World Refugee Day

June 20th, 2018 No comments

World Refugee Day

Had I been born in another part of the world, I might be among the refugees of my age struggling to walk their way to freedom.

I am fortunate. I know where I will sleep tonight; that I can walk into the local neighborhood, wave to people I know, and to feel safe. No one has forced me from my home, violated me, or made it impossible to remain in my country without fear of injury or death. No, I am not one of the 68 million refugees or internally displaced people in the world today as a result of conflict or persecution. Many of them are my age, if not when they begin their journey they may be by the time they are able to return to their countries.

From 1998 to 2001 I was privileged to be part of a team of local leaders in Geneva, Switzerland brought together by Mrs. Sadako Ogata, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It opened my eyes to what it meant to seek refuge.

  • Most refugees want only to return to their homes. They have been forced to leave and dream of the moment when they can return. You’ve only to witness news reports of the risks they have taken and the hundreds of miles they have walked to know that they had no choice if they were to survive.
  • Many refugees have been born and raised in refugee camps waiting to enter into a safe country. The average length of displacement today is 17 years. Recently I mentored a woman who had spent her whole life in a refugee camp.
  • Many of the people we think of as the heroes of science, exploration, humanity and education in our own countries came to our countries as refugees. Geneva, Switzerland where I live, developed into the world renowned city of Global Peace Talks and the United Nations organizations largely thanks to the arrival of refugees over the centuries.

Let’s stand together with refugees and also recognize that had we been born in another part of the world we might be among them, or left behind to die.

Bonnie Fatio

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 15th, 2018 No comments

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Elder abuse is a problem that often goes undefined. Frankly, I found it frightening to read the signs of abuse shared by the U.S. National Institute on Aging. Why? Because they seem to also fit the stereotype of an older person, the image that has been fed to us over the years.

The list includes traits such as seeming confused; rocking back and forth; looks messy; and has trouble sleeping. All of these seem to fit stereotypes of aging, yet they can also be serious warning signs that something is wrong. Add to this any bruises or burns that cannot be explained, and you know you must act. However, not all abuse is physical. It can also be emotional, financial, or being neglected.

Let’s open our eyes to some of the elders around us who act oddly and who may very well be abused and need help. Try to have a private conversation with the elder to learn what is happening. If there is abuse, then guide them to where they can receive the proper assistance. This may be through an adult protective service, or a social service agency.

Are you being abused? Speak to your doctor, a help line, or a trusted friend to find help. Each of us deserves to live our age with dignity.

Bonnie Fatio

Help Your Garden Grow – Cultivate Confidence

May 17th, 2018 Comments off

Cultivating confidence is easier than you think.

Stay connected! Did you know that older adults who are engaged socially will often extend their lives and their enjoyment of life by years?  Personal relationships and regular interactions with others can make a major difference in your self-esteem and confidence.

Do something different. By exposing yourself to a new context, you’re literally growing as you learn to act in new circumstances. Joining a group that shares a common interest makes life fun. Feeling helpful and needed often encourages the release of “good” hormones that help the body to fight off illness and disease while physically making us feel better.

Get out there and be confident, share your talents and passions with others!

This time of year has a magical way of adding a bit of spring to your step, so use these warmer days to grow your garden and take action in your age-esteem.

Help Your Garden Grow – Exercise Your Mind

May 14th, 2018 Comments off

Exercise your mind. Engage in meaningful activities. Volunteer, read books and magazines that spark your curiosity, teach a class or learn a new skill or hobby. These exercises will not only improve your thinking ability and help you feel happier, but will also protect the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve” helping the brain become more adaptable in some mental functions, compensating for age-related brain changes.

Do something to grow your mind each day! It will also grow your age-esteem.

Happy Mother’s Day to All Women

May 13th, 2018 No comments

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women of the world. Whether you have children of your own or not, you are important as a role model, teacher, friend and mentor to every child you come into contact with. It is from you that they learn what love, caring, strength, intelligent decisions, values, ethics, and what oh so much of life is all about.

Seeing how you manage your life at each stage of life is also helping children grow their age-esteem.

Thank you for being you!

Bonnie Fatio

Help Your Garden Grow – Exercise Your Body

May 10th, 2018 Comments off

Exercise your body. Move in whatever way you can.

Did you know that there is a positive association between increased levels of physical activity and improved health in older adults? Regular exercise provides a myriad of health benefits such as better bone and joint health, blood sugar management, improvements in blood pressure and long-term preservation of neuro-cognitive function.  

It is a good idea to mix aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises into each week.  Walking, dancing, swimming, bicycle riding, and tennis can all be considered aerobic exercise. Digging and lifting as part of gardening or carrying groceries while shopping can be considered muscle strengthening. Have a weekly exercise routine and take a conscious effort to act on it.

Exercise your body to encourage healthy growth as you age!

Help Your Garden Grow – Nutrition

May 7th, 2018 Comments off

Perhaps the most important realization a person can make is that they have the ability to control their growth. This is true at all ages and stages of life. Some of the ideas listed below are simple while others might take a conscious effort to act on. Each idea helps us care for our body, in much the same way as we do our garden.

Nutrition, what you feed your body, is important. As you age your metabolism slows down. You need fewer calories so it is important to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value. Make it a priority to Include lean protein in your diet. Remember to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium or salt.

Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral as we age. Consider taking vitamin supplements targeted at your age group.

Feed your body to encourage healthy growth!

Bloom With Age-Esteem

May 3rd, 2018 Comments off

At a young age we are taught (and sometimes made) to share our toys, our candy and even our crayons. Even in food-motivated herds, like zebras, you will notice that they will mow the fields together as a group. One might even gather that sharing is a good thing. But why?

As we get older and our personal space becomes larger we tend to share less and less. Our focus might change from what we are giving to what we might be losing. When you share, are you actually losing something, or gaining much more?

Sharing is defined as ”the joint use of a resource or space.” Sharing is a basic component of human interaction, and is responsible for strengthening social ties and ensuring a person’s well-being. Sharing is a vital life skill. Buy why? Sharing builds trust, and trust is highly correlated with happiness. It also increases positive social interaction with others, which can prolong your life. Sharing involves cooperation, and cooperation is essential to the success of humans.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Share your wisdom with the younger generation.
  • Perform random acts of kindness.
  • Share your time and volunteer your services with a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or other charity organization.
  • Carpool. Give people a ride in your car.
  • Grow a garden full of flowers and pick a bouquet for a teacher or neighbor.
  • Smile. Be compassionate in all human transactions.

So if you happen to be having a rough start to your day, try sharing something with another person (even if just a smile). You might be surprised at the happiness and joy you receive in return. – And, your age-esteem will blossom as well!

Share the Blossoms

April 30th, 2018 No comments

Share the Blossoms

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”Heda Béjar

One of my early positions was Head of Admissions for the International School of Geneva. I loved the contact with parents, students and staff from around the world, and constant interaction was the basis of my position. I interviewed parents of prospective students in my office daily, and made sure my office was attractive to visitors.

The school gardener caught me smelling his beautiful flowers outside my office one day, and I explained to him how much I appreciated the beauty he gave to the school. Towards the end of our short discussion, he said that he would bring me a few flowers for my office. Imagine my surprise when he showed up at my window with a stunning bouquet while I was interviewing parents.

It became a weekly tradition. He would knock on my window whether I was alone or interviewing, and I would interrupt what I was doing to receive my bouquet. The fragrance certainly remained with the giver of the flowers. The fragrance also increased in multiple ways. Each person felt special when they saw the flowers being delivered through my window, and more often than not would leave with a bloom. And, as I told the gardener, “Your gesture of sharing your blossoms does as much to sell the quality of the school as me sharing the academic qualities. When you bring flowers to brighten my office, you give the message that each of us cares.”

Sharing experiences with others, be it admiring beauty of blooms, watching a movie together, or having a conversation is healthy. Research shows that an experience is richer when it is shared. It also influences longevity. This is emphasized in research focusing on areas of the world such as in the “blue zone” of Sardinia off the coast of Italy where there are six times more centenarians than in Italy. Community is one of the decisive factors. People share experiences, both good and bad, and see each other often. The streets are narrow and living quarters are close to each other. People know each other, have close friends and a network and they share.

Do you want to live a happier longer life? Enhance your age-esteem by sharing with others and, like the giver of the rose, the fragrance will stay with you.

Bonnie Fatio

Bloom Where You Are

April 23rd, 2018 No comments

Bloom Where You Are

During Winter it can be terribly gray where I live. Weeks go by with no sunshine. – Gray clouds, gray fog, gray rain. Gray buildings, gray roads, gray expressions on people’s faces.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

And then, suddenly Spring arrives, trees bud, flowers bloom, grass becomes luscious green, birds chirp and sing, and the world comes to life! People begin to smile again and even walk with more energy in their steps.

It brings to mind the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. While the ground lay fallow during the grey winter months, much was happening underground and trees as each little bud began to bloom where it had been planted. It did not decide what bloom it would become or where it would grow. It bloomed where it was planted.

I believe age-esteem is important if you are to bloom where you are planted. You may not have chosen to work in the company that offered you the job, or to live in the house or city that you do, or to admit to be the age that you are. Yet, how much easier is it to decide to love what we do, to make our home into our haven no matter where it is, and to recognize the joys and advantages of being the age that we are? The quote from Anaïs Nin expresses it well. It is more painful to be a victim and detest something than it is to risk making the most of a situation and actually blossoming where you are, doing what you do, and being the age you are.

Are you willing to make the effort to bloom where you are planted? Are you willing to take control of your life and to love yourself at the age you are? If you are, you will also blossom with AgeEsteem.

            Bonnie Fatio