, among others - are missing from Time Goes By and her knickers are in a big-time twist over it.

On Friday, Crabby worked through an issue with her domain registrar and as soon as that problem was resolved, this one occurred. Crabby assumes it is similar to pulling one brick out of a stack - the whole thing comes tumbling down.

There is no tech help at the registrar until Monday morning west coast time, but Crabby has jiggered a few things and now, although the site looks odd and some links from elsewhere to TGB may not function for the time-being, the site does most of what it should. You can navigate around the blog and leave comments, etc.

Crabby is sorry for the inconvenience and appreciates your patience.

Hot Town, Summer in the City

category_bug_journal2.gif It doesn’t need to get anywhere near 100 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City to feel miserable. The 80s will do just fine, particularly in August after the summer heat has baked into the concrete and facades of tall buildings. The hot air blowing onto the sidewalks from window air conditioners adds to the discomfort.

Unlike most people, summer is not my favorite season. When heat and humidity combine, my body swells, my fingers plump up into fat, little sausages that don’t bend properly and my brain shuts down.

Yesterday was such a day in Portland, Maine, as it has been for about a week while we have experienced a mini-heat wave. It is nothing like some of you have been suffering in the rest of the northern hemisphere, but it has slowed me way down. I hate these sticky miseries and at the height of the afternoon heat, I head for the cool green of my back deck.


Ollie the cat doesn’t like summer heat any more than I do and has adopted the wicker chair in a corner of the deck to escape into the pleasures of an afternoon bath.


He glared at me when I called to him to look up so I could play with our new digital camera. Hot day or cold, baths are a serious undertaking for cats and they don’t like being interrupted.


In the end, however, it was too hot even for a soothing bath, and Ollie succumbed to an afternoon snooze, having changed position hardly at all.


But Portland is different from New York, at least in my end of town on the down-slope of the ocean side of Munjoy Hill. Without fail every day in the late afternoon, a cool breeze wafts in, the temperature drops and I’ve learned now that I've lived two summers in my new city that no matter how hot midday is, the evening will be pleasant and the overnight about 55 or 60 degrees.

Ollie and I know that this regularly-scheduled relief is just a short time away when the long shadows appear on our deck.


[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz has a few choice thoughts on the purchase of insurance through the years in Sign Right Here.]

Let's All Retire To the Hilton

[EDITORIAL NOTE: After we discussed one kind of retirement living earlier this week, I was reminded of this post from a couple of years ago. I received it in an email which means it may have made its way around the web a thousand times and you already know it. Even if that is so, it's almost credible, wonderfully funny and worth another read.]

"No nursing home for me! I'm checking into the Hilton Inn. With the average cost for a nursing home per day reaching $188.00, there is a better way when we get old and feeble. I have already checked on reservations at the Hilton. For a combined long-term stay discount and senior discount, it is $49.23 per night. That leaves $138.77 a day for:
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in any restaurant I want, or room service
  • Laundry, gratuities, and special TV movies

Plus, they provide a swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge, washer, dryer, etc. Most have free toothpaste and razors and all have free shampoo and soap. They treat you like a customer, not a patient. $5.00 worth of tips a day will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.

There is a city bus stop out front and seniors ride free. The handicap bus will also pick you up (if you fake a reasonably good limp). To meet other nice people, call a church bus on Sundays. For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there. While you're at the airport, fly somewhere. Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.

It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Hilton will take your reservation today. And you are not stuck in one place forever. You can move from Hilton to Hilton, or even from city to city. Want to see Hawaii? They have a Hilton there, too - the wonderful Hilton Hawaiian Village and Spa.

TV broken? Light bulbs need changing? Need a mattress replaced? No problem. They fix everything and apologize for the inconvenience. The Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks if you are okay. If not, they will call the undertaker or an ambulance. If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip, and Hilton will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.

And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you at the Inn and will probably check in for a few days' mini-vacation. The grandkids can use the pool.

What more can you ask for?

So, when I reach the golden age, I'll face it with a grin. Just forward all my email to the Hilton Inn."

Upon telling this story at a dinner with friends and too much red wine, we came up with even more benefits the Hilton provides to retirees:

Most standard rooms have coffeemakers, easy chairs with ottomans, and satellite TV - all you need to enjoy a cozy afternoon. After a movie and a good nap, you can check on your children (free local phone calls), then take a stroll to the lounge or restaurant where you meet new and exotic people every day. Many Hiltons even feature live entertainment on the weekends.

Often they have special offers, too, like the Kids Eat Free Program. You can invite your grandkids over after school to have a free dinner with you. Just tell them not to bring more than three friends.

If you want to travel, but are a bit skittish about unfamiliar surroundings, in a Hilton you'll always feel at home because wherever you go, the rooms all look the same.

And if you're getting a little absent-minded in your old days, you never have to worry about not finding your room. Your electronic key fits only one door and the helpful bellman or desk clerk is on duty 24/7.

I told Stephen Bollenback, CEO of Hilton this story. I'm happy to report that he was positively ecstatic at the idea of us checking in for a year or more at one of their hotels. Stephen said we could have easily knocked them down to $40 a night.

See you at the Hilton. And not just for a "Bounce Back Weekend," but for the rest of our lives.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joy Des Jardins relates her childhood misadventures at trying to avoid dreaded needles in The Doctor is Out.]

Blog Usability For Older Readers

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Retirement Living Television is broadcasting a special report on medical marijuana which airs today at 1:30PM eastern time. Following that, there will be a live discussion during the Daily Cafe show (at about 3PM eastern time) with two experts debating the pros and cons of medical marijuana. You can see the shows on Direct TV, Comcast in the northeast or view it online at]

A blogger recently emailed Crabby Old Lady asking to be added to the Elderbloggers List. It’s a good blog, well-written, but Crabby declined to list it because it is so damned hard to navigate.

There is no entry on the home page, only a list on a sidebar by date and title. When Crabby clicks on the link, entries stretch across almost the entire screen, making it hard to read, and she cannot get to another post without clicking back to the home page, then to another story, back again, and so on.

In addition, a large image sits below the banner looking like the beginning of a blog entry but there is nothing else there when you scroll down. Crabby visited several times over weeks encountering the same image on each visit and assumed the blogger rarely updates. It took awhile to figure out that it’s decoration.

Blog layout and navigation has been settled on a standard now for several years with few variations. Readers expect to find those standards on all blogs, and usability research indicates that if readers can’t understand how to use a website in under five seconds, they leave.

Crabby Old Lady has put on her schoolmarm garb in the past and explained blog presentation, but it has been a couple of years and is worth repeating along with some special techniques to help older readers whose eyes are not so young and nimble as they once were.

Background Color
It is difficult and tiring for old eyes to try to read light text on a dark background. There is a reason 99 percent of text in all mediums is black on white – it works best. Crabby sometimes runs across pink and light green text on a white background; that’s difficult too. Go for strong contrast with a light background.

Color Combinations
As people age, they have difficulty distinguishing between red and orange, and between blue and green especially when they are near one another. If you use such a palette be sure, for example, not to use green to highlight links with dark blue normal text. Some shades of gray used near black are hard for elders to distinguish too.

That’s the acronym for those random letters we are forced to type with forms to help avoid spam. One style is black letters on a background of various grays making them close to impossible to read.

Crabby’s blog host, Typepad, uses that style and she has complained with no results. Crabby is astonished that anyone bothers to leave comments with such a barrier, and she hopes someone at Typepad is reading TGB today.

Crabby is not picking on them exclusively. Some Blogger forms have CAPTCHA letters so wiggly, Crabby has had to type them two and three times to get them right. There must be a better way.

So many blogs, so little time. Anything that helps us move quickly through our web rounds can't be anything but good. Some blog standards are helpful to elders, but are work well for everyone else too:

Crabby Old Lady learned early in her web career, more than a decade ago, that it is painful to read long blocks of text on a screen without a break. Yes, she knows what we learned in school about a paragraph holding one idea. But when a paragraph goes for more than six or seven lines on screen, it pushes people away rather than drawing them in.

So Crabby taught herself to “chunk down” long ideas into two or three smaller ones which keeps paragraphs shorter. Be sure to use a blank line space between paragraphs too. And, by the way, this works in comments; it only takes on extra tap on the “enter” key.

Text Styling
Long blocks of italic text are as painful to read as light text on a dark background. It is better to save italic for short emphasis. Crabby knows she break this rule in editorial comments at the top and bottom of stories, but does her best to keep it to a minimum. Certainly entire posts should not be styled with italic.

Width of Text
When text stretches across the entire screen, it is impossible for almost anyone to read. The eye cannot find the next line down. This is not an issue with three-column blogs where columns are necessarily narrow, but the main section of some two-column blogs are too wide. It’s best to keep the story column to 500 pixels in width; 400 is even better.

Some bloggers and some blog software limit the length of comments, and someone once told Crabby that if a comment is longer than three paragraphs, it should be a post on your own blog. Crabby disagrees.

There is nothing wrong with continuing a conversation on your blog, but when the conversation is compelling, Crabby likes long comments that give readers a chance to fully explain their point of view and others to respond. And when leaving a comment, there’s nothing worse than being halfway through a thought only to have an arbitrary cutoff curtail your thinking.

There are other issues with the design of computer hardware, software and webpages that make using computers and the internet more difficult than it needs to be for elders. But they are not things users can fix. Crabby will be addressing some of them at the Gnomedex conference later this month.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ronni Prior tells of the folly of trying to be with it in Even a Miata Can't Make Me Cool.]